Dear Senator-elect Buruji Kashamu: The first time I heard that agents of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) lay siege to your home in Lagos, I wanted to pick up a phone and call you. No, I did not have your phone number, and I do not have it even now. No, I have never met you. I have no personal connection with you. I never did and do not desire one. Not because I dislike you. But mainly because we are not involved jointly or remotely in any issues.
Yet we are linked. We are linked because you are a Nigerian. I am one too. We are also linked because you are a politician who will make laws and influence policies that will affect me, my family, society and Nigeria as a whole. The Yoruba word for a politician is “oselu” – one who manages the town, or society. I do not know what the equivalent word is in other Nigerian languages. The Yoruba one suffices for the purpose of this letter. It shows the significance of the matters at hand.
There has been so much said about you in the news media. Like many news and information-seeking persons, I have come to know you through the media. Most recently, I read that men of the NDLEA came to apprehend you. They wanted to take you away, perhaps extradite you. It was about an existing indictment of drug dealing. whilst you were in the USA many years ago. The news is that the indictment has been pending for years, almost twenty years.
The NDLEA said that you were invited to their offices and you refused to comply. They came combat-ready, and wanted to take you away by force. You locked yourself in and even threatened to commit suicide if the NDLEA agents forced their way into your rooms.
I was concerned. And I am still.
First of all, do not commit suicide. You know that life is sacred, and we should not take it lightly.
You have been elected as Senator, one of the highest political leadership offices. In fact, in Ogun state, your home constituency, to date, you came out as the topmost elected person from your PDP political party. You were the only Senator elected on the platform of the PDP. All others came through the APC, which was in opposition at the time of the election, and has become the new governing party. You hold an elevated position. You have a major responsibility – to your constituency, to your party, to the country.
If you ask me, I know many of our compatriots who will say that the NDLEA visit at this time to your house was God-sent. Your name was mired in allegations. “According to official record, Kashamu has been a target of both the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and Immigration…(also) Customs Enforcement (ICE) of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)…He was further indicted by the Grand Jury in the Northern District of Illinois, United States on heroin trafficking charges, “ the NDLEA has stated.
How can you shoulder the important responsibility of being a Senator with such a serious accusation? How comfortable will you be to make laws amidst allegations of law-breaking by your very self? How do we, your compatriots, explain to all those foreigners who ask whether a Nigerian Senator indeed was a wanted person for such serious charges?
Incidentally, you have a unique opportunity to show who you are. Is the Senator-elect Buruji Kashamu truly a convict in waiting, a runaway from the law, a once-drug Lord who hides in Nigeria, a professional criminal who seeks immunity through political shenanigans of a country gone wrong under bad rulers? Or is Senator-elect Buruji Kashamu a misunderstood gentleman, a yet unknown political mastermind who needs an opportunity to lead his people, a rich mogul who made his money through lawful means and now wants to use his riches for the benefits of his people?
Rumours abound. According to media reports, many of your co-politicians have stated in turn that you were a thoroughly good man, a devoted party member. But many others said that you were a terrible fraudist, villain, and that you deserved time in jail.
But who are you?
So here is the deal that will stop the rumours. Here is the golden opportunity to have your say, have your case made, and have a decision.
It came when the NDLEA guys invited you to come visit their office. Not for keeps in the smelly rooms of our country’s detention places. And, heavens forbid, not in the horrific Nigerian jails that make life hell for all who pass through them. But to be extradited to the USA.
As I understand it, the trip overseas is not to jail either, no matter how much better the United States’ incarceration services are. It is an invitation to a country where you once lived and prospered. An invitation to speak truth to facts. It is an opportunity to deal with the accusations and allegations in a court where justice can prevail. It is one sure way to end the rumours about who you are. It can stop the name calling, shed the wrong labels. If you are indeed a misunderstood gentleman, this is the-lifetime opportunity to clear your name. Even if the local court disallows your extradition, you should not accept it. “Oruko rere san ju wura ati fadaka”. (A good name is worth more than any jewery and ornaments).
Think of it. When you return, a free man, there will be numerous people, cars and buses to celebrate your victory. Then you will have your name, dignity. You will have your credibility. You will walk with your head high. And you will be able to serve as a Senator, who deserves the platform.
You should seize the time and get the mess out of the way. Avoid the actualization of the saying, the long arm of the law is going to tap you on the shoulder some day.
Makinwa is a communication for leadership entrepreneur based in South Africa and Nigeria. Twitter: @bunmimakinwa