Jakande: Loud silence of a quintessential awoist!
SIR: When my article on the late US great Senator, Comrade Elijah Cummings was published in The Guardian, 03 November 2019, I never knew I would be writing a similar eulogy on Alhaji Lateef Kayode Jakande, LKJ—the Awoist, Baba Kekere (popularly called for his closeness to Awo), the political Apostle of the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo. Baba Kekere was the right-hand man of the late sage Chief Obafemi Awolowo during their political Odyssey in Nigeria.
Baba Kekere was a former governor of Lagos State and Federal Minister of Works and Housing in Nigeria. Alhaji Lateef Jakande was a quintessential Awoist, a man of the people; and the unmatched philanthropist in Lagos State and Nigeria. Unlike the mercantilism of some of the present vultures who called themselves school proprietors in Nigeria, Baba’s free and well managed education for all Lagosians was the key to life he gave to free all underprivileged citizens of Lagos State.
The only political mistake Alhaji Jakande made was his acceptance to serve under the regime of the cruel Abacha’s administration. Baba thought he could work within the den of Abacha and change the “hitleric” and despotic military ruler. Baba Kekere’s political pedigree was tainted but his vintage, philanthropic and quintessential virtue remained intact throughout his twilight years. The good and bad we all do live after us. But the easy-going Baba remained one of the best administrators of Lagos State and Nigeria.
Lagos State’s underpinnings and infrastructure under the governorship of the late Alhaji Jakande were a model for so many governments in Africa. He transformed Lagos State into a modern townlet. The mismanagement of Baba’s structural legacy by the people as noticed in the dilapidated FESTAC is regrettable. Festac town, originally patterned as “Festival Town” or “FESTAC Village”, is a residential estate constructed as a dwelling area for the participants of the Second World Festival of Black Arts and Culture of 1977, tagged “Festac77.” The neglected Lagos State’s School structures and other emblematic imprints of Jakande are some of the sad stories of a nation in a crisis of self-inflicted conundrums.
In the long run, Jakande became a pacesetter for his contemporary successors in Lagos State and Nigeria in general. He modeled how democracy should function in a civilized society. Ultimately, the distinguished characters and hallmark of Jakande’s works in Lagos State will outshine his human errors when the history of Nigeria is well-written. Baba Kekere would undoubtedly be one of the best to have happened to Lagos State and Nigeria.
May the gentle soul of Baba Kekere rest in the bosom hands of Allah (SWT).
Yahaya Balogun wrote this brief eulogy from Arizona, United States of America
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