Awolowo, Obafemi (ôbäfāˈmē äwōlōˈwō), 1909–87, Nigerian statesman, a Yoruba chief, commonly known as “Awo.” In politics from 1940, he was one of the founders (1943) of the Nigerian Trades Union Congress. In 1950 he founded the Action Group, a new political party. Elected (1959) to Nigeria's house of representatives, he became leader of the opposition. Sentenced to 10 years for his party's attempted coup (1962), he was released in 1966. He was a leader against the Biafran secession and was federal Finance Minister until 1971. After military rule, he founded the United Party of Nigeria and placed second in the presidential elections of 1979 and 1982.
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