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Dr. Orisadipe Obasa

Dr. Orisadipe Obasa




Prince Obasa, born in Freetown, Sierra Leone, in January 1863, was the son of the Elekole of Ikole-Ekiti and a member of the royal family of Akija of Ikija in Abeokuta. He moved to Lagos in his youth, enrolling in the newly established Wesleyan Boys High School in 1878 as the Senior Foundation Scholar. By the end of 1879, Obasa had distinguished himself academically, topping the list of sixteen prize-winners during Governor Moloney's prize distribution ceremony. In 1883, he traveled to England to study medicine, beginning his education at King's College, Taunton, where he consistently excelled. He later attended St. Thomas's Hospital Medical School in London, earning his M.R.C.S. and L.R.C.P. in 1891.

Obasa returned to Lagos in 1892 to start a private medical practice. At the end of the 19th century, he served with the Lagos Constabulary in the Gold Coast during the Ashanti War, earning a medal for his exceptional service. This recognition led to his appointment as Assistant Colonial Surgeon in Lagos in 1900. Dr. Obasa played a significant role in public health campaigns across Lagos and Southern Nigeria, notably visiting Ekiti in 1903 to support a smallpox vaccination campaign initiated by Governor Macgregor. His medical reports, which included observations on conditions such as yaws, ankylostomiasis, and inguinal hernias, remain relevant today.

In 1902, Dr. Obasa married Charlotte Olajumoke, daughter of wealthy Lagos merchant Richard Blaize. Due to his wife's discomfort with his frequent absences, and the family's financial stability, Obasa resigned from his colonial surgeon position in 1904 to return to private practice. His primary focus, however, became politics. Leveraging his social connections, eloquence, and capacity for work, Obasa quickly became a prominent political figure in Lagos. In 1908, he co-founded the People's Union with Dr. Randle to oppose a water-rate levy, marking the formation of Nigeria's first political party.

For nearly a decade, the People's Union, led by Obasa and Randle, maintained opposition to the water-rate, although the movement eventually lost momentum and dissolved by 1916. The emergence of the Nigerian Democratic Party, led by Herbert Macaulay, overshadowed the People's Union. Despite this, Obasa was appointed to the Nigerian Legislative Council in 1921, where he served effectively on several committees. However, he was defeated in the first parliamentary elections in 1923.

Following Randle's death in 1928, Obasa became the leader of the People's Union. Unfortunately, he was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in 1926, which progressively limited his activities. Prince Obasa passed away on April 15, 1940, in Lagos, leaving behind a legacy as one of the eight Nigerian doctors who qualified in medicine during the 19th century.

Freetown, Sierra Leone

January 1863,

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