By Austin Oniyokor
Several things account for why some days are significant in the life of a person, place or an organisation. It could be the sheer magnitude or importance of such events that make such days significant or a constellation of events that make it so. The generally accepted relevance given to such a day or days by a people determines how it is marked or celebrated. It is usually a memorial to be marked either solemnly or loudly depending on varying indices, notions and factors.
One of such days was June 9, the one year anniversary of the 8th Senate. It is significant for many of the lawmakers in several ways. For distinguished Senator Buruji Kashamu, it is significant in many ways than one. It was a day he chose courage over fear. It was day he opted for audacity over ambivalence. It was a day he embraced grit over grovelling.
The inauguration of the 8th Senate last year came barely a few days after some powerful forces orchestrated what no less a personality than the highly revered Justice Gabriel Kolawole of the Federal High Court, Abuja, described as “a show of shame,” a siege on the Lagos residence of Senator Kashamu and attempting to abduct him for allegedly committing an offence several courts abroad and at home have said he knew nothing about.
Following public outcry and the timely interventions of the judiciary, which has been rightly described as the last hope of the common man, “the oppressive agents of darkness” left Senator Kashamu’s residence on May 28, 2015.
So, when the 8th Senate was being inaugurated on June 9, 2015 – exactly 12 days after the siege – a lot of people were sceptical whether Senator Kashamu would be among those to be sworn in.
To be sure, the major reason the unsuccessful plot was executed was to prevent him from exercising the mandate freely given to him by the good people of Ogun-East senatorial district.
That perhaps explains why he remains the only senator who got a resounding round of applause and a loud ovation when he was called to take his Oaths of Office and Allegiance during the inauguration of the 8th Senate and the election of principal officers. Simply put, he was the cynosure of all eyes.
Not done, the “powerful forces” again coalesced and sought to use his younger brother and friend, Mr. Dapo Abiodun, who contested against him on the platform of the All Progressives Congress, APC, to undo him. He not only filed a petition to challenge Senator Kashamu’s election, he told everyone who cared to listen that he had been assured that Senator Kashamu would be sacked from office.
True to his words and rather curiously, the National and State Assembly Election Petitions Tribunal purportedly “set aside” the declaration of Senator Kashamu as winner of the March 28, 2015 senatorial election for Ogun-East senatorial district despite leading Mr. Abiodun with over 37,000 votes after the so-called cancellation of voided and irregular votes by the tribunal!
But as God would have it, the appellate court upturned the verdict of the lower tribunal and reaffirmed Senator Kashamu’s victory in a landmark judgment delivered on December 8, 2015.
Thus, it could be safely said that the first six months of Senator Kashamu’s one year sojourn at the Red Chamber was full of needless distractions. Yet, he has since put all of those behind him and settled down to give quality representation to the good people of Ogun-East in particular and Nigerians in general.
There is no better proof than the number of bills he has sponsored for the well-being and good governance of Nigerians, and the projects and items he has attracted to his senatorial district in the last one year or six months, if you like.
As at the last count, he has sponsored about four bills which are at various stages in the National Assembly, which include the Mental Health Bill, the FRSC Act Amendment Bill, the National Security Tax Fund Bill and the National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency, NESREA, Act Amendment Bill.
While the Mental Health Bill seeks to provide a frame work for the admission and treatment of persons with mental health conditions, the FRSC Act Amendment Bill is meant to protect the sanctity of our Constitution by ensuring proper delineation of duties and responsibilities between federal and state agencies on traffic issues for optimal performance and effective service delivery.
Perhaps drawing inspiration from the success of the Security Tax Fund in some states and abroad, the National Security Tax Fund Bill seeks to devise new ways through which the security agencies can access additional funds in order to make them more efficient and responsive to today’s security challenges.
The intention of the NESREA Act Amendment Bill is to rejig the enabling Act setting up the agency and make it come to terms with present realities as they relate to the environment.
Beyond all these, Senator Kashamu has influenced and seen to the construction of classroom blocks in four primary schools in Ogun-East senatorial district, among which are: one block of three classrooms, office and VIP toilet at Ansar-Ud-Deen High School, Ijebu-Isiwo; one block of three classrooms, office and provision of furniture at Japara High School, Ijebu Igbo; one block of three classrooms with VIP toilet at Idomila, Ijebu Ode and one block of three classrooms, office, VIP toilet and provision of furniture at Ansar-Ud-Deen Primary School, Irolu-Remo.
Over 10 of such projects spread across the nine local government areas in Ogun-East senatorial district have been initiated and included in the 2016 budget upon careful consultations with community leaders and elders.
There is also provision for the construction of skill acquisition centre in Ogijo, the sinking of motorised and solar-powered boreholes as well as electrification of various rural communities.
Perhaps the most audacious of all the projects influenced by the senator is the inclusion of the repairs of the old Ijebu-Ode/Ore-Benin Expressway in the 2016 budget for which about N90 million has been budgeted. The road cuts across five of the nine local government areas that make up the senatorial district.
It is instructive to note that Senator Kashamu opted for this strategic road to be included in the budget when he saw that the Sagamu-Ogijo-Ikorodu road – another major road which had been of concern to him – had already been captured in the original budget estimates sent by the Federal Ministry of Works to the Senate Committee on Works of which he is a member.
What is more, over 40 wheel-chairs, 150 sewing machines, 160 grinding machines, 40 motorcycles and 120 generators have been shared to his constituents and even those outside constituency in the last one year. Of course, these are exclusive of the vehicles distribution and other humanitarian and empowerment initiatives that he has been known for over the years through the Omo-Ilu Foundation.
His altruistic disposition to his job at the Senate in the last one year has made a lot of his constituents to wonder if a lawmaker could attract so much to his constituents, even when he is a member of the opposition, then would he have done if his party was in power. While that remains to be seen, this is the report card of distinguished Senator Buruji Kashamu in the last 365 days at the Senate!
•Oniyokor is a Media and Legislative Aide to Senator Kashamu.