In 1953, Oba Adeniran Adeyemi II Allegedly Turned Bode Thomas Into A Dog. See Reason and Consequence
This story is a sad yet educative story which I believe must be taught to so many who in the quest of being westernized, educated and civilized feel traditions and cultures can be insulted and taken for granted. As much as it contains some sensitive facts which might trigger the emotions of family and friends of those involved in this mysterious event, history has been written and we can only refer to it to learn and educate the future generation. As we are all examples for other examples.
Oba Adeniran Adeyemi II, was Alaafin of Oyo, between 1945 and 1954, until he was forced into exile by the Action Group led government of the Western region, as a result of the death of the Deputy leader of the Action Group, Chief Bode Thomas and also for having sympathy, for the rival NCNC of Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe. Chief Bode Thomas (1918-1953) became the deputy leader of the Action Group, he later formed Nigeria’s first indigenous law firm called- Thomas, Willams, Kayode and co. i.e. the trio of Bode Thomas, Chief Rotimi Williams and Chief Remilekun Fani Kayode. Bode was a brilliant lawyer, but also very haughty and arrogant. Bode Thomas was born to a wealthy trader, John Thomas in 1918. He attended C.M.S. Grammar School, a missionary school founded by Samuel Ajayi Crowther. He travelled to London to study Law with Remi Fani-Kayode and Chief FRA Williams. Bode Thomas, FRA William and Remi Fani Kayode founded d 1st indigenous law practice in Nigeria ‘Thomas, Williams and Kayode’. The law firm was in Jankara Street and it thrived. His huge frame earned him the appellation “bulldozer”.
He became a member of Regional House of Assembly in 1951. From there, he, Prest and Akintola were selected as members of the House of Representatives. Sir Adesoji Aderemi, Ooni of Ife also joined them in the Central Council of Ministers. But, Thomas was the leader; astute, workaholic, thoughtful and forward-looking. On the floor of the House, Thomas was a charismatic speaker. He was a lover of facts. He was a fire brand nationalist. He wanted self-rule and independence at a faster pace his colleagues from other zones could not comprehend. During the debate on self-rule, his speech infuriated the legislators from the North. Thomas labelled them collaborators in the extension of British rule. He did not only speak; he acted. Thomas and the three AG parliamentarians consequently resigned from the Council of Ministers in protest over the elongation of colonialism. On that note, the MacPherson Constitution collapsed immediately.In the quest to preserve Lagos as part of the old West, Thomas was also at the forefront. In contrast, H.O. Davies was campaigning vigorously for the retention of Lagos as a symbol of national unity.
At the 1953 London Constitutional Conference held in August, AG vigorously campaigned for the preservation of Lagos as part and parcel of the region. Awo, the AG leader and Thomas, Deputy Leader of the party, were delegates to the conference. Whenever he set a positive goal for himself,every obstacle on the way must be uprooted.His successes in law practice, politics and government were hinged on his sheer resolve to triumph in the face of all odds.Bode Thomas was a founding member of ACTION GROUP which sprang up from EGBE OMO ODUDUWA.
He was made the Divisional Council Chairman in 1953, while the Alaafin of Oyo was a mere member. On his first appearance in council, after being appointed chairman, all the council members stood up for him in deference, to welcome him except Oba Adeyemi II, who for cultural reasons, could not show deference to anyone in public. Bode Thomas rudely shouted at the king, for having the temerity and audacity to disrespect him. “Why are you sitting when I walked in, you don’t know how to show respect?”At that time, Bode Thomas was 35 years old and Oba Adeniran was in his 60’s. The Alaafin felt very insulted and nonplussed; he said “se emi lon gbomo baun?” (Is it me you are barking at like that?). Oba Adeniran just told him “Ma gbo lo baun” (continue barking).Oba Adeniran Adeyemi II, was father of the incumbent Alaafin, Oba Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi III. Thomas was ahead of them his peers. He was a Senior at the bar to the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo, his bossom friend, political soul mate and leader, Chief Hezekiah Oladipo Davies, Justice GBA Coker, and Udo Udoma, a former federal parliamentarian and jurist but a hot-tempered fellow equally very proud and arrogant, he was perceived in some circles as a bully, a successful, yet arrogant lawyer and a domineering figure. Some judges loathed his style of argument in the court. However, he was full of masterful logic.
The confrontation happened on November 22nd 1953. Bode Thomas got home and started barking! He barked and barked like a dog all night until he died in the early morning of November 23rd 1953. He cut short his promising career. Oba Adeniran Adeyemi II, was thereafter deposed and sent on exile in 1954 for sympathizing with opposition NCNC, because he had come in conflict with Bode Thomas who was Deputy Leader of the Action Group, before his untimely death. In fact at a session in the parliament, Sardauna Ahmadu Bello had described Thomas as “Arrogant and ungracious”. Oba Adeniran Adeyemi II, was sent on exile to Ilesha and later relocated to Egerton Street on Lagos Island where he lived and died in 1960. His death truncated the ambition of Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi, to proceed to the United Kingdom to study law. He later became an Insurance Executive with the Royal Exchange Assurance, where he worked until he ascended the throne of his forefathers, as the Alaafin of Oyo in 1971.
So when next you pass through the Popular Street in Surulere called Bode Thomas Street, do not forget what pride and arrogance can do to a genius. Do not waste your life.