A former deputy governor of Ogun State, Adegbenga Kaka, shares with AYOOLA OLASUPO his thoughts on the recurring rift between governors and their deputies and other issues of national interest
There have been discussions around the roles of deputy governors and some people have even described deputy governors as spare tyres, based on your experience, what do you think is the way to dignify the office of the deputy governor?
To dignify the office, it may be necessary to give a definite role to the deputy governors in the constitution, but beyond the constitutional provision, the human factor may be difficult to address. When I say human factor, I want to look at the area of ego and the domineering effect of human beings. The two offices, the governor and the deputy governor, are supposed to have a complementary effect on the administration. The characteristics of individuals coming together are bound to vary, so the ability of whoever is at the helm of affairs and the deputy to manage that affairs well will determine what the outcome will be like. We also have the human factor of the so-called supporters who are not actually supporters. Where there is clear-cut understanding they will not provide any crack in the wall that will allow the snakes and lizards of those sycophants to have effect on the administration.
Do you imply that mutual trust is the only way?
It is as simple as ABC. If as a governor, any party man, even an outsider, should come to badmouth their deputy, it is important for the governor or the deputy to reach out to one another, and possibly in the presence of the character so that they will know that the behaviour doesn’t pay. If some of them are disgraced, others will not engage in such a thing because the bottom-line is what do they want to gain?
The latest in the rift between governors and their deputies is the one between Governor Godwin Obaseki and his deputy, Philip Shaibu, were there surprises from what you have seen so far?
You know I’m not from that state, so I wouldn’t love to dabble in the affairs of another state. But be that as it may, as a Nigerian, I’m not surprised at all because the two of them had a marriage of convenience and when it seemed they were not getting the ticket of the APC, in togetherness they moved to the PDP, forgetting that those who were in the PDP that gave them the platform might also have candidates as of that time and still have aspirants within their folks. By the time it seems the governor wants to anoint someone and of course the deputy wants to contest, then there must be a way of reaching an equilibrium. The deputy governor can also move to another party to actualise his ambition and if possible he can still reach out to Mr Governor to reach an agreement on what to do. But that is not to say there wouldn’t be an opportunity for another party to come in. So, the future will tell.
We have seen same between Ladoja/Alao-Akala, Makinde/Olaniyan, Yahaya Bello/Simon Achuba, Akeredolu/Agboola Ajayi, Tinubu/Pedro, etc., why is such rift recurring unlike at the federal level where the President and his deputy rarely fight?
That’s not true. President Olusegun Obasanjo and his deputy, Atiku Abubakar, had a running battle, and we have been hearing it here and there but by and large you will discover that the differences between the governor and the deputy governor, apart from the orchestration by the party and external factors, it is only human, especially in our clime whereby when the leader, either the governor or the President, is absent and is now looking above his own shoulder to want to control what and what is not the deputy governor is up to, then there is bound to be schism. We give an assignment to somebody and as you are giving it make sure you give the authority but we hardly know how to delegate power. It is a lack of trust.
Some analysts have said it’s because the party or party leaders sometimes impose a running mate on the governor, is that a major reason and how is your relationship with Chief Olusegun Osoba today?
If you talk of imposition, don’t forget that the governor is also imposed on the party, so if that occurs and there must be balancing, there is no way we can escape the party leadership having inputs in the selection of who is going to be deputy, else you will give room for authoritarianism whereby what we are saying of the governors is that the governor is having absolute control over the local government administration because the constitution vested in them the creation, management and even funding of the local government administration. So, they have everything.
The issue in Edo State was surprising because they both seemed to be fine, acting like brothers sometimes. Do you think a deputy governor should first inform his boss if he wants to contest to succeed him?
It is normal. There is no evidence that he didn’t inform him. The fact that he informed him is not a guarantee that he will get the endorsement and with or without it, the final decision makers, the stakeholders, the electorate are there to decide. If it is the wish of the electorate for the deputy governor to be the candidate of their party, it is work for them. We have seen an incumbent defeated. So informing the governor of his ambition is just for information sake. It is not a guarantee of him getting the endorsement and the governor not supporting him should not be seen as continuing with his ambition.
There are people who believe that you must be a yes man to be a good deputy governor, else you would be seen as not loyal. How true is that?
The first thing is that every human being knows what is right, good, acceptable and ethically decent. The people in the military will say there is no 99 per cent loyalty. Well, if there is 99 per cent of loyalty, then 100 per cent must be a qualified 100 per cent because your loyalty must first and foremost be with Almighty God. The moment you cannot satisfy giving your loyalty to God it is better you check out from that system so that you don’t just become a sinner. It is after Almighty God that you will consider loyalty to the electorate. We will be talking of shared loyalty. It is on the third rung of the ladder that you will now talk of your immediate boss. At the national level, an aggregate of opinions must come to play because wisdom doesn’t belong to a single individual, but for any subordinate, once you have your say, then you allow your boss to have his way.
The Houses of Assembly are usually a ready tool for the governors if they have an issue with their deputies. Is it that the deputies are not allowed to have a good relationship with the House in case of such moments or the governors are just too powerful?
I think we should not get things wrong. The governor and the deputy governor are supposed to be on the same ticket. Under no circumstances will it be permissible for the deputy governor to reach out to the House. Once the boss is reaching out to the House, whatever input the deputy has let him have it either at the party caucus level or at the parliamentary caucus level, not on the floor of the chamber or in any official capacity except power is transmitted through the House of Assembly to the deputy governor to act. In that same capacity, yes, he can interact. But without power being transferred, you remain as the deputy at the pleasure and mercy of Mr Governor.
Many people have described governors as too powerful in this current democracy, how did things get to that stage?
In our lexicon, it is stomach infrastructure and the governor is having access to the entire resources of the state, so the patronage being dished out you cannot just wish it away. Unfortunately, the likely uneducated electorate will remain gullible despite having the knowledge of what the consequences will be. If they are united and collectively speak up, they can stop anything, not minding whatever they are offered.
You once said a parliamentary system with a unicameral or part-time legislature is the only way to reduce the cost of governance in Nigeria. Many people have shared this view, how do you think it can be a reality, given that those who can make it happen are the current beneficiaries?
There are so many ways. I will never use the word ‘only’ because I don’t fancy it at all. There are many ways of reducing the cost of governance and reaching a destination. The only way belongs to Almighty God not to human beings. What you consider to be the only way may be no way at all. The parliamentary system is good. We have seen that it is more accountable to the electorate than the presidential. All the monetised processes and everything may not be applicable. What may be required will just be a vote of no confidence and then whoever is the incumbent will have to step down and another leadership is elected within the party. For you to become a minister, you may have to go and seek your mandate from the people through the parliament.
Talks about local government financial autonomy have also been going on for a quite long time but governors have continued to frustrate it, and it would seem the local governments are also complicit in their current predicament, what do you think is the way out?
A situation where we are talking of autonomy where necessary laws passed at the national level are not being respected at the state level. Since it is the governors that are more or less domineering in the selection of the House of Assembly members, when they say don’t vote for autonomy, where is your loyalty? Is it to the individual or the electorate and do you have the fear of God at heart? Which one will be more beneficial to the local government administration? What is equity and justice all about? You don’t rob Peter to pay Paul! The autonomy is good for the 774 local governments but if those who are the current beneficiaries say it is not beneficial to them and that they don’t want it, what can anybody do?
People have always complained that despite being a neighbouring state to Lagos, bad road networks remain an issue in Ogun State and that the state government is not doing enough, why is it that successive administrations have been unable to address that problem?
Those in government are in a better position to answer your question. I would have loved to direct it to them, but without necessarily being a devil’s advocate I would want you to realise the fact that Lagos State is no longer what it used to be. It is already choked up and when you talk of spill over, Ogun State is encapsulated in what stands today as Lagos State. Any spillover out of overcrowding of Lagos naturally comes to Ogun State before any other state. The excess population from there naturally spills over to Ogun and that is why we have many people going to Lagos to work on a daily basis. That is why the pressure on available infrastructure in Ogun State requires extra efforts. As I am talking to you, Ogun State has the highest concentration of primary, secondary and even tertiary institutions in this country, both private and public. Those who are in Ogun State should benefit from the state because there is no discrimination. We know that in the future, Ogun State is going to be like what New Jersey used to be to New York in the United States.
The chairman of Ijebu-East Local Government Area, Wale Adedayo, challenged Governor Dapo Abiodun for allegedly depriving LGAs of their allocations for two years and the councillors suspended him. This has become a matter of public debate. As a former deputy governor in the state, what is your take on this matter?
Ordinarily, I would say I should stay away from publicising what is going on. I want to believe that efforts are being made to broker truce to make the system work. I don’t want to fuel the fire already on the ground. We can only pray, hope and work towards a clearer understanding, neither will I trade blame on either side. Trust is what is needed. The public must have heard from both sides. They have the right to take whatever position that is convenient for them but as a member of the party and a father figure in the state, I shouldn’t be discussing the issue in public. By the time we resolve it finally, we can release it to the public.
The state government recently demolished a building belonging to the wife of former governor Gbenga Daniel, and that has been termed by the former governor’s camp as political, what do you make of that incident?
I’m sorry we are talking of a former governor and a sitting governor. If such things happen, as an elder, just like the issue of the local government, we are also trying to resolve whatever is involved. If the government is talking of the law, the contractor is giving one excuse or the other, we can do better by interrogating the positions of both sides and let there be intervention by the way of wisdom and men of peace between the two sides. Spare me of passing judgment on the issue.
What is your view of the PEPC judgment that dismissed the petitions of the Peoples Democratic Party, Labour Party and Allied People’s Movement?
It couldn’t have been a better judgment. We knew that all the frivolous petitions were not likely to hold water. If somebody scored 100 per cent in one zone out of six, and he expected that he should be declared the winner, it is laughable, but they have the fundamental right to challenge it. People are giving kudos to the panel of judges, they did a wonderful job and took their time to analyse the whole situation. They went to the extent of delivering their judgment live on the electronic media, so we have to congratulate them. We don’t destroy our institutions just for personal gain. If anybody is still dissatisfied, I think after the Supreme Court judgment there is still hope for them. They have the court of public opinion and by the time they finish with that there is still room to appeal to Almighty God so that they won’t continue to distract the smooth running of the new administration.
Four months after the removal of fuel subsidy, the Federal Government seems not to have found an effective way to reduce its effects on the people only for the distribution of palliatives, do you think this is enough?
It can never be enough. We as human beings are insatiable and more is always better, so palliative is a way of momentarily solving the problem and the problem we are having is a perennial one. If we look at the money expended on subsidy in the last 10 years alone, you will discover that if we are to have a modular refinery, we would probably have constructed about 40 and those inefficiencies removed.