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Alhaji Lateef Kayode Jakande, 1929- 2021

Alhaji Lateef Jakande
Alhaji Lateef Jakande

BEVERLY HILLS, February 14, (THEWILL) – Alhaji Lateef Kayode Jakande is a household name in Lagos nay Nigeria because of his legacy as an astute politician of the first and second Republic and as the first civilian governor of Lagos State between 1979 and 1983.

A man of modest lifestyle, Jakande was a great disciplinarian and one who didn’t tolerate laziness and lackadaisical approach to work. His firm stand on hardwork earned him the appellation of “Action Governor”.

He was popularly known as Baba Kekere because of the perception by the Awolowo political family then that he was the lieutenant to their leader, Chief Obafemi Awolowo and that he would succeed him as the leader of the Awolowo Political family, though events later proved them wrong.

His performance as Governor of Lagos State between 1979 and 1981 with little resources had proved him as an accomplished administrator and astute politician.

He was also celebrated for his welfarist programmes and projects.

The low- income estates he built while in government still litter the nook and crannies of the state. In education, he carried out successfully the free education programme of his party, the Unity Party of Nigeria and not only succeeded in abolishing the morning- afternoon schools in Lagos State but also established the Lagos State University and LTV 8.

Speaking in an interview, Jakande said what got him interested in partisan politics was what he saw as the poor state of the people, saying improving the welfare of the people was a major reason for joining politics.

A devoted Muslim, Kayode Jakande was born in the Epetedo Area of Lagos State. Both parents were from Omun Aran in Kwara State. He studied at the Lagos public school at Enu-Owa, Lagos Island, then at Bunham Memorial Methodist School, Port Harcourt (1934–43). He studied briefly at King’s College, Lagos in 1943, and then enrolled at Ilesha Grammar School in 1945, where he edited a literary paper called The Quarterly Mirror.

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In 1949, Jakande began a career in journalism first with the Daily Service and then in 1953 joining the Nigerian Tribune. In 1956 Chief Obafemi Awolowo, who founded the Tribune newspaper appointed him Editor-In Chief. Jakande’s editorials were revered as factual and forthright, and were treated by the colonial powers with respect. After leaving the Tribune in 1975, Jakande established John West Publications and began to publish The Lagos News. He served as the first President of the Newspaper Proprietors Association of Nigeria (NPAN).

Encouraged by Awolowo, he ran for election as executive governor of Lagos State in 1979, on the Unity Party of Nigeria platform. He defeated his opponents, Adeniran Ogunsanya of NPP and Sultan Ladega Adeniji Adele of National Party of Nigeria and was subsequently sworn in as governor. His administration was effective and open and implemented the cardinal policies of his party. He introduced housing and educational programmes targeting the poor, building new neighbourhood primary and secondary schools and providing free primary and secondary education. He established the Lagos State University.

His government constructed over 30,000 housing units. The schools and housing units were built cheaply, but were of great value.

Though, he gave up the ghost on Thursday, February 11, 2021, Jakande’s name would remain indelible in the minds and hearts of Lagosians, who still see him as the best civilian governor to govern the state.

Born July 23, 1929, Jakande was a journalist who later successfully ventured into politics, became governor of Lagos State in Nigeria from 1979 to 1983, and later Minister of Works under the Late General Sani Abacha military regime (1993–98).