Former deputy governor of Ogun State, Senator Gbenga Kaka, in this interview warns that if the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration must succeed, the president should consider dropping some ministers in the next six months. He also reflects on other key issues.
Now that President Buhari has constituted his cabinet, what is your impression about his administration?
Any government stands the chance of delivering on its mandate because the essence of contesting for political power is to deliver. The normal expectation is that any government that the people repose confidence in should be able to perform.
So, within that limit, 100 percent of people, after the last elections, expect governments at all levels to perform. Whether they perform is another thing. People voted for the APC because of Buhari. So, the expectation is more on Buhari than on the APC.
We are expecting that Buhari should be able to perform. Like I said before now, nobody would wish for a better set of ministers though there are few of them that could be exempted. They will prove us wrong or right at the appropriate time. There are people that we don’t need to panic about.
There are those, despite the fact that the President said he was for everybody and for nobody, who still managed to squeeze their surrogates into that system. Whether they will have their way or not is a matter of time.
Do you foresee Buhari having problems with his ministers?
We pray it doesn’t happen. Our expectation from Buhari is for him to succeed but he must be on guard.
Expectations from Buhari
I have no doubt that the intention of Buhari is altruistic. The programme of APC is also in order. What we are now talking about is implementation.
On how Buhari can perform
It will be a Herculean task for Mr. President. He will need to work with people. Yes, he has assembled decent people, some with question marks. I pray he will be courageous enough, in the next couple of months if he has not already identified them, to identify those with question marks. He should identify them and replace them. We will be happy to have a government that can be compared with others in other countries.
What do you have to say about the choice of Finance Minister, who hails from your state?
She was the immediate past Commissioner for Finance in Ogun State. Show me your friends, I will tell you who you are. She may be different but I don’t know.
She may be okay but if somebody is working for a pathological liar, who will make submission full of sound and fury signifying nothing, presiding over an administration that is getting all priorities wrong with dilapidated infrastructure everywhere, economic opportunities begging for attention right from farming to industry, it becomes difficult to be optimistic about that person.
Ogun State is to Lagos what New Jersey of the United States of America is to New York. But go to Agbara, go to Igbesa with a lot of industries, the roads are terribly bad. Some industries are closing down because of the bad roads. Go to Olokola, it is the same story. Dangote was frustrated and had to move to Lagos.
Okitipupa Oil Mill and Okomu Oil Mill were established by Papa Obafemi Awolowo at the same time with Apoje Oil Mill and Lomero; they are now moribund. For four years, nothing was done. Okitipupa Oil Mill is quoted on the Nigerian Stock Exchange at about N19 per share while Okomu Oil Mill is quoted at over N13 per share. The turnover of Okomu Oil Mill is in the region of N 12. 5 billion and the profit margin is encouraging. It is more than 25 percent.
There is hardly any industry that can boast of such. How come we have Apoje, we have Lomero, we even have rubber estate and nothing is being done?
Money is being wasted on building bridges. The rural areas are totally neglected, agriculture is totally neglected. If that is the person nominating someone for a sensitive position like the office of the Minister of Finance, Buhari needs to look at his back and see whether the decision he has taken is right or wrong.
Chief Ebenezer Babatope, had while reacting to the distribution of portfolios, faulted the allocation of three ministries to Fashola. What is your view on that?
Babatope is my highly respected Egbon (elder). I am not responding to him but the issue at stake is that, if you are at the helm of affairs and you want a job done knowing that you cannot do the entire job at the same time, you have to work with some people.
You just have to give a job that is expected to be well done to a hardworking person. When you give such job to a hardworking person, he will know how to get the job done. In the social parlance we often say that job expands within the available time.
So, Fashola is capable of doing it, he has started doing it and he is going to achieve the set goals. You can as well say that Buhari himself should not be holding the post of President and the same time the post of Petroleum Minister. All these people you are talking about including Fashola and Rotimi Amaechi, are answerable to Buhari. That means Buhari is holding all the portfolios.
On merging of ministries
If it is still possible for Buhari to merge ministries and bring it from 24 to 16 for the purpose of efficiency and conservation of funds, that will be fine. Will anybody say that spending 70 percent of our budget on recurrent expenditure ideal?
And if it is not ideal, then what is the hue and cry for? Let’s assume that the three ministries are still there and not merged, put together, the three ministries are not up to what he (Fashola) was presiding over in Lagos. Look at Ministry of Interior, I am sure the Police Affairs Ministry is now interior. Are you saying that merging them together under the Ministry of Interior is not normal?
If people want to criticise, they should examine their brains first before they talk. As far as Buhari is concerned, he has done well. I have said it that there are still some big elephants in his administration that should be replaced in the next six months.
Does your opinion justify the argument of the PDP that the appointments are uninspiring?
The appointments don’t need to even be inspiring to anybody at all. Mr. President knows what he wants.
What did the PDP people do while they were in office? My own fear is that Buhari should and must not go the Jonathan way.
By Bashir Adefaka via [Vanguard]
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