By Austin Oniyokor
Today marks the second year anniversary of the inauguration of the 8th National Assembly. Fortunately, Senator Buruji Kashamu (Ogun East Senatorial District) was one of the 109 Senators inaugurated on the 9th of June, 2015.
Exactly one year ago, an account of his first one year in office, which included several developmental projects and initiatives, was rendered.
In the last 365 days, he has continued on the path of selfless service, effective representation and philanthropy as shall be seen presently.
Irrespective of whatever the naysayers may want to say, there are visible achievements – collectively and individually – that the 8th National Assembly, and the Senate in particular, has achieved.
Let us begin with the collective achievements. For the first time in about 25 years as a democracy, the 8th National Assembly has, in keeping with its promise and deference to public opinion, published the details of the budget of the National Assembly.
An ancillary benefit is the culture of prudence, transparency and accountability that is now being entrenched in the National Assembly even when it is common to hear some who had been used to the old ways of doing things grumble, there is no gainsaying the fact that there is a clear break with the past.
There are also the various legislations meant to promote the ease of doing business, block wastages and jump- start the nation’s weak economy; spend our way out of recession by improving our capital allocations in the 2017 budget.
This 8th National Assembly, particularly the Senate, has also ensured the passage of the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB) which had suffered several devastating blows fifteen (15) years after it was originally introduced.
Not a few industry watchers in the oil and gas sector have applauded the stride and hoped that it will herald a new dawn for the economy.
On the individual plane, Senator Kashamu has recorded a number of achievements in the last two years that are worth chronicling; more like an account of his stewardship in 24 months.
During the 2015 campaigns, he promised effective representation to the people of Ogun East Senatorial District by lobbying for the creation of Ijebu State, the resuscitation of Olokola Free Trade Zone and the Cargo Airport projects, the loss of power by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) changed all that.
Undaunted, Senator Kashamu began to explore ways of making the best out of the prevailing political realities and situation.
To be sure, the job of a lawmaker is well cut out for him. It includes legislation, performing oversight functions and effective representation/constituency activities.
While the legislative charge speaks to making laws for the good governance of the country and the oversight function seems more of a toothless bull dog that can literally bark and not bite, the effective representation/constituency activities is the one that has direct bearing on the lives of the constituents. More often than not, this is based on direct feedback and needs assessment of the constituents.
On the legislative front, Senator Kashamu has four bills to his credit. They are the Mental Health Bill, the National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA) Act Amendment Bill, the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) Amendment Bill and the National Security Tax Fund Bill.
While the Mental Health Bill seeks to provide a modern legal framework for mental healthcare in Nigeria since the first and only one was passed in 1902, the NESREA Act Amendment Bill is meant to tweak the enabling Act setting up the agency and bring it in tune with the present realities as they concern the environment.
The FRSC Amendment Bill is meant to ensure a proper description of the areas of operation of the FRSC and state traffic agencies. Simply put, when passed, the Bill will restrict the operations of the FRSC to “Trunk A roads” and leave the “Trunk B and C roads” exclusively for the state and local governments as provided for in the Constitution.
The National Security Tax Fund could be said to have drawn inspiration from the gains of the Security Trust Fund in some states of the federation. It is the hope of the lawmaker that if passed into law, the Bill, which will help to voluntarily garner a pool of resources from high net worth individuals, corporate and multinational organisations, will serve as an additional source of funding for the security agencies. This will make them to be efficient and responsive to the emerging security challenges.
Recently, he and his colleagues in the Senate Committee on Works came under needless media attacks for allegedly seeking an increase in the pump price of petrol whereas all they sought to do through the National Road Fund Bill was to provide the legal framework that will compel the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) to remit N5 that it ought to be remitting out of the current N145 pump price to the Federal Road Maintenance Agency (FERMA) for the maintenance of our roads.
This decision was reached after several debates and public sittings where stakeholders agreed that it would be inadequate to rely solely on appropriations as the only source of funds for road maintenance.
In the area of effective representation/constituency activities, Senator Kashamu has also not lagged behind.
As a grassroots politician who constantly relates and interacts with his constituents, he has been able to attract various landmark and identifiable projects to Ogun East Senatorial District based on his constituents’ requests and priorities.
The projects cut across the educational sectors, healthcare, rural electrification and the provision of potable water to communities. He has also been able to facilitate the distribution of various mobility aids, equipment and tools to his constituents.
In the educational sector, over nine schools have either been built or rehabilitated and furnished – one in each of the nine local government areas that make up Ogun East Senatorial District – as part of his constituency projects.
Some of the school projects included the construction of a block of three classrooms and furniture at Community High School, Ibiade, Ogun Waterside LGA; construction of a block of three classrooms at United Anglican Primary School, Iworo, Ijebu North East LGA; construction of a block of three classrooms at Christ Disciple Primary School, Atikori, Ijebu Igbo, Ijebu North LGA and the construction of a block of three classrooms and furniture at Ijebu Mushin Comprehensive High School, Ijebu East LGA.
Others are the construction of one block of three classrooms and furniture at Odogbolu Grammar School, Odogbolu, Odogbolu LGA; construction of one block of three classrooms at St. Bernabas Anglican Primary School, Ilishan, Ikenne LGA; construction of a block of three classrooms at Methodist Comprehensive High School, Ago-Iwoye, Ijebu North LGA and construction of a block of three classrooms and furniture at the LG Primary School, Eluju, Remo North LGA.
They also include the construction of a block of three classrooms and furniture at Agbele Community High School, Sagamu LGA; rehabilitation of a block of three classrooms at St. Paul’s Primary School, Ijoku, Sagamu LGA and the rehabilitation of Ansar-Ud Deen Primary School 1, Ijebu Ode LGA.
The projects in the healthcare sector include the construction/renovation of primary healthcare centres, supply of drugs, equipment and provision of ambulances. Such initiatives are the rehabilitation of Community Health Centre, Ogijo, Sagamu LGA; supply of various hospital equipment, drugs and ambulance vehicle for the newly rehabilitated/constructed Community Health Centre, Itele, Ijebu East LGA and the Community Health Centre, Ogijo, Sagamu LGA respectively.
On the provision of potable water, several communities have benefitted from Senator Kashamu’s effective representation of Ogun East Senatorial District as no fewer than ten (10) motorized and solar-powered boreholes have been sunk in various communities.
Some of their locations are beside the Central Mosque, Oni, Ogun Waterside LGA; Iperu Motor Park, Ikenne LGA; Lekuti Market, beside Ijebu Ode Grammar School, Ijebu Ode LGA and Abule Oyo Market, Ijebu North LGA and Agboro village in Ode Remo, Remo North LGA.
In the area of rural electrification, eleven (11) transformers are due to be distributed to various communities within the senatorial district.
These and many more are the result of the quality representation/constituency activities of Senator Kashamu in the 2016 fiscal year.
Based on the needs assessment programme embarked upon by him, he identified and ensured the inclusion in the 2017 budget of many community-based projects such as the grading of rural roads in all the nine (9) local government areas in the senatorial district, rural electrification, construction of skill acquisition centres, provision of potable water and the procurement of tricycles and motorcycles.
Others include the construction of roads, erosion/flood control projects, supply of sewing machines, grinding machines and wheelchairs for the physically challenged, all geared towards empowering and enhancing the standard of living of his constituents.
Again, consistent with his belief that government alone cannot meet the needs of the people, Senator Kashamu has been using the platform of Omoilu Foundation to reach out to many people within Ogun East Senatorial District, Ogun State and beyond.
The foundation has embarked on various initiatives such as the granting of interest-free micro-credit scheme, scholarship, payment for surgeries and hospital bills, and several other empowerment schemes.
With these and several other initiatives too numerous to capture in a single piece, Senator Kashamu has continued to show that he is a rare breed and an uncommon leader and politician whose ears and heartbeat resonate with the yearnings and aspirations of the people, especially the down-trodden, whether it is the season for politicking or not. He lives for the people. Little wonder he is called “Authority, the People’s Senator”.
Oniyokor is the Media Adviser to Senator Buruji Kashamu