Three or so years ago, precisely towards the tail-end of 2018, I saw the unquestionably frail man at the beautiful ceremony Vanguard newspaper organized for some great Nigerians who had distinguished themselves. It was the occasion of one of the yearly events that the highly respectable newspaper sweetly organised for the high calibred Nigerians, men and women, who were truly calibred and calibrated personages of integrity. The event happened at the Eko Hotel, Victoria Island in Lagos where he was recognized and honoured for his successes as superlative administrator and super-journalist.
Lateef Jakande, when he stepped into the venue, did so in slow but steady steps. The first civilian governor of Lagos State whose executive and administrative actions have forever recorded him in the hearts of Lagosians as no other Lagos governors may be or will be recorded, moved me and other patriotic guests present with his plain entry and gaits. That was my first time of seeing him live. He appeared to me as a man whose preference of mind was always to be intimate with his person and to be true to his true self. Clearly, he had grown agedly aged. And his looks in the bright night made brightly bright by the glowing and glitteringly numerous bulbs that lit greatly the chorographed venue kind of exhibited those of someone who had been visited by calenture. But I certainly was mistaken in this observation of mine. His advanced age had coloured (or disfigured) my perception. I remembered musing in my mind and its art of thoughts:
“May this man who scents well in us live long.” The scent recalled at that material time recalled the past of his glorious years as un-rivaled governor and super-patriotic journalist; and it breathed poetry in my mind in the positively crowded hall.
Was my prayer for the prolongation of the life of Lateef Jakande, the sweet scent worthy and ever worthy of our veneration, answered? I leave you my readers to judge. But my own answer would be no and yes at the same time. His recent departure (on February 11 this year at the very ripe age of nineteen-one) from us was worthy of celebration on account of his long years on this side of the fabulous divide. And he was deservingly and deservedly celebrated despite the caution and fear imposed on us by the perplexing COVID-19. But the deservedly Elective First Executive Governor of Lagos State, who a great deal has been said about his art and style of governance that significantly inspired pageants that strengthened the will of Lagosians to good will should have tarried longer herewith us. We certainly still needed his counsel and wisdom. He is our second Utopia, in unflattering terms, of model governance after ObafemiAwolowo, the one and only Chief ObafemiAwolowo of Western Nigeria of the then years of dreams that were dreams.LateefJakande was a good student who was more than a good student of his master and mentor.
When he joined the late Sani Abacha’s military government as a federal minister, many persons there were even among his strong base in Western Nigeria, who felt let-down by the side of his nature that took his steps to Abacha. But I never questioned his judgment as a distant admirer of the model elective governor of governors whose association with Abacha was never something I found mysterious. His encounter with the strong military general from Kano was for some good end known to him and Abacha and other people Baba Kekere of Obafemi Awolowo’s school of politics encountered as part of the very essence of Project Nigeriana. (As Baba Kekere, he was obviously popularly accepted as Awolowo’s ripe political heir). If Jakande’s good, patriot intentions did not materialize, I would blame (and I am blaming) the failure on the irony of human nature and of plans that miscarry. Jakande’s fellow staunch student and mentee of Obafemi Awolowo was the late Alred Rewane, a harsh, fierce and severe no-nonsense critic of our country’s military regimes. I cannot recollect the great Warri personage ever openly calling Jakande’s encounter with Abacha as an encounter that was inimical to our true growth as a nation. And Alfred Rewane, a prince of Warri and a chieftain of the anti-Abacha regime, never banished Jakande from his political mind and patriotic thought. And Rewane was an excellent, no, outstanding, student of human phenomena and of the perplexing and curious aspects of Nigerian politics. Until his assassination, a very unfortunate and super-tragic event, he played aptly outstanding roles in the politics of Nigeria.
Now, what I have been delegating my thoughts to, and sharing out constitute my role as a judge and admirer of our great figures who are more than famous figures whom Jakande, an important big flower of our country, will always emblematize.
In this season of departures of many compatriots, some great and famous, some not so great and famous, and others not great and famous at all, I cannot but create my little flower (which I hereby create) for Lateef Jakane. He was a fragrant leader whose fragrance will always remain fragrant in my artistic and journalistic consciousness. In a manner of speaking, my offering now may be belated. But the belatedness reinforces my sincere admiration of my flower, which and who was more than a symbol of genius of patriotic governance and of super-keen journalism while he was here. He by far deserved more than the Lifetime Achievement Award that the Vanguard newspaper gave him in 2018 aforesaid. May this reflection help to add genuinely to the efforts of our compatriots who are planning to give him an immortal place in our history of genuine patriots who distinguished themselves as Nigerian patriots of patriotic patriots never to be ever forgotten and un-remembered as long as Nigeria remains Nigeria.
My condolences, I use this occasion and time to give to his family and his Awoistic soul-mates. I hope this gesture is not going to be recorded as a belated one. No offering, however, on behalf of our fragrant gem can be belated.
Afejuku can be reached via 08055213059.
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