•LAGOS Lawmaker, Hon. JUDE EMEKA
Everyone who knows Jude Emeka will know that he has been in politics for years and that he is from the South-East, but grew up in Lagos. Being the only son among six kids who lost their parents at a tender age, he struggled so hard to make ends meet. He contested under the banner of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in his home town severally, but lost. He was not discouraged, but kept trying. In 2015, in Lagos, he gave his ambition a fresh trial and won. Today, he is one of the Lagos State lawmakers, representing Oshodi/Isolo Constituency He was the only member of the PDP in the 9th Assembly but later defected to the All Progressives Congress (APC) in his second term. So, what’s his score card? He has done wonderfully well for the people of his constituency in the last 7 years and 8 months in office. He shared his experience with NIFE KAZEEM on how sweet and rough the journey has been and how he got married to a beautiful Yoruba lady from Ogun State, Ijebu-Ode to be precise. She is one of the famous Kuku daughters named Enitan Rosemary. Their marriage has been a blissful one with lovely children and she has been so supportive of his political career. Read on for more!
Tell us about your journey into politics?
Well, it has been a long while, but I will say it began in the year 2013 or there about in Lagos State, but I have been into it way back in Imo State, where I was not opportuned to contest election. In Lagos, I was only aspiring and finding time to do it and it has always been a challenge. Along the line, I tried to do it again in my state in 2011, but it didn’t work out. I came back to Lagos, I have been in Lagos since 1984. My wife, Rosemary Enitan, was so supportive of my ambition. Her support also encouraged me to dabble into politics in Lagos State. My desire was to serve humanity, then I was in PDP. I never knew I could contest election in Lagos State, I just said let me give it a try and I tried my luck.
I emerged the candidate of PDP in 2015. My victory had been God, because as an Igbo man playing lead in Lagos Politics, it is just the favour of God and my party leaders then. If I had not won on the platform of PDP, then I won’t be here in the APC. I was also given the opportunity to return to where I am today, it has been interesting and the people of my constituency have also given their support, if not so, I wouldn’t have won the election in 2019.
How do you always feel being the only Igbo man among the Lagos State Lawmakers?
It makes me a star among them, and I will also like to say that the Yoruba are very friendly and accomodating, especially the owners of the land, the (Aworis), they welcome visitors so well. My colleagues and the speaker of the House, Rt. Hon. Mudashiru Ajayi Obasa, unfortunately, we lost Pepperito, who was then a stabilizer in this House. He gave me a big support when he was alive. My other colleagues made me feel at home, but so far God has been so good.
And how has the experience been?
It has been interesting, as I said, if you really have the motive to serve humanity, you will accomplish it. Here is not a place where people always think I want to go and make money. I am not saying that you will not benefit from the venture, but the main objective should be how to serve your people the best way you can. Do what will favour your people, at least, I am better known than before politically and as for today, the only Igbo man in the system of Lagos State politics. Politics, to me, is a game and also an opportunity to serve my people and it is a continuous process, which you wouldn’t have if you are not in politics, I will say it is an interesting game.
Tell us about your background?
I’m an Igbo man from Imo-State and the only guy among 6 kids. I was an orphan from the age 8, so growing up was not easy. I did my Tertiary Education at Yaba Tech and later went to Lasu. I’m a Chartered Accountant by profession, also a fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountant. I also have an MBA in Marketing. I am married with 3 kids, a Catholic Church member, I was born in the East, I came to Lagos after my secondary education.
What is your relationship with non-Igbo people?
Fantastic! And I believe in relationships. I was once a banker, when you are in the Banking Industry, it helps you build relationships, especially for me who loves Marketing and in Marketing, you have to build customer relations and so also in Politics, because you need to meet voters, you can’t be the only tree in a forest.
Before I went into Politics, I also ran a Bureau de Change business, so, my everyday activities are about meeting people, which taught me a lot about human relations. So, my relationship with others is very cordial and I am still building as each day passses by.
Was your marriage to a Yoruba woman not objected to?
Well, if my parents were still alive, they probably would have objected but I was on my own. Mostly, I take my decisions myself and when my grandma was alive, she gave me full support. No objections from anyone.
We learnt that your wife is one of the Kuku’s daughters in Ijebu-Ode. Is it true?
Yes! She is so sweet, I woudn’t have got any better choice. We plan most things together.
Are you also in support of the Muslim/Muslim ticket of your party?
From the Bible or Quran, we can see that Abraham was the father of the Nations and Abraham had two sons. Ishmael and Isaac. They practised different religions and still they’re from the same father. That is why whenever I see Christians fighting Muslims, it makes no sense to me because they have the same father.
All of us are one Nigeria, whether you’re a Muslim or Christian and the leaders of our party knows better. That is why I am also in support of his decision. Religion should be a personal thing. I have also met Asiwaju in Church where he came to worship and if you talk about a real Muslim, who takes Islam to heart, you talk about Kashim Shettima. Asiwaju is flexible, you can’t say this is where he belongs when it comes to religion. Well, maybe by birth, because his wife is a Christian and not just a Christian, but a Redeemed Church Pastor, who is well known.
Some of Asiwaju’s kids are Muslims while others are Christians. So, choose what you want to serve, that’s what he always tells us. Religion is a personal affair, the strategy of our party is that we need someone like Shettima to be Tinubu’s VP. Besides, Asiwaju also has the right to choose his running mate who will work with him to deliver this country and if you look at how he emerged from the primary of our party, you will discover that the 13 other Northern governors who gave him support are Muslims. It means while some of us from here are thinking he might not get the ticket, they gave him support and they believed he is the one who can lead this country out of where it is today.
Apart from that, Kashim Shettima is a two-term governor of Bornu State. If you check his background, you would see he had done excellently well in power. He was elected after Amodu Sheriff, in fact, most people always mix them together, Amodu Sheriff was the one who was linked with Boko Haram. Just as we have area boys in the South now, Boko Haram then was a group of boys to fight their boss’ cause. Later, their leader was arrested. And remember Bornu is very close Sambisa Forest. It is a very big place, where criminals could easily run to after commiting crimes. So, it was Kashim Shettima who took over from Amodu Sherif and fought Boko Haram to a stand still and defeated them. Some Nigerians are now saying he’s the one who brought Boko Haram. Shettima really performed well in his two terms as governor, even before he became the governor, he was the Commissioner of Finance, and he came from a leading family. His grandfather was one of the Northern Governors and he did well.
He read Agric-Economics at Maiduguri University and he also has his Master’s degree. He was the GM of Zenith Bank. He was doing well before he went into Politics. APC leaders don’t just put anybody in a position. When Asiwaju said ‘Emi Lokan’, it really means Awalokan, Shettima was once a Chairman of Governors Forum in the North and after his 2 terms as Governor of Bornu, he was elected Senator and has won again to go back as a Senate before he was nominated to be a runningmate to Bola Ahmed Tinubu. Kashim Shettima was the one of those who met with Asiwaju on how to form the All Progressives Congress ways back. So, you can see that their relationship has come a long way. They have a better understanding of how to develop Nigeria. For example, if someone like me has to choose a running mate, I have to choose somebody I understand, who will support me and that’s what Asiwaju did, which was comfirmed by the party.
Shettima is competent and he also supported Christians in his state, while he was Governor. This is not the first time the issue of Muslim/Muslim ticket would take place in Nigeria’s politics and elections. If you remember M.K.O. Abiola, the Social Democratic Party’s (SDP) candidate in 1993, June 12 presidential election, his running mate Babangana Kingibe, was a Muslim too. So, the issue of Muslim/Muslim Ticket didn’t start today, I am not saying the Christians are not important, I am also a Christian, the wisdom of the party saw that, the best way the party could win the election is through a Muslim-Muslim ticket.
Kashim Shettima is from the North-East, the same zone that Atiku Abubakar comes from. In the North-West, APC believes it already has the area because that is where you have Kano, Katsina, Kaduna, the APC Governors are there, but we have to divide votes from North-East, we can share the North-Central, whatever comes out from there. In the South West, over 60% of people will support their son, while in the East, we can get about 25% and from the South/South, our leader, Bola Ahmed is hopeful of getting 25 percent votes
The Secretary to the Federal Government right now, is a Christian and this same people are the ones protesting, why? Because they expect that one of them should be chosen as Vice Presidential candidate of the party.
We want value, someone who is able to attract votes. It does not really matter whether you are a Muslim or Christian. The Senate President’s post is still there, other influential posts are still available. I just want to use this opportunity to appeal to my fellow Christians to be calm. It doesn’t matter, Christianity doesn’t buy one food in the market. Islam religion can’t get food items cheaper at market either. Items the store won’t be cheaper for me, what matters is the competence.
Those two are tested governors. They’ve run different states before and performed well, they have the experience of leadership.
That means you won’t be supporting your fellow Igbo brother from the East for presidency?
I am supporting my great party, I am an APC member. Not only that, I am a stakeholder in APC and a Legislator in Lagos State and I am very proud of my candidate, I am supporting Asiwaju and Shettima with my flesh and blood.