By Adekoya Adesegun Abdel-Majid
I have heard about the man, Jubril Martins Kuye, JMK, from my Dad as a child growing up in Ago Iwoye; the man I was later to work within one of Nigeria’s most exalted Office. I heard stories told of a very brilliant and intelligent man who was a Teacher and who taught people who were even older than him. You could imagine the excitement of a young man growing up with a mindset about a Community hero and later to come in direct contact with him much later in life, and in the most awkward and unexpected manner.
We were inundated with stories of his community services and engagements, his financial supports for citizens of the town and his unparalleled roles in the establishment of the Permanent Campus of the Ogun State University (now Olabisi Onabanjo University), Ago-Iwoye; very few students of the first and second generation of the university can forget too quickly the buses that conveyed them back and forth from the Temporary site to Ago Iwoye, Oru and Ijebu-Igbo in the early days of the University. Senator Jubril Martins-Kuye donated those buses.
I was later to meet the Leader much later at the start of the 4th Republic in 1998. Prior to our meeting, Providence had placed both of us in the same political party, UNCP during the aborted Abacha Transition Political program. But while I played my politics in Kosofe Local Government Area Council of Lagos State, Senator Martins-Kuye was a frontline player in Ogun State. I had contested and won elections as the youngest Executive Chairman of Kosofe Local Government Area Council, while JMK ran as the Governorship candidate of the UNCP in Ogun State. As at that time my own political leader, Senator Anthony Adefuye was the Chairman of our party, UNCP in Lagos State.
The 1998/99 Ogun State governorship contest got electrified and JMK had secured the ticket of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP); and this mandate was declared a collective ownership and patrimony of all “Ago-Iwoye” citizens; to this clarion call I became an emergency draft. Coming from the background as an elected Council Chairman from highly sophisticated and cosmopolitan centre like Lagos State, I volunteered to devote six months of my service in support of the campaign (that was from October 1998 to the end of elections in April, 1999). That was the beginning of a political and family relationship that was to take me through and to many parts of the world with ‘Ihya Kana’budu…’
The PDP ticket was already conceded to JMK like a Done Deal, but the next challenge was reaching out to other stakeholders in Ogun State outside the Ijebu area of Ogun East Senatorial district. However JMK was equally concerned about consolidating his hold on the already conquered territory. I therefore advised that he should reach out beyond Ogun East, while I hold forth for him at home. We lost the election to the Alliance for Democracy (AD) as typical bloc votes of South West went for a party they believed was for the Yoruba people. But former President Olusegun Obasanjo kept to his promise to give JMK something by which even Governors will queue at his doorstep to see him. He was appointed as Minister of State for Finance and we both resumed to the office on the 4th of July, 1999. I got appointed as the Personal Assistant to the Honourable Minister.
In the course of my adult life I have worked with various leaders with different styles and idiosyncrasies, but hadn’t seen any with such eccentric diligence like Senator Kuye.
JMK, the Administrator is one that will write a Full Page memo to decline and “approval” in government office. He will write a half page to give “approval”. While most of his contemporaries will simply scribble “Approved” or “Not Approved”, my boss will write a whole epistle of ‘whys’ in both circumstances, and also scribble his Full Length signature. He will remind you that some time in the future new generations coming in contact with the files should be able to know clearly your justifications and relate efficiently to your reasoning while taking that decision.
And in appreciation of little things, or whenever you are able to impress him, he will rub his hands through your hair. He will never let such opportunities run by to explain details of his actions to you till you are convinced or agree with him that you are convinced.
There was an instance of great significance. An indigene of Ago-Iwoye had applied to join the Nigerian military, the Naval Command. The young man came first on the endurance tests but was declared unfit on health ground. So he requested for the recommendations of Senator Kuye, then as Minister of State for Finance. Rather than calling any of the military authorities to consider the application, Senator Kuye summoned the young man and took him straight to the Personal physician to the President and requested for an examination of the guy’s health status and physical fitness without telling to what purpose. He therefore sent the Medical Report to the most senior military Chief with a note that they should not resort to embarrassing whoever they want to reject. He advised they could find other creative means of doing that. He then dismissed the young applicant with a prayer that God will get him the best and never requested for the military authorities to consider the application. I had to come in, and that’s our now very illustrious son of Ago-Iwoye, Navy Commander Kazeem Emiabata was finally enrolled in the Nigerian military, and he is doing pretty fine at the highest level of his military career in the service of the nation and fatherland.
A Community and Religious Man
JMK is generous to a fault especially in his service and contributions to the Community. This was where he earned himself the sobriquet: “Iyya-Kana’Budu-Wa-Iyya-Kanastaiin”. No matter how much people run around, he holds that believe and firmly too, that “if God does not permit, there is practically nothing that any human being can do all on his own.
Everything about him is encapsulated in Leadership and God. In office, JMK will rely on God to get approval and rather than seeking direct help or lobby from man he will declare 7 Days of Fasting. As a Minister, while many of his colleagues were lobbying to get some Federal Roads built in their Communities, and we had approached JMK to also do same. He had filed in for the construction of Isara – Ago-Iwoye – Ijebu-Igbo – Orile-Owu – Sekona – Apomu Road. And thereafter requested that i should join him in 7-Day Fasting and Prayer for the roads to get the necessary attention and approvals. We did, and the Minister ended in the hospital after the 7 days of Fasting, but we were compensated for our penitence with the final awards and construction of that road which run its course through Ogun and Osun States.
Sadly, this believe was also taken to be his main weakness in politics where lobbying and forceful take-over is believed to be the norm; and especially in circumstances when aides and associates expect some decisive actions from him. I must also admit that JMK was very conscious of this as he often refer to himself as: “A pe pe ma pe, a pe si ibi aiye pe si” (that is, one who bows too quickly to superior arguments) and rarely gives a fight on his convictions.
For ‘Ihya Kana’budu’ it has been an 80 long and eventful years, with landmarks of achievements and fulfilments. He has been a proud family man, a worthy father and mentor to all those who have crossed his path. He is worthy of being celebrated, as I join others in wishing him many more years of good health and Allah’s abiding presence as he joins the Octogenarian Club.
… Hon. Adekoya (aka ATTACKER), the Deputy Minority Whip of the House of Representatives, wrote this as a tribute in honour of former Minister of State for Finance and one of the founding fathers of the PDP, Senator Jubril Martins-Kuye