Multiple award winning gospel act and Kennis music vice-president, Kenny Saint Best was among the top celebrities who made her intentions known to venture into politics in the 2015 general elections. Though, she lost during the primaries. KSB as she’s fondly called is now a card carrying member of the APC and she appeared in virtually the party’s activities. In this interview, she open up on the reason why she’s embracing politics at this stage and other sundry issues.
Let’s talk about you and politics, what influenced your decision to go into it?
I reside in Onigbongbo local government area of Lagos state, and for over 6 years, I’ve been part of the local government in area of development basically in area of education, development of the public school and upgrading of public schools in Onigbongbo local government under the chairmanship of honourable Idowu Obasa, so I’ve been a part of it. At the state level, I am the main act at the state children’s Christmas party, and I was very active during the 2007 elections that brought in Governor Fashola, so I’ve always been quite active in the background of politics, but it was last year that I decided that I can do something about changing the face of youth development in Ikeja and Lagos as a whole. Apart from being a youth coach, youth pastor that requires me to see to the development of the youth, I have a yarning and pull towards the street and seeing that every girl that comes out to hustle on the street at night should have a privilege to become a better citizen, and be given the privilege of better productivity in the areas of what they can do to improve their lives apart from prostitution.
What makes you feel politics is the way to go to make this kind of change?
Each time I look at it that I’m going into politics, I feel somehow, because of the kind of image politics has in Nigeria, it gives me shivers, I see it more as Public Service and if I look at it more in the area of seeing to getting people developed, human appreciation, and what I see in my local government especially the Opebi axis where I reside baffles me. The rise of prostitution has gone up by almost
1000%, it never used to be this bad, back then you can count the number of girls you see on one hand, but now especially at that pekas junction it seems like a trailer comes to offload them for the night from 7pm. It looks like the street is pulling those more and more all because of money, and what they do depreciates humanity. I think there can be a change, something can be introduced to these girls and let them know that there’s a gift on the inside of them that can improve their personality and make money with their body by working hard without having to dehumanise themselves. So really it’s the area of human productivity that’s really pulling me into Public Service, and that’s why I need to get on a platform to get the job done and if that platform is called Politics then maybe you can call me a politician (laughs). Coming from your background as an entertainer, do you really think you have what it takes to make any change in politics?
I think what it takes is the passion for change in human beings, it’s like saying why is Pastor Tunde Bakare in politics?
Is it that he’s not getting enough money from the pulpit, it is the same call to build humanity, and it’s about spreading the good news through government? Yes there is a youth ministry, but their attention seems to be more on sports development and we have seen how that has bettered the live sports practitioners, especially in Football. It’s only in football that you have platforms for under 13, under 15, under 17, flying eagles and then super eagles, they don’t have such organised platforms for any other of youth development, we don’t have it for models, fashion or even musicians and actors. The government can’t boast of any support or effort to grow these industries so much so that it’s the effort of these entertainers that has added to the GDP of Nigeria that has made us to have the highest GDP in Africa. Personally, I belong to Kennis music and 16 years of my life has been dedicated into human development and that what we still do, but we do not have any structure despite the fact that we can see the potentials. The money or loan they said they granted the industry, how many people can come out to say they’ve benefitted from it. So somebody needs to come into government to enlighten them and let them know the amount of tax they can generate if the industry is properly structured, that’s why I’m doing my best from the grassroots. Lagos is the hub of entertainment in Africa, we need to get it right. The best way to curb crime is to create employment and empower the youth otherwise we’ll continue to have people brainwash them into commixing petty crimes for money.
What do you think is the solution to youth empowerment?
The solution is the reason why I’m into politics, haven’t been an entertainment practitioner for the past 16 years, I’m an expert in this industry. The government knows how to get professionals to handle other ministries but when it comes to youth and entertainment they don’t, I still say it everywhere that Nigeria’s GDP rose because of the huge contributions of the entertainment industry, meanwhile we don’t have an entertainment ministry or agency representing the industry as a whole. The industry is so big that it encompasses movies, music, modelling, fashion, make up and more. And when they decide to have entertainment at government events, they only bring cultural dancers as if that’s all about entertainment. The bulk of unemployed Nigerian youths are actually educated, the energy is just lying fallow, these energy needs to be channelled into something positive and productive. At the moment the energy is in a neutral gear which can only be pushed into positive or negative gears. You can’t just talk about youth empowerment and gather youth together for seminars upon seminars without practical ways of making money. A lot of graduates now have to learn makeup artistry, make small chops, or learn video production to make ends meet, and all these that I’ve just mentioned do not fall into any category in the structure of government.
What if people says you’re going into politics to make money?
Am I broke? Am I poor? I’ve been blessed, because what most people are still praying for and still have on their list of prayer requests I’ve been given. So if it is money that’s driving me, it would kill me because I would see so much money and die. If it’s just money then I’m not going to be fulfilled.
Since you made your intention to go into politics know, what’s been the reaction of people towards it?
People are excited, and they know what I and my family have done in the Nigerian entertainment industry. For instance Davido has won Best African act awards at 3 international awards this year and yet no governor or brand has said well-done to him for making Nigeria proud simply because it’s not sport. Imagine the hype and government support for Blessing Okagbare who won Gold at Glasgow, this is simply because we don’t have a structure to support entertainment. Now that I’ve decided to stick my neck out to bring Nigerian youth to the point of relevance, people are really about it and giving me all the support. If the government cannot create a ministry for the entertainment industry, they can create an agency for it just like LAWMA and co.
What’s the take of your brother (Kenny Ogungbe) on your decision to go into politics?
I have a wonderful family, because they know my person and integrity, they know how compassionate I am about people, and they know how many people that have passed through my hands to become superstars. They also know my will power, that if I set my mind to do something, you just need to support and encourage it. They know that I’m a deep person, I must have thought it through and even gotten a go ahead from my pastor because they know am close to my pastor. Everyone knows my brother is sold out for youth development, an artiste can betray him today, and he’ll still go ahead to pick up another one, it’s happened over and over again, but we can do it alone, because this talent in entertainment is growing in thousands. So for me it’s not just the politics, it is the service behind it. Can we now say that, you’ve dump music to focus on politics? I can’t leave music, music is me I am music.
So how would you combine both?
It’s already balanced, music is what I’ve been practising for over 16 years, and while I was doing it I added parenting to it and nothing is more demanding than parenting, and then along the line I added my own personal business to it, so politics is just another job that’s been added to all the things I do and don’t forget am very involved in church activities too. So politics is not going to take away music from me, and going forward, there’s a new approach towards my music, I’m slowing down but I’m not going out. I’ll be doing softer music, am not doing music anymore such that I can be invited to perform on stage, there are a lot of hands on those kind of, so I have to make a different music that would motivate and inspire people, it’ll be more enjoyable, laid back and soft.
Why APC and not any other party?
Well it’s because APC stands for change, if you want a change would you rather not go to a party that has the track record of bringing about changes? I think it’s a symbiotic relationship, I want to make a change they also stand for change, so I feel we can work together to bring about the change, and apart from all these we’ve also seen the change they’ve done in states that they have ruled, Lagos, Osun and Ogun states are perfect examples, even Ibadan has transformed, it’s been a story of mega and unbelievable change. The intensity of change in infrastructure, transportation and even eradicating bikes (okada) is impressive, so imagine if they channel that same level of intensity of change towards the youth in Lagos state.