Alhaji Lateef Kayode Jakande (Baba Kekere) was the first executive Governor of Lagos state from 1979 to 1983 whose unbeatable legacies one of his predecessors from 1999 to 2003 and 2007 Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu (Jagaban Borgu) sustained in areas of infrastructure and human capital development. Tinubu is one man that even while I was on Abacha’s path impressed me simply because of his untainted, undaunted and un-compromising principle, stance and belief in democracy as an activist.
As a pro-democracy activist who was a prominent member of the then National Democratic Coalition (NADECO), Tinubu ensured that the military regime then became restless and uncomfortable. Fortunately, in 1998, the then Abdul-Salami Abubakar junta scheduled a return to civil rule which saw the election of President Olusegun Obasanjo. It is on record that Jakande provided free education, health care services, youth empowerment, women empowerment as well as metro line concept which the military under the then Buhari junta thwarted through the then Lagos Governor, Group Captain Mudashiru Mogbolahan. When Tinubu took over in 1999, most of the abandoned projects and concepts of Jakande were re-visited and completed. As an Awoist, he prioritised human development, youth emancipation, and infrastructural upliftment, bridge building with other states, traffic and emergency management. Little wonder Lagosians and residents alike are enjoying the services of free Ambulance Services, Jetty and Ferry Services, free eye check on octogenarians, septuagenarians, establishment of LAMATA, LASTMA and others too numerous to mention.
Alhaji Lateef Jakande is clocking 90 years of fulfilled, accomplished and well spent life on the July 23, 2019. If nothing makes him happy, the fact that emulators and emissaries of propagation and emulation of his legacies like Tinubu have re-defined history by carrying on with the remarkable, laudable and impactful achievements of Baba Kekere is enough as a smiling and joyful mood, satisfaction and worthy elation by Jakande. Of all the military administrations in Lagos state, from Group Captain Gbolahan Mudashiru, Navy Captain Mike Akhigbe, Colonel Raji Rasaki, Colonel Olagunsoye Oyinlola to Colonel Mohammed Buba Marwa, no one deemed it fit to renovate the Ilupeju residence of Jakande except Tinubu. As a former aide, journalist and worker of Jakande who had stint as his private personal assistant in charge of the North, subscription manager of his defunct Daily News newspaper, circulation manager, Senior correspondent and acting bureau chief of the same paper in Abuja, Zonal Manager (North) of his Good Homes Estates Ltd, pioneer publicity scribe of his defunct party, the action party and later its second national secretary, I was privy to the way Baba Jakande initially rejected the N25million Bill of Quantity the Lagos state government submitted to Jakande for perusal. It took the persuasion of his wife, Alhaja Sikirat Jakande, to convince her husband to accept the reduced bill of quantity to N10million for the renovation of his resident as a former Lagos governor.
Ordinarily, Jakande as an astute statesmen, administrator detests public funds being used for the benefit of individuals whether former governors, ministers or whatsoever. Above all, the gesture of Tinubu was for the fact that Jakande is a living legend who deserves anything possible to immortalise and celebrate him while alive. As Baba Kekere’s legacies are being sustained by his predecessors including former Lagos governor, Babatunde Fashola, other leaders especially political office holders should place legacy, service to humanity and patriotism above sentiments and pilfering of public accounts. Asiwaju Tinubu is a bridge builder same as Jakande who is known to be non-tribalistic, patriotic and devoid of religious bigotry. Tinubu’s non-tribalistic posture could be seen through his close ties with a Kebbi state born politician who vied for House of Representatives under the APC in one of the state federal constituencies, Alhaji Aminu Bulasawa.
After, Late Obafemi Awolowo, Lateef Jakande, Late Obafemi Awolowo, Lateef Jakande, Late Pa Abraham Adesanya, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, Chief Fasoranti, Chief Ayo Opadokun and other prominent Yoruba leaders, the next most celebrated, accepted and endorsed leader of the South-west is Tinubu. The reasons are not far-fetched. As Lagos overnor in 1999, he refused to be cajoled by the federal government into letting go his creation of development areas even when the then Obasanjo administration frustrated him through deprivation and refusal of grants.
Today, Tinubu is a holder of the prestigious title of the “Jagaban Borgu” from the Borgu Emirate Council, an empire that extends to my local government in Kwara state, Kaiama. Borgu consists of New-Bussa (Kainji in Niger state) Kaiama Emirate in Kwara state, Baruten local government in Kwara state as well Babanna in Niger state. The late Emir Alhaji Haliru Dantoro, a former colleague of Tinubu in the senate, conferred on him the traditional title in recognition of his valuable contributions to humanity and nation-building. Politically, taking the steps of Awolowo and Jakande made him to achieve greatness. If Tinubu had chosen not to deliver dividends of democracy to Lagosians and residents alike, his name wouldn’t have been written in gold. Nigeria’s current political office holders must wake up from their slumber by doing the needful.
I eulogise politicians only when they have impacted on people, irrespective of tribe and religion. Late Dr. Sikiru Ayinde Barrister (MFR) in his album “Thank you Tinubu” sang about how Asiwaju improved the lives of Lagos indigenes and residents. The Fuji creator also called “Mr. Fuji” coincidentally is also the favourite of Alhaji Jakande and Tinubu. In one of his albums in 1979, he described Jakande as “Omo Olomu Akpero” baba Oloye meta (meaning a descendant of Omu-Aran in Kwara state and a man with three titles). In his reality album in 2003, he praised Tinubu as “Omo Olodode (meaning the mortar’s supremacy). Sikiru Ayinde Barrister during his life time celebrated both Tinubu and Jakande. This implies similarity in governance and even music adaptation. The recent National Assembly leadership election that produced Senate President Ahmed Lawan and Femi Gbajabiamila also demonstrated Asiwaju’s political experiment in the two chambers. In the executive arm, he has Vice President Yemi Osinbajo as his eye, Babatunde Fowler as Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service, his wife as senator, other senators as well as House of Representatives members and also the senate president and speaker respectively. All these are reward for his benevolence, all inclusive politics, amala reach out, stomach infrastructure, developmental strides and even “Jeun Soke” concept. No one under Tinubu is living in penury, as he extends his wealth for the happiness of all. The daughter who is the incumbent “Iya loja” in Lagos state is also taking after her father. The young female Tinubu took after her grandmother, the Late Alhaja Habibatu Magaji who I have a lot of respect for. May the almighty let service delivery be our passion.
Salihu is director of publicity, Arewa Youths for Peace and Security and former secretary, defunct Action Party of Nigeria.