Senator Olugbenga Kaka
Senator Olugbenga Kaka, representing Ogun East senatorial district, recently spoke to Jaiyeola Andrews and Femi Durojaiye on burning national issues. Excerpts:
How feasible is the South-west integration agenda?
I want to believe that with the commitment from all of us; it is the easiest and the most reasonable thing to do. We have seen how we moved from the various regions to state creation. Now, we have 36 states and with recourses increasing but in real value, it is dwindling; you discover that many of these small states cannot do certain things. Unfortunately for you, the federal government that is supposed to be the apex of our federal system is also operating like a unitary system to the extent that you find a lot of ministries and agencies remaining in Abuja and their impacts are not felt anywhere.
What they could have been able to do collectively suffer due to negligence, ineptitude and over-centralisation. And if at the state level again, we have certain things that cannot be handled alone by individual states, it is only normal that we consider some states with affinity to one another to come together under what we call regional integration and that is where the justification of those people calling for regionalisation comes in.
When they come together and we are practicing true federalism, two, three or four states can partner to pursue a social service that one state alone cannot do like the railway system, even the road network. Jointly, states can do it in partnership so also processing facilities where they have common raw material that they can jointly put something in place. It won’t be out of place if the Yoruba states come together to put up a refinery that the federal government had been unable to do over the years.
The ongoing merger of opposition parties is not given a chance in some quarters based on past experiences. What’s your take?
That comparison is not good. There has never been a merger. Right from the 50s till date have just been alliances. This time around there is going to be a genuine merger, outright dropping of the various names of the parties and taking a new and acceptable name; a common name and all the parties coming together bringing their best out. By the time you have four, five, six parties coming together; the resultant effect will be like you have added ten or twelve.
That is what we are having right now and that is what is giving the ruling party headache of their life to the extent that we now have what I will call an auto-immune disease plaguing the PDP because they forgot that they are the party in power; they inflicted the pain that we have in the country today which we now call insecurity because of their love for power at all cost.
If they don’t know how to administer, they should please leave Nigeria alone and allow Nigerians determine how they will go about their development rather than hold everybody down in this country. I think this is the time to say no to them and embrace this merger for once and allow a credible alternative to take over from the charade that has been going on for the past 18 to 19 years.
Can APC wrest power from PDP in 2015?
Nothing is impossible. David defeated Goliath and when you get into the Bible and the Quran, you will see where the prophet of God are afraid of thousands of enemies with their own hundreds and God instructed them that even the hundreds they have is even too much and asked them that they should be reduced into half and they decimated their enemies.
So, with all the money acquired by PDP; with all the dead woods they are parading and all the never-do-wells that populate them (who want to bring this country down, while some few genuine ones are building) they are destroying. It is not beyond God to decree their exit even before 2015. Let Nigerians watch out.
What is your position on the state of emergency declared in Yobe, Borno and Adamawa States?
My position is immaterial now. It has been decided and I see it as Goodluck Jonathan setting an examination for himself so he is the one to answer the questions that he had set for himself at the end of which Nigerians will now have to mark the scripts. It is after that we can do a postmortem on whether it is a failure or a success because in the first instance, the President has every power under the constitution to deploy the military as he wishes without necessarily declaring a state of emergency. It shows that he has explored every available opportunity and the next thing is state of emergency. I am sure he must have weighed the options.
The option that will be sending bad signal to the entire world that our administration here has failed and that our Nigerian nation is not secure. He must have weighed the consequence of the money to be expended; he must also have weighed whether the amount to be thrown at the problem under security is the real thing to do rather than tackling the cause of the problem we are facing, which is of course, hunger and unemployment in the land.
If you want to do a general overview of the state of the nation will you say there is a ray of hope?
There is always hope and when you look at Nigeria now, I don’t think it can be gloomier than what we used to have. So all we can do is to start looking for a ray of hope which was where we started; we should start looking for potential Awolowos among us but the environment is not conducive for them to emerge.
What do you make of the feud between Governor Amaechi and President Jonathan? Second, PDP has vowed to dislodge ACN in the South-west, do you think this is feasible?
I laugh, and I still dey laugh like Obasanjo always says. First and foremost, Amaechi and Jonathan, I have made a subtle reference to it. Like they created the insecurity that we have in the north today, they want to further create insecurity through the attempt to control the governors’ forum. The governors forum has no provision in the constitution; it is like any other NGO and under freedom of association, there is no reason how that one should be a concern notwithstanding the denial by the presidency that they have no interest. By that denial, they have lowered their esteem before Nigerians. Nigerians are no fools. They heated the polity just because governors are meeting; they heated the polity for nearly three months.
It snowballed into the issue of plane or no plane while we still have over 250 planes and nothing is happening to that. Nigerians are aware of them. If a plane had been flying, why is it that because Amaechi now has a disagreement with the president that you’re grounding it? Then, they did an election and the governors that were supposed to be the hope of tomorrow conducted elections among themselves and one of them could not even understand the difference between the intention to vote and the actual voting, dangling a paper that these are the signatures they pledged to vote. Is this not insulting to Nigerians?
Then it was done and the spirit of sportsmanship was also not there. They are now saying I am the authentic chairman, who made you the authentic chair? Is it the signature you made in your bedroom that made you authentic or the one that was done publicly? So, there are more questions than answers. Then the PDP are the ones heating the polity; they are the ones that want to convert a free association into a PDP property plus other issues. But Nigerians are watching and God is also watching but the ultimate is sweeping all those rots away. You don’t sweep dirt under the carpet and it will not resurface.
Well the issue of south-west, naturally PDP will be swept off. They do not even exist in the South-west so why do we have to bother ourselves if they are dreaming to take over? They have tried it before and our people were so resilient. They did it in 2003, we went back to the trenches; we plotted and we are going to use our brain and not guns with these people. Nobody is going to pursue them, nobody is going to fight them physically, we will use our brain to fight them and that is where the merger is going to surprise them. They are already jittery; they are already self-destruct, they are inflicted with auto-immune disease which is worse than HIV/AIDS and there is no escape route for them.
What is your view on the nation’s judicial system? And do you think the anti-graft agencies are doing enough in the fight against corruption?
The judiciary is also a reflection of the situation we have found ourselves in this country. They are being influenced by the government and pseudo-entrepreneur. It will be very difficult for the judiciary to remain the last hope of the common man. It is rather unfortunate but we will get there with time.
Talking of EFCC, ICPC and others, again to give you my candid opinion, it is an unnecessary duplication of effort because the police are not well structured; because they are totally incapable of doing what is expected of them, that is what brought about EFCC and other graft agencies we now have.