Adeniyi-Jones Curtis Crispin

Adeniyi-Jones Curtis Crispin was a colonial era parliamentarian, nationalist and medical doctor who was an outspoken critic of the colonial government. Curtis Crispin Adeniyi-Jones was born at Waterloo in Freetown, Sierra Leone, of Yoruba parents of the Creole community in 1876. After a secondary education at Sierra Leone Grammar School, he went to the United Kingdom where he qualified as a physician and to the University of Dublin, Ireland where in 1901 he obtained the Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery degree. After acquiring prestigious working experiences in Dublin he resumed work in 1904 in his native country as a government medical officer. With the newly launched Lunatic asylum policy of the Southern Provinces of Nigeria, Adeniyi-Jones became the first director of the Yaba Asylum in 1906.

Adeniyi-Jones was an honorary patron of the Nigerian Progressive Union formed in 1924 with an early objective to develop educational facilities in Nigeria in co-operation with the government and missionary bodies. This organization marked a transition between joint African unionism and the more focused West African Students’ Union which was formed a year after its own foundation. Earlier in 1923, he had joined Herbert Macaulay and Eric Moore in forming the Nigeria National Democratic Party, the platform with which he won one of the three Lagos seats in the Legislative Council. Adeniyi-Jones replaced Joseph Egerton Shyngle as chairman of the party in 1926 when the lawyer died. As simultaneous chairman of Nigerian Mercantile Bank and the Nigerian National Democratic Party, he had been in the forefront in demanding changes in the functioning of the colonial economic system by expanding economic opportunities for Africans, including the establishment of indigenous banks.

From 1926, Adeniyi-Jones was elected as one of the three elected members of the Lagos Legislative Council and continuously won election on the platform of the NNDP. During his 15-year membership of the Legislative Council he was the most militantly critical member; and his tornado of questions covered a wide range of topics such as a request for the names, designation, and departments of Africans who had been appointed or promoted to the European posts. He had himself suffered in the past with a British policy adopted which relegated many Nigerian doctors including him to junior ranks in the colonial medical service. Adeniyi-Jones, the gifted speaker, died in 1957. A Street in Ikeja, Lagos is named after him.

Tope Apoola
Profession: Writer