(The first Ibo man to be elected into Lagos House of Assembly)
Hon. Jude Emeka Idimogu is a member of Lagos House of Assembly representing Oshodi/Isolo Constituency II. He is the first and the only Ibo man to be elected into Lagos House of Assembly since 1979. He turned 47 years of age on December 23, 2016 and used the occasion to grant an interview.
He told us about his growing up as an orphan, his education background, marriage and political career.
Let us start by congratulating you on your birthday today.
Thank you very much.
How does it feel turning 47?
I am happy. I thank God that He has been faithful to me and to my family s a whole. The most important thing is that one is alive and healthy. I am pleased and I blessed God.
Do you feel your new age?
Physically can you do those things you used to do in your 20s and 30s?
Of course, you saw me yesterday (Thursday, December 22, 2016) playing football. Although it might not be the same as when one was in his 20s or 30s but then I can still do so many things physically.
When would you say was the happiest moment of your 47 years of life?
A lot of happiest moments. The day I got wedded to my wife.
What year was that?
Can I remember that now? I was just about 25 or 26 years old then. Probably when I had my kids could also be considered as my happiest moment. Again, when I qualified as a chartered accountant that was for me a waoh! Most especially when God gave me the grace to win last year election (House of Assembly election).
In fact I was just not happy, I was shedding tears. What you will call tears of joy. For me it was impossibility becoming possible. It taught me a lesson that prayer and hard work pays. God has been faithful.
When would you say was the saddest moment of your life up till now?
Growing up for me was very difficult. I became orphan at relatively younger age. I was less than 10 years old when I lost my parents. It was not easy growing up for me. Sometimes I had to serve people as houseboy.
Did you lose your parents in a motor accident or how come they died together?
No. My mommy died first during child birth of the seventh child. I believe her death affected my dad. Because about two years later he too died.
How old were you then?
I was between eight and nine years of age.
So, who brought you up?
I had an elder sister who was helping me. Like I said earlier, I served so many people even though they are part of my extended family. It was a bit difficult. One time I had to leave my paternal side to live with my maternal side.
Sometimes, I had no food to eat for one or two days. I had to do some odd and menial jobs even while I was in primary school in order to survive.
Going by your difficult upbringing, how did you do it to qualify as a chartered accountant?
At a stage in my life, I relocated to Lagos. I came to Lagos as early as 1980 or there about. Initially, I had to pick a job and I was attending some part time courses when I could muster some financial muscle, I pulled out of part time course and went to do a full time course.
I schooled at Yaba College of Education (Yaba Tech), before then, I completed my secondary education at Methodist Boys High School (Broad Street, Lagos Island). I even did my Advanced GCE before I proceeded to Yaba Tech.
Who was sponsoring your education all this while?
I was partially sponsoring myself. Then, my immediate elder sister and some other relatives helped too. After Yaba Tech, I got a job.
What did you read at Yaba tech?
I read Accounting up to HND level before I went to Ambrose Alli University (Ekpoma, Edo State) to do a degree. After this I sat for my professional exam. While reading for my professional, I was also doing kabu-kabu (using private car as a taxi) to sustain myself and my family. I did kabu-kabu for solid three years mostly on weekends. After my ICAN, I went to LASU for my MBA in Marketing.
How did you meet your wife?
I met her at a party in Mushin. Ironically, I went there to see another lady only for me to meet her. I shifted my attention from the lady I went to meet to her throughout that day. She was living in Lagos Island then. Where is that your place? (Asking his wife who was sitting nearby in his office). Bamgbose, the wife answered. You can see why she is physically strong and brave. She used to fight those days.
What would you say you saw in her then?
Her beauty, of course. She was beautiful then. The truth is that what attracts me to a lady is her beauty first. It is when you get closer to her that you will now know her inner beauty.
When did you now decide that she is the person that you wanted to spend the rest of your life with?
It was not easy convincing her to marry me because of different cultural background. It was difficult. My immediate family did not accept her. It was only my granny that stood by her.
Was it from your own side alone that there were resistant to the marriage?
There was not much resistant from her side. Because when I presented myself to her family there was no objection at all.
How many children has the marriage been blessed with?
Three kids. The eldest is 25 years, the second is 23 and the last is 21.
All boys or all girls?
The first two are boys and the last one is a girl. The girl has just graduated from school. She is about going for her service.
How did your path as a professional accountant cross that of partisan politics?
I always believe all human beings are political animals. For me, I see politics as relationship with others. And your relationship with others depends on how you market yourself. You must sell yourself to people to believe in you. To trust you.
Initially, I would say I was not that interested in politics until I championed the creation of a professional body – The Bureau De Change operators of Nigeria, South West zone. I was the first Vice Chairman of the South West zone for many years.
We have a lot of members and I coordinated them. It was at that level that I discovered how to manage human beings. Also in my community, I was the chairman of the CDA for over eight years. Even before I sought elective post, I have graded two roads in my community.
Also, in my church, I am a Roman Catholic member. I am even a Knight in Church. Aside philanthropic activities that I participate in the church, I am also the team manager of the football team of the church. All the activities have always endeared me to people.
I never thought I would ever be involved in politics right here in Lagos. I was always thinking that even if I ever ventured into politics, it must be in my state not in Lagos. Until one day, I just thought that why don’t I just give it a try? That is contest an election in Lagos. With that thought, I decided to give it a try. And with hard work and prayer it became a reality.
A lot of hard work went into my winning that election. I was committed to it and it paid off.
Did you ever think you would win that election in 2015 knowing fully well that APC is in central in Lagos State?
Somehow yes. I have this believe that if I set my mind on something, I will do everything humanly possible to achieve it. Apart from the fact that I am not a Yoruba man, what other things did I not have to contest? I even consoled myself by the fact that my wife is a Yoruba. I asked myself am I not their in-law? So, what is the issue?
When you told your wife that, you wanted to contest initially what did she say?
I didn’t tell her initially. I knew if I told her she would want to discourage me one way or the other. She did not know I was contesting until when she saw my banner with her picture and mine conspicuously displayed on it.
At a time, people were asking question who actually was contesting the election between me and her. They will say, this one Omo Okoro (euphuism for an Ibo indigene), and this one Omo Kuku (the maiden name of the wife).
Which of the Kuku’s?
The same Kuku from Ijebu Ode. That one gave me strength. Apart from that, I have lived over 25 years in Lagos. The only snag is the fact that I cannot speak the language fluently. Aside that, I am well known in my community. I have paid my due in that community. This is not a matter of one praising himself.
Did you know that I contested against the son of APC chairman in Lagos State? If I am not well known that certainly wouldn’t have been possible. Of course, God was also on my side. Because, I made it known to the electorate then that the election was a battle between David (himself) and Goliath (the APC chairman’s son). It was God and my determination that got me victory that day.
So, how will you describe your experience in the last one year that you have been a lawmaker?
It’s been a very good experience. Most of them when they saw me for the very first time, they said Omo Okoro. It was like I was a stranger among them then. But now they have come to accept me as one of them. It has been good. The only challenge is that constituency representation is tasking and financially demanding.
The economic situation of the country now is not helping matters. But we will continue to do our best to serve our constituents and Lagos State as a whole. It’s been a good learning curve for me.
At 47, what do you want God to do for you?
To give me good health and help me to win a second term at least if not here, it should be Surulere else.
- TOLANI ABATTI