Former Lagos State governor, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, has described the first civilian governor of the state, Alhaji Lateef Jakande, who died on Thursday at 91 as the last of the political titans.
According to Asiwaju, Papa Jakande “could appropriately be described as the last of the titans ranking with the likes of Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe, Chief Adekunle Ajasin, Pa Abraham Adesanya, Chief Bola Ige, Chief Olabiyi Onabanjo, Alhaji Balarabe Musa, Alhaji Aminu Kano, among others.“
He said the late Jakande was also a “mature statesman never given to histrionics or fanning the embers of disunity,” adding that “at difficult moments in the nation’s history, such as the struggle against military dictatorship, he took personal painful decisions that cost him a lot, but his integrity was never impugned.”
Asiwaju Tinubu stated this in a condolence statement on the passing of the former journalist, administrator and politician, Alhaji Jakande, which he personally signed.
Titled “We Celebrate, Not Mourn Jakande,” Asiwaju Tinubu said: “Today, we lost a great soul. Pa Lateef Kayode Jakande exemplified the best of Lagos and of Nigeria. He could appropriately be described as the last of the titans ranking with the likes of Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe, Chief Adekunle Ajasin, Pa Abraham Adesanya, Chief Bola Ige, Chief Olabiyi Onabanjo, Alhaji Balarabe Musa, Alhaji Aminu Kano, among others.
“Showing his extraordinary natural ability, Pa Jakande was largely self-educated, yet he rose to become a man of great knowledge and a preeminent figure in Nigerian journalism who stood as one of the most incisive and brilliant editorialists of his generation. He practiced journalism with the most audacious courage in defence of freedom, liberty and equity even in the thick of vicious military dictatorship.
“As accomplished he was as a journalist, Pa Jakande shone even more brightly as a governor and true leader of Lagos State. Whatever we have been able to accomplish in Lagos State is because of the groundwork Pa Jakande set out before us. In so many ways, he is the inspirational father of modern Lagos State.
“In housing, education, health care, and road construction, he left an indelible imprint. Thousands of Lagosian families still reside in the several housing estates he constructed across the state. Thousands of beneficiaries of his free education scheme are accomplished professionals and successful individuals in diverse fields today. The Jakande administration conceptualized and actualized the Lagos-Badagry Expressway that opened that whole sector of the state for development.
“His administration conceived the Round Office from which I operated for eight years as governor but he did not occupy the structure even for one day. This was characteristic of him for Papa toiled and worked not for his personal benefit but for the future and the good of others.
“Incidentally, my administration conceived the new Lagos State Governor’s Office, which I never occupied for one day! In this and in most other things, I tried to walk in the spirit of Jakande!
The late elder statesman was a fount of invaluable advice and support throughout my tenure as governor.
“He was a mature statesman never given to histrionics or fanning the embers of disunity. At difficult moments in the nation’s history, such as the struggle against military dictatorship, he took personal painful decisions that cost him a lot but his integrity was never impugned.
“My last memory of him was at his 90th birthday last year when we gathered to celebrate him. The great man sat there, silent, bowed, humble, unaffected – a model lesson of servant leadership.
“I, as well as all Lagosians, and Nigerians will miss him in ways that words cannot fully express for he was a true original. He was one of a kind. Yet he would admonish us not to mourn him but to celebrate his life by carrying on in the spirit of compassion to build a more progressive and just society.
“Of course, we will shed tears and feel saddened by the passing of this great man. Yet we must also thank God that we had the honour to have known him and to have learned so much from him. Now we must honour him by emulating the kindness and social vision that made him so special.
“My thoughts at this moment are with Papa’s pillar of support, Alhaja Jakande, and the children, including my former Personal Assistant, Hon. Deji Jakande, and all others left behind by Alhaji Jakande. May Almighty Allah comfort them all.
“We celebrate Papa’s life and his legacy and we must do our best to continue to build on them. May Almighty Allah grant Baba Jakande Aljanna Firdaus. Amin.”