Remembering Shadrach Adelegan: A Selfless Patriot, Humanist, Silent Hero

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Femi Adelegan

Late Chief Shadrach Titus Adelegan, Deputy-Speaker, Western Region House of Assembly (1960-1965) educationist, B.A (London) 1951, obtained from the University College, Ibadan, community leader, and politician, is still being remembered for his patriotic and selfless services to humanity in different capacities, and for his unquantifiable sense of humanism and patriotism. Adelegan combined the ingenuity of an educator with the humility and fellow-feeling of a well bred Nigerian. Space will not permit his contributions to be fully accommodated here.

Adelegan abandoned a lucrative public service career as Education Secretary in Ibadan in 1957, and turned his back to all the comforts of the city, and the prospects of a bright future to return to lpetu-Ijesha in 1957, to establish Ipetu-Ijesha Grammar School, at a period when no university graduate was willing to reside or work in lpetu-ljesha, a rural community in today’s Oriade Local Government area of Osun State that then lacked all basic social services. In his autobiography: ‘The Part To Play’, Adelegan disclosed that he made huge personal sacrifices that affected the future and comfort of his family, so that children of other people in Ijeshaland and other places, could also acquire education and progress in life. Little wonder, many people, including Adelegan’s admirers often described him as an over-patriotic Nigerian. His children who speak so fondly about his contributions to national development say Adelegan has quietly made history as a silent hero and one of the greatest Nigerians that ever lived.

Born on May 19, 1921, to a humble family of Pa. Joseph Fatusa, a carpenter, and Madam Esther Fatusa, an itinerant trader, late Chief Shadrach Titus Adelegan, politician, educationist, community leader, patriot and great humanist remained until his death, one of the few silent heroes in Nigeria, whose contributions to the development of man and the society remain eloquent testimonies to selfless service, hinged simply on humanitarian and patriotic considerations. For the better part of the post-emergency Western region during which Adelegan served as the Hon. Speaker of the Western House of Assembly; S.T., as he was fondly called by his associates was a man of integrity that was highly regarded as an honest community leader and politician, who commanded the trust, respect, and confidence of his colleagues, both on Government and Opposition BenchesS, who both openly commended him on the floor of the House, for brilliantly conducting proceedings of the Western Region Legislature, impartially, thus stabilizing the polity.
Excerpts from the Hansard – (Official Bulletin) of the Western Region House of Assembly of 6th April, 1965. (With Hon. S.T. Adelegan presiding) indicate the following Tributes to Hon. S.T. Adelegan for being an impartial Hon. Speaker:

DEPUTY SPEAKER – TRIBUTE
‘’Chief Samuel Ladoke Akintola (Premier): ‘’Perhaps I may express the sentiments of both Sides of the House. We pay you, Sir, (S.T. Adelegan) the commendation that is due to you for the efficient manner in which you have been able to carry on and discharge the duties of the Speaker of this honourable House. (Cheers). It is unfortunate that ill-health prevented the Hon. Speaker of this House from attending this important Budget Meeting but, in spite of the short notice, you came to our rescue as an experienced Deputy Speaker, who has been able to assimilate and acquire a great deal of practical knowledge. For this, we are very much indebted to you for the successful completion of this Budget Meeting, and I think that your performance on this occasion augurs well for the future, because you have discharged your duties remarkably well, so efficiently and so charmingly, that the Members of the Opposition will always like to see you on the Chair.’’ (cheers)

Alhaji Dauda Soroye Adegbenro: (Leader of Opposition) ‘’Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, I like to associate myself with the views and sentiments expressed by the hon. Premier. When the appointment of Mr. Speaker was proposed, I was consulted, and I argued that you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, ought to have been promoted to the post of the substantive Speaker. I was informed that there were some difficulties in the rank and file of the NNDP, and I had to agree that you still hold your post as Deputy Speaker; and in spite of the fact that you happen to be the Deputy Speaker, you have discharged your duties impartially and you deserve our commendation as well. There is only one request I will like to make and I wish that you give this your serious consideration. I hope you will not fall into the trap of preventing Hansard to be distributed to hon. Members as was done during the closing days of your predecessor in office. This is very important and I will wish that you do not allow yourself to be used for that type of funny business. Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, we congratulate you for being an efficient and impartial Speaker.’’

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Adelegan): ‘’I thank the hon. Premier and the hon. Leader of Opposition for their compliments, and I wish fervently, that the hon. Speaker will be well in time to take up his duties. Thank you very much.’’
Indeed, Pa Adelegan’s contributions are worthy of being recorded in Nigeria’s positive pages of history for demonstrating virtues of honesty, integrity, uprightness, selfless service, patriotism, dedication and commitment to his chosen goals, and in national interest. S.T. Adelegan demonstrated his patriotism and brilliance while representing Nigeria at the 1964 Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference in the House of Commons, London, where he and the late Olubadan (then Hon. S.O. Lana – the then Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister) spoke vehemently against the Unilateral Declaration of Independence in the then Southern Rhodesia (now South Africa) by the apartheid regime of Ian Smith. Records show that Hon. Lana and Hon. Adelegan argued so eloquently, forcefully and brilliantly on the floor of the British Parliament against the continued British occupation of South-Africa that they were almost accused of encouraging insurrection against the Queen of England. Some of Pa Adelegan’s strongest virtues were his simplicity, humility, forthrightness and ‘’say it as it is’’ policy. He was a very sincere person who remained very free from destructive biases and never engaged in speaking ill-advisedly about anybody; including those who might have offended him in anyway. He hated acts of vanity with passion and refrained from engaging in the mad rush and propensity for the acquisition of wealth, even in the exalted positions he held. Those who knew Adelegan often described him as a philanthropist and humanist with a difference.

He was a neat and complete gentleman. He lived a simple life, devoid of ostentatious display of wealth. When I complained to him that he was not awarded a national honour for his contributions as recommended by former Governor Olagunsoye Oyinlola on three occasions, he wondered why I was bothering myself. After his death, the children rejected an offer by his Ipetu-Ijesha community for them to pay a certain amount so that a street could be named after S.T. Adelegan in the town. We knew he would have turned in disapproval in his grave if we did that.

Shadrach Adelegan, fondly called “S.T.” by his peers and admirers grew up in his Ipetu-Ijesha hometown, in the Oriade Local Government of Osun State, with a pronounced zeal of patriotism, resulting in Adelegan’s deep involvement in the formation of the Ipetu-Ijesha Improvement Union in 1937; a society which he served as General Secretary, when he was barely 17 years old. Interestingly, that love for his community and humanity at large continued to reflect in Shadrach Adelegan’s interactions with people until his death in 2007. He enrolled at the famous St. Andrews College, Oyo, in 1940. A brilliant student, he emerged the only candidate that succeeded in the admission tests of all the applicants from ljesha Division of the then Western-Region, and completed the Grade II Teachers Certificate in 1944. He equally distinguished himself as a brilliant scholar and sportsman at the Teachers College. By private studies, he passed his London Matriculation course in record time. Adelegan obtained the Intermediate Bachelor of Arts Degree of the University of London in 1949, by private studies. He then proceeded to the University College, Ibadan, to spend only two years to acquire a degree. He was one of the first graduates of the University College, Ibadan, in 1951; graduating with a Bachelor of Arts (London) Degree in English, Latin and History. He was the first University graduate produced by Ipetu-Ijesha, with late Prof. Hezekiah Oluwasanmi, and Chief C.O. Komolafe, a former Federal Minister in the first Republic following suit.

Pa Adelegan was the Ijesha Divisional Secretary of the Action Group from 1957 to 1960, with late Canon J.A. Akinyemi (Professor Bolaji Akinyemi’s father) as the Chairman. Pa Shadrach Adelegan contested the shadow election in 1959, defeating Mr. Osunloye, Sir Dele Ige and Mr. Olamijulo to become the Action Group’s candidate for the then Ijesha Rural North Constituency, comprising today’s Oriade, Obokun and parts of Atakunmosa Local Government areas. Pa Adelegan was elected into the then Western-Region House of Assembly as the first Action Group Member from Ijeshaland to be elected into the Western Region House of Assembly on the platform of the party. Revd Canon Akinyemi had been elected into the Federal House of Representatives, also on the platform of the Action Group in Ijeshaland then dominated by Nnamdi Azikiwe’s NCNC. When the Action Group crises occured in 1962, he took it upon himself move round, visiting the party’s leaders, including those restricted to certain localities, in order to find amicable solutions to the political crises.

In his autobiography, ‘’The Part To Play,’’ (Important because History and Civics are no longer taught in our primary and secondary schools) Adelegan narrated how he, late Chief Lawrence Omole, and late Pa J.O Lawanson (then National Organising Secretary of the Action Group) patriotically moved to influence the location of the then University of Ife in Ilesha; but didn’t succeed because of the impenetrable influence of the then Ooni of Ife, late Oba Adesoji Aderemi who was Governor of the Western Region. Pa Adelegan retired from active partisan politics in 1965, following the turbulent period, and continued to serve Ipetu-Ijesha Grammar School which he regarded as his baby. Pa S.T. Adelegan’s imparted to his students his versatility in International Relations, Current Affairs and world politics, which he taught every day at the morning assemblies, and this encouraged a considerable number of his students to become successful politicians, educationists, bureaucrats and technocrats. Shadrach Adelegan was a devoted and committed member of St. Paul’s Anglican Church, Ipetu-ljesa, and at a time served as the Vice-President of Nigeria’s chapter of the Young Men’s Christian Association. Chief Shadrach Adelegan was particularly noted as a very forthright personality, and his preference for fair play, and justice in all situations, no matter whose ox was gored. Now that our schools no longer offer History and Civics, what happens to the contributions of people to societal development? It is well.
-Femi Adelegan sent in this piece from Abuja.