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Sanwo-Olu names Onikan Stadium after first Lagos gov

By Gbenga Salau
04 December 2019   |   4:08 am
Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, yesterday, during a ‘Day of Honour’ organised to celebrate the first military governor of Lagos, the late Brig-Gen. Mobolaji Johnson, renamed...

First Lady of Lagos State, Dr. (Mrs.) Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu (left); Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu; former Governor Bola Tinubu; his wife, Senator Oluremi Tinubu; and Mr. Seyi Johnson during a Day of Tribute for the late Brig-Gen. Mobolaji Johnson, first governor of Lagos, at old Onikan Stadium in Lagos…yesterday.

Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, yesterday, during a ‘Day of Honour’ organised to celebrate the first military governor of Lagos, the late Brig-Gen. Mobolaji Johnson, renamed the re-constructed Onikan stadium as ‘Mobolaji Olufunso Johnson Arena’.

The late Johnson, who was always present in state’s events, despite not physically strong, passed on in his Ilupeju home on October 30, at the age of 83.

Paying glowing tributes to the late military administrator, Sanwo-Olu described him as a man who saw the future and worked to achieve the Lagos dream.

The governor and his deputy, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat, led other members of the State Executive Council (SEC) and other dignitaries to the event.

Sanwo-Olu said the late Johnson’s selflessness in service and excellent achievements had been a source of inspiration to successive administrations in Lagos.

Describing the former administrator as quintessential manager of resources and people, Sanwo-Olu said the late Johnson’s personality symbolised integrity, humility, fairness and justice.

He said: “In whatever role we knew him, the first and longest serving military administrator of Lagos stood out as a special person for his leadership and charismatic personality. If anyone was qualified to be addressed as ‘an officer and a gentleman’, it was Brig-Gen. Johnson. Despite his imposing frame, he was as gentle as a dove.

“He never threw his weight around, though he was a man of power. As a man of authority, he was never authoritarian. Though a soldier, he never ruled with an iron hand; he was compassionate.”

The late Johnson’s administration, Sanwo-Olu added, started the construction of Ikorodu and Mushin general hospitals, and modernised the Lagos Island General Hospital, expanding its facilities.

Aside building maternity annex at Onikan Health Centre and an additional ward at Igbobi Orthopedic Hospital, the governor said the late Johnson also established five new government colleges in each of the five divisions of the state.

All Progressives Congress (APC) national leader, Bola Tinubu, spoke glowingly of the deceased, describing him as “a servant leader and a man of incorruptible character”.

The former governor said the late Johnson, despite being a military administrator, held the people as the cornerstone of his administration and economic policies.

“I salute a courageous officer who never compromised the rules of the military despite becoming a state administrator at a younger age. He put the people at the cornerstone of his administration and economic policies. Having met 10,000 pounds in the treasury of the state when he assumed office, the late Johnson deployed his ingenuity and talent to set the pace for the state’s modernisation and development.

“Just as he had great exploit in the army, his retirement was also solid. He lived a life of principle and contentment. He ran a clean and honest administration.”

Tinubu recalled that 10 state administrators were arrested for corrupt practices when General Murtala Mohammed took over as Head of State in 1976. Only Johnson, the APC national leader declared, was absolved of corruption.

This, Tinubu said, spoke of the deceased’s trait of uprightness and spirit of accountability.

Dr. Hamzat said the late Johnson lived above pettiness, describing the former administrator as a giant “who matched his stature with achievements”.

The deputy governor said the late Johnson always preferred a Spartan life, which was why he chose to live his retirement life among average citizens of the state.

Also, former Lagos military administrator, Rear Admiral Ndubuisi Kanu (rtd.), observed that the late Johnson maintained the dignity of his profession and the office he occupied during his tenure.

Former Ogun State governor, Olusegun Osoba, in his tribute, said all the late Johnson’s children attended public schools and rode in public transport despite their father being the military administrator.

Some former governors and administrators of the state also graced the event to pay tributes to the deceased. They include Commodore Ebitu Ukiwe (rtd), Col. Raji Rasaki (rtd), and Brig-Gen. Olagunsoye Oyinlola.

The first son of the deceased, Mr. Seyi Johnson, who led family members to the event, thanked the Lagos government for the honour done to his father.

He said: “One of the lessons our father taught us as children is the attribute of tolerance. He told us not to discriminate against anyone irrespective of background.”

The event was also graced by Lagos residents and schoolchildren from different parts of the state.