Thursday, December 14, 2017 3:54 pm
Why did Governor Akinwunmi Ambode single out Mobolaji Johnson, Lateef Jakande, Bola Tinubu, among governors of Lagos for a park?
By Ademola Adegbamigbe
On Wednesday, 13 December 2017, Governor Akinwunmi Ambode opened the Johnson Jakande, Tinubu (JJT) Park at Alausa, Ikeja, Lagos. The three, Mobolaji Johnson, Lateef Jakande and Bola Tinubu, were former governors of Lagos. They are the political triumvirate of the littoral state.
Beginning from Brigadier Mobolaji Johnson, there have been many other governors in Lagos: Commodores Adekunle Lawal, Ndubuisi Kanu, Ebitu Ukiwe, Alhaji Lateef Jakande,
Air Commodore Gbolahan Mudasiru, Navy Captain Mike Akhigbe, Brigadier General Raji Rasaki, Sir Michael Otedola, Colonel Olagunsoye Oyinlola, Colonel Mohammed Buba Marwa, Bola Tinubu and Mr Babatunde Fashola. The incumbent is Ambode.
The question is: Why did Ambode single them out for a park? Their records are there even for critics. They faced daunting challenges during their tenures and devised wonderful strategies (which became benchmarks beyond the state) to tackle them.
Brigadier Mobolaji Johnson
Brigadier Mobolaji Johnson was military Governor of Lagos State from May 1967 to July 1975 during the military regime of General Yakubu Gowon, though he was was, according to Wikipedia, first appointed by Aguiyi-Ironsi as the administrator of the former federal territory of Lagos in 1966.
Johnson faced the task of a pioneer. In May 1967, Lagos State was created and Johnson became the first governor. He had to cope with an area comprising the old Federal Territory of Victoria Island, Ikoyi and Lagos Island and the additions of Epe, Badagry, Ikorodu and Ikeja divisions.
With the helps of top administrators like Adeyemi-Bero; Finance Secretary, Folarin Coker, and the acting secretary to the Military Government, Howson Wright, he developed the civil service in Lagos State.
He followed this up with building of infrastructural facilities like the 60.7-kilometre international express road (Lagos–Badagry Expressway) linking Nigeria with the neighbouring countries of Benin, Ghana and Togo; Toikin Bridge to link Epe to Ikorodu; Eko Bridge; a network of roads and bridges that constitutes what is modern day Lagos, reclamation of the Bar Beach shoreline and others.
Lateef Kayode Jakande
Lateef Kayode Jakande, a former editor-in-chief of the Tribune ran for election as executive governor of Lagos State in 1979, on the Unity Party of Nigeria platform, defeating Adeniran Ogunsanya of Nigerian People’s Party (NPP) and Sultan Ladega Adeniji Adele of National Party of Nigeria.
A faithful party man, Jakande implemented the cardinal policies of his party by introducing housing and educational programs targeting the poor. He built new neighbourhood primary and secondary schools and provided free primary and secondary education. He established the Lagos State University.
Moreover, his government constructed over 30,000 housing units. The schools and housing units were, as Wikipedia puts it, built cheaply, but were of great value. Some of the housing units include low cost estates in Amuwo-Odofin, Ijaiye, Dolphin, Oke-Afa, Ije, Abesan, Iponri, Ipaja, Abule Nla, Epe, Anikantamo, Surulere, Iba, Ikorodu, Badagry.
To fund some of the projects, Jakande, according to Wikipedia, increased the tenement rates and price of plots of land in affluent areas of Victoria Island and Lekki Peninsula and the processing fees for lottery, pools and gaming licenses. He also completed the construction of the General Hospital in Gbagada and Ikorodu and built about 20 health centres within the state. As a governor, he established 23 local government councils which were later disbanded by the military. He also started a metroline project to facilitate mass transit. The project was halted and his tenure as Governor ended when the military seized power on 31 December 1983.
Coming at a time when the military blew the bugle of their return to the barracks in May 1999, Bola Ahmed Tinubu also made large investments in education in the state and initiated new road construction, required to meet the needs of the fast-growing population of the state.
One thing stood him out as a brave politician. What he did was like prosecuting a war without borrowing money or going bankrupt. The war was that Tinubu was involved in a struggle with the Federal government ( headed by Olusegun Obasanjo) over whether Lagos State had the right to create new Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs) to meet the needs of its large population. The controversy led to the Federal government seizing funds meant for local councils in the state.
Since necessity is the mother of invention, Tinubu devised some financial wizardry that still makes the state sustainable till date. The entire financial system (tax, pay roll, revenues and others) were computerized so much that every transaction could be tracked at the punch of a button! It is interesting that the incumbent was part of the system then as Accountant General.
Moreover, when Obasanjo hoodwinked other South West governors to support him in 2003, Tinubu was the only one who saw through the subterfuge. He refused to play along, making him the last man standing, a position that made him able to plan ahead to save the zone from the opposition