Jakande

By Yinka Odumakin

BOLA Oloro, an engineer, was the Rector of the now vandalised Lagos State Polytechnic from 1992-1999. The polytechnic is a school built by Alhaji Lateef  Kayode Jakande, the man who developed what we know as Lagos in four years. His bright idea of a metro line for Lagos was, like the polytechnic, officially destroyed by Gen. Muhammadu Buhari in 1984 and the full cost of the contract paid with no rail.

We cannot but weep that those who denied Lagos that service are now building one to Niger Republic with our money in a season when Rotimi Amaechi under whose watch cars are being asked to watch their speed for cows is asking us what cows have got to do with transportation on national television.

The son of Oloro was introduced to me by the Ooni of Ife months after Prof. Banji Akintoye introduced the father to me. The junior Oloro invited me to the father’s first anniversary weeks back in our neighbourhood only for him to call me two days to the event that Prof. Akintoye had advised them to cancel the event as four colleagues of their father who were Professors contracted coronavirus at same wedding and are dead.

Personal comfort

The last time I met the young man was at the palace in Ife where he accompanied Alhaja Abimbola Jakande to see the Ooni of Ife. They were planning to return to Lagos that night when Kabiyesi insisted that they must sleep till the next day.

It was a night I had very little sleep when I learnt that Alhaja was at the palace to lobby for LKJ’s son who was seeking ticket to contest election in Lagos that LKJ served all his life without looking for personal comfort.

He rode his own car and lived in a house he built before he became governor. It took the leadership of the Lagos Assembly under Speaker Adeyemi Ikuforiji to buy him a good car years back.

A retired General of Yoruba extraction told me a few days ago of how Alhaji Jakande went to Abuja years back and had to sleep in a very dingy hotel. A man saw him and asked him what was he was doing in that God-forsaken place? And when he was told that was where he slept, the man got LKJ a plot of land in Abuja that same day.

The lack of respect Jakande was treated was reflected in that sad trip that took Alhaja to Ife that night.

Even those who served no more than commissioners now have their children benefiting maximally in Lagos, just as those who have no record of serving the state. First class thugs would secure such tickets on phone.

I knew Alhaja was just running around like a good mother as LKJ who issued a notice to the bank where he was a director not to give a job to any relation of his possibly would not have known about the trip or even lobby for such for his children.

A relation of his was on the queue for housing allocation unsuccessfully until the coup in 1983.

He would do more for the children of others. LKJ was said to have been advised by Commodore Ebitu Ukiwe in 1979 to cancel free education on the eve of swearing in as Lagos had no money. He told Ukiwe he would try.

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He implemented the programme to the letter and all the schools and estates he built are named after him by Lagosians today.

I recall how I spent quality time looking for Bayo Fabiyi’s LSDPC Estate in some part of Lagos months back until a good Okada man asked if it was Jakande Estate, and within minutes I was there.

I can’t say emphatically whether it was fate which made former governors of Ogun State, Chief Olusegun Osoba and Ibikunle Amosun to be at LKJ burial ground for final bye and none of his successors in Lagos was there.

I saw Fashola on TV in Lagos that night but he was not there for Jakande. Their not being there removes nothing from Jakande who immortalised himself forever.

Yoruba governors should emulate LKJ

The security brouhaha the Federal Government has thrown to non-Fulani Nigerians and which is biting the Yoruba hard is a challenge the governors in the Yoruba space should borrow the Jakande spirit to tackle.

There is nothing that stops them from devoting their security votes to confront this challenge head on in a rare commitment to their people. We recall how Babatunde Fashola, as governor, confronted insecurity challenge in Lagos and got the late former president, Umaru Yar’Adua, who was Fulani, to cooperate with him.

The Olusegun Mimiko government in Ondo got the herdsmen who kidnapped Chief Olu Falae jailed and President Muhammadu Buhari could not shield them from the law.

The governors can’t just throw their arms in the air and not do what they have to do under the fear of Fulanisation. The Governor of Ondo State has been saying and doing the right things that should be the standard in the Yoruba spirit in this season of sheer anomie.

If they do what is right, they have a chance to win. If they don’t, they would lose. They must insist on equipping Amotekun and let the FG say they can’t do it.

They should have the testicular fortitude to tell the people if that happens so we can begin to sort things out.

 

FEEDBACK

Re: From service chiefs to ambassadors

Sir

THE appointment of non- career ambassadors or diplomats by nations is nothing new as it has always been the norm right from time immemorial. Benjamin Franklin, the father of the United States nationalism, a charismatic personality who had succeeded with scientific inventions, printing and publishing business, despite his limited formal education, was appointed as Uncle Sam’s pioneer Ambassador to France during the war for independence against the United Kingdom.

During the Second World War, the then US President Franklin Delano Roosevelt appointed Joseph Patrick Kennedy Sr as the country’s Ambassador to Great Britain where he brought to bear his vast experience as a securities trader and investment banker who had greatly reformed the stock market after the 1929 crash by banning insider trading. In the heady days of the Civil Rights Struggle, a prominent Civil Rights Leader, Andrew Young, who had served as the Mayor of Atlanta, was appointed as the nation’s Ambassador to the United Nations. In all the above cases, the United States put forward the names of their first eleven to represent them as high powered envoys especially in times of crisis. It was with shock and disgust that I read the nomination of the recently retired service chiefs – Chief of Defence Staff, General Abayomi Olonisakin; Chief of Army Staff, Lt-Gen. Tukur Buratai; Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok Ekwe Ibas; and Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar.

These were service chiefs who performed greatly below expectations while they held sway. There was an order given by President Muhammadu Buhari, the nation’s Commander-in-Chief for them to relocate to Borno State so as to better tackle the Boko Haram insurgency. These chiefs chose instead to stay in their comfort zone in Abuja without any reprimand from the president. What contempt! No form of sanction was meted out to them by Buhari.

Meantime, the rank and file were at the mercy of their adversary.

Many of these soldiers weren’t allowed to leave the battlefield even after spending more than the allotted fighting time; many didn’t have their allowances paid to them; many of their widows were left to the elements to fend for themselves with some even immediately thrown out of the military barracks into the cold streets. How callous! Is it a crime to be patriotic and to lay down one’s life for your country? Nigeria is truly a hater of honest labour.

Many political pundits opine that the raison d’etre behind Buhari’s nomination of them as service chiefs was to shield them from any form of prosecution by the International Criminal Court, ICC, for war crimes.

Nigeria boasts of an array of shining stars and talents both at home and in the Diaspora who are contributing positively to either the motherland or their second adopted countries. Why can’t he tap from their wealth of experience to launder Nigeria’s image which is currently at its lowest ebb? Why field people not even fit to be on the bench using the football sport as an allegory to represent the supposed ‘Giant of Africa’ abroad?

When the Central African Republic emerging from the ashes of decades-long strife wanted to shore up its image abroad and attract the much needed foreign direct investment to stimulate the economy, it wisely tapped the services of the late charismatic larger-than-life businessman, Antonio Deinde Fernandez. That move was akin to a successful coup-d’etat as it greatly helped the nation advanced its economic interest -Anthony Ademiluyi

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