Last Thursday, 11 February 2021, the world bade farewell to a legendary politico, unmatched welfarist, a model of integrity in public service and kind-hearted inspirational elder, father and mentor for all times, Alhaji Lateef Kayode Jakande. He died at the ripe old age of 91. Alhamdulillah.
There can be hardly any important aspect of the life, work, and times of Baba Kekere that have remained undocumented. As a legendary newspaperman himself, LKJ was well reported. His soar away accomplishments in journalism, public service, and politics have been well captured by the chroniclers of Nigeria’s contemporary political-historical development. I do not pretend to know Baba Jakande better than any of these documentary sources.
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I write this tribute from the personal perspective of what I remember our hero and mentor, LKJ, for. I confess that Baba Jakande was like a father to me and I am a great admirer of Baba. The history of his show of love and affection to me and my family dates back to 1976 when he practically adopted my elder brother into the political fold – Committee of Friends – preparatory to the formation of the Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN). This culminated in my brother’s appointment in 1978, as Principal Organising Secretary of UPN, Lagos State. The relationship continued to grow, and I recall that Baba Jakande attended my wedding ceremony in 1991, and several other family functions, crowning it with my daughter’s wedding in 2017, even when it was clearly inconvenient for him due to his old age.
He was an unofficial adviser and strong pillar of our administration during my stint as Governor of Ogun State (2011-2019). I remember his visits to Abeokuta and though physically frail, we had a very engaging discourse on several subjects that touched on delivering greater democracy dividends for our people. Baba’s lifelong passion was to see the lots of Nigerian people improve.
I continue to be awed by his unprecedented legacies of simplicity, humility, unblemished service, selflessness, devotion to public good, spartan discipline, purity of leadership, lifelong loyalty and commitment to his progressive tendencies and political family, personal family life, and incredible foresight. I also remember Baba as a foremost Nigerian political leader who demystified the odious privilege of temporary high office and shunned acquisitive emblems associated with many of his peers and contemporaries. In and out of office, Baba lived in his personal residence built many years before he forayed into politics. He also rode his personal car till he breathed his last. What an inspiration and huge moral challenge to my generation and many more!
As expected, his remains have since been committed to Mother Earth in accordance with Islamic injunctions. May the Almighty Allah, SWT, forgive his sins and reward him with Aljannah Firdaus. My condolences to Mama, Alhaja Abimbola Jakande, the children, grandchildren, and all loved ones left behind.
Though Baba LKJ is no longer with us, we shall continue to remember his mastery of public housing delivery, innovative educational initiatives, journalistic excellence, and forward-thinking in public service. We remember his templates of fidelity to party policy, political leadership and public trust. We are so proud of the incredible accomplishments that dotted his life of service and the fact that he lived a fulfilled life. I pray for a long, healthy and fruitful life like his.
Thank you Baba Lateef Kayode Jakande. Great lover of the masses. Fare thee well.
Senator Ibikunle Amosun, CON, FCA, Abeokuta, Nigeria