Senator Adegbenga Sefiu Kaka was the deputy governor of Ogun State between 1999 and 2003. He is now aspiring to govern the state come 2019. In this interview in his Ijebu-Igbo country home penultimate Monday he speaks elaborately on his plan for Ogun State among other issues as they affect his party, the APC and the nation as a whole. PATRICK OKOHUE report
You have been serving the state since you were very young, people are wondering why is it now that you want to govern the state. You have served as Commissioner, deputy governor and you have even gone to the Senate. Why is it that now you are interested in becoming the governor of Ogun State?
Something that is certain is that you can’t get experience in the market and you can’t get it to read in the book. The cumulative experience I have gathered is not meant to be interred with my bones when I am dead, it is supposed to be shared and to be applied for the betterment of society.
When you discovered that over the years one have seen that we have been taken one step forward and two steps backward, then you will realise that we really needs this experience.
We need the resilience of able, capable and experienced hands to actually right the wrongs, more so when the stage at which we are in now especially in Ogun State is for us to go back to the basics.
The solid foundation earlier laid by had been destroyed and we are now trying to build our castle in the air rather than relaying the foundation and build our future on a very solid rock steady foundation.
And it is in the bid of that, looking at other contenders that I felt it is going to be an injustice to the people if I decided to keep the experience I have garnered to myself rather than make use of it for the betterment of our state.
When you were a commissioner and later deputy governor you must have a certain dream for your state. How fulfilled is that dream now, or put differently looking back do you think Ogun State is in its rightful place?
Don’t let me arrogate any special thought to myself. If you were referring to the time I was commissioner, I didn’t plan to be commissioner, I was with a multinational corporation, Livestock Feeds Plc, we had our headquarters in New York, and the combination was for human health and animal health as well as livestock feeds.
So the totality of it is for the welfare of human beings. I was enjoying it, I was moving prettily well. Within eight years, I crossed from Area Sales Representatives, to Area Sales Manager, to Group Product Manager and National Sales Manager.
It was at that stage that the military came calling. I didn’t have any connection with the military, they requested for somebody with solid agricultural background. And the people they sent out to source found me suitable.
I was recommended, the announcement came on radio and I put in my best. During that period, we put in place the first agricultural policy by any state in this federation, that was in 1989, barely one year I got to the office.
This is because we discovered that we don’t have any agricultural policy, people are just doing what they like, traditional way and we said no.
We need to profile the soil, we need to know the various advantage of the various strata of soil that we had, the vegetation. The ecological advantage of various vegetation over the others.
How can we blend the plant agriculture with the animal agriculture to get the best blend and get the best for our society. We put it in place and we backed it up with implementation strategy.
Unfortunately, soldier go, soldier come, the person that appointed me, Admiral Lawal left within one year. The person that came after him, though he retained me as commissioner, but he decided to second me to Lands and Housing.
Though related, but it took me out to go and learn a new experience . So when you look at it , it is different from having a mandate of a definitive term of four years and then having your manifesto, having your programmes and agenda and executing it in the context of available resources. You can see that there are a lot of differences.
Then as the Deputy Governor, yes I coined the idea of a ‘spare tyreism, because of the latency of that position, lack of provision in the constitution and again the whim and caprices of the Number One.
So it is a general phenomenon, it is not peculiar to me. The best I could do was to give the maximum support to whatever programme my boss was having.
As a Senator, that is national experience and of course legislative experience. So in the course of all these, I have passed through the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources, the Ministry of Land and Housing, the Ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, then on top of it all, the Ministry of Health by being a member of the Committee on Health, on Trade, on Commerce. So I am in the very best position to turn the fortune of Ogun State round.
That is why I am picking the challenges thrown to me by genuine people of Ogun State asking me to come and avail the people of Ogun State with my accumulated experiences. And that is why I said, it will be an injustice to the society If I decided to turn down the request. So I have had a request, I have offered myself, it is now left for them to say that they are ready.
One is not saying you should leak out all the programmes you have in mind, but what are the cardinal points of your agenda for the people of Ogun State?
Well, the programmes will be unveiled at the appropriate time, but they said the taste of the pudding is in the eating, so people should have a taste.
I am not just saying we are going back into the basics, when I said we are going back to the basics, I assessed the situation. In term of agriculture I discovered that we don’t have reliable data.
The same thing happening to human population and distribution, the same thing is happening to other resources available to us. So within that context I believe we will go back to the basics, and If I am to take it one by one, let us take it from education.
Yes we can have approximate number of enrolment we have in our schools, from primary, to secondary and to tertiary. Yes we can have approximate number of teachers in our enrolment, but the teachers/students ratio, are we meeting it? The answer is no.
The carrying capacity of various schools and classrooms are they within the acceptable level, the answer is no. So in order not to build our castle in the air, we are going to confirm all these and get accurate data, so that the lacuna, the shortcomings could better be fixed while going ahead with the Private – Public partnership.
You know right now we are having more private universities than public, ditto for secondary, ditto for primary. That is telling you that the government is more or less abdicating its responsibility.
And if we are abdicating our responsibilities on the future of our youths, that means there is no future for the nation. So we have to go back, get it done and meet the expected standard. In terms of funding, without money there is no good idea that can see the light of the day.
So we are going to ensure that as bedrock of any development whatsoever, education will be given its right of place. Then we will go into partnership as it was done by Papa Olabisi Onabanjo in such a way that the public school that will cater for the majority who happen to be the downtrodden will be more attractive than the private schools.
They are going to live side by side, but we will make them more attractive, more affordable that people will see no need to take their children to private schools. That is number one.
Number two, you talk of health, the last time in Ogun State you have a turnaround in the health sector was under Chief Olusegun Osoba when we procured African Development Bank loan to turn around the 12 General Hospitals and improve the primary health centres we have.
Since that time, it has been the Federal Government helping us with the primary health delivery, but this is supposed to be the responsibility of the local government and the state.
Yes, whether it is Federal or state, the most important thing is for the people at the grassroots to get the health care delivery.
So we are now going to ensure that every ward should be able to have at least two primary health centres, so that primary health care delivery will be accessible to the people, most especially the rural areas.
We don’t need gigantic and elaborate structure. I have surveyed most of our rural areas. Within the farm community, you discovered that they have huts, mud houses, you can secure as simple as two rooms to make available primary health care centre.
It is not the hood that makes the monk. The human resources, their level of sophistications, their level of IQ and their level of training is what is required to serve at the primary level.
Just get two rooms in various farming communities in rural areas and make it as decent as possible, just to take off and improve on it in subsequent years.
So with solid primary health care delivery, there will be less pressure on the secondary and less pressure on the tertiary. Even with the less pressure, it can take on any primary challenges if it gets back to the secondary or tertiary they will refer them to the primary.
And anyone that gets to the primary without wasting time that is due for secondary they should refer them there and vice versa. With that one, it will be more economical for us to run the healthcare system. It will also be more beneficial to even both the healthcare personnel and the patients.
On top of it all, nearly all the 36 states of the federation are guilty of not wanting to fund the counterpart funding for that matter on the immunisation programme.
The immunisation programme is the bedrock of the primary health care delivery and that was why we make sure in the Health Act 2014, a minimum of one percent of total collectable revenue nationally is to be deducted right from the source for the primary health care delivery, especially the immunisation programme.
But we have been defaulting. It may interest you to note that most of the vaccines that we use now, we rely on donor agencies to fund nearly 95 per cent if not 100 per cent of them.
Ordinary counterpart funding, the states are defaulting. We will ensure that adequate funding is provided and the target of 2020 for sustainable immunisation funding will be a mirage, because we are already in 2018, but right from 2019 when I assume power we will make sure that we start righting the wrongs by going back to the basics to ensure a solid foundation for immunisation programme, primary health care delivery that are sustainable.
Not bogus or white elephant projects that will not take off or see the light of the day. Once that is done, there is nothing stopping us from having specialist hospitals and we can do that one in collaboration with the Federal Government, so that we avoid unnecessary duplication from other states.
So if one state specialise on heart related diseases, others can specialise on other areas. And we will make sure that we have effective private – public relationship just like in education and in agriculture, so that we will allow the private sector to drive all those initiatives. At the appropriate time like I said we will release the blueprint of our agenda. It is going to be a 10 – point agenda.
To move the state forward, on agriculture once we are able to develop the optimal community, akin to that of Baba Awolowo which he envisaged part of which is the farm settlement centres.
The success of it is expected to be duplicated across all the farm communities. But since1950s, it is the same constant number that we are having.
Beyond it is television, radio and other media propaganda. We have been improving in agriculture through propaganda.
So we will do it effectively so that both input and output human and material resources are going to be in form of a good training input with good extension services that will ensure that we have effective delivery and effective linkages between the public and the private sector.
All civil servants that we have who are related to agriculture will be used because it is going to be our foundation for employment generation.
Then forestry, we have had a lot of bastardisation of forestry plantation. We are going to review the exploitative programme and again go back to the basic by re-establishing those plantation and creating new ones.
And the proper way of plantation will be put in place so that indiscriminate felling of trees and wastages in form of leftover will be a thing of the past if I take hold of the administration of Ogun State. I know where the shoe pinches, I have passed through it and know we will get revenue to work and we are going to do it.
Most of our industries still depend on imported raw materials. We will adopt Low Import Content, (LIMCO) policy whereby most of the industries we are going to put in place like small scale industry, cottage industry are going to be centred on locally available raw materials that is from agriculture.
Then the rest will be from the mineral resources. We have gypsum I think in Ososun in Ifo Local Government, we have it in Ipokia and part of Yewa axis.
This is good for fertilizers and they are very good source for POP, Plaster of Paris, that are used for broken legs. We are going to set up a specialised raw material development centre that is functional, efficient and effective.
The limestone belt I hope you are aware run from Sagamu to Ewekoro through Igbese to Onigbolo in Republic of Benin. We have the largest in Africa, WAPCO, then we have Ibese that is also catching up with WAPCO and the Onigbolo is working in Benin Republic.
So there are still ample opportunity to increase our carrying capacity in those existing ones and new ones can still be accommodated.
Then leave that one, we have petroleum resources, oil and gas, it is not yet tapped and we are going to explore it and exploit it in conjunction and within the law of the land. So that the Olokola oil and gas has come to stay.
Yes Dangote is in Lagos, if he is still ready we can partner with him, if not, we will get other partners. And that is why I keep emphasising public – private partnership. Then you leave that place, you talk of tourism, our waters are there.
The deepest sea in this country today is in Ogun State. The idea of deep sea port has been muted and is there for the future. We know what New Jersey is to New York in America.
The exact picture we have in America is what we have here. Lagos is landlocked and we have the spill over and people are coming to Ogun State willingly and we are creating barriers, we are going to liberate it, we are going to liberalise it and ensure that more people are coming.
Those who are choked up and could not expand, we would encourage them to even move down entirely rather than expanding in an enclosed area. So those are the things, we have education, health, agriculture all moved into industries, granting economic opportunities and allowing the private sector to blossom.
Security of lives and properties is premised on gainful employment and conducive environment; affordable and befitting housing across all social strata; prime of place for NGO community group and individual philanthropic and humanitarian services, with handsome and respectable subvention. These are some of the things we have in mind for our people.
The INEC Chairman, Professor Mahmoud Yakubu few days ago urged the EFCC Chairman to ensure that the amount that goes into electioneering campaign and is within the law. He urged the EFCC to monitor candidates and parties as we go into election next year to ensure that their spending is within the law. How do you see such move by the INEC Chairman?
INEC Chairman is simply following the law and we have all been violating the law. And we have been influencing the outcome of election most especially through the usage of illicit fund rather than allowing people to make their free choice.
They perverse the outcome because of money, so to restrict the amount to be expended on election is a welcome development most especially by the time you have candidates going into unnecessary debts because they want to win election, when they get to the office they must necessarily recoup.
It is better we limit the amount of money anybody can put in a particular election. And once it is put the INEC should not act like a toothless bulldog that can only bark without biting, they must be firm and make sure that whoever violates is discipline and denied the opportunity to benefit from that illegal act.
President Muhammadu Buhari who is also the leader of your party has said that where there is no consensus in picking candidates there should be an open and transparent primary. With this in mind what is your advice to your party members?
I want to say that our party should realise that it is not contesting against itself, it is going to contest against 66 other parties.
So any blunder that perverts the course of internal democracy is going to boomerang because with the disappointment people are having in both APC and PDP, I believe that individuals will be the focus in 2019.
So my party should live up to expectation, they just have to encourage internal democracy, if there is going to be any consensus, the consensus must be openly done with little acrimony, so that whoever is picking consensually will be widely acceptable not only to party members but to the electorate.
This is because if we misfire and pick the wrong choice people will at the next level of election which is the general election tacitly reject any mis-presented candidate.
APC has just set up a reconciliation committee headed by Senator Bola Tinubu. How do you see such move by the party to reconcile aggrieved members before the next election?
I am not in the knowing about what is going on in the reconciliation. All I can do is to wish my leader, Senator Bola Tinubu, a resounding success in the task given to him and for our party members to give him the opportunity to do the job.
I am sorry I have said it before one would have expected that the first point of call to make that assignment legal is to institute the Board of Trustee under which Senator Bola Tinubu would have been able to function more conveniently in wielding all the contending forces together.
We knew Senator Tinubu and Alhaji Atiku Abubakar were contending for the Chairmanship of BoT. Fortunately Atiku Abubakar is out of the party, then what stop us from giving the immediate assignment the legal teeth by formally constituting the BoT and make Tinubu the chairman and that will legalise whatever reconciliation we want to make.
That will make the chairman comfortable with what is being done because we have stipulated responsibilities for the National Working Committee, for the NEC and for the BoT and the combination of the three will have given us the synergy needed to move the party forward.
I have passed through the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources, the Ministry of Land and Housing, the Ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, then on top of it all, the Ministry of Health by being a member of the Committee on Health, on Trade, on Commerce. So I am in the very best position to turn the fortune of Ogun State round. That is why I am picking the challenges thrown to me by genuine people of Ogun State asking me to come and avail the people of Ogun State with my accumulated experiences.
I want to say that our party should realise that it is not contesting against itself, it is going to contest against 66 other parties. So any blunder that perverts the course of internal democracy is going to boomerang because with the disappointment people are having in both APC and PDP, I believe that individuals will be the focus in 2019. So my party should live up to expectation, they just have to encourage internal democracy, if there is going to be any consensus, the consensus must be openly done with little acrimony, so that whoever is picking consensually will be widely acceptable