Osoba Faults FG’s Failure to Award Jakande National Honour

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Olusegun Osoba
Olusegun Osoba
  • Reveals how he worked for MKO Abiola’s bail
  • Clarifies how he accepted to serve Abacha’s govt

Gboyega Akinsanmi

Former Ogun State Governor, Chief Olusegun Osoba at the weekend faulted the refusal of the federal government to accord deserved national honour to first civilian governor of Lagos State, Alhaji Lateef Jakande despite his outstanding contribution to national development.

Osoba, also, lamented that it was disappointing that people with lesser contribution “are trotting around the country with high honours” while the patriots like Jakande, who worked tirelessly for their states and country, were accorded any recognition or national honour.

He made the observation in a special tribute he paid to the former governor to mark his 90th birthday, describing as an outstanding politician, a man of the people and a journalist with sterling records of achievement.

Jakande, also the Minister of Works under the Gen. Sani Abacha government, turned 90 on July 23 with President Muhammadu Buhari, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and National Leader of All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, among others, paid him tribute, citing his contribution in education, housing and infrastructure development.

Recognising his contribution, the Lagos State Government had christened over 400 housing units in Igando, Alimosho Local Government, Alhaji Lateef Jakande Garden Estate, to honour the state’s former governor, whose achievement in office between 1979 and 1983 was unrivalled.

However, Jakande’s decision to serve the Abacha Govt incurred him the wrath of some pro-June 12 advocates, who accused him of accepting the appointment for personal aggrandisement and contrary to the spirit of the struggle for the restoration of the June 12 mandate.

In his tribute to the former governor, Osoba lamented that the federal government had not awarded Jakande national honour despite his outstanding contribution to national development since independence.

The APC leader observed that Jakande “does not have a deserved national honour while peoples of lesser contribution trot around the country with high honours,” noting that his input to the state and even the country qualified for a high national honour.

He, therefore, urged the federal government “to accord him with deserved national honour. It is my recommendation that Baba Jakande should be conferred with nothing lower than Commander of the Federal Republic (CFR).”

Contrary to claims that he betrayed the trust of the pro-June 12 advocates, Osoba has revealed that Jakande worked tirelessly to secure bail for the winner of the June 12, 1993 presidential election, Chief MKO Abiola alongside former Minister for Justice and former Attorney-General of the Federation, Chief Olu Onagoruwa and former Editor-in-Chief of The Guardian, Chief Alex Ibru, among others.

Osoba faulted the position of Jakande’s stark critics, noting that the pro-June 12 leaders knew about the appointment the Abacha government offered and equally allowed him serve in the military government, purely for strategic reasons

After the annulment of the June 12, 1993 presidential election result and its attendant political crisis, Osoba noted that Alhaji Lateef Jakande was enjoined “to join the Abacha cabinet as the Minister of Works.

“The thinking then was that pro-June 12 supporters should have a foot in the Abacha government. Many might not remember that Jakande with Onagoruwa and Ibru were in the vanguard of those who worked for Abiola’s bail.”

Unfortunately, Osoba noted that Abiola’s lawyers prevailed upon him not “to accept the bail option at the last minute. We will never know what course history would have taken if Abiola had taken that bail.”

He, therefore, said it was important for the whole world “to know that for Jakande, the appointment was just another opportunity to serve his fatherland and not for any personal aggrandisement as his critics claimed.

“Unfortunately, Jakande had been maligned because he accepted to serve in the Abacha Govt by some members of the old political family. In 1966, they forgot that Jakande had rejected invitation to serve the military government of the day. It is a fact no one can deny.

“The failure to understand the context of the post-1993 political development still underpins the political tendencies in the South-west politics today. For me, two things pain me when the subject touches Jakande. First, Jakande had not written his autobiography.

“It will have been wonderful if we all hear first-hand account of Jakande’s journalistic and political exploits. It will have been great if he has written about how he successfully implemented the four cardinal programmes of the Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN) in the Second Republic, which many thought was political sloganeering.

“If he has written his autobiography, the younger Nigerians would have been able to draw from Jakande’s wellspring of wisdom,” Osoba explained.