Late Senator Buruji Kashamu was a man of many parts. Until his foray into Politics, 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 in Republic of Benin and SEICB Industries in Benin Republic.
He recently told City People about his life. “I was born at Oke Gbogbo. I went to Ansarudeen School in Ijebu Igbo. I left, I went to another modern school in Ijebu-Igbo. I dropped out. I left Lagos to do evening classes. I didn’t finish. I left. I went to Management School. I left. I went to Pitmans College, London. I did Management studies there. I left. I joined some private schools in Cotonou. I did English and French also and Management. I left. I entered for Diploma at the University of Lagos I finished.
Then I continued to do several business until I went into Politics. But I still run my businesses. I am into Real Estate. I am into Oil business. I am into Hospitality business. I have industries that produce raw cotton. I have hotels. I have hotels. I have over 2,000 staff. Thats a little bit about me”.
Lets tell you a bit about his involvement in Politics. On the political front, he was 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; he was like the proverbial elephant, some said he was controversial, others say he is generous. Some said he was genial and humble, yet firm; industrious and courageous. He is frank, almost to a fault, they would say. But for those who have worked closely with him over the years, he is not just a boss but a leader, a father and a friend. He is down-to-earth.
Born on the 19th of May, 1958, Senator Kashamu had his primary 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 had over 90 percent of the shares in the ultra-modem 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. For him, the saying that the height by great men reached and kept was not attained by a sudden flight, but they, while their companions slept, were toiling upward in the night could not be truer. He maintains such a high energy level and tight schedule that see him stay awake till late in the night, every day. 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 organization, to empower the needy and give hope to the hopeless. Consistent with his belief that government alone cannot meet the need 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. They asked how old he was in politics; what he knew about politics and where he was coming from. When all those could not do, his detractors launched a campaign of calumny to cast aspersion on his person.
Imbued with an uncommon native intelligence and a sharp memory, Senator Kashamu has his own 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 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 or people can be greater than the level of its 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 impacting on the welfare of his people.
With an unwavering belief in God and commitment to a noble cause that outlives mortality, he demonstrated that in politics, as in life, the age of Methuselah has nothing to do with the Wisdom of Solomon.
He was a multi-linguist who speaks French, English and Yoruba fluently. A detribalised Nigerian who has employed many Nigerians and foreigners in his various companies, Senator Kashamu has shown that he is not just a man destined for greatness and born to lead, but packaged for the moment.
During the 2015 general election, 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 15,000 votes.
On the legislative front, Senator Kashamu has four bills to his credit. They are the Mental Health Bill, the National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA) Act Amendment Bill, the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) Amendment Bill and the National Security Tax Fund Bill.
While the Mental Health Bill seeks to provide a modem legal framework for mental healthcare in Nigeria since the first and only one was passed in 1902, the NESREA Act Amendment Bill is meant to tweak the enabling Act setting up the agency and bring it in tune with the present realities as they concern the environment.
The FRSC Amendment Bill is meant to ensure a proper description of the areas of operation of the FRSC and state traffic agencies. Simply put, when passed, the Bill will restrict the operations of the FRSC to “Trunk A roads” and leave the “Trunk B and C roads” exclusively for the state and local governments as provided for in the Constitution.
The National Security Tax Fund could be said to have drawn inspiration from the gains of the Security Trust Fund in some states of the federation. It is the hope of Senator Kashamu that if passed into law, the Bill, which will help to voluntarily gamer a pool of resources from high net worth individuals, corporate and multinational organisations, will serve as an additional source of funding for the security agencies.
This will make them to be efficient and responsive to the emerging security challenges.
As a grassroots politician who constantly relates and interacts with his constituents, he was able to attract various landmark and identifiable projects to Ogun East Senatorial District based on his constituents’ requests and priorities.
The projects cut across the Educational sectors, healthcare, rural electrification and the provision of potable water to communities. He has also been able to facilitate the distribution of various mobility aids, equipment and tools to his constituents.
In the Education sector, 19 schools have been built while 3 were rehabilitated, with at least two in each of the nine local government areas that make up Ogun East Senatorial District- as part of his constituency projects.
As contained in the spotlights on his constituency activities, other areas touched include, healthcare sector, provision of potable water, transformers, construction of major highways, markets, erosion/flood control projects, rural electrification, construction of skill acquisition centres, the procurement and distribution of tricycles and motorcycles, sewing machines, grinding machines and wheelchairs for the physically challenged to his constituents across the nine local government areas, and improving agriculture through grading of rural/farm roads.
With these and several other initiatives too numerous to capture in a single piece, Senator Kashamu has continued to show that he is a rare breed and an uncommon political leader and politician whose ears and heartbeat resonate with the people, especially the masses, whether it is political season or not. He lived for the people. Little wonder he was aptly called “A Man of the People”. till he died last Sunday.