By Bolaji Buhari
A former Minister of Transportation, Chief Ebenezer Babatope, has described the news of the passing of Alhaji Lateef Jakande, first civilan governor of Lagos State, as devastating.
Babatope told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on telephone on Thursday that he was devastated by the demise of the former governor.
NAN reports that Jakande died on Thursday at 91.
He described late Jakande as a great man and a phenomenon, who remarkably acquitted himself well in the service of the people.
Babatope said that the performance of Jakande both as governor of Lagos State and Minister of Housing was a reference point in accountability and good governance.
“It is so unfortunate that we have lost a great man in Alhaji Lateef Jakande. He was a political leader who did exceptionally well both as governor of Lagos State and Minister of Housing.
“He was a principled man and a lover of the people .The news of his demise is devastating, but the consolation is that he spent most of his life impacting on the lives of the people,” he said.
Babatope, who was the spokesman of the defunct Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN), said Jakande did well to implement the manifesto of the party under which platform he was elected Lagos governor from 1979-1983.
He said Jakande was loyal to the party and its founder, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, hence his nickname, “Baba Kerere”, which literally means younger Awolowo.
Babatope said Jakande never departed from the ideas and ideologies of UPN and Awolowo.
He said his involvement and that of Jakande in the government of late military leader, Gen.Sani Abacha, was in the interest of the people.
“The involvement of late Jakande and I in the government of late Sani Abacha as ministers is justifiable, no matter what anybody can say.
“We did not not betray the people by serving in that government as we were there for the interest of the people.
“Jakande did well as Minister of Housing and I did well too as a member of the cabinet.
“The narrative that we betrayed the people by serving in Abacha’s government is wrong; we did our best in the service of the people,” he said.
While saying Jakande would be sorely missed, he prayed that God should grant his soul peaceful repose and the family the fortitude to bear the loss.(NAN)