The recent fanfare that greeted the celebration of the eightieth birthday of the elder statesman and former “action” Governor of Lagos State in the truncated Second Republic, Alhaji Lateef Kayode Jakande reminds one that a life dedicated to the service of the people by a leader is worthwhile and will be appreciated by those whose lives were positively touched by such a leader.
It also serves as a reminder to the current crop of public office holders to thread carefully and re-dedicate themselves to their oath of office which they swore to protect because of the verdict of history.
The celebration of the birthday of LKJ also threw up some of the landmark achievements of the former Governor who governed Lagos for four years and three months- 1979-1983. Some of these achievements are still standing till today. The free education programme and the low cost mass housing project embarked on by that government will be a reference point for years to come.
But of great concern to this writer is the plight of one of the greatest legacy of that administration, the Jakande Low Cost Housing Project. Given the failures of federal and states government to provide affordable housing for the people of this country, the Jakande Low Cost Housing Estates remains to be beaten in the provision of affordable housing throughout the country.
No government past and present has surpassed the administration of LKJ in the provision of the mass housing that has accommodated Nigerians from different parts of the country. However, the enduring legacy of the popular “Jakande Estates” has become a sorry state.
These sprawling estates consisting of 20,000 housing units and located in different parts of Lagos are presently sheltering thousands of people who have made Lagos their abode for over two decades. It is also noteworthy that some of the present occupants of these Estates are from different parts of the country.
This fact also speaks volume of the inclusive politics played by LKJ. Allocations of the houses were not done on the basis of the political party one belongs to. Imagine if such estates were to be allocated now! But a visit to some of the estates will make one weep. The picture that confronts you is that of total decay, dilapidation and complete neglect. Most of the buildings have roofs that have been blown off, the estates drainages are filled with refuse deliberately dumped by residents.
The picture is also of general wear and tear as none of the walls of the buildings have seen any form of painting since the last layer of paints were administer on them. Inner estates roads are filled with potholes and impassable with flood taking over the estates during and after a rain because of the poor sanitary habit of estate residents.
The present state of the estate is a shame to the occupants of the houses. It is a total affront to the legacy of an administration whose leader is still alive. For example, the Jakande estate in Lekki is an eyesore. It looks more like a refugee camp than an estate. How can occupants let their individual houses degenerate into such a sorry state? They should be blamed for the eyesore those houses have become.
The resident of these estates should also consider themselves lucky to occupy these estates in a commercial hub like Lagos where accommodation is a major challenge. And to think that they occupied those houses at no cost should be a reason why they should maintain them. Or are they waiting for the government to renovate the houses for them?
Yes, the state government can intervene by repairing the roads in the estates but the onus is on the occupants of the units to come together and give a face lift to the houses and rescue it from the eyesore they have now become. They owe this duty to the elder statesman who bequeathed the estates as a legacy for posterity.