State police ’ll guarantee checks and balances - Kaka

Culled From Nigeria Tribune

Written by Olayinka Olukoya
Thursday, 30 August 2012

Senator Gbenga Kaka
Senator Sefiu Adegbenga Kaka, representing Ogun East Senatorial District, in the National Assembly, in this interview with newsmen in Ijebu-Igbo, bares his mind on some national issues. Ogun State correspondent, Olayinka Olukoya, brings the  excerpts.

Do you think Nigeria is ripe for state police?
    Well, I want to believe that we are more than ripe for state police. What is happening in Nigeria now demands not only the state police, but also local government police because in those days as far back as 1950s, we used to have the constabularies who were the local government police and they were very effective, dedicated. The question is where did we miss it? We missed it when the military decided to jettison the true federalism we inherited from our colonial masters and now replaced it with unitary system of governance.

I don’t know how it will be possible for a Gbenga to be posted from Ogun State to Potiskum and you expect him to understand the social, cultural and religious sentiments of the people and be able to police them effectively. The same thing applies to an Emeka posted to Sokoto or a Mohammed posted to Anambra or Yenagoa. This is just not normal if you are really practising true federalism. It should be such that the state should have their own security apparatus and manage it, given the realisation that it is the state governments that are actually funding the police.

The allocation to the police is usually mismanaged to the extent that nothing is provided for the police except their uniforms and monthly salaries. So, the kitting, the vehicles they use and other running costs are being shouldered by the state governments. What then stops us from decentralising it? In view of what is going on now in the country, anybody saying we are not ripe for the state policing must be absent-minded. Without mincing words, same over-centralisation is not only affecting the police, it is also affecting the Federal Civil Service whereby the issue of budget implementation becomes a problem.  How do you expect a director or permanent secretary that sits down in Abuja to know what is going on in Imo State or Delta?  It is not just possible.

There can never be effective supervision. If you are to run an efficient government, whoever is employed in any particular local government should be made to start his career and end it there. The same applies for the state. Then at the federal level, as much as possible, most of what you call exclusive lists should be devolved some  of the states. Then let us eliminate those on the concurrent lists from the federal arrangement. Let it be exclusive for the states so that they will be able to do it most effectively.

If you look at the Federal Government College in Odogbolu, the amount being expended by the government on it is about five times the amount spent by the states on Mayflower School, Ikenne, and yet the productivity of Mayflower School is ten times more in terms of quality and quantity. So, why are we wasting such money when it could be better utilised. Then talking of roads and agriculture, the Federal Government has got no land it can call its own. So, if the land belongs to the states, why not allow this money to go to them and the local governments so that all the desolate areas of our rural communities can become green and then all the urban slums will not be there because many people have got no business being in the urban centres.

Considering the state of insecurity in the country, don’t you think if we are running the state police, the situation could be worse?
There will be checks and balances. That is not to say we are going to make the state out of the military. The military is going to remain the exclusive preserve of the Federal Government and it has overriding control on the issue of security over the police. Then beyond that, there will still be checks and balances through a federal police so that where anybody is going out of his way in any state, you call him to order. Don’t forget that there will be inter-linkage. If the police within a border town, say Ijebu, arrest someone for a criminal offence and it is supposed to be at the inter-change with Oyo, the normal thing is to hand the criminal over to the police in Oyo town, and if the crime committed is of national magnitude, then he should be handed over to the national police.

It is working in other climes, and if it is, there is no reason why it cannot work here. I am 100 per cent in support of it so that the checks and balances will be put when we are doing the amendment. We will also ensure that when there are excesses on the part of a state government, the federal police come in to checkmate such excesses.

What about constitutional amendment?
We have received a lot of memoranda and what we did was just to look at the sensitive areas listed. That was what we did at the retreat. No decision has been taken. It is just a matter of brainstorming on the likely areas before the real process starts. So, when we resume from the recess, we will now sit down and look critically at all the areas in which people are clamouring for amendments. After that, our decision would not still be final. We are still going to have public hearings. We will listen to people who matter and thereafter come back to take decisions. Do not forget that even after it is done, we still need two thirds of the state Houses of Assembly and the National Assembly to pass any amendment.

Is your constituency, Ogun East clamouring for state creation?
In the last 30 years, we have been agitating for it and sincerely speaking, we are resolute about it. If people are talking about injustice, there is no old province that is suffering from injustice more than the Egbas and the Ijebus. We used to have 24 provinces then. All other 22 provinces have become one or two and in some places like Sokoto, there are three provinces while Egba and Ijebu provinces are still being lumped together. So, it is against the principle of natural justice for that to be. Naturally, we are resolute about it; we want it and I am sure our brothers from Yewa and Egba are not also happy to have such a thing happening. We all want development to get to the grassroots. Each component of the state will be able to say yes, we want to move at our own pace so that nobody is holding any other person down, and with the resources available to us in Ijebu, I am optimistic that it is going to be one of the best states whenever it is created because the astuteness, resourcefulness and economic wizardry of the Ijebus will be harnessed in turning the state into an Eldorado.

What is your position on local government autonomy?
The local government autonomy is ideal. It is something all right-thinking people should support. They nearly got it in the sixth session except for some governors who rallied round in the last minutes to thwart the move. Otherwise, they would have got it during the sixth session of the National Assembly because it was duly passed, but failed at the state level. I think if we really want local governments to function effectively as the closest government to the rural people, then we just have to give autonomy to them so that each local government, as we are talking about true federalism, will be able to develop at its own pace. This is just as we are clamouring that we should allow states to develop at their own pace.

But in the event that it is not going to be possible to grant it, then we may consider the extreme implication of leaving everything about the local government in the hands of the state and let the governors do whatever they like with it. If they want to create 1,000 local government councils, let them go ahead. If they want to shrink the existing ones, let them go ahead so that it will leave clearly the state and the federating units within the federation and that will remove all these charades called elections that we have been holding.

So, you discover that it is winner takes all. You conduct an election and declare the results whether people voted for you or not. So, that is not acceptable. We can as well leave it for them; let it be another bureau under them, that is local government bureau. As many as they like, let them create it. That may be another solution. We either give them autonomy or deny them outright and give the governors to do whatever they like.

Some people are canvassing the scrapping of state electoral commissions. What is your view on this in relation to your general assessment of the last council poll in Ogun?
 The last local government election is like the proverbial toad which, when you talk about the issue of tail, said we should forget about it. So, it is not possible for two persons to be guilty of lies. Moreso, when it is a blatant lie.  If the person being lied to does not know, the person lying automatically knows. So, this time around, I do not want to make any serious comment other than to just say let the people who witnessed what happened pass their judgment accordingly.

Well, if it is possible for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct all elections, there is nothing bad. If not and it is not going to be scrapped, then they still have to do a lot. Why calling something an independent and at the end of the day, it is the bidding of the incumbent that will be done.

So, as far as I am concerned, we are still far away from being prepared to develop democracy. We are mouthing it but we are not serious about it. So, until we are serious and allow the vote of the people to count while they decide the people who rule them, we are still joking. What is the business of the governor with the selection of a councillor and a chairman?  The people know where the shoes pinch them most and how to address the situation.

So, they know who can best serve them rather than anybody staying in the state capital and imposing people on the generality of the people of that local government.

So, it is something that is not acceptable and that will cripple the democracy we are trying to develop.


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