Late Senator Buruji Kashamu was the Ogun PDP governorship candidate. He is one of the top contenders for the No 1 job in Ogun State. Last year, he spoke to City People Publisher SEYE KEHINDE about his plan for governorship.
How do you see the political situation in Ogun State?
There is a lot going on. APC and APM are fighting themselves. But the PDP is peaceful. Some other parties are not functioning very well. There is political tension in the state. We would overcome it very soon.
You’ve been in the Senate for the last 4 years. What are the lessons you’ve learnt so far? How have you found the experience?
The experience has been good. The kind of experience I learnt over there is totally different from normal experiences. Professionally it is different. It shows you how the government works. You will see a lot of things that you can’t open your mouth to say. You will hear a lot of things that you cannot open your mouth to say. Now, I see many things and I understand many things than before, in a different way. That is what has given me the courage to want to contest in order to be able to do a lot more for Ogun people.
What makes you think you are the best candidate for Ogun governorship?
I have not told you that I am the best governorship candidate. No. We even have many of them that are more educated than me. I don’t have a doctorate degree. I don’t have a Masters. But I have wisdom. I am streetwise. And I am an intelligent person. I have only a diploma.
I have over 2,200 staff both in Nigeria and West Africa. I have over 6 to 7 companies that are working very well. There is nothing like somebody who has had experience and wisdom. And who has built a business, who has achieved a lot of things in life? If the person has achieved a lot of things in life, and the person is focused, with good wisdom, there is nothing the person cannot manage in government. He will manage it. He will succeed. He will even do more than what others have been doing. Someone like me, Senator Kashamu, if I am elected, I will do wonders in Ogun State. I will do what they call wonder in Ogun State. I have been a businessman for over 40 years.
I know what to do. I don’t need to do a project that will lie down for 30 to 50 years that we cannot be able to complete and pay for. That is why I said the first thing I have to do is to work directly with all the local governments and to make sure that their money goes to them when due every month so that they can be able to use it together with the leaders of that community and elders of that community, including the kings, so that all of them would be able to work together because they are the ones who know the kind of problems they are having in each local government. They know. This money will be going to them every month directly. I would also make sure that yes the problem of stomach infrastructure will be taken care of. There will be community banks, micro-finance banks in each local government we would try to raise money for people, business people can be borrowing the money to develop many things in that local government that will positively assist the local government in growing. If that one can be done and you are not owing money and you also study the schools and try to restructure it in a way that they can be making money on their own whilst the fees of the students are also reduced. I have many practical ideas I want to implement. There are many ideas you can do as a businessman to turn around Ogun State positively.
I do believe that with my own experience with the set up of my own administration in 4 years I will do times 10 of what the others have done that will change the face of Ogun State. If you go to the waterside area you will see that the waterside area and Lagos are close. Ijebu East and Lagos State share boundary. They have already entered into each other. Why can’t I raise small money to do the road and link them together via a bridge. Link Lagos and Ogun State via a bridge. The value which Lagos State is having will add to the value of Ijebu East and we are going to generate a lot of funds from it. Likewise in the Mowe/Ibafo/Berger area, Lagos State and Ogun State are twins. We only need to connect them by road or bridges. Let me stop here. I have so many ideas. That is why I said I am sure I am going to do wonders with the support of Almighty Allah in developing Ogun State.
You started politics in Ogun State from the grassroots. So you are a grassroots politician. Tell us how your relationship with the grassroots began?
I love the grassroots. I like to mingle with them. Once they know I am in town they will troop here to play with me. They will come here to tell me about their problems and the problems facing the community and they know I will tackle and resolve it. That is why they gave me the name Alaanu Mekunu. I love them. I love to be with the grassroots people because I know their problem. Every month I cater to very many of them. We have all become one family. I cater to their health, their jobs, their personal needs, like houses. When I am in the midst of the grassroots, I am always happy. Anytime I am with the grassroots I am always happy. Anytime I am sitting among them, I am always happy. That is why you will never see me alone. There is no amount of money that you can give me that will be bigger than being with them. Anything I have is for them. I eat with them. We eat together. We play together. We chat together. They advise me. And I listen. I know their problems. I know where the shoe pinches them. They can relate with me easily, direct. I love the masses. They are my people. I love the poor people, that is why you will always see me in their midst. I love to be with them every day. I love to eat with them every time because I love them. I understand their language. I speak their language. They are different. Over the last 15 years, I have pitched my tent with the poor and the grassroots. They enter my house freely. I prefer to remain with the grassroots, either I do politics or I don’t. I am one of them. I prefer to share whatever I have with them. They are lovely people. They are good people. They are natural people. They are different.
When you were looking for a running mate, why did you choose Dr. Reuben Abati?
Because he is a good person. Dr. Reuben Abati has always been a good person. Its because he is a good person from Egba. That is why I chose him.
How did your support for the grassroots in Ijebu Igbo start?
I have always been supporting them. It’s not only in Ijebu-Igbo, all over. I have been supporting them for over 15 to 20 years. Nothing can stop me from doing that. I will continue to be doing it, not only for my people, across Nigeria. Do you know how many school fees I pay every year? Do you know how many hospital bills I pay? I will continue to be doing that. If I feel this one has kidney problems I will help. I get involved in the lives of these people at the grassroots. It is a natural thing for me to do. It is a natural thing that I love to be doing. Sometimes if I don’t do it I will fall ill. I must do it. I must always help the needy. I must. I cannot hold money and not help. I cannot have money and see people suffering. It’s impossible. I must help. I must always share my money with grassroots people. That is my philosophy of life. I owe nobody no apology for that. It’s not only about my people in Ijebu-Igbo. It has been my nature when I was a kid. There is nothing I can do, I can’t change, I love to be with people. I love to assist people.