From left: Alhaja S.A Jakande, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, and Alhaji Lateef Jakande during the celebration.

By Ademola Adegbamigbe

Lateef Jakande was Governor of Lagos State from 1 October 1979 to 13 December, 1983. Yesterday, 23 July, he exceeded the Biblical age of man by 20 years. While that book says the life of man shall be three scores and 10 (70 years), Jakande has made it to 90 and still counting. Moreover, in an environment where the standard of living has maintained a downward spiral, leading to reduced average life expectancy, Jakande has broken the record and, thus, has many reasons to roll out the drums.

A man of stoic and spartan lifestyle, even if the elder statesman had no interest in popping champagne, killing cows and announcing the anniversary on rooftop, prominent Nigerians did it for him. This is because, Jakande is a political institution and, thus, a public property!

It was, therefore, not a big surprise when political big wigs in Nigeria, eulogized him. One of them was President Muhammadu Buhari who, in a congratulatory message by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, in Abuja on Monday, congratulated Jakande for “courage in pursuing a vibrant career in journalism and leaving a lasting legacy in politics and governance.”

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The Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, and other political heavy weights also made a beeline for The Haven Centre on Oba Akinjobi, GRA, Ikeja yesterday to mark Jakande’s birthday. Others in the train were All Progressives Congress (APC) stalwart Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, one-time Ogun State governor Chief Olusegun Osoba.

Osinbajo said Jakande’s life has shown that “dedication to public service can have its own reward, rewards like so many of us here who in one way or the other he has affected politically.

“I do not know of anybody here who has held a leadership position that was not influenced by Jakande’s administration and I am sure that many years from now all of us and generation after will remember the man who transformed Lagos and by transforming Lagos transformer Nigeria.

“He has shown that governance with the people in mind, with the common man in mind is possible and that it is possible to impact the lives of all our people if we are dedicated and committed.

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Osinbajo said that by sheer “grit and vision”, Jakande was able to do several revolutionary things beginning with the educational sector in Lagos State and the whole of the country.

Also, Tinubu said: “Many of us in Lagos and throughout Nigeria are very happy today. Papa you are 90. He (Jakande) is the foremost progressive that you can find in Nigeria and I will say in Africa. One of the key, and many others are there, key quality of Alhaji Jakande is his unshakeable, unnegotiable loyalty to his leaders. At the very crucial time in the history of politics in this country, he was extremely loyal to Chief Obafemi Awolowo of blessed memory. Ideologically, he has never departed from the path of the progressives.”

What struck a chord in people who were old enough to witness what Jakande did in Lagos in four years when he was governor was what Tinubu said. “Jakande has too many firsts at a time when it was extremely difficult to rule in Nigeria.”

How true!

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Below are some of Jakande’s achievements between 1999 and 1983:

* His government built the current Lagos State Secretariat which houses all the state ministries as well as the popular round house hitherto occupied by all subsequent governors of the state.

* His government built the Lagos State House of Assembly complex.

* His government built the Lagos State Television

* His government built the Lagos Radio

* His government built Lagos State University

* His government established General Hospital in zones all over the state with assurance of free health care.

* His government established Teacher Training College and the College of Education.

* His government built low cost houses in Ijaiye, Dolphin, Oke-Afa, Ije, Abesan, Iponri, Ipaja, Abule Nla, Epe, Amuwo-Odofin, Anikantamo, Surulere, Iba, Ikorodu, Badagry, Isheri/Olowu, Orisigun etc.

Read more landmark achievements of this man of history by clicking: TheNEWS