THE respect and popularity which the first elected Governor of Lagos State, Alhaji Lateef Jakande (fondly called LKJ) still enjoys in the state and beyond was evident on Tuesday, July 23, 2019, when eminent Nigerians gathered to honour him during his 90th birthday celebration.
Among the dignitaries who graced the occasion were the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo; a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu; Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu and his Ogun State counterpart, Mr. Dapo Abiodun.
They showered encomiums on him for his lasting legacies as governor of the state between October 1, 1979 and December 31, 1983.
Lateef Jakande had earlier won the Lifetime Achievement Award of Vanguard Newspapers in 2018 on account of his invaluable and unblemished contributions as the leader who laid the foundation for the development of Lagos.
Even after losing its status as the nation’s political capital, Lagos still retains its position as the economic capital and the nation’s Big Apple.
Jakande’s four-year tenure is seen as the “golden age” when his populist policies and programmes based on the Unity Party of Nigeria, UPN’s, transformational agenda revolutionised the housing, education and public transportation sectors. It was for this reason he was fondly described as an Action Governor.
READ ALSO: Shehu Shagari dies at 93
He successfully implemented free education, increased the number of primary schools from 54 to 86, and secondary schools from 13 to 42 within one year. He also built thousands of low-cost housing units which are still known as Jakande Estates.
LKJ also designed the Metroline integrated transportation plan (the first in the country) which would have gone a long way in solving the perennial traffic jams in the Lagos metropolis. Unfortunately, the project was cancelled by the General Muhammadu Buhari regime after the coup of December 31, 1983.
“Baba Kekere”, as he is also fondly called, is credited with the establishment of the Lagos State University, LASU, and the Lagos Television, LTV, which is among the first crop of state-owned television stations in the country.
His administration also constructed waterworks and adequately met the water needs of Lagos residents at that time. He also conceived and initiated the construction of the Lagos State Secretariat.
Jakande, a strong disciple of Chief Obafemi Awolowo’s school of politics, also set an enduring example as a leader who did not soil his fingers with public funds.
He lives a very humble, ascetic life in Ilupeju, a middle-class neighbourhood in the heart of Lagos.
Although he spent just four years and three months in office as governor, Jakande accomplished so much and touched lives positively that he became a reference point for effective leadership.
We join millions of Nigerians in wishing him more fruitful years and good health.