He was a big player in Ogun politics. Just mention his name and you would be told how popular Senator Buruji Kashamu was in the state. Call him the strongman of Ogun politics and you won’t be wrong at all. He was a tough and rugged politician with a formidable politial structure that spreads across the state. Its called Omo Ilu Foundation and it is a grassroot organisation that has deep roots at both the ward and local government levels.
That is the story of Ogun East Senator Buruji Kashamu. He was one of the leaders of Ogun PDP and a big financier of the party across the South West. In less than 15 years of his joining active politics, Senator Kashamu has emerged the main issue in the politics of Ogun PDP and the most talked about.
It was either you are for him or against him. And he doesn’t really care if you are opposed to him. He would simply tell you what he thinks about any matter and he will stick by it no matter whose ox is gored. When he entered politics a few years back, he was grossly underrated.
Many felt because he had no experiences in politics, he wouldn’t go far. But Senator Kashamu moved into Ogun PDP big time and put all he had into it. He funded the party big time and built a solid political structure. He funded his Omo Ilu Foundation and gave out cars and okada. He bought grinding machines for people and empowered thousands of Ogun State people across the state. He jolted many by his grassroot politics. Before many other political players realised it, Buruji Kashamu had entrenched himself with the grassroot. Over a period of 15 years, he empowered very many people at the grassroot and on a daily basis he was giving out cars. In Ijebu Igbo where he comes from, he was hero worshipped. All the Okada riders are loyal to him. All the associations and artisans sing his praise, all because of his uncommon generosity. He is a generous giver and big spender.
That was why once he arrives in Ijebu-Igbo on a Friday, his sprawling mansion becomes a Mecca of sorts. He has built in Ijebu Igbo a world class banquet hall and event centre where all the indigenes, especially elites hold their events.
Not only that. Freely, he gives out kerosene and petrol when there is scarcity and frequently he also distributes rice and groundnut oil to thousands during festive periods. That was why when he stepped out to contest election into the Senate in 2015, he had a resounding victory. He has touched lives tremendously. Through his well-structured Omo Ilu Foundation he constantly empowers members, all of which make them to be loyal to him. All these have given Buruji a cult followership, which has made him popular across the state. By 2011, Buruji Kashamu had taken full control of the party structure. He began to call the shots and dictated who got what within the party. He fielded candidates into all the seats from the House of Assembly to the Senate and House of Reps in 2011 and by 2015, he contested and won the senatorial elections.
Over the last 3 years he has been at war with some other party leaders who have tried to wrestle power from him. He has been having his ongoing battle with the OGD group led by former Governor, Otunba Gbenga Daniel who is also a big player in Ogun politics. He has also been having a running battle with Hon. Ladi Adebutu, a House of Reps member from the same Ijebu zone as Senator Buruji Kashamu.
They have all been locked in an epic battle for the control of the party. Kashamu and OGD don’t see eye-to-eye. A few years back, he and OGD resolved their differences for a short while, before they renewed hostilities.
Buruji insists that his exco is the authentic exco of Ogun PDP but the other group (made up of OGD and Hon. Ladi Adebutu) have also remained resolute that its the Hon. Sikirulai led exco that is the authentic one. So, intense is the fight between the duo of Buruji & OGD that both have hauled hot words against each other in recent times.
A few weeks back, City People Magazine went after this Lagos businessman turned politician. It was difficult tracking him down for this interview. Twice we fixed appointments, twice it was impossible to get the strong man of Ogun PDP to sit down for an interview. Last Tuesday, he granted City People Publisher, SEYE KEHINDE an explosive interview in which he spoke about his admiration for Gov. Amosun, why he and OGD don’t see eye-to-eye, his shock at how Hon. Ladi Adebutu whom he says, he helped, turned against him.
He was very optimistic that the Ogun PDP warlords will soon resolve their differences, amicably. “We are one in Ogun PDP”, he says. “And we would soon come together to present a common front to defeat the APC in the coming elections in 2019. We have our strategies intact”. Read on. Its explosive.
How do you see the state of the nation today, politically? And how the APC is running the country?
The political situation is going on fine. There are challenges here and there and the party at the centre is finding solutions to them.
How do you see the challenges and crisis facing the two parties?
There are bound to be challenges and all the issues will be resolved in the 2 parties. They are all issues to be expected. The APC is strong. The PDP also is strong. The two parties are trying to restructure and mobilise the parties. The two of them are preparing to face each other by 2019.
Is the PDP prepared sufficiently enough to take on the APC at the centre?
Of course yes. The APC controls the federal government. They have the Presidency and they run the government so the PDP is preparing.
But don’t you think all the problems the PDP is facing across the South West will affect it?
Many of our leaders are trying to put our party together by talking to people and trying to reconcile whatever differences we might be having in the South West. And they have also continued having meetings. I do believe that by the end of this month January, the South West will be together and we would become stronger so that we can compete with any other political party in the South West.
How did you take the call for your suspension and criticism of your stand within the party?
You see, I love the PDP. I am a party man. It is normal, if one national leader is not performing very well or is getting himself into one illegality in the party, it is normal for some of the members that are strong, like me to complain and lay their complain before party leaders and to also defend whatever they have complained about. Don’t forget that the party at the national is like the barracks, where soldeir goes, soldier come, barracks remain. Other soldiers will come, the barracks remain. All those I had arguments with have gone. They have done their tenure. The present National Working Committee (NWC) members are very intelligent. They are experienced national leaders who I know believe in letting the rule of law prevail and I do believe that very soon justice will be done. So, I do not have any other alternative than for me to work with them.
How will they resolve the problem in Ogun State?
Here in Ogun State, I do not believe we have any problem or crisis in the state. Whatever it takes the exco that has been there since 2016, they have 4 year tenure and their tenure will end in 2020, and truly, the national leadership that left, headed by Senator Makarfi has been the one causing a lot of problems not only in Ogun State but across the South-West. In the case of Ogun State, he turned exco against another exco that has a binding judgement against the PDP and on INEC. He believes that some of us in Ogun Stateand South-West were working with Senator Ali-Modu Sheriff and the fact that Ali-Modu Sheriff lost the battle, he believes that is the only way for him to punish all those who followed him. But he forgot that we were not the ones that brought Amadu Sheriff. Our national leaders like Wike and other governors brought him. We then followed. If they want everybody to stop they ought to have gone round and visit everybody and talk to everybody. They didn’t do that.
They were the only ones that know what they had seen by changing Amodu Sheriff for Markafi.
For many of them, their interest is more paramount to them than the interest of the entire party or Nigeria; otherwise they should have handled the matter better than they have done. That is why they won the Supreme Court Judgment, Markafi decided not only in South-West or Ogun; he did all what he has done wrongly all over Nigeria, across the states. We all have the same complaints at the state levels of the party, like what we are having in Ogun State. We advised him but he didn’t listen. I do believe with judgment and other documents in possession of the exco in Ogun State, very soon the whole problem will be resolved.
Before the new exco came in you wrote several petitions against him. What really happened?
It was all against what Markafi did. You can not eat your cake and also try to have it again. That is number one. We also know that there is no way you can build legality on top of illegality. It is natural that very soon everything will collapse as it did. There have been so many cases in court.
And I believe that justice has to be done. I believe in the rule of law and we stand by court judgements.
Are you saying there is a possibility of your group in Ogun PDP reconciling with the other group that also produced an exco?
Which other group? There is no any other group. Are you talking of a few people who put themselves together illegally to say they belong to another group? In 2015 I was their leader. We contested, Amosun the governor also contested. He has been performing very well in Ogun State. If me, I could challenge him in 2015 and I still won 9 House of Assembly, 2 House of Reps, and one Senator, then you can see that we know what we are doing. That shows we are strong. Then in 2019 we can easily take him on and take the government from him. One of the Assembly seats that I won is the one Ladi Adebutu is occupying. He decided to betray everybody and he believes that yes, he can create his own people. And he started fighting us who made him. But you know what? We are still within the same PDP. It is good the way the matter is going. If eventually any one from the 2 groups (but I don’t believe there are 2 groups, anybody that wins at the end of the day will be supported by others. All of us will still join hands together. We all belong to one big family in PDP. That is why I don’t bother myself. How can some one say he has left this group and stands up and says I am leaving this group? I don’t believe in that. Maybe some of the politicians might be looking for money, so they now say they belong to another group to make money. I can say categorically. There is no two or three groups in PDP. There is only one group in PDP. What I believe is PDP is still PDP. It is still the same PDP. It is still the same people from PDP that is going up and down, jumping about, but as soon as it is clear and one exco gets the green light, you will see how all the others will come back and team up with us. If you believe there is a group somewhere, whilst me I am telling you that there is no other group but some others are insisting that there is another group, let us leave it as it is. But what I do know is that at that end of the day, when one of the groups gets the ticket the other group will not have any other alternative but to align for all of us to join hands together. We will all join hands together to deliver Ogun State. That is why I don’t bother myself.
Are you saying your group will soon eventually reconcile with the Otunba Gbenga Daniel group, if I may call it that?
That is what we did in 2015. I don’t have a problem with him. Truly we worked against the PDP in 2015. He was supporting Dapo Abiodun of the APC against me, but it didn’t work. You know Dapo Abiodun and I are good brothers. We come from the same Senatorial zone. Daniel supported Dapo because he didn’t want me to emerge in order for me not to become his official leader. So he was working against me, supporting Dapo, but never the less, we worked together in other elections, like governorship and presidential elections, we worked together. But we do know that he didn’t work sincerely. There are a lot of people under him, who are his own followers who worked with us, who worked with PDP. That is why I don’t bother that even though if one person does not work with the PDP that does not mean that PDP cannot win. Upon all what Daniel did against me in 2015, by supporting Dapo Abiodun, I still won. He knows I am strong. He knows I am on the ground. I still won them with over 45,000 and 20,000 votes. I still won the elections. I am the Senator representing that zone together. That is to let you know that God is great. Once God has decided, nobody can go against that.
So do we expect a reconciliation with Otunba Daniel & his group?
I do not have any problem with anybody. I don’t have any problem with neither Daniel or Ladi Adebutu. Politics is always like that. when the time comes and we need to work together, we would sit down and resolve our problem and we would continue with our plans.
But time is going, the elections are here so, when are you going to resolve your differences?
Under 2 to 3 months it can be resolved. That is politics for you. Sometimes it might be 2 months to elections that we would resolve our differences and work together.
Ogun State is very small. We are not talking about the whole Nigeria. We are capable of resolving our problems. Whatever that is happening in Ogun State is some thing that we can resolve may be in 2 months or 3 months before the elections and we can still win the elections. Let me tell you. Sometimes it is good when there is this kind of tension, or problem in a Party. That means that the party is bubbling in that state. Adebutu is fighting Kashamu and Kashamu is fighting Adebutu.
OGD does not agree with Kashamu. OGD is fighting Kashamu. Kashamu is fighting OGD. It is better than for everything to just be calm. Whereby the people will not know if that party still exists in the state or not. But now they know that the PDP is strong, that they PDP in Ogun is vibrant, that they are trouble makers, they are fighting, they cannot put their house together. If people continue to shout and eventually we put our house in order everything will just cool down, like cold water.
How do you see the performance of Gov. Ibikunle Amosun in the last 7 years?
Me, I will not lie to you. Gov Amosun has tried. Amosun has performed well. He has done very well. But he did most of his projects in the central. Even with that, I can authoritatively tell you today that me I have not seen any governor that has performed the way he has done in Ogun State. Maybe he may have received money more than them.
But you can also receive money and not use it for the state. Or use it on other irrelevant projects in a way that people would not be able to benefit. From what I have seen with my 2 eyes, as a Muslim, Amosun has tried. I have gone round the state, I have seen projects done by him. The only area that people are criticizing him is about stomach infrastructure which is normal. Despite the problems of stomach infrastructure, Amosun has continued to develop the state the way it should be done. He can’t finish fixing all the problems. Another person can be there tomorrow and he will build on what Governor Amosun has done. A new person can even come in and do stomach infrastructure. What I do know is that with what Amosun has done so far, believe me. It is an excellent job. That what he has done is excellent does not mean another person cannot come in tomorrow to do more than him. For example if I decide that I want to campaign for PDP today, I can only praise him and I will let the good people of Ogun State know that this person that I am campaigning for is going to do better than Amosun. But Amosun has tried his best. See all what he has done in Ogun. See the way he has developed Ogun State. This person that is coming ooo is a fantastic man who I believe is going to take off from where Amosun left it and to also drive it, times 3 or times 4 of what Amosun has done.
But for me to back that kind of person, I have to do my own investigation to he 100% sure that the man I am backing can deliver. But believe me if Amosun were to contest for a 3rd term again because I love my state, I can only come out, even though being in PDP, to tell them to allow him to spend another 4 years again with all what has done. What does it do for me? It is only in the interest of the State, not for me personally. It is not about my own interest but the interest of State, general interest. I will rather prefer to tell my own people the truth than to lie to them because of my personal interest. Amosun is in APC. I am in PDP. But we must say the truth when we see one. He has tried. That is the truth. So, today as I see it, Amosun has done very, very well.
Are you going for a 2nd term? Is Senator Kashamu coming back as Ogun East Senator?
I do believe that all powers belong to Allah, What will be will be. I don’t know if I will run or not. All I have done is in the interests of my people and I will continue to serve their interest.
If my people are happy, if they want me to re-contest, I will look at it. If I still have that time for it, fine, I can go for it but if I don’t have time to do so again. I can only plead to them to allow me to support any other person who wants to come out. I will support them 100%, but I have to be sure I am supporting somebody who can be able to deliver for our senatorial zone and who will be able to perform and do well in terms of senatorial project, who will be able to take care of the people or to protect there interest. I have to make sure that the person is not going there for his or her selfish interest. I have to look for somebody who I can trust, who our people can trust, that he will be able to deliver, not to go there for his own selfish interest. If I get someone like that I will support the person.
But I cannot answer specifically today if I am going to contest or not.
I am still consulting stakeholders. It is still too early for me to say. Once I have decided I will tell the whole world. Thank you