How Jakande touched our lives, by family, friends

Some call him ‘the Action Governor’. Others say he was ‘the selfless achiever.’ The name of the first civilian Governor of Lagos State, Alhaji Lateef Kayode Jakande, who passed on peacefully in his sleep last Thursday, seems forever etched in the annals of history, owing to his immense contributions to the development of Lagos. In this report by Evelyn Osagie, family, friends and well-wishers recount how the late governor touched their lives.

Father was a disciplinarian

-Deji Jakande, former member, House of Representatives and son of the late governor

GROWING up I knew my father as a disciplinarian. He always taught us to be content with whatever we had. From what we all know, he served Lagos State selflessly, in the sense that he was committed to investing in the masses. He used to say, there was no option because the masses that voted him required the best. And I can say categorically that till his death, he was committed to humanity. What also worked for him was that he took us as one of the masses. We went to the same school the masses went and there was no travelling abroad. He did live an illustrious life – and I give God the glory. I know that for a long time, his legacies would be remembered. Merely seeing or hearing Jakande Estate or Jakande Bus Stop and all the pleasant comments on him, I always give glory to God. And I have often said ‘if I come back a thousand times and I have a choice, I’d still choose him as my father.

Why dad never wore agbada – Seyi Jakande, Vice Chairman, Odi-olowo/Ojuwoye LCDA,

My father has been variously described as ‘action governor’, ‘father of modern Lagos’ and more. Indeed, he is a legend; he was out of the ordinary. It takes a lot to be able to be who he was; and that is why I say that I do not have the size of his shoes. Dad had a deep passion for humanity. He wanted to be remembered for that and I am happy that is happening. We witnessed all these while he was alive, when people would just run into him and say ‘thank you’ for giving them a roof over their heads and free education. Nothing compares to the joy, when such things come from people who are not in any way connected to him by blood or political relationship.

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In every field that he chose, every path that he walked, he excelled. He also assisted a lot of people, using his influence. His definition of governance and his purpose in politics were very clear.

People see governance as a means to success and means out of poverty. But in my father’s case, it was totally different. He was an extremely content person. He refused to wear Agbada. When asked why, he said: ‘I am going to the office to work. How does someone that is going to work, wear Agbada?’

Papa was strict, but loving’ – Tajudeen Fajole, younger brother to wife Abimbola

Alhaji Jakande is somebody I have lived with most of my life. He is my mentor. I lived with him from my primary school through secondary school days and higher institution before I left this house. He was strict, but loving.

I retired as a director at the Lagos Neighbourhood Safety Agency. I would never forget that he was physically present with his wife, the day I was pulling out of service. In fact, the agency was agog over his presence, which was not expected.

He is somebody I cherish so much.

As governor, his lifestyle did not chance. He lived a very simple life. You’d see people here till 2am. Some would not be able to go back home and they’d sleep over.

Politicians of today should borrow an example from his simple life. He was neither greedy nor amassed wealth. His old vehicle was what he was using even after he left office. There was a case of his good friend – also late – who gave him a brand new Toyota car for his second term in office. Immediately the man left, right at the spot, he donated it to the party. He said he was okay with the one he was using. It happened here in my presence.

It would also interest you to know that of all the housing estates he built, he has no single flat to himself; unlike what obtains now, where people use fictitious means to acquire them. Even none of us, his family, has one.

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May Almighty Allah grant him eternal rest.

‘He remains the bedrock of modern Lagos’

– Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, Former Military Administrator of Lagos State and former Governor, Osun State

Alhaji Lateef Jakande is the bedrock of modern Lagos. I will never forget his counselling throughout my period as administrator. He was a man that served selflessly. The progress of humanity was of great concern to him and his name would forever be remembered in Nigeria and the Diaspora.

I had the rare opportunity of being posted to administer Lagos in the year 1993. If you can recall, that was the most turbulent period in the history of Lagos State, coming after the annulment of the June 12 election. People were aggrieved because of the annulment and things were not normal. So, finding myself in that position was truly a challenge. I must however confess that I had a father in the late Alhaji Lateef Jakande. For every challenge that came my way as an administrator, he had a listening ear; and he was always offering a shoulder for me to lean on.

I recall an occasion when the agitation was so high that we had to confront the agitators. They fought government in every way. There were times they would pack rubbish at the centre of the road. There were mountains of refuse, such that when we were about to host the Junior World Cup, it became a problem. I had to run to Baba to tell him that ‘this was beyond me.’ Without thinking twice, he mobilised all his machinery and overnight all the mountains of refuse disappeared.

He was a man who served selflessly. He did so well and left behind many legacies. I console the family; they don’t need to grieve over his departure. He did well and left behind a very good legacy.

It was the foundation that he laid that other administrators and governors have been building on.

Engr Kamaldeen Giwa, close confidant of Jakande, who supervised the building of schools and housing estates

I am a son to Baba and have been with him for many years – Baba has biological and non-biological children. To me, he was a special person being. God Almighty so ordained him. He was one man who thought much of the masses and always aimed satisfy them. He never cared about his own comfort but would give anything for the masses to be comfortable.

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Baba started his life as a disciplined person, he was a man of integrity and he saw life as very simple. You can see how he, a former governor of Lagos, lived. He built this house before becoming governor and lived there as governor. He also used his personal car while in office.

In 1976, long before he became governor in 1979, he had been preparing himself for governance. He had all sorts of documents – on health, engineering, education, rural development, housing, everything. I was responsible for the construction of schools and houses during his tenure.

When he became governor, the main challenge was how to eliminate the three-shift school system to become one? We had to start the construction of schools, which I was fully responsible for. We created over 400 schools – primary and secondary.

Many products of these schools are now professors, commissioners, even governors.

I was also responsible for the building of the 3 and 2 bedroom apartments. The 2-bedrooms sold for N5,000 while the 3-bedrooms sold for N6,000. They were sold on first come, first serve basis. You didn’t have to know anyone; we had a register and the deposit was N1, 000, which was paid to the mortgage bank then called Lagos State Development and Property Corporation (LSDPC). They were to pay N100 for maybe 50 years. You can see that he made life simple for everyone.

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