By Dayo Johnson; Dapo Akinrefon; Henry Umoru & Shina Abubakar
Eminent Nigerians have continued to pay glowing tributes to the first civilian governor of Lagos State, Alhaji Lateef Kayode Jakande who died last Thursday aged 91.
Jakande was an example in leadership, humility, professionalism – Gen. Ike Nwachukwu
In a tribute, Nigeria’s former Minister of External Affairs, Gen Ike Omar Sanda Nwachukwu and his wife, Mrs Gwen Tonyesia Nwachukwu said, “to God be the glory for a life well lived. He was an icon. He showed the way for a lot of us to follow. I met him when late Alhaji Alade Odunewu ( Allah De) recruited me on to the staff of The Daily Service which later became The Daily Express newspapers. Odunewu was the Editor and Alhaji Lateef Kayode Jakande (LKJ), the Editor-in-Chief. He was unassuming and accommodating. When he found time to stroll into the Newsroom, he sat by me, as he did others, to chat about our work and how to build on the reputation of the newspaper. He cared for us all. He singled me out and invited me on occasions to find out how I was doing.
Our newspapers published by the Amalgamated Press Limited was supportive of the Action Group – the official opposition at the time. He taught us how to be professional in the face of competing interests and philosophies. He was a good leader. As Governor of Lagos State he anchored his administration on providing education for all. He also embarked on building other infrastructures and interests necessary for a big state like Lagos. As Minister of Works under General Sani Abacha he again proved himself. He remained principled, frugal and selfless. My family and I join in mourning this legend; this unusual man; this example in leadership, humility and professionalism; this worthy man and mentor. God give his family succour. And grant LKJ eternal rest”.
Nigeria has lost a Titan – Chief Edwin Clark
In his own tribute, former Federal Commissioner for Information and South South Leader, Chief Edwin Clark said that with the death of Chief Jakande, Nigeria has lost a titan. In his statement yesterday titled, “Farewell LKJ”, Chief Clark said that he always found the former Lagos State Governor as genial and pleasant and was implacably firm in his cultural and political roots. He said, “widely referred to as the “Baba Kekere” of Chief Obafemi Awolowo’s political dynasty of First Republic’s, Action Group, AG, and Second Republic’s, Unity Party of Nigeria, UPN, respectively, LKJ, nonetheless, carved a pristine niche for himself, on the Nigerian social and political landscapes.
He was a notable journalist, who rose to the position of editor of the Tribune Group of Newspapers, in its glorious days. In politics, he held the Lagos Constituency for his leader and party, in a vice-like grip, before emerging as the First Civilian and only Second Republic Governor of Lagos State, in 1979, re-elected in 1983.
He had a great romance with the media and public, because of his populist projects, like the massive expansion of primary and secondary classrooms, and residential facilities, generally referred to as “Jakande Schools”, and “Jakande Estates”, respectively, though derisively by political rivals. That the Schools and Estates have, with inevitable modifications, survived for more than four decades, speaks volumes for his foresight in those areas of human development indices. I was not in his political camp, but respected his calm and brave reactions to criticisms.
He was a champion of the people – Mr Akinwunmi Ambode
Immediate past governor of Lagos State, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, in a statement by his Executive Assistant, Hunsu Peter, said Jakande’s life “symbolised humility, uprightness and honesty. He was an exemplary leader, a perfect gentleman and a man of integrity and character. Lagos will forever be grateful to him for his unparalled service. When I was in office I always looked forward to his fatherly advice and encouragement. Apart from that was his visible presence at state events, even with his health condition never deterred him from giving his support. This shows how he lived a very humbled and upright life throughout his sojourn here on earth”.
His achievements, legacies still visible – Brig General Buba Marwa (retd)
Former Military Administrator of Lagos state and Chairman/ Chief Executive of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) , Brig. General Mohamed Buba Marwa (rtd) recounted how Jakande who was the state’s first civilian governor supported him when he was the Military Administrator of the state. “He was always at our events and ever willing to give advice and support at all times,” he said in a statement by his office on Friday. He said decades after Jakande served as governor, his achievements and legacies in the areas of affordable mass housing, free education, quality healthcare and infrastructure development are still visible in the state’s landscape till date.
Jakande was a lover of the masses – Dr Olusegun Mimiko
Former Governor of Ondo State, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko, in a tribute he personally signed described the late elder statesman as “a successful journalist who combined journalism with elective politics. Baba Jakande bestrode the politics of his times with focus and clarity, social democratic conviction and a pro masses disposition.”
The former Ondo Governor said late Jakande’s exemplary leadership style and pro-masses approach to governance are a reference point in African politics. According to him, “one is reminded at his death of his remarkable feats as a governor of Lagos State such as the development of low-cost housing estates in various parts of the State, his focus on building new neighbourhood primary and secondary schools and concerted effort to make education and health free and accessible to the commoners among many other pro-people initiatives.
A big loss to progressives family – Akande
The Former National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief Adebisi Akande, in a condolence message on Friday, said, “the sudden passing of Alhaji Lateef Kayode Jakande, is a big loss to the progressives political family, to Lagos state and to Nigeria as a polity. In his lifetime, either as a journalist or as a politician, he struggled for democracy, true federalism and the enforcement of the rule of law as a major system of government in Nigeria. As a faithful adherent of Awolowo school of politics, Alhaji Jakande, like other governors elected on the platform of the Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN) in 1979, faithfully implemented the people oriented four cardinal programmes of Free Education at all levels, Free Health Services for all, Rural Integration and Full gainful employment of our Youths in Lagos state during his tenure”
The Nigerian poor lost a formidable ethical voice — Prof Lai Olurode
Professor of Socioloy, University of Lagos, and author of “The Life and Times of LKJ” and also “LKJ in the Eyes of the People”, Prof. Lai Olurode has said the Nigerian poor has lost a spokesman who thinks nothing but how to mitigate the devastating consequences of poverty including its sorrows, tears and blood. In his tribute he said: “Jakande was a man of many parts just like his mentor and leader, Chief Obafemi Awolowo: a poet while at Ilesa Grammar School, journalist, business man, politician, entrepreneur, farmer, publisher, author, and many more. “In many respects, Jakande was an exceptional public administrator who throughout life shunned ostentatious living.
In and out of office, he avoided crass materialism and greed, which remain pastime of leaders at all levels of public life. In the course of writing his biography, I asked him why he didn’t travel out for over four years while in office. His reply was that foreign business entrepreneurs should make Nigeria their destination because, Nigeria was then where the job was.
Other than greed for esta code he said there was little to gain from foreign tours. “He relied on science and data to respond to monumental challenges that confronted his government. Even when the then military administrator of Lagos state told him to recant his position on free education and abolition of shifts in schools, LKJ brushed aside the caution. Upon being sworn into office, he embarked on massive construction of ‘cowsheds’, most of which stand erect today. Jakande was an incurable optimist to the end. He wanted Lagos to have Metrolink as far back as 1983 and the contract was duly awarded and paid for. He was far ahead of his peers.
“If Babakekere had any weaknesses, I can only remember: he had no time for crass materialism and opulence. No rest, a workaholic from cradle to grave; Oga loved listening to small and big elite and indeed non elite. He was most compassionate toward the weak and wretched of earth
Jakande left unparalleled legacies—MSSN Lagos
The Muslim Students’ Society of Nigeria, Lagos State Area Unit described Jakande as a great achiever. The Amir (president) of MSSN in Lagos State, Miftahudeen Thanni, said, Jakande remained the best administrator the state had. According to him, no governor in Lagos has been able to match his achievements.
According to him, “Lagos State and Nigeria, in general, have lost a rare gem. An outstanding personality has been lost. He remains the most educationally-friendly governor. Up till now, his records in the education sector remain unparalleled by others. While Jakande promoted free and quality education, other governors increased school fees despite the low minimum wage and economic hardship in the state. He made landmark achievements that will never be forgotten in the history of the state. Today, his housing policies still remain reference points for successive governments. He was such an outstanding administrator that his time as a Governor remains a yardstick for good governance in the state”.