Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, National leader of the All Progressives Congress, (APC), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu and former Governor of Ogun State, Chief Olusegun Osoba on Tuesday extolled the virtues and legacy of the first civilian Governor of Lagos State, Alhaji Lateef Jakande who clocked 90 years today.
The prominent Nigerians spoke at Jakande’s 90th birthday celebration of the founder of the Newspaper Proprietors of Nigeria, (NPAN) and the Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE) in held at The Haven Event Centre, Ikeja area of Lagos.
Speaking at the event, Osinbajo described Jakande as a revolutionary and transformational figure in the political history of the nation, saying he is a core progressive with many achievements that qualified him for the national award.
Describing Jakande as a revolutionary, transformational figure in the political history of the country, Osinbajo, said as a man with vision he was able to do several revolutionary things beginning with the change of the education system in Lagos, the homeownership scheme of the country.
He said, “The free education policy in Lagos during his tenure was transformational in the sense that it stopped the shift education system which is morning and afternoon and became the single system”.
He added: “Through this policy, thousands of children in the state had the opportunity of going to school. More importantly was in the housing sector which he made effective. He built the largest number of housing projects by any state government in one circle, including even the federal government was built under the Jakande administration. And that has remained to this day.
“So Alhaji jakande has shown that governance with the people in mind, with the common man in mind is possible and that it is possible impact the lives of all our people if we are dedicated and committed. His life and times have shown that dedication to public service can have its own rewards especially the rewards of so many of us who are here. All of us who are in one way or the other has affected politically. I do not know of anyone here who has held a leadership position that was not influenced by the Jakande administration”.
While praying God to spare Jakande’s life, Osinbajo said:” I am sure that many years from now, all of us generation after will remember the man who transformed Lagos and by transforming Lagos, transformed Nigeria.
On his part, Tinubu, who described Jakande as a foremost progressives that anyone can find in the continent added that he achieved many first at the time it was extremely difficult to rule in Nigeria.
“”One of the key, not excluding others, was his unshakable and absolute loyalty to his leaders. At the very crucial time in the history of politics in the country, he was extremely loyal to former Premier of the Western Region, the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo.
“Ideological, he has never departed from the progressives’ path. He is always with the progressives. Too many historical things that so many of us who governed the state after him had just to dust up from the archives and ask ourselves what Jakande did when he was confronted with such challenges. So, many of the schools are testimonial for Alhaji Lateef Jakande.
“This is a day of merry making and we are extremely proud that we see him to be 90 and one record that we must equally accept here as a gift was that progressive government has never failed in Lagos. It is not easy to attain such height in life”, he said.
Osoba, who spoke as chairman of the occasion disabused the minds of many Nigerians about Jakande working as minister under the despotic leader, the late Gen.Sani Abacha.
“Following the annulment of the June 12, 1993 elections and attendant political crisis, Jakande was enjoined to join the cabinet of former head of state, late General Sani Abacha as works minister.
“The thinking was that Pro-June 12 supporters should have a foot in the government. many may not remember that Alhaji Jakande alonside Dr. Olu Onagoruwa and Alex Ibru were in the vanguard of those who worked for MKO Abiola’s bail, which unfortunately, he was prevailed upon by his lawyers not to accept at the last minute. We will never know what course history would have taken if Abiola had taken that bail.
“It is important for us to note that for Alhaji, Jakande, the appointment was just another opportunity to serve the public; not for any personal aggrandizement; he has, unfortunately, been maligned for this by members of the old political family, forgetting that much earlier in 1966, he had rejected invitation to serve the military government of the day. The failure to understand the context of some of the political developments post-1993 still underpins the political tendencies in South West politics today.
“For me, two things pain me when the subject touches Alhaji Jakande. The first is that he had not written his memoir. How wonderful it would have been to hear first-hand account of his journalistic and political exploits; how he successfully implemented the four-cardinal points programmes of the Unity Party of Nigeria, UPN in the Second Republic, which many thought was political sloganeering and how younger Nigerians would have been able to draw from his wellspring of wisdom.
“The second is that our celebrant does not have a deserved national honour when peoples of lesser contribution strut around the country with high honours. It is my recommendation that Baba Jakande should be given nothing lower than the national honour of Commander of the Federal Republic,” he lamented.
In his goodwill message, Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu said Jakande is a national name, “which is synonymous with development, whether in education, water, housing, public transportation, etc., and it is a name nobody can toy with”.
He also named the yet to be commissioned Igando Housing Estate which has 496 flats of 1,2 &3 bedrooms after the former gover, which he christened ‘Alhaji Lateef Jakande Garden Estate, Igando”, adding that next month the elder statesman would declare the place open.
Sanwo-Olu who said he was a young boy of 14 in 1979 when Jakande took over the leadership of the state thanked God for sparing his life to see what their lives as young boys then has turned into.
The governor thanked God for sparing Jakande’s life and for the legacies he left behind which everybody makes reference to presently.
“Jakande recorded several firsts that nobody else has met, “the legacy of Jakande is in housing, education, public transportation, water, etc. About three to four occasions I went to him during my campaign he had advice for me, he is still very cerebral and lucid,” Sanwo-Olu said.
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