Sunday, 3 May 2015

Emmanuel Jimeh: The Change #Nigerians Seek Is Here

Hon Emmanuel Jimeh is a seasoned legislator and lawyer who ventured into politics in the late 80s when he was given the mandate by his people to represent them in the Benue State House of Assembly where he was later made speaker in 1992 on the platform of the SDP. In this Interview with pembi david-stephen, he talks about the seventh Assembly as well as his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC’s) victory in the just concluded general elections.

You have been a member of the House of Representatives from 2007 till date, why did you reject a third term  in favour of running for governor?

First and foremost, I will have to say that the motivation behind my political career is the desire to serve my people in any given capacity and I have managed to achieve that over the years. I started my political career in the Benue State House of Assembly in 1992 on the platform of the then Social Democratic Party (SDP) and I rose to the position of speaker of Benue House of Assembly until that administration was truncated by Gen. Sani Abacha’s regime. However, soon after the return to civilian rule, I joined the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in 1998.

So, that has been the trajectory of my career in the legislative arm of government. At this level of government, you cannot reach out to as many people as you want, but you are made more aware of the needs of your people, both in terms of the provision of social amenities, education and healthcare delivery systems. These are areas that fall under the ambit of the executive arm of government.

In the executive arm of government, you have a lot of security guards, ascension dogs and a big government house with a large staff strength at your disposal, making you inaccessible by the electorates.

Naturally, there is an inclination to gravitate towards the executive arm of government, because as a legislator, you are constrained and cannot see to all the needs of the people; you only serve as a channel to get their views across to the executive arm of government.

In a nutshell, my transition from the legislative arm of government to the executive arm is to better serve my people.

The Seventh Assembly ends May 29, what do you think will happen to the unfinished proceedings and bills sponsored by them?

One of the problems of our democracy is lack of continuity. Whenever there is a change and the baton of leadership is handed over to a new set of people, they usually feel that the ideas of their predecessors have become obsolete and discard them.

However, one thing that gives me comfort and satisfaction is that this 7th Assembly was able to introduce a clause called the “continuity process”. For example, if a bill has passed through first and second reading and is yet to be ascended, then the next legislative session will pick it up and start the process all over again. But if the bill has passed through all the processes and is yet to be implemented, maybe by the president, the next legislative assembly will ensure a quick passage of that bill without it going through another first and second reading.

Also, one problem that is going to be encountered in this session is that there will be a lot of fresh ideas coming on board; over 220 members of the 7th assembly lost their seats and, take it from me, those coming in will not be as active and experienced as those who have been in the system.

So many experienced hands have been lost as well as resources and manpower because they were trained and this new ones coming in will also have to go through the same process which will make a lot of legislative functions move slowly.

We have spoken about these issues on several occasions but it is still a recurring decimal and we are looking forward to that stage where personnel will be allowed to keep on using their maturity and efficiency in deliberations for continuity in government.

What is your general assessment of the just concluded general elections, especially the gubernatorial primaries in Benue State in which you took part?

I participated in the APC governorship primaries in Benue State and because of my dissatisfaction with the election. I have taken the matter to a law court to protest the manner in which the APC governorship primary was conducted in Benue State. I am seeking redress so I indulge your kind permission to refrain from making any detailed comment on that issue.

On the general elections, I will say we are still on a learning curve, but we are improving in leaps and bounds and if we can sustain that, we will soon get to the desired height of electoral sophistication. It’s a gradual process and I think we should give a lot of kudos to the electoral body, especially the INEC umpire, for conducting an election that was credible and has been given a lot of encomiums, both locally and internationally. Also, in truth I will also want to commend Mr President, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan for reshaping the electoral body and for conceding defeat in an election conducted by him. Frankly speaking, with his conduct, I must say that our democracy has taken a turn for the better.

Though I am short of words to eulogise the conduct of this election, however we need to keep improving and the way to do that is to continue having electoral reforms till we reach a point where electronic voting will work perfectly. We are also looking forward to the time when Nigerian citizens in the Diaspora are able to vote for candidates of their choice.

What advice do you have for the president-elect, Gen. Muhamadu Buhari (rtd)?

Well, I don’t think I qualify to advice the president-elect because he has been a president of this nation before and so he has a lot of experience on how to rule this nation and take her to that pride of place in the comity of great nations.

So, my duty is to pray that God gives him the wisdom and understanding to marshal the affairs of this nation. Still, I must say that there are a lot of expectations from the incoming president. People think that as Buhari steps in, if they were drinking garri before, they will suddenly begin to eat egg and rice without even working for the rice. Somebody who is riding an okada expects that he will suddenly begin to drive a taxi! So, the expectations are much, but I believe he will govern this nation with equity and fairness.


  1. Hon. Jime is an intelligent and objective legislator, the kind we need in this nation. He is right on point.

  2. Sir D.I Gelleh4 May 2015 at 13:14

    i totally agree with you. he's so intelligent and knows how to manage situations whenever they arise. i pray for him to live long and continue to get good opportunities to serve his people.