Alhaji Lateef Jakande (1929-2021)

 

Alhaji Lateef Kayode Jakande, born 23 July 1929, was a journalist who became governor of Lagos State in Nigeria from 1979 to 1983, and later was Minister of Works under the Sani Abacha military regime in 1993–98.

He was born in the Epetedo area of Lagos Island on 23rd July 1929. He studied at the Lagos public school at Enu-Owa, Lagos Island, then at Bunham Memorial Methodist School, Port Harcourt (1934–43). He studied briefly at King’s College in 1943 and then enrolled at Ilesha Grammar School in 1945, where he edited a literary paper called The Quarterly Mirror.

In 1949 Jakande began a career in journalism first with the Daily Service and then in 1953 joining the Nigerian Tribune. In 1956, he was appointed editor-in-chief of the Tribune by the owner Chief Obafemi Awolowo. His editorials were factual and forthright and were treated by the colonial powers with respect.

After leaving the Tribune in 1975, Jakande established John West Publications and began to publish The Lagos News. He served as the first President of the Newspaper Proprietors Association of Nigeria, NPAN.

He became the first civilian governor of Lagos State in Nigeria from 1979 to 1983, and after the military take-over in 1983, Jakande was charged, prosecuted and convicted of treason, although later he was pardoned. After being freed, he accepted the position of Minister of Works under the Sani Abacha military regime, which earned him some criticism. He claimed that he had accepted the post under pressure from M. K. O. Abiola and other progressive leaders.

Alhaji Lateef Kayode Jakande became a senior member of All Nigeria Peoples Party, ANPP, when the UNPP and APP merged. In June 2002, he was “suspended” by a faction of the ANPP loyal to Chief Lanre Razaq. Jakande was the first chairman of the Action Party of Nigeria, APN, when it was formed in November 2006. In May 2009, he was reported to have engaged in a struggle for control of the party with his former ally, Dr Adegbola Dominic.

His fame and influence soared rapidly within the political atmosphere, among captains of industries and he was also courted by people that influenced the political scene in Nigeria then as a suitable choice in politics. At the dawn of the Second Republic, he was encouraged to fully enter the political arena by his former employer and the late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo. However, due to Chief Awolowo’s overbearing influence on him, it was not surprising when he joined the Unity Party of Nigeria, UPN, to contest for election as the executive governor of Lagos State in 1979.

Late Alhaji Jakande, has almost every major landmark achievement in Lagos State to his credit with unrivalled records. He is perhaps the most accomplished governor in the state. He introduced housing and educational programmes that targeted the poor, built new neighbourhood primary and secondary schools and provided free primary and secondary education.

Also, among his numerous accomplishments that stand to date is the Lagos State University, a citadel that has become a fountain of knowledge that has produced stalwarts in different fields of human endeavours. Jakande’s government constructed over 20,000 housing units that gave a number of Lagosians the opportunity to own their own houses. The schools and housing units were built cheaply but were of great value.


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