Prince Buruji Kashamu is the Senator-elect for Ogun East Senatorial district in Ogun state. In his first interview after the elections in Ogun state, ENCOMIUM Weekly Dayo Rufai had an exclusive chat with the PDP chieftain on Friday, May 1, 2015, at his Victoria Island office in Lagos on sundry issues.
Sir, congratulations once again as the Senator-elect for Ogun East Senatorial district in Ogun State?
Thanks, my brother.
During the build up to the election, some section of the public thought you were in the race only to pave way for another candidate. What was your immediate reaction when you were announced the winner of the election?
That was the cheap blackmail and red herring that some estranged members of our great party, the PDP, were spreading. But now that the results have been announced and the elections won and lost, you can see that they have been proved wrong yet again. Of course, as rumour mongers who are never tired of spreading lies, they have again started spreading all manners of lies against me. But I am not bothered because as it is said, “iba je eniyan ko da ise Oluwa duro…”
On my immediate reaction, the truth was that with my kind of empowerment activities before and during the electioneering, the kind of grassroots campaign that we ran and the kind of spontaneous reaction and love that greeted our activities, I had no doubt that we would win. So, I was not really surprised that we emerged victorious at the end of the exercise. But I was in a state of suspended joy because of the results of the Presidential election. There was no way I could rejoice or celebrate because my leader and President, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan lost the election, although he won peace for the country, Africa and the
whole world. That was why I didn’t buy the 50 cows I had told the crowd of supporters who thronged the grand finale of my campaigns in Ijebu Igbo that I would kill once we won the election, in celebration of our victory. I had planned to host a victory party for all the supporters of PDP across the state.
You contested the senatorial election alongside Prince Dapo Abiodun of the APC who is believed to be your long time friend. Now, that he has taken you to the tribunal over some alleged irregularities in the election, don’t you foresee any trouble ahead?
You are right that Dapo and I are long time friends. But if he would say the truth, he would tell you that I am his big brother. I am among those who introduced him to the oil business that he is now known for. He was a welder when I took him and assisted him way back in the Republic of Benin. You will even recall that as late as October last year or so, just before the primaries began, he still paid me homage at the Goodluck Jonathan Political Centre, Ijebu Igbo. So, we have come along way together.
On his challenge of my victory at the tribunal, I do not want to comment on a matter that is already before the court, because, as lawyers would say, it is subjudice. But suffice it to say that he has done the most civilised thing by going to the tribunal instead of resorting to self-help. We would meet him there and defend our mandate. We won fair and square. He knows it deep down in his heart. Other objective members of his party know it. Everybody on ground in Ogun East knows that there was no way Dapo would have defeated me. I defeated him in his polling booth, ward and local government! I do not see any trouble at the tribunal with the Almighty Allah subu watalla on our side.
Sir, sorry to bring you back a little bit. There has been so much noise about your alleged drug case. Don’t you think this will give you a setback at the National Assembly?
My brother, the noise did not start today. Has it drawn me back or silenced me in anyway? The answer is No. So, if it has not all these years, why should it now? A clear conscience fears no accusation. I have said time and again that I was mistakenly arrested in the place of my step brother who had some dealings with some Americans. Right from the point I was arrested in London, I told them that I did not know anything about the allegation.
I told them that I have never been to the U.S and could not have had any American accomplice. They turned deaf ears and said I looked like the West African co-conspirator that the culprits talked about. For four years, I was in detention, the American government at whose instance I was arrested, called all manner of witnesses and tendered all documents at their disposal, both written and oral.
At the end of the extradition trial, the British courts, on two occasions and in two separate judgments, found that I was not the alleged “Alhaji” with whom those Americans had dealings. That was why I was finally released in 2003. It might also interest you to know that the court also found that the telephone line, the house and all that were used were not mine. In fact, while I was still in detention, they continued with their transactions transferring money from one source to the other.
Since I regained my freedom, I have been living my life without let or hindrance. It was not until I joined politics in 2009, that my political opponents began to use this as a weapon to blackmail me. And to make it sweet, they added their own salt and pepper. But I thank the almighty Allah who has continued to vindicate and promote me in spite of the machinations of the wicked. So, I do not think it will distract me in any way if it has not all these years.
You are one of the very few people to congratulate President-elect, Muhammed Buhari, APC national leader, Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu and even Sen. Ibikunle Amosun. Now that your party guber candidate in Ogun state, Prince Gboyega Nasir Isiaka has headed for the tribunal to challenge the governorship election in Ogun state. Is he on his own on this mission or with your support?
I only followed the worthy footsteps of my leader and President, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, who showed uncommon grace and statesmanship in congratulating the President-elect, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, in spite of his reservations on the conduct of the elections and its outcome.
You will also recall that I did that in my personal capacity as Prince Buruji Kashamu. I also said that my position has nothing to do with the decision of the party or the governorship candidate. Perhaps I should also say that the step I took was further reinforced by some undercurrent that went into the election in Ogun State. How some of our so-called leaders sold out and worked against the party and its candidates because of their own selfish interests. So, it was all politics.
But I remain in PDP and will continue to support my party and its choices. On GNI, he knows that I am his No. 1 supporter in Ogun State, any day. I am not like those who would say one thing in the open and do another in secret. I could have secretly congratulated these people and nobody will know about it like most of our politicians. But I did mine in the open because I do not have anything to hide. I thought that the elections were over and we should move on.
So, like I said of Dapo, GNI has also done the best thing by going to the tribunal to resolve the issues that arose out of the last elections instead resorting to self-help and he has my full support.
Prince, you were alleged to have nearly traded blows with another party faithful, Segun Seriki at Abuja few days back. Can you please tell us what actually happened?
I think Segun Seriki was hallucinating. How can he claim that I attacked him? Over what? If I am to deal with him, I do not need to do it personally. But I guess it was his bad deeds that got him running when he saw me. The thing is any time he sees me, just like he did at Transcorp last week, he will be genuflecting and hailing me.
On this occasion, I told him to get out of my way and stop genuflecting before me while he speaks ill of me and work against me behind. Of course, while I was saying this I was walking in the company of some friends. He then took to his heels and fled. So, I was surprised when I later read that he claimed that I attacked him and that I planned to kidnap him. It is all “ziggy”, my brother.
Hardly did the people know much about your electioneering promises during your campaign. Now that you have been elected, what should the people of Ogun East be expecting from your representation?
I disagree with you if you say that most of the electorate did not know my manifesto. I had a three-point agenda that my campaign was hinged on.
First, I said I will work with other legislators to facilitate the creation of Ijebu State, the revamping of Olokola Free Trade Zone and the realisation of the proposed Cargo Airport in Remo Division. But if you remember, these were all PDP-led government projects and I had hoped that we would be in the majority in the National Assembly. Now, that the APC will take over, let’s hope that they won’t throw away the baby with the bath water.
I am still committed to these projects and will do my utmost best to see to their realisation, provided the right atmosphere is provided. But generally, I will be closer to our people than ever before and they can be sure that I will represent them more than I have ever done even in my private capacity.