“The history of the Nigerian press is in many respects the history of Nigeria …Nigerian history books are full of passing references to the Nigerian press, but quite often the crucial role which the press has played in the history of our Nation is hardly acknowledged”
– Lateef Kayode Jakande in the foreword to: ‘Makers of the Nigerian Press (Fifth Edition) by Dr. Dayo Duyile
Thank you Alhaji Lateef Kayode Jakande for being a pillar of the contribution of the Nigerian press to Nigeria’s development. From journalism to politics, you were such a wonderful pioneer of enduring media legacies – from being the Managing Editor of the Nigerian Tribune, to establishing the Nigerian Institute of Journalism, to the setting up of the first weekend 24/7 broadcast station in Nigeria – Lagos Weekend Television/Lagos Television as the first Executive Governor of Lagos State, etc. The records speak volumes of who you were.
Of Nigeria’s bourgeois political class from the Second Republic to date, you were peerless. In four years and three months from October 1979 to December 1983, you simply opened up Lagos through a programme of massive public works mostly done by direct labour (facilitated by the establishment of the Lagos Bulk Purchase) that led to the construction of low and middle income estates all over the state, none of which you named after yourself nor even after your political leader, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, who inaugurated some of them; but which the people in recognition of your foresight gladly ‘named’ after you. Thus, till today, you have Jakande in Isolo, Jakande in Agege, Jakande in Ogba …and just everywhere. The opening up also meant the construction of roads including the Lekki-Epe Road, LASU-Iyana Oba Road.
In the field of education, the Lagos State University was a product of your vision. But perhaps what distinguished you most, educationally speaking, was the eradication of the shift system of primary and secondary school education which had hitherto been the practice and which had subjected generations of Lagos children to the hardship and horror of school attendance in sunny and rainy afternoons and evenings.
Not many would remember now that the Lagos State secretariat used to be located around the Ikeja high court premises but it was your government that built a new secretariat complex at Alausa which has since been the seat of the state government. You also had the vision to start a mono-rail project but the military led by Buhari-Idiagbon struck in December 1983 and several years after, the rail system remains a missing major ingredient in the Lagos State mass transit system.
For us in the media, the greatest pride we had and will continue to have in you was the fact that you served, served well and left political offices without any baggage of corruption whatsoever.
Thank you. And thank you, indeed.
Your soul shall surely rest in peace!
Arogundade is the Execuitive Director, International Press Centre and former Chairman, Lagos State Council of Nigerian Union of Journalists.
By Lanre Arogundade