It was another moment of global reference to archival diary of history, last week Thursday (February 11, 2021). The media waves suddenly throbbed, with breaking news announcing the demise of a frontline Nigerian Statesman and political colossus, Alhaji Lateef Kayode Jakande. That un-refutable breaking news could not be appealed because it was instigated by the verdict of destiny. However, what the announcers failed or forgot to add to the broadcast was that the man’s footprint, on the sands of time, would remain indelible for centuries.
That news, which reverberated across the length and breadth of the entire world, immediately became a reminder to Nigerians, that death is truly the leveler of mankind.
Besides sheer political propaganda, through the media, if any Nigerian politician of the contemporary time is genuinely qualified to be described as “The President that Nigeria never had”, it should be Alhaji Lateef Jakande and not anyone else.
As a notable professional Journalist and a vertical politician of note, this man can be classified as greater in death than in life, through his non-such dedication to the service of humanity which has now become an unprecedented legacy in Nigerian democracy.
By all standards, Jakande was, naturally, a personification of, service to humanity, not only as a Nigerian patriot but also as an exemplarily contented Muslim.
Evidence of Performance
As the only Muslim among the five Governors of the Unity party of Nigeria (UPN), in the country’s second republic, Alhaji Lateef Jakande convincingly proved the worth of a real Muslim in thought and in action, by glaringly surpassing the performance records of most other Governors of his era in the country.
Without a iota of doubt, Alhaji Lateef Jakande was UPN’s undisputable model Governor and pace setter in service oriented performance, which earned him the appellation of ‘ACTION GOVERNOR’.
His Vision-Based Actions
When Alhaji Lateef Jakande became the Governor of Lagos State, in 1979, eight years, after the Military Government that preceded his own government, took over schools in Lagos State, (in 1975), he knew that the people of Lagos would suffer educational setback because the few schools that were available in the State, at that time, could not effectively satisfy the educational yearnings of those people.
He therefore, quickly designed an education program that could put Lagos State ahead of all other States in Nigeria, at the primary and secondary school levels.
Within the 51 months (i. e. October 1, 1979 to December 31, 1983), of his stay in office, as Governor, Alhaji Jakande established hundreds of primary and secondary schools that provided the children of the grassroots people the privilege of attending schools, in their various localities, free of charge.
Proof of Dynamic Leadership
To prove the genuineness of his dynamic leadership with impeccable sincerity, Governor Jakande made sure that his own children also attended the same grassroots schools that he established for the children of the masses.
And, to the amazement of all people in Lagos State, Governor Jakande built over 2000 classrooms within the period of 51 months that he spent in office as Governor, and limited the number of pupils in each classroom to 40 even as he canceled the school attendance shifting system which many people had thought to be impossible.
His Conception of LASU
For the first time ever, at the State level, Governor Jakande conceived the idea of Establishing a State University, at Ijanikin, near Badagry, and executed it with immediate effect and automatic alacrity in 1983. It was named
Lagos State University (LASU).
Not only that, as alternative tertiary institutions for secondary school certificate holders, who might be unable to gain admission into LASU or any other University, he also established a Polytechnic called Lagos State Polytechnic (LASPOTECH) at Isolo and a College of Education (LACOEDU), near LASU, which was later renamed Adeniran Ogunsanya College of Education. All of these were reasonably made cheap for students from poor homes, whose parents might not be able to afford the cost of tertiary education. And, as a Governor with human feeling, he ensured the boosting of scholarship and provision of bursary
for indigent students in those tertiary institutions. Today, most of the graduates of those institutions constitute the bulk of the State’s civil servants and the hub of man power in the private sector of the State as well as that of the country and, even, many countries outside Nigeria.
Other UPN States
It is historically notable that the pace of giant strides set by Alhaji Jakande, in Lagos State, became the model of emulation in governance which other Governors had to vigorously follow in what seemingly looked like a progressive competition among their States.
Thus, such institutions as Ogun State University which was later renamed as Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago Iwoye, Ogun State; Bendel State University which was later renamed Ambrose Ali University, Ekpoma, Edo State and Ondo State University, which was later renamed as Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba, Ondo State, sprang up in those States.
It was only in Oyo State, where no State University was established by Governor Bola Ige, because of the two existing Federal Universities (i.e. University of Ibadan (UI) and University of Ife (Now Obafemi Awolowo University), respectively, that no University was renamed any Governor in that State.
To create a conducive environment and progressive reasoning for the State’s civil service, Governor Jakande established a befitting secretariat for the State and a State House of Assembly at a very convenient place, in Ikeja, to ease people’s access to the seat of the government.
His Housing Scheme
As a people’s Governor who knew the negative implication of homelessness on the psyche of the people, in his State, Alhaji Jakande designed a massive housing scheme through which he provided over 30000 houses for both the lower and middle class income earners across the State, within the four years and three months that he spent in office as Governor. Without the provision of those houses, at that right time, only God knows the extent of accommodation problem that would have overcome Lagos by now.
His Metro Line Plan
One of the visionary measures that Governor Jakande took to ameliorate the problem of bottleneck transportation in Lagos State was to design an intra-city mass commuter rail system called metro line, the first of its type in Africa, at that time, which would have commenced full operation by 1985, if the military coup that abruptly terminated the country’s second republic had not occurred and turned the pleasant social dream of that metro line plan into a social nightmare. That the military government which terminated Nigeria’s second republic cancelled that great project and diverted the funds earmarked for it was one of the social misfortunes obviously unleashed on Lagos State, the agony of which is still being felt by all and sundry today. Actually, the cancelation of a metro line plan, at that time, in a water-logged State
Like Lagos, was nothing less than an economic lockdown for Nigeria.
His Information Management Program
As a veteran Journalist, who knew the value of information dissemination, Governor Jakande also established a Radio Station which he named Radio Lagos and followed it up with a Television Station which he branded as Lagos State Television (LTV). That was in the same year of 1983. Today, the vibrancy of those media outfits are unquantifiable in terms of information dissemination, mass mobilization of the people and mass human empowerment.
In all these, most other progressive Governors in the country had no choice but to copy some of Jakande’s great plans as evidence of action governance, if only to show that democracy was more responsive to people’s yearnings than any dictatorial military governance.
His Health Program
When Alhaji Lateef Jakande first assumed office as Governor of Lagos State in October 1979, one of his first areas of concern was the health of his people. He knew that no progressive plan could be pursued or executed successfully, without sound health for the people.
He therefore established General Hospital in each of the six zones in Lagos State with free treatment for the patients.
As a matter of fact, Governor Jakande’s record of performance the record is a peculiar reference point for the present and future Governors or even Presidents of Nigeria.
If Nigeria were fortunate to have a personality like Governor Jakande as President it would have been a golden opportunity for Africa to raise its head, with confidence, as a global hopeful region.
As the pioneer Governor of Lagos State, Alhaji Lateef was like an elephant surrounded by a group of blind men. Each of those blind can only be able to describe the part he is able to touch on the body of that mammoth animal and not the whole of it. We pray the Almighty Allah to repose his soul in eternal bliss with mercy and grant his family the needed fortitude with which to cope with life after his demise.
Now, without prejudice to whatever the Lagos State government, under the leadership of Governor Babatunde Sanwolu may be planning, as a show of appreciation to this great man, ‘The Message’ column here recommends that LASU be renamed Lateef Kayode Jakande University (LKJU) in appreciation of his historic giant strides and in encouragement of future leaders in Lagos State.
Today, the Universities which the other UPN Governors established for their States, in emulation of Governor Jakande’s action governance, have been renamed after those Governors following their demise.
If the Universities established by the pioneer civilian Governors in other South West States of Nigeria could be named after those Governors, that of LASU must not be an exception. What is good for the goose must also be good for the gander.
GOD BLESS LAGOS STATE, GOD BLESS NIGERIA!
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