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Grief, tributes as Jakande dies at 91

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Nigerians, yesterday, expressed sorrow and paid glowing tributes as Lateef Jakande, the first civilian governor of Lagos State, died at the age of 91.

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His remains, according to his family, will be buried today.

His third son, Seyi, said he died in his sleep on Thursday, around 11 a.m., in his Ilupeju home.

Committee of Friends of the late ex-governor also confirmed the passing in a statement, which released details of the burial plan.

The statement was signed by Prof. Abisogun Leigh, former vice-chancellor LASU; Mr. Kamal Giwa; Prince Bayo Oshiyemi, Alhaji Gani Owolabi Dada; Mrs. Omolara Abeke Vaugh; and Alhaja Latifat Olufunke Gbajabiamila.

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It read: “The committee of friends of LKJ, first civil governor of Lagos State wishes to announce the passing of our dear leader, the Baba Kekere of Lagos, Alhaji Chief Lateef Kayode Jakande, at the age of 91, which sad incident happened on Thursday, February 11, 2021.”

According to the statement, the burial rites will commence today, with prayers at No 2 Bishop Street, Ilupeju, Lagos State at 9 am.

It will be followed by interment at Volts and Gardens, Ikoyi at 4 pm Friday 12, February 2021.

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Minutes after the news broke, sympathisers trooped to his residence to pay last respect to the legendary politician.

Jakande is revered for massive infrastructural development recorded during his four-year tenure, especially the numerous Jakande Estates built across local governments and investments in schools.

Seyi said his father had revalidated his APC membership on Wednesday before he passed on in his sleep.

He said: “He had his breakfast this morning and slept. Around 11 am, his aide noticed he was not breathing. So, medical personnel was invited to examine him and he was confirmed dead.”

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Another son, Deji, confirmed to The Guardian that Jakande’s remains would be interred today (Friday). He described his father as a great role model that would be missed by everyone, who had had contact with him.

Jakande was born July 23, 1929, in the Epetedo area of Lagos Island. He was a journalist and became the governor of Lagos State from 1979-1983. Encouraged by Awolowo, he ran for election as Governor of Lagos in 1979 on the platform of Unity Party of Nigeria(UPN), defeating his opponents Adeniran Ogunsanya of NNP and Sultan Ladega Adeniji Adele of National Party of Nigeria(NPN) and was subsequently sworn in as Governor.

He later became minister of works under the Sani Abacha’s military regime.

He studied at a Lagos public school at Enu-Owa, Lagos Island, then at Bunham Memorial Methodist School, Port Harcourt. He had a stint at King’s College, Lagos in 1943. He 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 in Daily Times before he joined the Nigerian Tribune in 1953 where he was appointed editor-in-chief by the Publisher, Obafemi Awolowo.

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).

He introduced housing and educational programmes, targeting the poor, building new neighborhood primary and secondary schools as well as providing free primary and secondary education.

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As a governor, he established 23 local government councils, which were later disbanded by the military.

After the military take-over in 1983, Jakande was charged, prosecuted and convicted of treason and later pardoned.

Following his freedom, he accepted the position of Minister of Works under the Late Sani Abacha military regime, which earned him some criticism. He claimed he accepted the post under pressure from MKO Abiola and other progressive leaders.

PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari, in his tribute, said Jakande lived for the good of others, state and country and that his legacy of standing for all would be long remembered.

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The President, while condoling with family, friends and associates of the elder statesman, affirmed that his impact on the commercial nerve centre of the country, Lagos State, which was the former national capital, would continue to inspire visionary leadership.

He noted the contributions of the former governor to the growth of democracy and good governance in the country, describing him as a patriot, whose wisdom would run through generations, especially in putting people first in development plans.

NEWSPAPERS Proprietors’ Association of Nigeria (NPAN) said it received the news of the death Jakande, its pioneer president, with shock.

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It said that between 1969 and 1979 Jakande “midwife the association from infancy and it is to his eternal glory that the NPAN became the octopus that it is today.”

In a statement signed by the President of the association, Kabiru Yusuf and Secretary, Mohammed Idris, NPAN said Jakande became a reference point for performance not just in Lagos State, which he served as a governor, but across the country.

“It is on record that Alhaji Jakande throughout his tenure lived in his personal house in the Ilupeju area of Lagos and also used his personal car, apart from other landmark projects consummated by his administration.
LAGOS State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, said Jakande would remain one of the best public office holders in the political history of Nigeria, based on how he transformed Lagos State and Nigeria during his tenure as governor and minister of works and housing.

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He described the former minister as an epitome of honesty, dedication and selflessness, who used his elevated positions for the betterment of the people he served.

He said the late Alhaji Jakande was one of the few Lagosians and Nigerian leaders that demystified politics by bringing governance closer to the people.

He said Jakande left with impeccable records in Lagos State and that is why he remains till date, a reference point for governors in Lagos and other parts of the country.

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Chairman, NUJ, Lagos Chapter, Leye Ajayi, described him as a publisher per excellence, a nationalist, and the last of the Titans.

He revealed that to honour Alhaji Jakande, the NUJ Light House in Victoria Island, which Jakande built for the union in 1982 would be renamed “Lateef Jakande House.”

Executive Director, International Press Centre and former Chairman, Lagos State Council of NUJ, Lanre Arogundade, said the late Jakande was peerless.

“Thank you Alhaji Lateef Kayode Jakande for being a pillar of the contribution of the Nigerian Press to Nigeria’s development.

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The Director, Centre for International Advanced and Professional Studies (CIAPS), Prof. Anthony Kila, described the death of Jakande as the passing away of an icon of our time.

Kila said Jakande was someone who excelled personally, professionally and politically.

For NADECO chief, Ayo Opadokun, Jakande was a gift to humanity.

“You were a distinguished professional of the highest pedigree. You saved the progression and created NPAN, Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ), among others. You were among the first Nigerians to be a global board member of international press Institute,” he said.

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ALL Progressives Congress (APC), Lagos State chapter, in a statement through its spokesman, Mr. Seye Oladejo, described the passage as colossal loss, not only to the state but to the nation as a whole.

President, Women Arise & Centre for Change, Dr. Joe Okei-Odumakin, advised present-day public servants and political leaders to emulate the ideals and beliefs of Jakande.

In a statement, Okei-Odumakin described Jakande’s legacy and achievements as legendary, spanning education, housing, transportation and other areas of human endeavours.

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