Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja, Laide Raheem, Abeokuta and Chukwudi Nweje
Twenty-four hours after his demise at the age 83, eulogise have continued to pour in for Brig-Gen. Mobolaji Johnson (retd), first Military Governor of Lagos State.
Among those who reacted, yesterday, included President Muhammadu Buhari, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo and Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.
According to President Buhari, Johnson laid a solid foundation for the development of infrastructure in the state and provided a good framework for the civil service.
According to a statement by Special Adviser to the President Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, Buhari said this in his condolences to government and people of Lagos State over the death of Johnson at 83.
The President who also commiserated with family members, friends and associates of the former governor, noted that he had a distinguished career in the Nigerian Army, starting out as a cadet in 1959 and retiring in 1975.
Buhari said the footprints of the first Governor of Lagos State, which was then the Federal Capital Territory, in promoting education and building durable health system will always be remembered.
He prayed that the almighty God will accept the soul of the departed, while calling on all leaders of the state and citizens to uphold his legacies of discipline and selfless service.
Incorruptible, detribalised, humane public officer – Obasanjo
Former president Obasanjo described him as an incorruptible, detribalised and humane public officer, whose death would be sorely missed.
In a release by his Media Aide, Kehinde Akinyemi, Obasanjo eulogised him as a disciplined, detribalised, transparent and humane public officer with an enviable track record.
“He was highly respected by his peers and revered by his subordinates for his sound knowledge of the Public Service and wealth of experience in the civil service matters.
“He left behind an impeccable record of incorruptible leadership, a legacy of forthrightness, thoroughness and unwavering commitment to public good. I recall that he was a pillar of trust and an iconic reference point when in 1975 the Murtala/Obasanjo’s regime embarked on a clean sweep of the morally-bankrupt public service.
“He was, indeed, a great man who wrote for himself an enviable page in history with his service to the nation and humanity.
“It was with a personal sense of loss that I received this shocking and sad news of the demise of this beloved and illustrious patriarch and elder statesman, Brig-Gen. Mobolaji Johnson, at the age of 83.
“The late Brig-Gen. Johnson was a diligent and conscientious soldier who served his nation with patriotic zeal and distinguished himself in many spheres of military and public life. He will certainly be remembered for his rare courage and contribution to the development of the Nigerian Army in which he rose to enviable heights.
“The admirable qualities of Johnson came to the fore when he became the first Military Administrator of former Federal Territory of Lagos under Maj-Gen. Thomas Aguiyi-Ironsi and later as the Military Governor of Lagos State under General Yakubu Gowon, where he saw to the building of major infrastructure in Lagos State and improved the lot of the civil servants and the entire citizens under his administration.
“Particularly of note was the level of steadfastness, patriotism and commitment he displayed during and after the Civil War in the late 60s. He distinguished himself as a patriot and seasoned soldier.
“It is only natural to feel sorely grieved at the painful and passing of a dearly loved patriarch who still had a lot to contribute not only to the family but also to the nation as a whole.
“I would urge, however, that at such a distressing time as this, we should keep faith in Almighty God who will surely give succour as well as the fortitude to bear the irreparable loss.
True father of Lagos -Tinubu
In his reaction, the All Progressives Congress (APC) National Leader and former Lagos State governor, Asiwaju Tinubu, described him as a man of high integrity who served Lagos with dedication and determination. Brigadier-General Johnson died at 83.
In a condolence statement by his Media Office, Asiwaju Tinubu said: “Johnson embodied the true spirit of Lagos. He served Lagos with dedication and determination. He contributed immensely to the state, developing the civil service. His tenure in Lagos also witnessed the building of major infrastructure in the state.
He was always available to advise and extend a helping hand to successive regimes in Lagos and particularly to me during my time as governor.
“Johnson made laudable contributions to the unity of the country as one of those who fought for Nigeria’s indivisibility. A committed nationalist, he laid the foundation for the development of the Federal Capital Territory as the first administrator of the former Federal Territory of Lagos in 1966.
“He was a man of high integrity. Johnson was one of the two state Governors (along with Brigadier-General Oluwole Rotimi) who was given a clean bill by the three-man panel commissioned to investigate the various allegations of corruption among the state governors who served under General Gowon.
“Nigeria will miss him; Lagos will miss him. We will all miss him. I commiserate with his wife, children and other family members. My condolences also go to Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu and the state government over the transition.
“We thank God Brigadier Johnson lived to an advanced age and left behind good children and significant legacies. May his soul rest in peace.”
He laid foundation of modern Lagos -Agbaje
For governorship candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), in the 2019 election in Lagos State, Mr. Jimi Agbaje, Johnson is a man of impeccable and unassailable character who laid the foundation for modern Lagos.
He said Lagos State was blessed to have had a governor like Johnson, who he said nurtured the state from its inception.
“Mobolaji Johnson was a unique administrator with a catalogue of enduring structures and legacies during his tenure as the military governor of a place that served the twin capacities of a brand new state and the nation’s Federal Capital. Lagos State was blessed to have been nurtured at its inception by such a visionary, selfless and creative mind.”
Prof. Isaac Albert, Dean of Multidisciplinary Studies, University of Ibadan said “we have lost one of our best military officers’’.
“He displayed a fine gentleman character, and was never implicated in any scandal.