Prince Buruji Kashamu has been in news in the recent times over topical issues threatening PDP, the ruling party in the country. Few days ago, the founder of Omo Ilu Foundation and financier of the party in Southwest Nigeria opened up on some of these issues, including his face-off with former president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo. ENCOMIUM Weekly Dayo Rufai, was one of the select journalists who were in his country home in Ijebu Igbo where the no barred interview was held.
As a PDP chieftain in the South West, what strategies have you put in place to deliver the zone for President Goodluck Jonathan in 2015?
I believe you have been following all our programmes since 2009 up till date. Since 2009, we have continued to increase every day. Many people are aware of all the empowerment that we have evolved since 2009. And when it comes to organizing people, I’m a grassroots person; it is my work and that is why I said that I have opened offices all over the South West.
I have coordinators all over the South West. In each state, I have registered in my data nothing less than 20,000 supporters and we are going to do the inauguration in the whole South West later this month in Ijebu-Igbo. Of course, we have Omo-Ilu Foundation that can take over 500,000 people any time that we want to organise a rally. So, the same strategy that we have been allying in Ogun, we have carried it to Osun, Ekiti, Ondo and to Lagos.
By the time we would stage this inauguration between January 23 and 25 all over the South West, all these people will come out. But what I want you to understand is that in each state, for example in Ogun State, over two million people were registered. But you will see that at the end of the day, maybe only 400,000 will vote. So, what do I do? With this empowerment like kerosene distribution, we have almost eight trucks of kerosene now to flag off Omo-Ilu Foundation and PDP. We call it kero-direct.
Each tanker takes 22,000 litres of kerosene. We do our own drum with the logo of PDP and print of Omo-Ilu Foundation and distribute to people. The kegs alone cost us nothing less than N200 per piece and sometimes, we do about 200,000 units. So, we give to people 10 litres of kerosene each.
Since we have been doing it, that is where we got to know that the PDP has a lot of masses with them. But the problem is that there is nobody to woo them to stand up and vote for PDP. Already in Ogun State, we have over 395,000 followers in our data. All these people are pure PDP but there is nobody to talk to them, nobody to advise them and nobody to tell them the reason that during elections, they have to come out fully and to vote.
During the last elections, one of the major reasons why PDP lost out was due to crisis within. What lessons has the party learnt and how do you intend to nip that in the bud?
There is no crisis in PDP; it is self-centredness and self-interest that is causing the problem. These are the ones you see fighting up and down. It is not the grassroots that are fighting. The real grassroots that even vote don’t even know if there is any problem up there. If I’m in PDP and others are in PDP, we have to protect the interest of our local government, the interest of our ward. By your ward putting you as the chairman, it’s not the position of your family. Whatever you realise, you must be able to carry all of them round and spread it within them. So, you have to secure that grassroots first. When you secure that, you are 100 percent sure that anytime there is competition, you will have the strength to defeat them.
The party appointed me to mobilise for them to win. I’m the chairman of that committee. If they call me the chairman of mobilization and organisation, of course I would answer. But if they call me the leading leader of South West, I won’t deceive myself. I’m not the leading leader of South West, I’m one of the superior leaders of South West and my own strategy is to mobilise and for us to win South West. So, if people are now writing letter to say that they give me the leadership of the party, how can that be when I’m among the exco? You know that each zone has its organ. The zonal vice chairman of each zone is the leader of that zone. The other people around are elders and leaders, which of course include Bode George, Shuaibu Oyedokun, and many of the BOT people are elders. I’m a leader, Ayo Fayose is a leader, Omisore is a leader, Obanikoro is a leader.
Former President Obasanjo has consistently attacked you over your support for President Jonathan. Are you not discouraged from supporting the president despite the attacks?
When I saw it on the Internet, I was near my car. I quickly put on one Ayefele CD. I was dancing on the road. My popularity is soaring. I didn’t know that I can become popular like this. But I believe that it is God, it’s not by my power. The caliber of Obasanjo to mention my name, Jonathan also. Can’t you see that it is more than my power?
It is by God Almighty. As a Muslim, I can never be afraid of anybody except God. If it is my right, if I’m fighting for justice. Right from my youth, my heart is always solid. This kind of thing doesn’t move me. I have over 80 percent of quality leaders in Ogun state and they believe in truth.
You ought to know the strategy of Obasanjo. He Obasanjo wanted to hijack me from Jonathan; that if I don’t support Jonathan in South West, the South West will be easier for them. That is the strategy of Obasanjo.
How many times has he called me? How many times has Obasanjo sent people to me that why am I so stubborn, why can’t I come?
Many people that he has sent I didn’t answer them because I am not a traitor. When I love somebody and believe in the leadership of a person, whatever happens, I accept that I will go with the person. I believe in the leadership of Jonathan, I believe in the government of Jonathan, I believe in Jonathan’s transformation agenda and I believe in his wise management. If it is Jonathan that says Kashamu don’t support me again, don’t work with me again, don’t protect my interest again in the South West, it will be a different thing entirely. I’m doing that for our party, and I am doing that for him and I’m doing that for Bamanga Tukur.
You said personal interest and imposition are the things causing crisis in the PDP. Are you now calling for proper internal democracy to iron out these challenges?
That is what we have been looking for. How can Baba Obasanjo be writing this kind of letter when he is pushing people to go to APC? What is the problem? Baba Obasanjo is the one that put Jonathan there, we all know. Obasanjo told the whole Nigeria that Jonathan was a perfect person, was not corrupt and he told all Nigerians to vote for him.
When Jonathan won, Baba Obasanjo was the one controlling Jonathan’s government. Do you know how many ministers he was given? Do you know how many slots they gave to him? That is where our problem started. When he was given all these appointments, Baba Obasanjo was throwing it outside Ogun state. The one Baba Obasanjo will be giving to Ogun, he will give to people who were not involved in mobilizing for PDP. He will not give to any leader, he will just give to one caucus that belongs to him that he can be able to twist and manage. And that is why me and him disagreed.
There was a day I was in his house and he said Jonathan can only go for one term, that we are not going to work for his second term. We later started fighting. Because Jonathan could not be able to continue to satisfy him with his own demands, the problem started. And because Baba Obasanjo believes in illegality. We had our congress and he created another congress because he had Oyinlola there.
And when the zonal congress happened, instead of them using our genuine exco to South West, Baba Obasanjo used his power and sacked all our exco and carried his own exco to participate in that South West congress while we had a court order saying they should not do that congress without using us. Because they did not use us and used Obasanjo exco, we went back to the court that they did not obey your order. That is why the South West congress was nullified.
And he still wants them to continue until a day we went to see the former national secretary of the PDP, Oyinlola, I explained to him all over. But Oyinlola was supporting them, he was issuing letters against that judgement that we cannot exist. When they cannot follow the reality and they don’t have respect for the rule of law, that’s why you see all the house they built collapsed. Obasanjo believed in zoning and it is the zone he was using to negotiate with the government.
But because Obasanjo did not handle that matter very well, the house collapsed. As soon as it collapsed, power got into our hands because my own fight was only for Ogun State. But as God is so good, the problem of Ogun State collapsed the whole exco in South West and the power came by itself into my hand. So, why won’t I thank God?