Friday, February 12, 2021 11:37 pm
By Tunde Aremu
I interviewed him twice. First time in 1991, in his office in Ogba, Lagos. Second time in his house at Ilupeju. Both times I left with the impression of having spoken with a man of integrity. On both occasions I also left his presence feeling hope that we could still get it right. He inspired hope. I have interviewed past governors and heads of state after him, but none of them inspired hope. Two of them, still serving civilian governors when I interviewed them left me dejected. One of the former heads of state who got a second chance to redeem himself but still bungled it I left his farm feeling sorry for and angry at how self-centered he was and still is. The other, all I could write about after the 1999 encounter was that he truly was evil.
With Alhaj Lateef Kayode Jakande, I left him both times feeling awed. The first interview never got published. It was the reason I walked out of a job after two weeks. I had moved to Lagos late 1991 after resigning from my teaching job in Kano. I had wanted to write for Muyiwa Adetiba’s Crown Prince. But he had another idea. He employed me same day I walked into his office. I guess he felt he could make do with this mad young man audacious enough to walk into his office and send a note through the front desk that he wants to help him. He was obviously going to rest Crown Prince but didn’t tell anyone. He took me to Azeez who was then editor of Vintage People and told him I had just resumed. I was introduced to Mr. Fola Arogundade same day. My interest was politics and I guess, reflecting back now, that I was probably going to be one of Mr. Adetiba’s experiments. And a big story was within my reach. Someone close to me had hinted Alhaji Jakande was interested in becoming the president. He was going to make his declaration soon. I quickly went after him. I had a wonderful interview with him. Somehow, he felt comfortable with me he told me a lot of things, many of which we agreed should not be published. They were confidential. Some of them volatile.
Back at Vintage People, I submitted my story. I knew what such publication would publish, so I got some juicy bits. Then trouble started. Azeez wanted my tape. I thought it was because I was new and he wanted to be careful and be sure I actually spoke to LKJ. Then he asked I transcribe exact portions the old man made clear are confidential and just for me knowledge and education. I said no. When he insisted, I had to run to Mr. Adetiba. His business instinct I guess also took the best part of him. He was with Azeez. That part I left out was the selling story for them. I told them no problem. Retrieved the tape with promise to transcribe and come back with the story. I never went back.
I needed the job. The Jakande I interviewed however was not the type of person you would do harm. Not because he was a governor. No. That first encounter with him was inspiring. It was like speaking to my own father. And though my earlier encounter with him was as part of a crowd without any reason for him to remember me or take any special note of me, he was still open to me. Gave me information that are vital but strictly for my political education. No other political office holder or personality left me with so much awe after such an interview. Goodnight great leader.