USAfrica: Lateef Jakande shunned ways of dubious men of the hour. By Uthman Shodipe-Dosunmu

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Special to USAfricaonline.com, first U.S-based, African-owned newspaper published on the internet and USAfrica magazine (Houston)

By Uthman Shodipe-Dosunmu 

Lateef Kayode Jakande (LKJ) was not moved by the ephemeral tinsels of political power and authority that distort the corrupt, dubious and vague little men of the hour. He was distant from the tawdry, base, sickening gains of the moment. His focus was on the general welfare of the deprived,  the poor, the disused, the famished flung upon the outpost of the wasteland. had no intrusive grandiosity about him. He shunned the odious glamor of state power. His focus was service, selflessness and the devotion to the people’s cause.  He stood for accountability and earned genuine and solid reverence, rooted in undisturbed affirmations. He was spartan in all things.  Truthful, genuine, simple and spare in bearing.   

He was born in Lagos on July 23, 1929 and passed on February 11, 2021. He attended Kings College in Lagos. He served as Governor of Lagos State of Nigeria (1979-1983) and Minister of Works under the Sani Abacha military regime (1993–1998).

The man was seen as the heir apparent to the influential political leader of the Yoruba, the late Obafemi Jeremiah Oyeniyi Awolowo.

He did not have any psychological needs to belittle anyone in order to dramatize his position. He was a strong man who did not shout to announce that he was present. Even in the simplicity of his bearing spoke volumes.    

His unannounced wisdom was precious and has endured. I remember his dedication, candor and purposeful resolve to improve the community.

Jakande lived and served as an examplary leader. He was cultivated in simplicity and unobtrusive strength.  He was indifferent  to the transient appurtenances of power.  

Jakande rose from the lowly beat of a reporter to the highest level of his profession. He was strict, thorough, adequate, obedient to the calling of his profession. He contributed to the building of the Tribune newspapers with the supportive wealth of Awolowo; and ensured excellence, cultivated merit, promoted talents without dubious personal interest.  

Jakande was just a rare breed, an uncommon man in an uncommon time whose  talent was dedicated to the freedom of his country from colonial yoke.  His pen was fearless, resolute, relentless, fixated on the freedom path. 

Collared many times by the furies of the colonial overlords. Shackled, restrained, blackmailed, lacerated by the whims and the caprices of power, he stood in defiant valor; stoic, immovable, unwavering and steady in the just cause. 

If in the firmament of pioneering Nigerian journalists  there was the legendary  Babatunde Jọsẹ, there was also a Jakande looming in proximate giantism.

His pen was calm and penetrating , scathing without acerbic withdrawal. Writing with the nom de plume of John West,  he waged a necessary combative journalistic pitting; fierce , engaging, pronounced in patriotic attentiveness, unbowed before  the  vain condemnatory lash of the cruel tools of power.

Jakande wore a rare iconic presence: assertive without the slightest intimations  of hubris. He spoke softly with resolute, contemplative bearing. 

There was no straying into exaggerated Olympian repose enforcing the gloating dictates of power grabbers who falsely believe they wield eternal sway. 

‘Baba Kekere’ is gone. But he shall linger in appreciative largeness for his unprecedented developmental attainments as the greatest Governor of Lagos state, for the purity of his leadership, for his instinctive sacrifice to the enhancement of the human dignity .