The name Bode Thomas should ring a bell in the ears of Nigerians; old folks should know him when he was alive and the younger generation should have heard of him during history lectures or because a street was named after him in Surulere, Lagos.
Who was Bode Thomas?
Olabode Akanbi Thomas, popularly known as Chief Bode Thomas, was born in 1919 to a wealthy and influential Yoruba trader, Andrew Thomas. He attended C.M.S. Grammar School, a missionary school founded by Thomas Babington Macaulay and James Pinson Labulo Davies.
Chief Bode Thomas rose to prominence at a young age. 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. He was also a founding member of Action Group which sprang up from Egbe Omo Oduduwa.
Bode Thomas and the Alaafin of Oyo
On November 22 1953, Thomas arrived at a meeting of the council, all the other councillors, except Oba Adeyemi, stood up to welcome him. He rudely told the king “why were you sitting when I walked in? Why can’t you show me respect?” Bode was 34 years while the Alaafin was in his 60s. Alaafin Adeyemi II felt very embarrassed and he said to Bode, “shey emi on gbo mo baun? Emi ni ongbo bi aja mo baun? Ma gbo lo” which means “am I the one you are barking at like that? Am I the one you are barking at like a dog? Keep barking.”
It was reported that Bode Thomas got home and started barking like a dog. He barked and barked throughout the night and later died on the 23rd of November, 1953.
Thomas was Nigeria’s first Minister of Transportation and later Minister of Works. He also served as both a colonial minister of the Colony and Protectorate of Nigeria and a nobleman and privy counsellor of the historic Oyo clan of Yorubaland.