Senator Adegbenga Kaka, a member of the Seventh Senate, was deputy governor of Ogun State between 1999 and 2003. In this interview with ADEWALE AJAYI, the All Progressives Congress (APC) chieftain speaks on recent developments in the party, insecurity in the country and the 2019 general elections, among other issues
The killings by herdsmen in different parts of Nigeria is giving many people sleepless nights and there is believe in some quarters that President Muhammadu Buhari is not doing enough to address the menace? What is your take on that?
It is unfortunate that we find ourselves in this very difficult situation. I don’t know what the working in the mind of the President is, and I am not aware of any herdsman that has been arrested not to talk of prosecuted. If you are talking of herdsmen in terms of those who follow the cattle about, we are deceiving ourselves. What we need to do to get to the root of this problem is to find out the owners of the cattle and not dwelling on the wretched herdsmen that follow the cattle about. Secondly, government is making the situation worse by proposing to use government money to establish ranches to please the business interest of a particular section of the society. We have so many businesses; we have so many sectors begging for government’s intervention. If it is not being done for other sectors, I think we will be heating the polity if we say we want to establish ranches with government’s money. Ranches must be established because the animals need to eat, but in doing so, those in the business must be prepared to source for the funds. It is when that one is done, that you can pass the cost to the consumer. But robbing Peter to pay Paul by using taxpayers’ money to establish a source of input for a particular segment of the economy is absolutely wrong.
Some people are reading meaning to the killings, describing it as ethnic cleansing, while others are of the view that the perpetrators want to have Fulani hegemony?
I don’t know because I am not one of them. So, there is no way I can know their intention or their mindset. For those who are making the insinuation, until it is verified, I don’t want to join in that argument. What I know is that you cannot be a tenant and wanting to send the landlord out of the house. They are the ones that are nomads, itinerant cattlemen. If you are coming to graze, whether you call it ethnic cleansing or whatever, it is unacceptable, untenable and condemnable and that is why you even have international community condemning this act. Nobody is saying those who are into business of cattle rearing should not rear it, but where their right to rear their cattle ends; the right of farmers’ inhabitants and the people to a clean environment begins. So, if the attempt is to take over peoples land, they have failed before they start. Don’t let me join issue on that. Let us assume that nobody can displace any group from their property, so all the impunity that has been going on must to stop otherwise the consequence will be too grievous for us as a nation.
Don’t you think that the security situation may affect the chances of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in next year’s elections?
Belonging to a particular political party is secondary to essential importance of human life, whether the party in power is APC, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) or Alliance for Democracy (AD) or whatever name you give it; that does not confer any excuse for wanton destruction of lives and property. Those who are playing politics, they can play their politics but come 2019, anybody is free to vote the way he or she wants. We are in a party, nobody can tell me we don’t have Fulani men in the PDP and nobody can tell me we don’t have Fulani men in other political parties. So, if they are represented in all political parties and because a party is in power, it is not enough to stigmatise it as a Fulani herdsman party. It is totally wrong. Some people are talking of an attempt to Islamise the country, how is that possible? When the Niger Delta militants were on, the preponderance of those in the South-South were all Christians, at least 95 per cent of them; will you then say they are trying to turn every Nigeria to a Christian state?
Some people read religious, ethnic and cultural meanings into things that should be look into dispassionately. We are talking about a serious issue, not politicking. The parties will go. Where are the National Council of Nigerian Citizens (NCNC), Action Group (AG) and Northern Peoples Congress (NPC)? They have come and gone, but Nigeria remains. Nigeria is a growing concern, the parties were supposed to be the growing concern, but until they stabilize like what operates in more advanced countries, we are all in transition. Tell me, which of the political parties do not have its own progressives or conservatives. So, people should not try to stigmatise the APC because of the activities of certain group of people.
How would you react to the statement by President Muhammadu Buhari that politicians were behind the killings?
If politicians were behind it, what is stopping him from arresting those politicians? I told you that the herdsmen are just errand boys and the real owners of the cattle are somewhere. The herdsmen cannot afford Ak-47 riffles they use. So, those who are behind, whether they are politicians, businessmen, whatever they call themselves, once you know them, fish them out and use some of them as scapegoats to stop the wanton killing. It is the same thing that happened during Boko Haram. Till date, the financier of Boko Haram has not been known. There was a time, former President Goodluck Jonathan said members of Boko Haram were in his cabinet, yet he did not have the courage to fish them out. When the culprits are identified, the problem would be 60 per cent solved and then they would be brought to book to bring an end to this wanton killing.
Why has it been difficult for the President, who is the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces to address security issues in the country?
There is nobody in this Nigeria that is powerful than Mr. President. The bulk of every problem in this country stops at the president’s table; the solution also begins and end at his table. So, it is abdication of responsibility if we say somebody is greater; nobody is greater than our constitution or greater than the government of the day. This question you asked is what is nurturing the impunity we are talking about; that make some people feel they can do something and nothing will happen. So, anybody that violates the provision of the constitution must necessarily face the music no matter how highly placed. In other countries we have seen former presidents being tried. Jacob Zuma was removed in South Africa recently and he is under trial and we have heard of former presidents sentenced to jail. So life continues. Nobody should tell us some people are more powerful. If they are more powerful, demystify them and let the whole world know that. They are the people disturbing us. If they cannot do that, then they should quit that position they are occupying.
The procedure your party adopted in choosing Adams Oshiomhole as national chairman has come under criticism in different quarters, as the PDP and some people have written the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and also went to court for him not to be recognized. What is your take got on that?
Isn’t that funny? If within my household, I decided to choose my head of the family by consensus, is that any harm in that? In many homes, you will see the elders agreeing to take the back seat and settle for an agile young man as the head of the family. If those within are not complaining, what is the headache of the outside? What is the business of the PDP in what we are talking about, are they going to cry more than the bereaved. Some people openly step down for Oshiomhole and declared their support for him. If in their wisdom, they think Oshiomhole is more influential and more acceptable, and they threw in their towel, what is their headache? If they are aggrieved let them go to court.
But some members of the party are also not happy with arrangement…
Let them come out, complain openly and then challenge the process in the court. If not, they should hold their peace because this is a situation of give and take.
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo, one of the proponents of third force agenda, is presently romancing Afenifere leaders and some people have linked the meeting to the 2019 general elections. What is the level of involvement of Afenifere in the clamour to replace Buhari in 2019?
I can conveniently tell you that the discussion of Afenifere with Chief Obasanjo has got little or nothing to do with the third force agenda to the best of my knowledge. The alarm raised by Chief Obasanjo and the expression of fear in different quarters actually brought some people together, thinking that by coming together there will be no room for harassment of innocent people. Of course, Afenifere cannot not say that whoever has a question to answer should not be queried, so whoever has a question to answer must be prepared to answer it. But you should not be haunted on the account of your political belief, religious belief or the section you come from. That is what we are fighting for, the fundamental human right to existence, freedom of association and engagement. That is what they are talking if I get them right.
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