From Laide Raheem, Abeokuta
Ogun State governor, Dapo Abiodun has described the demise of the first civilian governor of Lagos State, Alhaji Lateef Jakande, as a colossal loss to Nigeria and journalism practice globally.
Jakande died on Thursday, aged 91 in Lagos.
“Papa Jakande was a statesman of statesmen. He was not just a great disciple of the legendary Obafemi Awolowo, he carried the Awoist traits everywhere he went. Lagos has lost a visioner. The Awoists family has lost a great inheritor and practitioner of the great legacy and Nigeria’s progressive politics has been weaned of a model,” Abiodun said in a condolence message issued by Kunle Somorin, the Governor’s Chief Press Secrtary in Abeokuta on Thursday.
The statement further quoted Abiodun as eulogizing the deceases as a profound protégé of Papa Awo, an excellent welfarist, democrat and diplomat of the finest pedigree who was not found wanting in character and disposition throughout his professional and political career.
“There is no way good governance will be mentioned in Nigeria without a reference to the cerebral journalist and administrator, Alhaji Lateef Jakande. He was selfless; an embodiment of in excellence in prudent management of men and resources both as a newspaper man and as governor of Lagos State. Everybody attests to his modesty and exceptional skills in managing the affairs of Lagos State even in the period of austerity measures.
“He simply was the best in his generation of governors and held in high esteem by succeeding generations of Governors. To live in the hearts of millions even when we are no more here is not to die,”
“Papa LKJ was a great fighter who lived a great and exemplary life. He fought a triumphant battle against dictatorship and tyranny, especially in the colonial era and immediate post-colonial period as a journalist and politician. Many will remember him as the best governor in the second Republic, renowned for his investment in education, housing and public infrastructure”, the statement continued.
LKJ was the last of the Unity Party of Nigeria-led LOOBO (Lagos, Ondo, Ogun, Bendel and Oyo), as the states were called when the country had a 19-state structure.
“While his role in the days following the annulment of June 12 election can never be forgotten, his achievements as Minister of Works between 1993 and 1998 still stand out till today. He was consistent in standing for truth and integrity throughout his sojourn life on this side of the divide.
“I recall that he stood like a rock of Gibraltar with the National Democratic Coalition (NADECO) and there is no way the history of democratic struggle in Nigeria can be written without his name not be emblazoned in gold. He may no more be with us physically, but his example of honour and dignity will continue to inspire future generations’, Abiodun further stated.
“Baba Kekere (Junior Awo), truly fought a good fight all round. Glory to the Almighty for your life and for all that you stood (for). The entire country, Africa and the whole world will never forget your footprints on the sand of democracy
“It is my prayer that Almighty Allah grant Mama, the LKJ family, the government and people of Lagos State the fortitude to bear this great loss”, the statement concluded.
Also, the former governor of the state, Gbenga Daniel, expressed his shock over the demise of Jakande, declaring “Nigeria has lost one the the hardest working governors in its history”.
Daniel, in a condolence letter he personally wrote and addressed to the governor of Lagos State, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, said disbelief over the former governor’s death was not connected to the fear for his ripe old age, but the myth he invoked in many young men when he was at the helm of affairs in Lagos State.
“Of course Alhaji Lateef Kayode Jakande did not die; could not have died as his immortal body remained interred in all the visible projects which dotted the landscape of Lagos, old and New, then and now. He was the ‘Builder’ of the new Lagos as he remain a myth in cosmopolitan administration to successive governments in Lagos state years after him.
“I remember vividly his creative intervention in the chaotic education system in Lagos State then as soon as he assumed office as a governor. Several secondary schools were compelled to run three shifts and his unprecedented efforts to return the school system back to normal with his now famous “Jakande Schools”.
“His intervention in the Housing Sector were no less ingenious and creative with a Mass Housing scheme for the less privileged. Many of his Low-Cost “Jakande Housing Scheme still dot the landscape of Lagos State.
“His pioneering efforts in founding the Lagos State College of Science and Technology (now the Lagos State Polytechnic) where I was a pioneer Lecturer at the School of Engineering, redefined the concept of Higher and Vocational education in Lagos State.
“His famed Metroline project which he conceived over 40 years ago clearly defined the character and strength of his vision which would have resolved the chaotic transportation problems in Lagos State. Today, that vision remains a road not taken and the problems persist.
“He will be greatly missed and forever remembered each time the history and development of Lagos is told”. Daniel stated.