OPINION: Jakande Buries Them In Shame

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Tunde Odesola

History, like Ekiti’s Ikogosi springs of warm and cold fountains, embodies profundities. Either for good or bad reasons, history always cascades down the confluence of discovery, depth and truth, meandering into the past.

Whenever history repeats itself for good, cymbals accompany resounding ovations – like the joy of a soccer cup game win. But, oftentimes when history catches man on the wrong foot, grief trails destruction – like the outstanding incompetence of the retired Major General Muhammadu Buhari’s regime in securing lives and property.

Buhari’s colossal inability to deliver on any of his electoral promises reads like the devil’s scripture.

Eagle-eyed, silent and deadpan, history is the unblinking secret camera watching and recording events, not for God, but for man and the future called posterity, in the global village called humanity.

While unsmart nations writhe in pain as history rewrites unpalatable events, smart nations write in joy, historic accomplishments of epic proportions, on the glorious sands of time.

Giant in size but dwarf in reasoning, the Peoples Democratic Party-led Federal Government, in the first decade of the millennium, yanked History off primary and secondary schools curricula as a core subject even as the Buhari regime that has promised to restore it as a core subject since 2017, has yet to fully do so.

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It’s scandalous that multi-billion-dollar security funds could develop wings and disappear while the self-acclaimed ruling Africa’s largest party was unmindful of the wisdom in the saying that a people without history are on the path to extinction.

That the PDP could even toy with the idea of expunging History from school curricula was a corroboration of the fact that successive national governments since 1999 didn’t have an understanding of citizenship rights and education.

If Nigerian leaders made citizens’ welfare the cornerstone of service, they would know that History is yesterday’s searchlight, beamed on today for man to understand the present and prepare for the future.

For the sake of the up-and-coming Nigerian generation which has been denied the knowledge of History by subsequent governments, I shall embark on a journey to Katsina in a history-driven vehicle.

While in Katsina, I shall teleport to the tomb of former Nigerian President, Alhaji Umaru Yar’Adua, at the Dan Marina Cemetery, Katsina, to pay obsequies to the memory of a true Nigerian nationalist who wasn’t an emotionless, tight-lipped nepotistic bigot. At the Dan Marina Cemetery, I shall compare and contrast the achievements of Yar’Adua with those of Buhari in order for Nigerians to see who the patriot is among the two Fulani sons.

I will also visit the Ilupeju residence of the first civilian Governor of Lagos State, Alhaji Lateef Kayode Jakande, who passed on to eternal glory last week at 91, and compare him with the civilian governors that had led the state of aquatic splendor after him.

I decided to embark on this route of historical juxtaposition in order to be fair enough to Buhari, whose awful spokespersons, always make the life patron of Meyeti Allah cattle breeders look like the victim, who’s doing all in his power to make life better for an ungrateful Nigerian nation.

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Being a former university lecturer, Yar’Adua appeared more cerebral than Buhari. Yar’Adua addressed journalists freely and neither engaged in characteristic verbal miscues nor relied solely on prepared speech before addressing some local and international audiences.

Yar’Adua was the one and only Nigerian president till date, who publicly declared his nearly N1bn assets and liabilities, completely unlike Buhari, who vowed to publicly declare his assets while campaigning for votes, but reneged when he got to power.

Despite coming from an illustrious family and being younger to Buhari, Yar’Adua didn’t foist his Fulani ethic nationality over other nationalities even as he granted amnesty to Niger Delta militants, reflecting true nationalism.

Not one to be beclouded by political vindictiveness, Yar’Adua taught former President Olusegun Obasanjo some lesson in leadership fairness when he released the N10bn allocation accruable to Lagos State, but which Obasanjo had seized and refused to release despite a Supreme Court ruling.

Appointments by Yar’Adua into the leaderships of the Armed Forces, executive cabinet and government parastatals weren’t tilted in favour of the North just as he matched his word up with action, implementing the N18,000 minimum wage promised to the electorate.

A Master’s degree holder in Analytical Chemistry from the Ahmadu Bello University, Yar’Adua, who was the Matawalle of Katsina, didn’t open fire on innocent protesters while he was president for three years.

Also, he didn’t turn Aso Rock into a barracks for warring family members, wife, children and security aides.

The Nigerian leader, who died at 58, was in firm control of his household as there was no reported case of infighting among family members, yet he didn’t claim to champion any War Against Indiscipline.

Yar’Adua wasn’t a pretender, who owned choice properties, and yet wanted Nigerians to see him as spartan and frugal. Also, he didn’t indulge his children by laying at their feet the fleet of presidential jets for running errands and photoshopping trips.

On the watch of the great Katsina General, Nigeria is not Golgotha. It’s an abattoir littered with skulls, limbs and blood of insecurity. It’s the hell where death snacks on the slow-moving chameleon and snaps up the reckless frog jumping about dangerously. It’s the riddle of the caring father that turns the gun on his harmless children who complained at the Lekki tollgate, threatening to squish more children in a promised second-coming blitzkrieg.

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On Jakande’s 90th birthday in 2019, I wrote a tribute, “Lateef Jakande and the Lathieves,” in my PUNCH newspaper column on July 29, 2019.

The article reads in part, “Baba Kekere, as he was popularly called, was elected on the platform of the Unity Party of Nigeria on October 1, 1979 and just five months after his inauguration, he built 11,729 schools, whereas a latter-day democrat cuddled the list of his cabinet members for six months!

“Visionary and incorruptible, Jakande saw tomorrow and was prepared to carry his people along with him into it. Jakande embarked on the construction of a metro line before the mallam led khaki boys to strike and terminate the monumental project. Jakande was subsequently probed and cleared of corruption charges.

“He changed the lives of his people through genuine developmental strides, establishing the Lagos State University, Radio Lagos and Television, Lagos State Secretariat, Alausa, numerous housing estates, genuine free education and opening up Ikotun, Ajah and Jakande never named any of his landmark achievements after himself.

“He only wanted to live in the minds of his people forever. His children attended the public schools he built. His wife, Abimbola, neither operated as First Lady nor spent taxpayers’ money on personal whims called pet projects. While in power, LKJ never traveled out for medical check-ups or vacations.

“For him, no state assignment was so urgent to make him fly a helicopter though Lagos was rich enough to buy 10 copters. He never needed to buy bulletproof SUVs nor built a mansion on the island. Jakande lived among the people in Ilepeju with Oshodi as his next-door neighbor.

“Born in the Epetedo area of Lagos State on July 23, 1929 to parents who hailed from Omu Aran in Kwara State, Jakande rose through the dint of discipline, hard work, commitment and perseverance to become the Editor of Tribune newspaper and later founded the Nigerian Institute of Journalism, the Newspapers Proprietors Association of Nigeria and the Nigerian Guild of Editors.

“He never had a university education but he had the love of his people at his heart.

Since Lagos fell on the laps of self-acclaimed democrats in 1999, all the billions of dollars they expended on infrastructure cannot match the achievements Jakande produced in four years with little resources.

LKJ’s achievements litter the landscape. Where are their achievements? If you ask me, na who I go ask?

Adieu, Baba Kekere!

This column goes on a four-week break – starting from next week. All work and no vacation… Cheers!

Email: tundeodes2003@yahoo.com
Facebook: @tunde odesola
Twitter: @tunde_odesola

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