Before his death Senator Buruji Kashamu, was one of the top contenders in the last Ogun State governorship race. He was regarded as one of the leading politicians in the state and the strong man of Ogun State politics.
Just before the elections last year March…. City People Publisher, SEYE KEHINDE spoke with him about the governorship race and what makes him think he will beat all the other contestants.
Below are excerpts of his interview.
Over the last few weeks you have gone round the 20 Local Governments in Ogun State. What has been the feedback?
The feedback has been good. As you know I am a grassroot person. I have always been with them, so I am not new to them. They are my people. I have gone across the entire state to meet my people.
I have visited so many traditional rulers. I have gone across the 3 senatorial zones. I have visited Yewa. I have also visited Egba zone several times, including Yewa where I met the paramount ruler of Yewaland, Oba Adegbenle, and other Obas in Yewa, Egba and Ijebu towns. I have also met many people, artisans, entrepreneurs, and many others from these areas. Of course, I can’t believe the kind of support and reception I have received. Many of them are not new to me. I have known many of them over the years. Don’t forget that I have been doing empowerment for close to 15 years all over Ogun State and the South-West. So, I know them and they know me. I deliver on all my promises.
I now know why it is good to do good to people. All the good that I have been doing for many years is paying off now I have been doing empowerment, foundation and so on for years. I have helped millions of people. It is now that I have seen the payback, the way the people have been welcoming us. We should always pray to Almighty Allah to give us strength, wisdom and to be able to do good.
Not many people know that you have a political structure across the 20 Local governments in Ogun State. Why did you build it up years ago? Did you have it in mind that you will use it for governorship race?
No. I was only doing my own thing then, helping people. I didn’t start it then because of governorship. No. That’s me. The structure is not only meant for Ogun State, but it is across the South-West. The Omo Ilu Foundation was set up all over the South West and I have sustained it for over 12 years. All we do is to keep empowering people. Omo Ilu Foundation structure is everywhere, all over the South-West. When I joined politics years back, I tried to maintain the structure. When I set it up, I didn’t know I would go into politics. I set it up to help people. But when I joined PDP, I carried it along with me to use it to help people. Many people joined PDP from Omo Ilu Foundation. Since then I have been maintaining the structure for over 12 years. You know what it takes to maintain a functional structure across the South-West.
The structure is doing very well and the structure is mobilising for the PDP. That is why PDP members continue to increase in Ogun State. When I set it up over 12 years ago, it was a just foundation to assist people. I was not interested in politics. I never knew I would one day go into politics.
I set up the one in Ogun State when I came back to Nigeria in 2013. I just wanted to maintain the structure to use to assist and empower people. That was before I went into politics. And it took another dimension”.
What made you go into politics at the time you did?
I can tell you that through the foundation, through the empowerment that we are doing for people, I decided to help people at the grassroot. I saw a lot of people who needed help, I saw that many people join politics because of poverty, not that they really wanted to do politics. Many of them just joined. They don’t even know what they are doing. Anywhere they tell them to go is where they are going. And that is why you see many of them getting involved in violence in politics because of the N1,000 to N2,000 that they are going to give them. Many of them don’t even know the meaning of politics. So, I decided to go into politics for them. I realised along the line that it is better for me to go into politics if I really want to help these people. And since I joined politics, I have always been advising our politicians to cater to the needs of the people. Some listen. Some don’t listen.
What informed your decision to contest Ogun governorship? Why not go back to the Senate?
It was just to help Ogun State people. I believe I can run Ogun State better. Many governors who have run Ogun State have tried. But I can do better. Many of those who have been governors before now have done a fantastic job. But there is a limit in terms of what they can do. I do believe that the running the affairs of governments like in Ogun State should be given to people who have knowledge, capacity, wisdom, who have seen money before now. They should be the ones running the governments in the states. I believe a man who can run a business or company successfully can run a state successfully also. Running a state will be very easy.
Take for example, in our state now. We have been thrown into debit in such a way that in the next 20 years we will still be paying debts and the state won’t be able to develop. If there is a way I can help, through which I can contribute my quota, why can’t I do it. That is why I joined the race. I have the capacity to turn things around in Ogun State. Over the past 12 years, I have been going round doing empowerment round the state. And this has exposed me to how to run this state. I have studied the state. I have studied the many Governors that have come. They have tried their best but what they have been able to do is according to their limits. They have tried their best, but their best is not good enough. I can do the job better.
Look, in Senator Buruji Kashamu you have an experienced hand who has been in business for many years, who has succeeded in business. Forget it, he knows what he is doing. I know what it takes to run Ogun State.
I have what it takes to run Ogun State. Me, I have gone round the state several times. I have seen a lot. I have done a lot. I know what Ogun State people want. The state needs more development. My mission is to eradicate poverty. It is to make people happy. I want to introduce stomach infrastructure, I want to banish hunger. I want to return the Local Government autonomy that people have been agitating for and talking about.
The government has been sitting on their money. My mission is to allow them have their way. Let them be free. Let them do their constitutional duties. Let them develop their areas. Also, I want to help the cooperatives that they have been deducting their money.
All that will stop.
I will sort out all that. Their monies will be given to them. No more deductions. We would do a lot for them. I know what Ogun workers need. They will enjoy me when I come in. Once I come in I will resolve the problem. Trust me. I know what to do. If the workers don’t want their money to be deducted every month, then we would comply with that. We won’t be deducting their money again whilst the outstanding balance will be paid promptly. Their money can be paid back to them instalmentally,
What is your assessment of Gov. Amosun’s government?
You know my style. I don’t believe in criticising people in government. Gov. Ibikunle Amosun has done very well. But I want to do better than that. I have a lot of ideas of what to do. I can see his hands everywhere. He has done a lot. He has done a lot, all over. I will be the last person to be part of those who will destroy what he has built. No way. I can’t destroy him. I can’t draw him back. I pray to Almighty God to give him strength