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KAKA: We Are At Home With What We Did, No Regrets




Senator Gbenga Kaka, former deputy governor of Ogun State, failed in his bid to return to the Senate. Speaking with KAMAL TAYO OROPO, he highlighted factors responsible for the shortcomings of his party, the Social Democratic Party (SDP) in the last elections.

After so much expectations, the SDP failed abysmally at the polls in Ogun State. What would you say is responsible for this?

CANDIDLY speaking, there were a number of things that went wrong. The first one is that the SDP came up as a child of circumstance, and in the course of building it, the people of Ogun State embraced it at the first instance. But unfortunately, those who hold the party at the national level took a fatal decision without consultation with anyone of us in Ogun State –– they adopted President Goodluck Jonathan. Of course, the wind of change in the country was totally against the return of Jonathan; that is just the truth.

So, they took that costly decision, and we had to cope and live with that unfortunate unilateral decision, since we are standing on that platform. Then, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) elements in Ogun State also capitalised on that flaw by the national leadership of the SDP, by going on the social media, before and on the day of election, saying that the candidates of the SDP had all stepped down for them. Attempts to dispel the claims proved insufficient in view of the unfortunate pronouncement by the SDP national leadership.

Then beyond this, the fact that as a young party without any financial assistance from anywhere other than from within us, those who were using financial inducement to coarse the electorate to vote, that is to vote APC and PDP, did so effectively; raising between N1,000 and N5,000 in exchange for thumb printing.

And of course, the fourth is the rigging that went into the whole thing. Results were manipulated but I don’t want to emphasise on that, since we have other precedents. So, the cumulative of all these were responsible for the result we obtained.

How do you react to impression that only former governor, Chief Olusegun Osoba, deputy governor Segun Adesegun and yourself, are the only known grassroots politicians in the SDP fold?
You know, at the death of an elephant, you would see all manner of knives. So, what has happened has happened. I’m not sure that this particular impression could be a factor, because those of us in the SDP are men of integrity. There could be element of truth in that impression. However, one factor we cannot remove is the gullibility of the electorate. Once the electorate is gullible and ready to exchange their votes for peanuts, there is nothing anybody can do about it. For instance, I can tell you there is a community, a rural community, where I constructed 4.2 kilometres of tarred road and a bridge running into nearly 100 million of naira and yet the only vote we gathered from there was just seven. So, that means, either the rigging was perfectly done or the people were contented with the two thousand naira in exchange for the tarred. Before that bridge, they were passing through this local bridge made from palm trees. I saw it and felt for them and I went in there to ensure the bridge is constructed. Really, in a situation like this, there is nothing anybody can do.

But how sure are you that the outcome is not a reflection of people’s acceptability or actual level of popularity of the contestants in that election?

I gave you about four or five different reasons, it would be wrong one good factor was responsible. But I’m sure it is wrong to say to say it is the popularity or not. For example, there is no way you can quantify the wind of change at the national level that wanted Buhari. Beyond that, as a Muslim, I just believe that, that is the way God wanted the whole thing to go.

So, saying that some people are more popular than others is not the issue. I have contested and won election before, and I have participated in the state government. I waited for eight years before coming back again to contest and I won. If I am not popular they would not bring me back and it wasn’t once, it was twice. So, if the people decide that they wanted a change, whether for good or bad, they have taken their own decision Politically, where does the outcome leave you and your colleagues in SDP?

It is too premature. Yes, there could be plan B, C or D, but the future is powerful and it is also uncertain. It is difficult to say what is going to happen in the next couple of months. However, I don’t know of all others, but for me, I am a core progressive and I will not be in any party that is not progressively inclined. I don’t think I can cohabit with certain categories of politicians.

Right now what we have is confusion in the polity with the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the PDP gravitating towards a two-party state, with marginal political parties. But when you look at the APC and the PDP, they are still products of no ideological orientation, in the sense that within the APC today –– when you look at their governorship result –– more than 50 percent of those returned were from the PDP. The muddling would go on until we are able to get a clear-cut direction and then, we will know which one is progressive and which one is conservative.

As for us aligning with any party, every time we are open. But we will wait, and I will wait as a person and then see where I want to be and even then, decide if I will be able to continue in politics. Personally, I don’t mind bidding politics a farewell.

A number of colleagues you started with in the days of the Alliance for Democracy (AD) in Ogun State, are still with the state government. Don’t you think you are still perfectly at home, regardless of the electoral loss?
Yes, I perfectly understand what you mean. But if you look at what is happening in APC, whether in Ogun State or elsewhere, you find a lot of PDP people, you find defection right, front and center. That is telling you that the sorting is still a continuous process. So many people with PDP inclinations, including Amosun himself. Don’t forget that the governor was originally PDP; thorough and thorough, and he is still a conservative, whether we like it or not, in the progressive camp. But since we now have Saul becoming Paul, anything is possible in politics. So, there could be opportunity for conservative to become progressive, there could be opportunity for progressive to become conservative too. For example, the late Senator Uche Chukwumerije, may his soul rest in peace. He was of the extreme left and gravitated to the extreme right. So, nothing is impossible, we just try to contribute our own quota and leave the rest. Some of us gravitate to political ideology for exigency purposes.

What would you say is going on in the mind of Chief Osoba right?
I can tell you, he would feel fulfilled as a leader. He has absolutely nothing to regret. He fought for principle and he has done his best. He should feel satisfied with his effort.

What if Governor Amosun extends the hand fellowship to your group?
That is just a mere conjecture for now; it is better we wait. We are not in hurry, we would wait and see the way things are going to play out. So, with or without the governor extending hands of fellowship, politics is free exit and free entry. If we resolve to join the party, nobody can stop us from doing so. And if we decided to say, ‘no, there are certain conditions that were not yet met,’ it is all well and good. Whatever decision we take, would be a collective one.

How would you react to insinuations that Chief Osoba must have misled some of you?

We are adults. If somebody is misleading you, you must have given your consent to that person to so mislead you. If you are not convinced, there is no reason you should be where you are at any point in time. However, with the knowledge of hindsight, one may feel that, ‘yes, maybe some things might have been done differently.’ But then, that is another thing entirely. But to say somebody misled somebody, is out of the question.

We all saw what was on ground. We know the difference between right and light. As such the decision we took was by choice. That kind of bucks passing cannot hold water any time, any day. There was no running away from the fact that something was wrong within the party (APC). A bad decision is naturally better than no decision at all.

o, if a decision is taken and it didn’t work out as desired, that does not mean somebody was misled somewhere.

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