A former deputy governor of Ogun State who is now aspiring to be governor, Adegbenga Kaka has warned leaders of the All Progressives Congress that voters will punish the party if they field the wrong candidate for presidency in 2019. He spoke to Tobi Soniyi and Femi Ogbonnikan. Excerpts:
What are your assessments of the situation in Ogun State right now?
That is a very challenging question to start with. First, I am a member of the same ruling party, APC. Secondly, I have been a critic of the present administration in many respects. So, without being partisan and without falling into sycophantic trap, I would say that the people on the streets who are supposed to be the beneficiaries of our administration are in a better position to judge.
What are those things you may want to correct if you become the governor of Ogun State in 2019?
Definitely, there are so many things that we can improve upon or out rightly correct. For example, we will need to get back to the basics rather than palliative measures. We need to get back to the basics in so many sectors. I would start from education. Many of us are products of the worthy educational legacies, by a lot of respected elders of this state ably led by late Papa Obafemi Awolowo, and the likes of Ransome Kuti, the likes of Tai Solarin, Oluwole Awokoya and many others. The legacies they left behind, we are seeing them crumbling right, in front of our noses, in terms of personnel, in terms of infrastructure, in terms of instructional materials and even, game activities. In those days, we used to fight for the academicals cup competition that blinded the entire region. We had dual games competition between neighbouring schools. We had the Ionian games and many more, that were geared towards training the soul, the mind, the brain and the body.
But now, hardly do we have any game on-going in our schools. Ordinary football, leather football, we can’t provide it in many schools, right from primary to secondary schools. Without recreation activities then, the alternative is we find our children engaging in cult activities. Thus, making their future to be very, very bleak.
When we leave education, you will go to agriculture. Yes, we have propaganda here and there across the country, but we are not doing the right things for the desired results. If agriculture must develop, then, the paradox within the system must be removed. The paradox of having large expanse of arable lands throughout the length and breadth of the country, including Ogun State, yet, nobody to assist the common man who wants to farm, to clear the forest because they can’t afford to get money to do it. Mechanisation is part of the ways but we continue to use the hoes and cutlasses. There is no way within the comity of nations that we can get to our destination, except something is done to marry technology with management.
Our youths are in the urban centres because the governments failed woefully to develop the rural areas. The rural areas, once developed with motorable road networks, access roads that can facilitate the ease of movement of inputs and evacuating the outputs to the markets. The provisions of basic necessities of life that will make the youths to want to stay within the rural-farming communities, such as to replace the ageing hands in our various farms. So, if we must remain truly independent then, we must be self-sufficient in food production.
Not only that, for us to generate employment opportunities, the only main hope for us, is to use our agricultural produce in cottage industries that will give us value addition that can provide ready employment opportunities for our young graduates who are better placed for ease of technological adoption than our illiterate old hands. That is, as far as, agro-industrial sector is concerned.
When we now move to the area of electricity and energy, if we have adequate electricity supply we can be rest assured that the multiplier effects will be such that will drastically reduce the unemployment situation to below ten percent, because both the artisans, the cottage industries operators and even the large industries would no longer need to depend mainly on diesel and petrol that is polluting the environment and at the same time, adding to the cost of production, such that makes profitability to get to near zero.
There is this insinuation that the 2019 governorship ticket has been zoned to Ogun West and if that is the position, do you stand a chance as a candidate from Ogun East?
There is nothing sacrosanct about it. There is nothing of such since 1976 to date. Nothing of such within any political setting to the best of my knowledge. If there is a semblance of it, then it must be an unwritten understanding. Or not even an understanding, probably concession or an accidental event that the people have been misconstruing. When I say that, and when you look at 1976, we had the military government up to 1979. By 1979, we had virtually all the zones contesting for the governorship. And as at that time, we had Pa Olabisi Onabanjo from Ijebu, we had Chief Soji Odunjo from Egba, we had Dr.Tunji Otegbeye and Chief Jonathan Odebiyi from Yewa, and they were from the UPN. From all the zones as well NPN had their candidates, so, were GNPP, PRP and NPP. And you can see, it was a direct contest and the best candidate, so to say, emerged or the candidate with the best followership emerged. That was in 1979 up till 1983. The next attempt again was in 1992 and by that time, from Egba, we had Chief Olusegun Osoba. We had Chiefs Femi Aderupoko Coker, Titi Ajabaku and others . We had Dr Tunji Otegbeye again, Dr Dele Ogunsiji and another Dele from Igan Alade and we had Prof Afolabi Olabimtan. We had Dr Shonowo from Remo (aka Remo l’okan) and so many others like that. And again, the person with the largest followership emerged and it was truncated by the military. And after the military, we came to 1999. In 1999, the whole thing was thrown open. When attempt was made at Aiyepe for possible zoning, the fall out of that resulted in broken heads and damaged vehicles. I happened to be the state’s vice chairman’s and Acting Chairman of the Alliance for Democracy (AD) then. I was Acting Chairman for two months and within that period I convened a meeting in Aiyepe, in Odogbolu Local Government Area..
Dr Tunji Otegbeye then, in a motion specifically requested for zoning to his side (Ogun West) and nobody seconded it. The next thing we saw, were chairs flying from right, left and centre. I presided over the meeting. But eventually so many people from Yewa contested, so also from Egba, Remo and Ijebu. So that, at no time was there any zoning arrangement within the parties. What appeared to be close was when PDP and I repeat, PDP led by the then, incumbent President Olusegun Obasanjo and the then, Governor, Otunba Gbenga Daniel, insisted PDP should pick their candidate from the minority area. And that led to zeroing in on Remo because it was Chief Olusegun Osoba from the Egba/Yewa Province that was going for a second term in the office, hence they decided to pick from Remo, that was what led to the emergence of Otunba Gbenga Daniel. After Otunba Gbenga Daniel’s two terms, it was expected to go to Yewa/Awori, that is Ogun West and Chief Olusegun Obasanjo felt, Gen Olurin should be the governorship candidate, while Otunba Gbenga Daniel felt, it should be GNI. The opportunity came and the present governor, Sen. Ibikunle Amosun emerged from the same Egba-Yewa/Awori axis. May be, it was against the run of play, but it happened.
Now, the Ijebus are now saying, it should revert to their own Province of Ijebu-Remo axis. Based on that, they are saying, it is their turn. So, when you look at it, the two sides are having their cases. It is indisputable that the Yewa/Awori has never had opportunity to govern the state but the question is, should Papa Obafemi Awolowo had been subjected to zoning, whereby the present Edo and Delta voluntarily allowed the Yorubas to go and produce the then, premier of the Western Region, it may never be the turn of Ikenne. If the entire Yoruba land then conceded it to the present Ogun State, before it gets to Ikenne based on zoning, may take eternity. And if limited to the present Remo alone, about eight to nine different towns that are bigger than Ikenne would have had it before Ikenne.
The implication of it, is that, we would have lost the valuable services of Papa Obafemi Awolowo that remain the reference point, over 60 years after, not only for the western region but the entire Nigerian space. So, we would have done that on the altar of zoning, sacrificing the best on the altar of turn by turn.
It is now left for us to decide in Ogun State, whether we want the best or we want turn-by-turn Plc. So, whatever the decision, it is the common man on the street that will decide.
Before election, every candidate demonstrates adequate understanding of the problems facing the state as you just did. However, they all fail to implement all these things when they get to the office. Why?
I think, it is the insincerity of purpose and due to lack of fear of God and the feelings for their fellow human beings. If I may go a step further, what you don’t have you can’t give it. That is why people use rhetorics to hoodwink people, making sweet talks that they know little or nothing about. When they now get into power, they keep on taking one step forward and three steps backward. If they have the fear of God, they would first of all examine themselves. Do I have what it takes to occupy so and so, position? If not, why not allow the best material to get in there? Then, secondly, we now have a situation in the country where our best are actually running away from politics because of the dirty ways we have been playing it. Thus, leaving the charlatans to take over and only for the so-called decent ones lamenting for life or conveniently becoming agents of siphoning the spoil of office as ‘so-called’ technocrats after successive elections.
It is rather unfortunate and it is sad. I have said it times without number, that we are not lacking in ideas in policy formulation. But our problems have been the implementation and it is due to the fact, that there is lack of sincerity of purpose and the fear of God.
You are in APC and there have been several calls on President Muhammadu Buhari to run in 2019. What is you position on this?
Again, it is not a question I would have loved to answer, in the sense that, number one, President Muhammadu Buhari would need to satisfy himself that he is interested and capable of running for the second term, notwithstanding his constitutional right to do so. Secondly, the national executives of the party would need to convince themselves that he is the best material, because the space is not going to be for APC alone. APC is going to contest against other parties. And when you are going to farm, you must go with the best working implements, if you want to achieve success. So, I don’t know, because it is the party hierarchy, starting from the president himself, as well as the executives and the generality of members that must weigh the available options. But if we miss it, as in the final choice, I am sure the electorates would not probably miss it along with us. Ample time is still available for better performance, objective assessment of the political space before final decisions.
President Muhammadu Buhari would need to satisfy himself that he is interested and capable of running for the second term