Jafojo… 80 Hearty Cheers To Former Lagos Deputy Gov

Birthday celebration

Birthday celebration

FORMER Lagos State Deputy Governor Chief Rafiu Bakare Adeyefa Jafojo is 80 today. He was born on December 6, 1935. His parents were the late Pa Bakare Adeyefa Jafojo in Ebute Meta and the late Madam Taiwo (nee Adebunmi) of Ebute Meta, Lagos, but he grew up in Isale Awori, Ikeja. The surviving son of the family, his siblings include Madam Amudalat Jafojo, Madam Modupe Vaughan and Alhaja Mulikatu Jafojo, all of blessed memory.

Pa Jafojo attended Alafia Institute, Ibadan and Christ High School, Ilubinrin, Lagos, where he wrote the West African School Certificate Examination and passed with flying colours. He began his working career in 1959 as a Building Inspector with the Ikeja Town Planning Authority, but left for England In 1961; his bosom friend Chief Ayo Otegbola was with him on the trip.

Three years later, he gained admission into Hackney Technical College, England to study Building Engineering. After obtaining a National Certificate in 1966, he moved to Brixon School of Engineering, where he graduated with a Higher National Certificate in Building. Due to his thirst for further education, in 1969, he proceeded to the Northern Polytechnic, Holloway (now University of North) London, where he bagged an Advanced Certificate in Building Technology a year later.

While in England, Chief Jafojo was a student-activist; he was a member of the West African Students Union. It was from here he honed his skills in partisan politics. Upon his return to Nigeria, unsurprisingly, he pitched tent with the Egbe Afenifere.

Indeed, Baba wanted to practise his profession, but his people, the Awori thought differently. The Awori Welfare Association had discovered his political qualities and prevailed on him to change his mind, saying he would be of more political use to them than in any other area. It turned out that they were right. And thus Pa Jafojo bowed to the wishes of his people.

He took off by mobilising and encouraging the Awori to be politically conscious. Between 1975 and 1977, he was elected a councilor in Ikeja Local Government and later became chairman, General Purpose Committee. His contemporary is Oba Isheri Olofin, Oba Wahab Balogun.

In 1978, when the Army prepared to return the country to political rule, Pa Jafojo joined the defunct Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN), whose founder/national leader was the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo. His ambition was to be a lawmaker. To achieve this, he collected a form to represent his Agege Constituency in the state House of Assembly. This was not to be as mother luck smiled on him; the late sage Chief Awolowo encouraged him to join the then governorship candidate Alhaji Lateef Jakande as his running mate. The joint ticket worked; they won the election.

Thus on October I, 1979, Chief Jafojo, alongside Alhaji Jakande was sworn in as the first democratically elected Deputy Governor of Lagos. The event was historic because at 44 years, Chief Jafojo also became the first Awori to occupy the exalted number two-seat in the state. After their very successful term, they were reelected. But just two months later, the Army struck and their government was sacked.

Reminiscing on what the Army, led by the then Major-General Muhammadu Buhari did, Chief Jafojo on Wednesday at his Ikeja home, said he would not forgive Buhari for his action, and especially for searching the house of his mentor, Awo.

Be that as it may, 36 years later, the administration of Jakande and Jafojo is still very popular among Lagosians. They recall with joy their many achievements that have remained unbeatable till date. They include the Lagos State University (LASU), Jakande Estate, roads and bridges in Aworiland. He also provided employment for his people. A staunch supporter of Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu, Jafojo urged the former Lagos State governor and APC National Leader to assist his people with jobs. Over 500 Awori got government jobs courtesy of this request.

A man of many parts, Chief Jafojo holds the chieftaincy titles of Olota of Ikeja, Eesorun of Orile Agege and Asiwaju of Isolo. He is a member, Public Health of Engineering, Royal Society of Health and Associate member, Institute of Building, Great Britain & Ireland. He served as the national Publicity Secretary, Alliance for Democracy (AD), 2000 – 2003, and National Vice chairman (South West), 2003 to 2004. His friends include, former president Olusegun Obasanjo, Chief Augustine Ayo, Major Soji Falana (rtd), Dr Dehinde Williams, and Mr Hector Coker.

Chief Jajofo’s advice to politicians is to be prepared, have foresight.
“Watch what you say,’’ he warned. On Tinubu, he said: “I support him. He is my man. Because he believes in the saying, ‘live and let live.”

Reminiscing on the good political days, Chief Jafojo said the secret of his success with Jakande was that there was party discipline and everyone was loyal to the party.

“There is no party any more. If there is no party, who will control the politicians?’’ he shot back.
As Chief Jafojo celebrates his 80th birthday today with political associates, friends and well-wishers in Lagos, it is expected that many Lagosians will remember the man who worked behind the scene with Jakande and come out en masse to honour him.

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