By Bashir Adefaka
Alhaji Sefiu Gbenga Kaka, Deputy Governor of Ogun State during the governorship of Chief Segun Osoba (1999-2003), is Vice Chairman, Senate Committee on Agriculture. He was elected on the platform of Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, as Senator for Ogun East in the April 9, 2011 National Assembly elections. In an encounter with Vanguard in Abuja, recently, he bared his mind on his life and the state of the nation. Excerpts:
HOW has it been as a Senator. What are the challenges?
It has been very challenging and very interesting. You know when you are in the opposition, you are having an alternative side to all issues. So, the way the executive and the party in power will see it may be different from our own.
Ironically, my party has to be the progressive party and by my upbringing and by what we learnt from Chief Obafemi Awolowo, I am a democratic socialist. I believe in the greatest number of good to the greatest number of people. So whatever the party in power is doing that is good, we give them the maximum support.
We don’t shy away from saying it the way it is; not minding whose ox is gored. Even to the detriment of any benefit coming to me, I will always say what I consider to be right because the Qur’an even enjoins us that we must say the truth at all times even if it is against our parent.
So, in that regard, I only pray God to continue to give us the guidance and to continue to strengthen us so that in the face of oppression we will be able to fight for the interest of the people because nobody succeeds in oppressing you without your consent.
Consent to oppression
I, as a person, without transgressing the limit, will continue to fight for the interest of the people and will continue to refuse to give my consent to oppression wherever it is operated.
That is why my interest has been on health, agriculture, trade, investment and of course development of the rural areas through the states and the local governments which are the committees I serve in and I elected to serve on them by choice.
As an Awoist, how do you see the division in Yorubaland and plans by a section of Yoruba leaders for Southwest integration to restore the lost glory of the Yoruba race?
What we are having is not the issue of Yoruba race. If you realise what Chief Obafemi Awolowo was doing, you would know that his focus was to liberate the entire country and that was why he had on his mind free education that was qualitative at all levels believing that educated people are easy to govern and difficult to enslave.
His total liberation was meant for the country not for Yoruba race alone.We were only fortunate that we tasted his handiwork which others denied themselves the benefits of and they are now lamenting more than 25 years after he had left. He realised that after education, health is wealth and that it is only the healthy ones that can be productive. By that again, Papa had medical care for a category of individuals.
He made sure that primary healthcare delivery hospitals were built here and there and he integrated rural development wanting to keep the people right on the farm producing the raw materials required for industry and growth; producing food for our self sufficiency given that a nation that cannot feed itself is not fully independent. All these were packed together under what is called democratic socialism and it was meant for the entire country. So, if we say we want to rebuild the value system, there is nothing bad in it because now, I think we have gone to count zero; anything further, means Nigeria will be extinct.
What is left for us now is to start re-energising so that we can prepare for a better tomorrow. The situation is terrible to the extent that food, water used to be essential, basic needs but now, security, which in Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, takes number three is now at the base that nobody is secured. And you keep on hearing billions upon billions voted to security, yet, nothing is happening. To worsen the whole situation people are clamouring for state police.
Those who are opposed to state police say it could be used by the governors to perpetrate political terrorism. What is your take on that?
Under Papa Obafemi Awolowo we had constabulary even at the Local Governments and they are the best to police themselves because, a stranger, cannot police an area better than the indigenes. We will still continue to emphasise that we must have Local Government police and a law will be put in place to control whatever they are doing.
There is no problem without solution. But running away from it is to keep postponing the evil day. And we have postponed it now to the level where quality lives are being lost everyday. It is very unfortunate we are where we are but hope is not totally lost for the country.