The first civilian governor of Lagos State and eminent journalist and administrator, Alhaji Lateef Kayode Jakande, who died recently at the age of 91, will be remembered for his selfless service to Lagos State and Nigeria. Little wonder many Nigerians have lauded his sterling qualities and achievements since his demise. Both as a Governor and Minister of Works and Housing, LKJ, as he was fondly called, performed so well.
The late statesman, who governed Lagos State from 1979 to 1983, contributed so much to the development of Lagos and Nigeria. He demonstrated with his giant strides in Lagos that a good leader can achieve much even within a short period of four years. In his death, Nigeria has lost one of its best and patriotic politicians who came into politics to serve the people and not to be served. Let all politicians emulate his exemplary service.
He ran the affairs of Lagos State from his private residence in Ilupeju Lagos and used his personal car. He was, indeed, a great leader. As a governor under the defunct Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN), Jakande fulfilled the four cardinal programmes of his party to the people of Lagos State. He ensured that Lagosians enjoyed free education from primary to university level and free healthcare service.
His tenure also witnessed massive rural development and the creation of more jobs. To ensure that every child in Lagos had access to education, Jakande built many primary and secondary schools across the state and recruited enough teachers for them. The number of primary schools increased from 605 to 812, while primary school enrolment rose from 434,545 to 533,001 pupils.
Similarly, public secondary schools increased from 105 to 223, and the number of students from 107,835 to 167,629. He built a total of 22,000 classrooms and fixed the number of pupils per class at 40. Unarguably, he laid the foundation for the development of Lagos State.
He built many housing estates in Amuwo-Odofin, Ijaiye, Dolphin, Oke-Afa, Abesan, Iponri, Ipaja and other parts of Lagos. As a Minister of Works and Housing under the late Gen. Sani Abacha regime, he built some housing estates in Abuja, including the famous Gwarimpa Housing Estate. He also established the Lagos Weekend Television now renamed Lagos Television, Lagos Radio, the State Secretariat at Alausa, Ikeja, House of Assembly complex, and general hospitals across the state.
Although born in the Epetedo area of Lagos Island, his parents hailed from Omu-Aran in Kwara State. He attended a public school at Enu- Owa on Lagos Island and later went to Bunham Memorial Methodist School, Port Harcourt, between 1934 and 1943. He also studied briefly at King’s College, Lagos, in 1943 before enrolling in Ilesha Grammar School in 1945. Jakande developed his writing skill at Ilesha Grammar School when he edited a literary paper in the school, The Quarterly Mirror.
In 1949, he began a full time career in journalism with the Daily Service. In 1949, he joined the Nigerian Tribune, and by 1956, he became the newspaper’s editor-in -chief. After 22 years in the saddle at the Nigerian Tribune, he resigned in 1975 to establish John West Publications where he published The Lagos News.
He was a pioneer member of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) and a foundation member and the first president of the Newspaper Proprietors Association of Nigeria (NPAN). He co-founded the Nigeria Guild of Editors (NGE) and also founded the Nigerian Institute of Journalism (NIJ).
His administration built the Epe/Ijebu Ode Road, Oba Akran Avenue, Town Planning Way, Alimosho- Idimu- Egbe Road, Idimu- Iba-LASU Road, Victoria Island/Epe Road and the new Lagos State Secretariat Road. He also established an asphalt plant which enabled the department of public works to construct many roads through direct labour.
However, his plan to build the Lagos city metro line was canceled by the military regime that sacked the second republic. Going by his achievements, he deserves government’s immortalisation. We commiserate with his family, the people and government of Lagos State on the irreparable loss. May Allah grant him eternal rest.