Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has described the late former governor of Lagos, Lateef Jakande, as a core democrat and true patriot.
In a letter to Mr Jakande’s widow, Abimbola, on Thursday, Mr Obasanjo said the first civilian governor of Lagos will be “sorely missed by all of us”.
“With a deep sense of loss, I write, on behalf of my family and on my behalf, to sympathise with you over the demise of your beloved husband and patriarch, Alhaji Lateef Jakande, at the age of 91 and I want you to know that we all are also bereaved and we feel the pain of the transition of this great hero and son of Nigeria,” Mr Obasanjo wrote.
Mr Jakande died in the early hours of Thursday at 91.
Mr Obasanjo noted that, “at 91, Mr Jakande attained the status of a venerable elder whose death must, by convention and our culture, ordinarily be the occasion of celebration and thanksgiving”.
“But by no measure can he be described as an ordinary man. He was, by all measure, a great man, an ardent patriot, a frontline journalist, an astute politician and reputable administrator, a profile earned over the last five decades.
“He served this nation principally through journalism and through newspaper management before becoming an active politician. It must not be forgotten that he served as an Editor-in-Chief of the Nigerian Tribune at a stage in his career where he acquitted himself as a positively-minded, focused and imaginative personality.
“Indeed, he steered the company to editorial credibility and profitability and this has remained a reference point in the history of the organisation till today. It is with similar verve and energy that he pursued his work at John West Publications which was established by him to publish The Lagos News. He was a master of the craft of column-writing.
“He also helped in the professional re-orientation of the younger generation of journalists in all the media organisations he had found himself. He would be remembered as a fine journalist and one that was greatly admired by the general public and his peers as a straight-forward and complete gentleman majorly.”
The former president said that Mr Jakande was also a seasoned politician noted for his tremendous organisational ability.
“By all standards, his demise will create a vacuum as may be seen from his very active and purposeful life in the service of this nation through the Unity Party of Nigeria, UPN, in the late 70s.
“It is worthy of note that he was a remarkable politician and statesman: one of the very few distinguished enough to become a State Chief Executive. His achievements in office, his managerial acumen and his large-heartedness had ensured for him an evergreen legacy in Lagos State, particularly his irrepressible thirst for knowledge and education, which propelled his administration to offer free education for every child in the State.
“Also, his commendable contributions in public life to the progress of the nation particularly as Honourable Minister of Works between 1993 and 1998, cannot be wished away. Alhaji Jakande belonged to that rare breed of leaders who took their public responsibilities with utmost seriousness. He was demonstrably motivated by patriotism and a compulsion to serve the cause of public good with every breath he drew. His goal was service before self.
“Although his loss has robbed the nation of the services which he so generously offered his community, State and nation, we will continue to recall his contributions to national development and abiding commitment to the well-being of his people in Lagos State.”
“We pray that the Almighty Allah grant you and the family the fortitude to bear the irreparable loss. May his gentle soul rest in perfect peace,” Mr Obasanjo added.