The leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has been advised to take urgent measures to ensure that it puts necessary mechanisms in place to promote harmony and unity among party members especially in the relationship between the executive and legislative arms of the government.
Former deputy governor of Ogun State, Senator Adegbenga Sefiu Kaka who gave the advice in this interview with TUNDE THOMAS, noted that the APC as a ruling party faced no major problem from the opposition parties, but has been assailed by crises instigated by its own members. The former deputy governor, who served as a Senator on the platform of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) between 2011 and 2015, representing Ogun East Senatorial District, also spoke on other national issues.
The Senate recently again refused to confirm Ibrahim Magu as the Chairman of the EFCC, citing a report by the DSS which indicted the anti-graft agency’s boss. Many Nigerians, however, felt that the Senate had ulterior motive for rejecting him, what is your position on this?
We all know that it is the constitutional role of the National Assembly to screen any nominee of Mr. President. We are also aware that the President has the prerogative of nomination. What is baffling is the indicting report coming from the DSS. The question one might be tempted to ask is this: is the Presidency not aware of this report before forwarding Magu’s name again to the National Assembly since DSS would have first made the report available to the Presidency? It is this report that is being used now by the National Assembly as a basis for the disqualification of Magu. When we have a majority party in power, when I say the majority in power, I mean that the same party controlling the executive is the one that also has majority in the National Assembly, one would have expected that it is the opposition party that is in the minority that will be creating problem for the ruling party. But while the PDP, the opposition party is in disarray now , it is very unfortunate that we are now having a scenario where internal contradiction is setting the same party in power against itself . This is most embarrassing and annoying.
This is because in a situation where we have harmony, where we have understanding, all issues involved with any appointment whatsoever , whether it is seeking lawmakers’ approval for confirmation of a ministerial nominee or head of a parastatal or ambassadorial appointee, one would have expected that such would have been resolved at the parliamentary caucus level, especially for those that require the approval of the Senate. This could be facilitated by the leadership of APC, by bringing the legislators and the executive together in a meeting under a parliamentary caucus platform and all contentious areas would have been resolved before getting to the National Assembly, where party members can now easily use their majority to get the approval through. But it seems in APC, what we are having now is a divided house, thus making the centre difficult to hold. It is internal contradiction of the highest order .
So, as far as Magu is concerned, we cannot comment on the so -called report, but I am sure that there is no security report that will be coming that will not first of all land on the table of Mr. President before it is being copied to other people. Nothing stops Mr. President from re-presenting or re-nominating Magu again for confirmation. They should also allow him to continue with his job, but if there is anything that is well established against him, and since we are saying that we are fighting corruption, then we can take him up and make him accountable. Until proven otherwise, whatever accusations levelled against Magu, he is still presumed innocent . So, we are just making unnecessary distraction instead of facing the challenges confronting us as a nation.
The socio-economic challenges facing the nation is too enormous for us. What is happening now is portraying us as an unserious nation. Some people are already talking and fighting about 2019, when the assignments and task for four years between 2015-2019, we have not been able to discharge it creditably.
It is sad, very sad, that we are now fighting among ourselves, that the North must retain power, and also that the South must retain it. The elite including myself are all sefish. What have we done with power since we have been having this power? We have failed the nation. So, we still need to be more patriotic, to view things from patriotic prism in order to move the nation forward.
The job Magu is supposed to do is a very delicate job, for him to accept to do the job, we should be able to see the patriotic spirit in him. So, if Magu is the rightful person to do it, why don’t APC leaders meet their parliamentary caucus and resolve the differences. And if for whatever reasons, Magu is found culpable, he can face the music.
But the Presidential Advisory Committee on corruption led by Professor Itse Sagay has insisted that Magu can continue in office in acting capacity. Don’t you think that this position is like confronting the Senate?
I don’t want to say that the Senate is being confronted. Supposing the name of Magu has not been forwarded, he would have continued to act. So, the Senate as an institution must be respected. I believe so and we should not say because of one issue or the other, we bring down the institution of the Senate, but there must be decorum in whatever we are doing.
If Magu is rejected for the second time and there is no where in the constitution that says he cannot be re-presented, and provided you are not calling him chairman, but address him as acting chairman until the contrary is done, he remains the acting chairman. And sometimes we made a mistake; any organisation is pyramidal , everyone of us is gullible that we look at the apex all the time forgetting that the real power can reside at any level of the pyramid.
It could even be at the rock bottom base of the pyramid, so that exerting influence by all the personnel of the pyramid structure can come from anywhere. So, whether Magu is chairman or not, he can still function provided they have not found him culpable of any allegation. So, if he is not the chairman today, it doesn’t mean he cannot function as a member of the EFCC.
In Nigeria, we are nearly 200 million people, and it is not only one Magu that we have. There are several other Nigerians who can do the job, and moreover, Magu can function in any capacity in the EFCC without being addressed as the chairman.
The Senate also recently invited the Comptroller General of Customs, Col. Hameed Ali over certain policies in the Customs, but he was turned back, because the senators said he failed to appear in Customs’ uniform. Many Nigerians accused the senators of chasing shadows while leaving the substance. How do you react to that?
In the case of Col. Hameed Ali, we know he is not a Customs officer. Like we are talking of the National Assembly as an institution that must not be destroyed, what is good for the goose is also good for the gander. The Customs as an institution must not be destroyed. And our leaders sometimes do a lot of things out of context. Indirectly, what the Senate is asking Ali to do amounts to impersonation. More so, since the Act setting up Customs does not make it mandatory for the Customs Comptroller-General to wear uniform at all times.
But the issue is, the Customs has become rotten and the President believes the customs must be cleansed. We were told that the previous Comptroller General, Dikko, generated over N200 billion, but remitted less than 20 per cent of the amount to government coffers and that was just for a year. However, under Ali, Customs generated about N903 billion and remitted the same amount under six months. Are we now saying we are looking for somebody who will not allow the nation to move forward for selfish reasons?
So, if the man is performing, we can regard his decision not to wear uniform as one of those aberrations, but that only the best is good for our nation and since Ali is good, we should use him for the benefit of the nation. He was even screened and cleared by the senators after his nomination for the office.
There is the general feelings among Nigerians that the office of the deputy governor is just a glorified one and that the constitution has not assigned specific roles to them, that they are more or less redundant, how would you react to that?
Sincerely speaking, I don’t like the way deputy governors are being treated. Not because I was a deputy governor before, but we should be conscious that tax payers’ money is being used to pay the deputy governors. So, if the plan to make the deputy governors redundant and ineffective is the objective, why investing tax payers’ money on the position? We can as well scrap the office. But in order to justify the money being paid the holders of the office, and in order to dignify the occupiers of that position, specific roles must be given to deputy governors.
It is unfortunate that an average Nigerian is usually suspicious of those next to them in line, thinking that they could be disloyal, or that the next man to him could undermine him. But if you don’t have anything to hide, you were elected on the same ticket, it is like husband and wife becoming one, then both governors and the deputy governors should be able to work together in harmony. They should be able to work in unity for the overall benefit of the people.
So, making deputy governors spare tyres that may not be used is waste of tax payers’ money. And if you are copying the presidential system from well established polity, you should learn to be a good copier. Our own sentiment should not be brought into serious business of political administration. The pre-requisite to be a deputy governor is that you must be eligible and be ready to take over in case of any eventuality.
In a nutshell, making provision, adequate one for that matter, for a deputy governor should be enshrined in the constitution.
There is always this clash between governors and their deputies. Between 1999 and 2003, you served as the deputy governor of Ogun State, what was the relationship with your boss, Olusegun Osoba, like?
That one has come and gone. A lot of other things have happened and a lot of governors and deputy governors have later emerged. But if for the sake of tapping from experience, I will tell you that if Mr. governor is behaving like Mr. governor, the deputy governor should also learn how to behave as deputy governor. You are a better manager if you can manage your boss and your subordinates; if you can do that, you will be a success. And if you cannot manage either, you are going to be a failure, because inability to manage either will affect your productivity and performance.
I thank God for the experiences I had garnered before becoming a deputy governor. I had opportunity of being a civil servant, a teacher and member of internationally acclaimed multinational, Pfizer and Livestocks Feeds, where I rose from sales representatives to become area sales manager , group product manager, national sales manager and later business development manager. You know that I would have many people above me and also so many under me as subordinates.
Again I was opportune to be a state commissioner a year after becoming sales manager. During that period, it was a divine privilege to be at the head of the biggest ministry, Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources in Ogun State at a tender age. While being given this responsibilities, a lot of parastatals were under me. It also pleased the governor to make me an alternate Commissioner for Finance. So, anytime the Commissioner for Finance was not around, I oversee that portfolio.
And after two years, I was moved by another governor to the Ministry of Land and Housing, with parastatals like OPIC under me. People that were old to be my father were reporting to me.
So, if you like, you may say I was prepared for the job of a deputy governor. I had gone through a lot, I know what insubordination is, I know that you need to support your boss to achieve the maximum result and I realised during that period that advice is free, but the option of making use of the advice is the prerogative of the person you are giving the advice.
So, sometimes rather than talking to my governor or talking at cross purposes, I would just put what I need to say on paper and toss it unto him. Once I have given him advice whether he uses it or not is none of my business, I have satisfied my God and my conscience.
That is why I would say some of the deputy governors also could be overambitious. They should learn to know that currently as constituted, there is no clear cut role for deputy governors, they are at the mercy of Mr. Governor. So, let them subsume themselves and conscientiously work for the unity of that administration. Loyalty has got no fraction, it is either you are loyal or you are not loyal.