THE newly constructed Onikan stadium is to be known as Mobolaji Olufunso Johnson Arena, Governor Babajide Sanwo-olu announced on Tuesday during a ‘Day of Honour’ event organised to celebrate the exit of the first Military Governor of Lagos State, Brigadier-General Mobolaji Johnson.
Paying glowing tributes to the late Brig. Gen. Johnson, Sanwo-Olu described him as a man who saw the future and worked to achieve the Lagos of our dreams.
The Governor and his deputy, Obafemi Hamzat, led members of the State’s Executive Council and high-profile dignitaries to the event held to honour the life and times of the deceased.
The late Johnson passed away in his Ilupeju country home on October 30, at the age of 83.
Sanwo-Olu said the late Johnson’s selflessness in service and excellent achievements had been a source of inspiration to successive administrations in Lagos.
Describing the former administrator as quintessential manager of resources and people, Sanwo-Olu said the late Johnson’s personality symbolised integrity, humility, fairness and justice.
He said: “In whatever role we knew him, the first and longest serving military administrator of Lagos State stood out as a special person for his leadership and charismatic personality. If anyone was qualified to be addressed as ‘an officer and a gentleman’, it was Brigadier General Johnson. Despite his imposing frame, he was as gentle as a dove.
“He never threw his weight around, even though he was a man of power. As a man of authority, he was never authoritarian. Though a soldier, he never ruled with an iron hand; he was compassionate.”
The late Johnson’s administration, Sanwo-Olu said, started the construction of Ikorodu and Mushin General Hospitals. He added that the former administrator also modernised the Lagos Island General Hospital, expanding the facilities of the hospital.
Aside building maternity annex at Onikan Health Centre and an additional ward at Igbobi Orthopedic Hospital, the Governor said the late Johnson also established five new Government Colleges in each of the five divisions of the State.
The All Progressives Congress (APC) National Leader, Bola Tinubu, spoke glowingly of the deceased, describing him as “a servant leader and a man of incorruptible character”.
The former governor said the late Johnson, despite being a military administrator, put the people at the cornerstone of his administration and economic policies.
He said: “I salute a courageous officer who never compromised the rules of the military despite becoming a State administrator at a younger age. He put the people at the cornerstone of his administration and economic policies. Having met 10,000 pounds in the treasury of the State when he assumed office, the late Johnson deployed his ingenuity and talent to set the pace for the State’s modernisation and development.
“Just as he had great exploit in the army, his retirement was also solid. He lived a life of principle and contentment. He ran a clean and honest administration.”
Tinubu recalled that 10 State administrators were arrested for corrupt practices when General Murtala Muhammed took over as Head of State in 1976. Only late Johnson, the APC National Leader declared, was the military administrator absolved of corruption.
This, Tinubu said, spoke of the deceased’s trait of uprightness and spirit of accountability.
Hamzat said the late Johnson lived above pettiness, describing the former administrator as a giant “who matched his stature with achievements”.
The Deputy Governor said the late Johnson always preferred a spartan life, which was why he chose to live his retirement life among average citizens of the State.
Also, former Lagos military administrator, Rear Admiral Ndubuisi Kanu (rtd), observed that the late Johnson maintained the dignity of his profession and the office he occupied during his tenure.
Former Ogun State Governor, Olusegun Osoba, in his tribute, said all the late Johnson’s children attended public schools and rode in public transport despite their father being the reigning military administrator.
Some former governors and administrators of the State also graced the event to pay tributes to the deceased. They include Commodore Ebitu Ukiwe (rtd), Col. Raji Rasaki (rtd), and Brigadier General Olagunsoye Oyinlola.
The first son of the deceased, Seyi Johnson, who led family members to the event, thanked the Lagos Government for the honour done to his father.
He said: “One of the lessons our father taught us as children is the attribute of tolerance. He told us not to discriminate against anyone irrespective of background.”
The event was also graced by Lagos residents and schoolchildren from different parts of the State.