He was the first elected Governor of Nigeria’s most advanced economy. Alhaji Lateef Kayode Jakande was a journalist who left the newsroom as one of the most celebrated editorial writers to have emerged from the continent of Africa.
He ruled from 1979 to 1983 and after winning a second term, the dreams of his well-embraced administration was shattered by a military action on December 31, 1983.
Till date, the vestiges of his era are everywhere in Lagos making whatever landmarks any subsequent administration look like only structures on well laid foundation. Many still use him as the benchmark for government businesses.
All these came to the fore and were the themes of Babakekere when Joseph Edgar, the maverick banker-turned stage wiz kid turned on the klieg light on his cream of actors on Tuesday in another of his theatrical explorations of Nigerian legends to relive history.
And indeed, history was brought back to live at the Glover Hall stage according to Bayo Oshiyemi, Jakande’s Press Secretary who was equally pulled from the Daily Times newsroom at the age of 28 to assume the position of a spokesman.
And what is theatre if it does not get didactic? While bringing back history of the lofty performance of Jakande even in the presence of his wife,
Alhaja Abimbola Jakande and one of his children, Deji, the play, Babakekere, sought to expose the current rot that is the politics of Nigeria directly using Lagos as its thematic illustration.
For instance, while the likes of Jakande were headhunted to be Governor of a state like Lagos, having become one of the most celebrated journalists in the country, the play portrayed the current political culture as being supportive of a leadership recruitment culture that is ignoble and definitely antithetical to development.
This is illustrated with the son of a pepper soup joint owner, who is a known miscreant in the neighborhood but positioning himself as a local lawmaker.
His mother, whose drinking joint serves as a centre of attraction for all categories of people, campaigns for her son to become an elected representative. A tout!
Even when asked by inquisitive youths corp members who had only come to have a “nice time” at the joint, what is the pedigree of her aspirant son, the credentials were nothing near what it takes to be entrusted with the fate of a people.
Head of thugs, Tiger, whose refrain is his readiness to devour anybody, was being primed to unleash his boys to ensure that the candidate with questionable background is the one that is elected into office.
And to worsen the matter, Lady Sweet Cool Bar was elated to find out that Jakande was convicted of treason.
What is more in her estimation? That her son too had been convicted before ranks him as a fitting candidate for an elective position if the likes of Jakande could suffer same fate.
To her, it does not matter that Jakande was sent to jail on account of a worthy patriotic cause while her son served jail terms on account of anti-social, destructive vices.
It reminds us of how touts call the shots in Lagos and how respect for merit, capacity and competence are no longer the considerations for sensitive political offices.
Of course, the effect of such indiscretions manifest everywhere with public service going to the dogs.
It also reminds us of the negative impact of military interventions in Nigerian politics.
For instance, the Lagos metro line, an intra-city light rail project that was conceived by the Jakande administration was halted just as many of the people-focused policies of his government were truncated.
But then, as the songs that brought the performance to a close would say, “Jakande se won to le se…( Jakande had tried to perform within the limit of his capacity…”
It then lies on inheritors of the seats of power to build on the foundations laid by predecessors and use the advantages of the achievement already made to further enhance the lives of the people.