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Lateef Kayode Jakande: A model of excellence in leadership

Lateef Kayode Jakande: A model of excellence in leadership
February 19
22:16 2021

Alhaji Lateef Kayode Jakande, who was the governor of Lagos State from 1979 to 1983, was a heck of a leader. His tremendous achievements, daring efforts, and capacity to dream and deliver in such a short period remain a record in Lagos State and Nigeria.

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One of the areas where LKJ is most remembered was in the Education sector. His building of new schools was his most significant contribution to Lagos’ education sector for many people. Jakande’s government increased the number of primary schools from 605 to 812 ( adding 207 primary schools). The number of Secondary schools also increased from 105 schools to 223 schools. ( He built 118 secondary schools). The number of schools constructed by LKJ in 4 years is more than the total number of schools constructed by all governors in Lagos State from 1983 till date!

However, LKJ did more than build classrooms. He touched on several aspects of the education system. Let me mention a few.

One, before LKJ, students attended morning or afternoon classes in Lagos State. By 1980, LKJ had ended the “Afternoon session” in schools and all over Lagos state, and students started attending school only in the morning only all over Lagos State.

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Two, LKJ made our secondary schools offer more subjects than before he became governor. Lagos had some schools that only offered subjects in Arts and Commercial areas. LKJ changed this, and most schools started to offer subjects Arts, Science, and Commercial. You can imagine the impact of this on the employment of teachers and career alternatives provided to students.

Three, LKJ started free Education at all Education levels in Lagos State, thereby granting access to Education for many Lagosians. Beyond the fact that many people could now attend schools free of charge, many children from low-income families could now attend the former fee-paying elite schools. Schools like the Igbobi college, where the elite send their children were now open to all the members of the society. For the first time, the son of a driver and the CEO’s son could attend the same school, get the same level of teaching, and form relationships and networks. The impact of this new development on social mobility, relationships, and bridging education inequality is enormous.

What’s more interesting is the Ebitu Ukiwe, his predecessor in office, had claimed that “the Ministry of Education has asked me to increase school fees this year otherwise it (the State) will collapse.” The day LKJ was sworn-in on October 1, 1979, he made Education free at all levels.

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LKJ’ s predecessor in office, Ebitu Ukiwe, had advised him against these innovations. According to LKJ,

“Ukiwe told me that he was sorry for me and that he had “wanted to get in touch to see you because I heard that you want to do free Education, free this, that. This State has no money.”… But, even in your own interest, these other promises you’ve made, I advise that when you get into office, call for the figures, and you will discover that there is no money. And as you find that, tell the public that you are sorry, that there is no money. They won’t blame you because they know you were not in government.” … “what is even worse for you is that it is the NPN that controls the Federal Government, and you are UPN., And it is the Federal Government that sustains Lagos State. ”

Had Ukiwe continued in office, Lagosians would have paid more for school fees in 1979. But LKJ resumed office and made Education free at all levels!

Four, not only was schooling free, but the LKJ administration also provided free educational inputs to students. Textbooks, exercise books, and others were made available. This not only enhanced learning but was lifting off a heaven burden off parents.

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Five, when LKJ built schools, made schools free, and provided learning resources to students, these three interventions’ cumulative effect led to increased access to schools and reduced schooling costs. Research has shown that the most effective interventions to improve access to Education are those that reduce the cost of schooling.

Six, school buildings’ construction is what they consider the most critical intervention in Education for many governors. LKJ did more than this. LKJ invested in the development of libraries all over Lagos. First, on October 9, 1980, Law No. 64, Vol.1 entitled “A Law to provide for the Establishment of the Lagos State Library Board and for matters connected therewith” was passed to ensure adequate Library and Information Services in the State. LKJ went on to build libraries all over Lagos. LKJ built more libraries in Lagos State than all the governors combined since 1999. According to Olakunle Kasumu of Channels TV, LKJ built nine of the 11 libraries in Lagos State (as of then).

Seven, the LKJ administration started the Lagos State University ( LASU) . Not only did he begin this University, but he also allocated a massive expanse of land to the University. Unfortunately, LASU failed to either develop or maximize this substantial real estate asset as squatters encroached on the land. What’s worse is that Lagos State eventually collected money from these squatters, and as a result, LASU’ s real estate assets are now smaller than when LKJ was governor. LKJ also ensured that the Adeniran Ogunsanya College of Education (AOCOED) got relocated to its current site in Ijanikin, Lagos.

Alhaji Jakande remains the most effective reformer of Education that Lagos State has seen. He not only delivered many projects, but he also did it within a short time using limited resources. LKJ has taught us that four years is enough to make a mark as a governor. What a man!

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LKJ, Baba Kekere is indeed a model of Excellence in Leadership.

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