The roll call of eminent Nigerians that graced the recent 90th birthday of First Civilian Governor of Lagos State, Alhaji Lateef Kayode Jakande (LKJ) speaks volume of his pedigree as a widely respected statesman. Dignitaries at the event include Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, National Leader of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu and his Ogun State counterpart, Mr. Dapo Abiodun.
Others are Deputy Governor of Lagos State, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat, former governor of Lagos State, Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola, former governor of Osun State, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, former governor of Ogun State, Chief Olusegun Osoba, former governor of Borno State, Muhammadu Goni, former Minister of Defence , Ademola Seriki, former Speaker of Lagos State House of Assembly, Jokotola Pelumi and many others. Speakers after speakers paid glowing tribute to the legendary status of the celebrant at the event. The Chairman of the occasion and former governor of Ogun State, Chief Olusegun Osoba described Alhaji Jakande as an accomplished Nigerian and a global brand.
In his speech, Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu announced that Igando Garden Estate under construction would be named Jakande Garden Estate upon completion. This is in appreciation of many laudable feats and achievements of the former Lagos State Governor, Alhaji Lateef Jakande, during his tenure as governor of Lagos State.
Governor Sanwo-Olu stated that Jakande has left many legacies worth of emulation as far as administration of Lagos State is concerned. “ In appreciation of your numerous contributions to the state, the Igando Garden Estate under construction, when completed, would be named Jakande Garden Estate”, Sanwo-Olu said.
Governor Sanwo-Olu urged all political leaders to emulate Jakande, especially with the way he ruled Lagos and transformed virtually all sectors within a very short period.
Lagos State has, no doubt, been blessed with visionary leaders whose vision and thoughts have progressively molded the State. One of such is Alhaji Lateef Kayode Jakande, popularly referred to as LKJ, the State’s first democratically elected governor (October 1, 1979 and December 31, 1983).
From the outset, LKJ pledged to model his government after that of the defunct Western Region of Nigeria, from 1952 to 1959, headed by Chief Obafemi Awolowo. He said: “That Government was the most efficient, the most dynamic, and the most responsive of all the Governments of the federation. That Government was the country’s pacesetter- the first to do all good things that others later copied. There has never been a government like it in Africa before or since.”
True to his words, LKJ assiduously went to work to realize his vision. Till date, many of his populist policies and programmes, especially in the housing, public transportation and education sectors, still endear him to all and sundry. The ambitious Lagos metro line project, which, if it had seen the light of the day, would have revolutionized public transportation in the State, was conceived by his administration. Some of the Housing Estates he established across various locations such as Iba, Isolo, Iponri, Ejigbo etc, are still serving the housing needs of Lagosians. It was under his administration that movement into State’s current Secretariat at Alausa, Ikeja, began. LKJ reportedly attached so much urgency to the construction of the present government secretariat that he was so bent on the relocation plan that he virtually caught everyone unawares when it finally happened.
Being a consummate journalist, and following the trend of his political mentor, Chief Obafemi Awolowo who established the first television station in Africa, LKJ also established Lagos Television, LTV, which happens to be the first State owned Television in the country. LKJ also established the Lagos State University in 1983. His administration also constructed water works at Shasha, Agege, Somolu, Apapa, Badagry, Aguda etc to improve water supply and avoid outbreak of water borne epidemics.
It was LKJ that begun the transformation of the State’s transport sector. On November 29, 1979, 59 new buses belonging to the Lagos State Transport Corporation were inaugurated with a view to enhancing public transportation in the State. On January 28, 1980, the parking meters began to function in some busy streets in central Lagos. It was the first of such in Nigeria.
His government also opened up public education to accommodate more pupils. After only one year in office, additional schools were constructed by the administration. For instance, the number of public primary schools in Ikeja Local Government alone increased from 54 to 86. This implies that 32 new primary schools were built. The number of public secondary schools in the area also increased from 13 to 42, which means 29 new secondary schools were built. All within just a year!
A workaholic and tireless leader, LKJ worked round the clock in his bid to fast track the development of Lagos State. Reports had it that on December 31st, 1983, when the Sheu Shagari civilian administration was toppled, in a military coup d’état, soldiers who came to arrest LKJ met him at his office working deep in the night, on a New Year eve. Such was his legendary dedication to duty and passion for hard work.
It is, therefore, not surprising that LKJ became a star among the 19 governors of the Second Republic. He soon became popular and given several appellations in the media such as ‘Baba Kekere’, ‘Friend of the Masses’, ‘Action Governor’ etc. Out of the lots, the one that really became prominent is ‘Action Governor’. Sure, during the Second Republic, there was only one ‘Action Governor’ in Nigeria –LKJ.
It is hoped that more political leaders would take a cue from this visionary patriot by being selfless and patriotic in all their ways. They also need to pay heed to former American President, Quincy Adams, words that “if your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.
Ogunbiyi writes from Alausa, Ikeja