Senator Buruji Kashamu, the Ogun State PDP ‘s governorship candidate, has told City People that he would win the forthcoming governorship elections, hands down. “I have no doubt that I will win the governorship race,” he said a few days ago when City People visited him at his Omo Ilu Foundation Centre in Ijebu-Igbo in Ogun State. “I have the most effective political structure across the state. I am strong in the 3 senatorial zones: Ogun Central, Ogun West and Ogun East. And in all the Wards and local governments. I have built a formidable structure that is over 12 years old. The Omo Ilu Foundation structure is across the state and has spread into the other South-West States. I am strong at the grassroots. I am a grassroots mobiliser and the grassroots people want me to be governor.”
Why is he running for governor he was asked. “I am going for the governorship to provide better life for my people in Ogun State. With due apologises to all those who have ruled Ogun State, they have tried their best., but their best is not good enough for Ogun State people. Look, I am not boasting, I can run Ogun State better than many of them. I have my plans for Ogun State I will perform wonders if I am elected governor of Ogun State. I am rich. I am a successful businessman by all standards. So, I am not going into government to steal or to make money. I am not in the race to loot the treasury. My administration will tackle poverty. I will chase hunger away in Ogun State. I will tackle stomach infrastructure squarely. I will make people happy. The local goverments will enjoy their autonomy. The local government will be free to run their areas. They will have access to their money. I will spread joy across the people. I am a philanthropist. I have touched lives. I will touch more lives. I have touched lives of thousands of people through my Omo Ilu Foundation. That is why people call me Alannu Mekunnu”.
“I know what it takes to make people happy. People are hungry. I will give them food. I will encourage farmers to produce food. I will encourage market women, artisans, I will make life more abundant. I may not have a Bachelors degree or Masters degree or doctorate degree like some people say they have, but I have a Diploma. I also have Wisdom, native wisdom. I know how to touch lives. I know how to make people happy. I know how to meet their needs. You don’t need a degree to give people the 3 basic human needs of Food, Shelter and Clothing. I have done that for over 12 years through my foundation. I will do it again as Governor. I am street wise. I have street knowledge. I have street sense. I grew up on the streets. I am a businessman. I have been a businessmen for close to 40 years. I have factories in Nigeria and in Cotonou the Republic of Benin. I have shares in very many companies in Nigeria and across the West Africa sub-region”.
Senator Buruji Kashamu told City People his story last week. He revealed how before he went into Politics. Before then, he had been doing his business quietly.
Until his foray into politics, he said he was the Chairman/Chief Executive of Kasmal Group of Companies, an indigenous conglomerate, with interests in hospitality, property, oil and gas, automobile and investment services. He was also the Chairman of the Group Kasmal SAL and SEICB Industries in Benin Republic.
On the political front, he has been a leader and major financier of the PDP in Ogun State. He once served as the Chairman, Organisation and Mobilisation Committee of the PDP in the South-West zone of Nigeria, comprising the 6 states of Ogun, Lagos, Oyo, Osun, Ondo and Ekiti.
Kashamu means different things to different people. Some see him as controversial. Others say he is generous. He is genial and humble. Yet firm, industrious and courageous. He is frank, almost to a fault. Those who have worked closely with him over the years, say he is not just a boss, but a leader, a father and a friend. He is down-to-earth.
What is his background like? We can tell you. He was born on the 19th of May, 1958. Senator Kashamu had his primary school education at the Ansar Ud Deen Primary School, Oke-Sopen, Ijebu Igbo, Ogun State. After his primary education, he moved to Lagos where he worked and attended evening classes. He later sat for the West African Examination Council’s GCE as an external candidate. Realising his flair for business early in life, Kashamu attended Pitman College in the United Kingdom where he took business courses to prepare himself for the enormous task of business management. He later enrolled for an Executive Diploma in English Language at the University of Lagos, Akoka, Yaba, where he bagged a Diploma in English.
In 2014, he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Humanities by Cambridge Graduate University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States. He has over 90 per cent of the shares in the ultra-modern cotton ginnery in the Republic of Benin, a neighbouring French- speaking West African country; while the balance is held by some private banks and other individuals. Senator Kashamu has been involved in the business of importation and exportation of goods and commodities for over 25 years. He maintains such a high energy level and tight schedule that sees him staying awake till late in the night, every day. Many say he calls you up at anytime so much that you wonder if he does not sleep! He is in one word a workaholic. It is equally worthy to mention that Senator Kashamu is a philanthropist of note. It could be safely said that his philanthropic gestures smoothened his foray into politics. Those who know him say Giving is his second nature. In 2009, he founded the Omoilu Foundation, a non-profit organisation, to empower the needy and give hope to the hopeless. Consistent with his belief that government alone cannot meet the needs of the people, Senator Kashamu has been using the platform of Omoilu Foundation to reach out to many people within Ogun East Senatorial District, Ogun State and beyond.
The Foundation has embarked on various initiatives such as the granting of interest-free micro-credit scheme, scholarship, payment for surgeries and hospital bills, and several other empowerment schemes.
Not many gave him a chance when he happened on the political scene in Ogun State years back. They asked how old he was in politics? What does he know about politics and where was he coming from. His detractors launched a campaign of calumny to cast aspersion on his person. They sought to haunt him with some of the trials he had had in his eventful life. This is in spite of his exoneration by the courts. But Senator Kashamu has remained undeterred. And the rest, as they say, is history. Imbued with an uncommon native intelligence and a sharp memory, Senator Kashamu has his unique approach to party politics and organisation. Although, he is quick to say he is not a politician but a businessman in politics, Senator Kashamu believes that the welfare of the people is the whole essence of not just government but party politics. A clear-headed and highly enterprising individual, Senator Kashamu’s foray into politics began years back when a former Ogun State Governor Gbenga Daniel and other chieftains of the PDP in Ogun State, invited him to help mediate in the intra-party crisis that nearly crippled the government and party in the state. He soon established a platform then known as “OGD OMO ILU” through which he sought to rally all the various contending interests. His intention was to get everybody to support the then Governor Gbenga Daniel-led government. To calm frayed nerves, he helped many to set up their businesses, others he gave vehicles and cash. The foundation soon metamorphosed into what many called the “Omoilu Movement” as it spread across the 20 local government areas in the state. Again, on realising that no nation could be greater than the level of her human resource, Senator Kashamu also made education one of the cardinal objectives of the Omoilu Foundation. Now, besides empowering people from all walks of life with over 600 units of vehicles and 1,000 motorcycles, a good number of indigent youths are on the foundation’s scholarship in various private and public institutions across the country and beyond. Senator Kashamu has shown that one does not need to hold public office before making an impact on the welfare of his people. With an unwavering belief in God and commitment to a noble. cause that outlives mortality, he has demonstrated that in politics, as in life, the age of Methuselah has nothing to do with the Wisdom of Solomon.
He is a multi-linguist who speaks French, English and Yoruba fluently. He is also a detribalised Nigerian, who has employed many Nigerians and foreigners in his various companies. During the 2015 general elections, he contested to represent Ogun East Senatorial District in the Senate on the platform of the PDP and won, defeating his closest rival with over I5,000 votes.