By Eric Elezuo
A former Governor of Lagos State and former Minister of Housing, Alhaji Lateef Jakande, has expressed absolute thanks to the Almighty God for the grace to clock 90 years as well as the opportunity to serve a culturally diverse state as Lagos.
The nonagenarian was speaking today with selected journalists at his Ilupeju residence, as part of activities lined up to mark his 90th birthday which comes up on Tuesday, July 23, 2019.
“I am just thankful for everything…to God Almighty, to my colleagues, my family and everyone God has brought my way all these years, especially during the four years I held sway as Lagos State helmsman,” he said.
He reckoned that it was just sheer God’s wisdom and assistance that he was able to achieve what he did during his term as governor cutting across education, which was made free, health, housing and employment.
Further in his speech, the former governor advised politicians of today and aspiring ones to see that they are equipped with two standards before aspiring for any public office, and they are; be well educated and make personal and conscious effort to serve.
“My advise to politicians who are aspiring public offices is that they should first of all give themselves good education, and be convinced as well as determined to serve in the real sense of it,” he stressed.
He relived his days as governor, and agreed they were the most wonderful considering that ‘the people of Lagos State considered me worthy and handled the mandate to rule over them to me. It was a great privilege”.
Born on July 23, 1929, Jakande rode on the platform of the defunct Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN) to become the first executive governor of Lagos State in 1979. His administration was truncated by the military coup of General Muhammadu Buhari in December, 1983 shortly after he had won election for a second four years in office. He was later appointed Minister of Housing by the General Sani Abacha junta.
Jakande, till date, remained the most referred to governor of Lagos State as his landmarks are almost intimidatingly everywhere, ranging from schools, housing estates, health facilities among others. And of course, not a few persons are beneficiaries of his free education policy. It will be recalled that sometime in 2002, a group of professionals hosted him in education in appreciation of the free education they benefitted from him.
It is worth knowing that all the landmarks that bear his name till date were never named by him, and only a handful was named by the Lagos State government. The names were however, given by the masses of Lagos State, who could not but recognize great achievement.
Jakande believes that one does not need all the money in the world to provide good governance, but a kind and passionate heart to serve the people. His act of building schools at random corners was applauded by the United Nations, which sees it as ‘appropriate for the third world countries’
According to the former governor, I was ‘justified’.
“Once your intention is to provide good governance for the benefit of the people, every other thing will be easy,” he said.
By Eric Elezuo