First Elected Speaker of the Western Region House of Assembly
Prince Obafemi Arowosafe Adeleke Adedoyin was born on the 1st of March 1912 in Sagamu, Remo Division of Ogun State.
His parents were Alaiyeluwa Oba Adedoyin, II the Akarigbo of Remo and his Premier Consort Adelarin, Daughter of Chief Idowu Ajoko of Oke Imaro Iperu-Remo. His father Akarigbo Adedoyin, a Methodist convert supported the spread of the Christian branch and the provision of Western education in Remoland, in both activities, he was ably supported by William Frederick Mellor, a Methodist missionary who was also friendly with some of the local colonial residents.
Adedoyin also supported infrastructural development such as a road linking Remo to Ikorodu. However, his administration was known for the determination to split Remoland from Ijebu Province, which had made the Akarigbo and many Remo towns subordinate to the headship of Awujale of Ijebu-Ode under the notion of indirect rule.
He was able to rally around Remo residents to support independence from Ijebu but also used the support to consolidate his position within Remoland. In 1938, the colonial government gave Remo financial and political autonomy and made Akarigbo a paramount ruler in the region. Oba Adedoyin\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\’s new position gave him some political control in the activities of the Remo Native Administration, the local appeal court, the migrant area of Sabo, South of Sagamu and the police making him the leading political figure in Remoland.
Prince Adeleke Adedoyin attended Wesleyan (now Wesley) School, Sagamu for his Primary Education between 1917 and 1928 and later attended Wesleyan (now Methodist) Boys High School in Lagos in 1929 and 1930 where he had 2 promotions in 1929 and was awarded progress prizes. At the Methodist Boys High School his classmates included, amongst others, George Shyngle, Francis Cole and Nnamdi Azikiwe. These connections were later beneficial to his political career later in Lagos.
In 1930, he passed the Nigerian Railway Cleric Examination as well as the Civil service in the Chief Secretary’s office Nigerian Secretariat until he left Nigeria in 1936 to study law in the UNITED Kingdom. While working at Chief Secretary’s office he sat for and passed the University of Oxford School Certificate Exam. He passed the University of London Entrance Exam and studied Law and Economics at the London School of Economics and Political Science, University of London and Council of legal Education, London.
He passed his bar finals in 1939 and read in the Chambers of Elliott Gorat later a County Court Judge in London. In the same year he took special courses in Administrative law, with special reference to public utilities and industry and the Trade Cycle.
He was called to bar at the Inner temple London in January 1940 and was in February the same year enrolled as legal Practitioner of the supreme Court of Nigeria and a member of the Nigerian Bar Association. He practised Law from the Chambers of the late Sir. William Neville M. Geary, Bart, of Tinubu Square, Lagos.
In 1943, he was appointed magistrate and also Commissioner of the Supreme Court.
Prince Adeleke Adedoyin was foremost statesman of repute. In the 1940s and 1950s he figured very prominently in the Lagos local politics. In 1945, he was elected Lagos member of the legislative council under the umbrella of the Late Herbert Macaulay’s Nigerian National Democratic Party and also in 1947 under the auspices of the national Council of Nigeria and the Cameroon (NCNC). The same year he was also elected member of the Lagos Town Council.
He was a member and Secretary of the 1947 NCNC 7-man delegation to London that met with the British secretary of State, Rt Hon. Arthur Creech Jones to demand greater participation of Nigerians in running their affairs and self-government for Nigeria. Other member of the delegation included, Nnamdi Azikiwe, Funmilayo Ransome Kuti, Zana Dipcharima, ibiyinka Olorunimbe and Nyong Essien.
He was a member of the United Front Committee that eradicated colour discrimination after the hotel Bristol incident, Sir Adeyemo Alakija was the Chairman. Bristol Hotel was the setting in 1948 and Mr. Ivor Cummings- a distinguished African Caribbean national and a top official of the colonial office in London, was scheduled to pay an official visit to Nigeria and naturally, his first port of call was Lagos, then Nigeria’s capital. Accommodation was reserved for him at the Bristol hotel, a foremost hotel, then owned and managed by expatriates.
Apparently, the hotel authority thought that from the sound of his name- Cummings, he was certainly a white Anglo-Saxon, but they were shocked when he presented himself at the reception, that he was black. He was instantly refused a room at the hotel on that ground. A Warri based Sierra-Leonian legal luminary called T.L Williams, witnessed this odious scene. He was helpless and dumb founded. He moved to the nearby Island club, where he met Alfred Rewane and a prominent Lagos lawyer, Oladipupo Odunsin. After relating his story, the famous Lagos lawyer, Odunsi shouted, “our Nigeria of 1948, we cannot have this, let’s go and die, but the boisterous Rewane jumped up and shouted -Die? No, let’s go and teach them a lesson’.
The atmosphere at the Island club was now charged and under Odunsi and Rewane’s leadership, Milton Macaulay, Prince Adeleke Adedoyin and the Akiniran Olunloyo, marched through the Onikan stadium, to the Marina, with the support of the elderly members of the island like the late J.K Randle and the late Bolaji Finnih, who had gone to wait for the rampaging youths at the Tinubu police station, in case of arrest by the colonial masters. At the Onikan stadium point, at the Marina, the area boys, known then as Boma boys, armed with sticks and horse whips (koboko), followed the team, without hesitation, and an assault, was launched on Bristol Hotel. At the end of the rampage, the reception, bar and restaurant were sacked and the white men in the hotel premises and its vicinity had a sorry and gory tale to tell. The whole hotel was wrecked and left in shambles.
After the rampage, Sir Adeyemo Alakija, then patron of the island club, foreseeing an imminent raid on the island club, took the rampaging youths on a mediatory visit to the Governor General of Nigeria- Sir Arthur Richards, for mediation. Richard deliberately refused to arrest the young men, because of his belief, that the day of segregation was perhaps gone and he said, “with effect from today, there would be no more European hotel, hospital or club reservation in Nigeria.”
In 1952 Prince Adeleke Adedoyin he was elected member of the Western House of Assembly and the same year he was elected member of the federal House of Representatives. He was a member of the Western Region Production Development Board in the 1950s and when the West African Portland Cement Co. Ltd. was formed and incorporated.
In 1957, he was back again as an elected member of the Western Region of Nigeria House of Assembly where he was elected the Speaker which office he held till 1964.
In 1964, he moved to the Federal House of Representatives as an elected member where he was appointed Federal Minister of Labour, Social Welfare and Cooperatives. He led Nigeria delegates to the International Labour Organization (ILO) meeting in Geneva that year and was nationally honoured with OFR award the same year.
In 1967, he was appointed notary Public. He spoke French which he began studying at age 52 between 1966 and 1969 at the Alliance Francaise de Lagos and Ministry of External Affairs as well as in Paris. In 1971, he bagged Diplome de Langue Françoise as well as Diplome Superieur d” Etudes Francaise Moderne de LÉcole Internationale de Langue et de Civilisation Francaise. In 1972, he was elected President of Alliance Francaise de Lagos. In 1973 he obtained Diplome de l’Association de la propagation de la Langue Francaise.
As a legal luminary, he was represented many clients in a number of high profile lawsuits in his days. One of which was the celebrated case where he represented the late Oba Adeyinka Oyekan, Oba of Lagos in the litigations before his ascension to the throne in 1965. This was a case which rocked the very fibre of Lagos Island.
‘Prince Charming’ as he was also fondly called was Chairman, Ogun Osun River Basin Development Authority from 1980 to 1983. He had travelled far and wide in Nigeria, Europe, Israel and Korea. He is a foundation member and trustee of the Island Club, Lagos and was Chairman of the Club from 1968 to 1971. A foundation member of the National Party of Nigeria (NPN) and Former National Vice-Chairman thereof for Ogun State.
In 1947 he was honoured and Awarded loyal beaded staff by the Akarigbo Adedoyin II. A pillar, leader and prince of Remo, his community; he was given the appellation ‘Serikin Tulasi’ by the Hausa Community resident in Sagamu-Remo, amongst whom he was quite popular, after he tried unsuccessfully to succeed his father, Oba William Adedoyin II as the Akarigbo of Remo.
In 1972 he was honoured with the “Cap”” by the Akarigbo Erinwole II and the ceremony entitled him to wear his cap before anybody whomsoever.
He was very interested in language, farming and travelling. Prince Adeleke Adedoyin died 20 years ago on the 4th of February 1999 at 87years. Amongst his children and grandchildren are distinguished Adjudicators, broadcasters, lawyers, scientists, public servants and politicians and DAWN Commission’s Head of Special projects, Prince Adetayo Adeleke-Adedoyin.
In recognition of your pioneering and towering feats in service to Western Nigeria, Nigeria and the World at large, DAWN Commission recognises and salutes you as one of our Nation’s past heroes.