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Prince Adedapo Adeniran: Another day of mourning and pain

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At the risk of being accused of ingratitude to the Almighty in addition to incurring the wrath of the departed Prince Adedapo Adeniran at the ripe old age of 94, our deep sense of loss is nevertheless overwhelming.For those who may insist on dragging us to court for what is a purely civil matter, (certainly not criminal) our defence is as robust as it is unassailable. Indeed, our brief is very brief.

Prince Adeniran was indispensable. That attribute led us into a false sense of security- that he would always be here. Besides, he was supernatural. Neither the vicissitudes of life nor his memorable battles in the courtroom over six decades left any dent on him. He kept the scars firmly under wrap except for the occasional salvos in newspapers (especially The Sun and ThisDay) and of course the volcanic eruptions in his books: “The Futility of The Land Use Decree 1978 and Nigeria: The Case for Peaceful and Friendly Dissolution.

Either of these books could have landed him in detention by the successive military regimes that dominated our nation’s political landscape and monopolised what they curiously described as “The Balance of Forces”. There was no balance. All the force was in the gun and the finger on its barrel.If he survived all these brutal military regimes, why would he succumb to death under a benevolent civilian government? There are sufficient grounds for suspicion!! Indeed, the Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Kpotun Idris, without any prompting, has waded into the issue by raising the red flag of foul play. Besides, he has instructed his very able and amiable deputy, DIG (Chief) Taiwo Lakanu, who is in charge of Operations, to get to the bottom of the matter.

Not unexpectedly we have been requested to avail the police of our list of suspects. The old boys of King’s College, Lagos have submitted only one name – St. Gregory’s College Old Boys Association!!.It is not entirely by co-incidence that both Chief Tunji Gomez, another old boy of King’s College died at the age of 90, just a few days before the demise of Prince Adeniran. Again, the finger of suspicion is pointing in only one direction – St. Gregory’s College Old Boys Association.

It has not gone unnoticed that both Chief Gomez and Prince Adeniran who had very long and distinguished careers at the bar stretching over 60 years were denied the rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria [SAN] regardless of their unblemished professionalism.What makes it all the more galling and inexplicable is that it was Prince Adeniran, who in 1966 at the National Bar Association Conference held in Port Harcourt, proposed the motion that the practice of Law which had hitherto been dominated by expatriates should be the exclusive preserve of Nigerians. Alas, the beneficiaries of the Prince’s uncommon vision prefer to subscribe to amnesia.

In addition to being erudite and cerebral, Prince Adeniran thoroughly relished the long-standing rivalry between King’s College (his Alma Mater) and St. Gregory’s College. Hence, when he learnt of my candidacy as the in-coming president of St. Gregory’s College Old Boys Association, he readily endorsed it! I remain eternally grateful to him and Chief Ladi Williams SAN who have provided my election campaign with vital legal backbone. The eligibility clause has been crushed under the “Doctrine of Necessity” to enable an old boy of King’s College to contest and win election as President of St Gregory’s College! That is real progress.

The Chairman of Independent National Electoral Commission [INEC], Professor Mahmood Yakubu has graciously agreed to conduct what he is determined to demonstrate to the rest of the world as a classic “free and fair election” the like of which has never been witnessed in Nigeria. Vintage stuff.

Prince Adedapo Adeniran had a formidable library of books, photographs and newspaper articles, which watered and nourished his fountain of knowledge in addition to providing the anchor sheet for his wisdom. He certainly had a soft spot for my grandfather, Dr. J.K. Randle, whose exploits in medicine, education, politics and philanthropy were carefully recorded and relished by him. As for my father, Chief J.K. Randle, who preceded Prince Adeniran at King’s College, virtually every year at the Annual Thanksgiving in memory of my dad, the Prince would speak of him fondly and endearingly in superlative terms.

Time and space have conspired to deny us the opportunity to dwell on the special bond between the Prince and my two cousins – John and Afolabi Lardner. Regardless, it would be remiss of us not to acknowledge the uncommon loyalty, exceptional friendship and steadfast devotion of the Prince to the two brothers especially Mr. Harry Afolabi Lardner SAN who was at King’s College with him. A special chapter would have to be devoted to the role played by Prince Adeniran during a critical period in the sojourn of all three principal characters in London as students and the special bond between him and H.A. Lardner.

Actually, uncle Harry Afolabi Lardner started off as a science student at “KC” before proceeding to St John’s College, University of Cambridge but eventually ended up at the Bar where he certainly distinguished himself.For most of his life, Prince Adeniran found contentment and fulfilment living right amongst the people at 134, Bamgbose Street, Lagos in utter disdain of exclusivity in Ikoyi, Lekki, Victoria Island, Banana Island, Snake Island, Peacock Island, Monkey Island, Grasshopper Island, Crocodile Island, Ogogoro Island etc, or anywhere else, apart from his annual summer vacation in London.

From his vantage position he had a ringside seat which enabled him to assess the rot in our nation and the subversion of the dream of our ancestors in addition to mortgaging the destiny of future generations whom we have saddled with humongous debts – both local and foreign.If the politicians were genuinely committed to serving us, the home of Prince Adeniran should have been their regular rendezvous to avail themselves of a veritable barometer of progress or regression; and calibrate their strategy accordingly.

We should have persuaded our beloved Prince Adeniran to tarry a little while longer to witness the Nigeria of his dream. This is a case of missed opportunity and squandered possibilities.It seems to remind us of an old Chinese proverb:“When the student is ready the teacher will come.”In our own case, the Prince and teacher was here long before the students were ready.May his soul rest in peace.


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Adedapo Adeniran
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