In a highly anticipated interview conducted by Mukhtar Ajelogbon of the OsunReporters News in Osogbo on Monday 22nd January, 2024, the Kejebu crooner and CEO of Aaraj Empowerment Foundation (AEF), Engineer Kehinde Raji ‘Aaraj’ revealed insights into Kejebu, Philanthropic gesture and the recent political trend involving him and the current government of Osun State led by Governor Ademola Adeleke, former governor Aregbesola and Oyetola.
Kehinde Raji Aaraj is a Civil Engineer who is passionate about helping and lifting people out of poverty. He is from Isale Osun, Osogbo, Osun state.
Engr Raji Kehinde Aaraj
Enjoy the exclusive interview below
What is the secret Behind Kejebu?
Aaraj: Although I have been involved in youth empowerment programmes since 2012 by empowering 493 youth in one of my local churches and then we trained them in 16 different vocations and founded it with a startup fund. Kejebu is just a platform to empower more people, especially women.
Aaraji Empowerment Foundation (AEF) today has at least registered members of about 51,000 people, especially youths across all local governments in Osun state. December 9, 2023 Kejebu hangout shook the state to a standstill where over 5000 people attended and were fed breakfast and lunch, over 1000 aged women were given free ankara and sewn freely by the foundation, 1000 people benefitted from O’HIS and thousands of people had earlier benefited from free health medical treatment at any hospital of their choice for the next one year across the state. In the last three months of 2023, I empowered 10 youths with one million naira each as business start up funds. Over 200 youths got from 100k-500k as start-up funds, payment of the school fees of many students among other gestures.
At the beginning of Senator Adeleke’s administration, I founded a group named ‘Imolians’ where I spent millions of naira on our youths to support this government and nobody appreciated us, and I later decided to move from Imolian to AEF under my name. Those who are unjustly treated and feel disappointed later voiced out their mind and the leadership of the PDP started threatening them after they all worked for the success of the party. So we decided to stay back to avoid being attacked. But let me tell you, no one can stop me from doing what I’m doing. I can’t stop helping people.
There were rumors that this gesture of yours is politically motivated or some politician is bankrolling it?
Aaraj: I have never been bankrolled and I have not made any money from this state in the last 6 years. If anybody disputes it, let the person bring the evidence. My kind gesture has no political coloration, I’m not a card carrying member of any political party.
You are a supporter of the former governor of Osun State Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola of APC but you supported Governor Ademola Adeleke against Aregbesola’s successor Governor Oyetola of the APC in 2022. Can you explain why?
Aaraj: During the era of governor Aregbesola, he brought in some major contractors and he mandated them that the indigenous contractors must be empowered. I applied under hungay and I can say categorically that 70 percent of the contracts done were executed by me under Aregbesola’s administration, but when Oyetola assumed office, he decided to ignore the legacy of his predecessor and he did not fulfill the promise made to the people of Osun. He was manipulated by people close to him that I was not loyal to him because of my closeness with Ogbeni Aregbesola. He loss popularity and Osun rejected him.
Currently, it seems you and Adeleke’s government are not on the same page. Is that true?
Aaraj: I love Governor Ademola Adeleke as a person but let me tell you this, prior to the last gubernatorial election in Osun, I was approached by the Adelekes to support them in their quest to become the Governor of osun state in the election held in July 2022, the entourage to my Osogbo residence was led by the current PDP state chairman, Hon. Sunday Bisi, Rev Bunmi Jenyo, the present Senate minority leader, Sen Lere Oyewunmi to solicit for my support; and i told them that i will support the Adeleke governorship ambition. After we won the election, the Governor visited my house on the 13th of August 2022 to appreciate my support during the election.
Prior to the Governor’s swearing-in on the 27th of Nov, 2022, the project coordinator of RAMP, Engr Okediya was wrongly sacked by the previous government, I took the project coordinator to Mr Governor-elect. Governor Adeleke said I should accompany the project coordinator back to his office immediately after his swearing-in ceremony, this instruction was witnessed by the project coordinator, and I followed the instruction on the 28th of November, 2022 to accompany Engr Okediya back to office.
On the 30th of November, Governor Adeleke’s elder sister, Chief Mrs Dupe Adeleke phoned me to ask for the reasons I escorted the sacked Project coordinator. I explained that it was on the instructions of Mr Governor and argument ensued, the conversation ended abruptly.
During the presidential election, I supported Bola Tinubu because he is a capable Yoruba man, and Senator Bashiru SRJ who is from my town Osogbo from the APC and they both won in my immediate local governments (Osogbo and Olorunda). I was able to do this because I’m not a card carrying member of any political party and I’m a friend to all political gladiators in Osun politics and beyond. But some cabals in the present government of Osun state are seeing how fast becoming a major stakeholder in the politics of Osun state has created fear among some politicians across different parties.
Two days ago, Osun state APC Chairman Alh Tajudeen Lawal Sooko visited you at your residence. Are you now in APC?
Aaraj: He was here to appreciate me for the empowerment programme I’m doing. I empowered members of his party who made the list of AEF one million naira empowerment program per person. I’m not in any political party but I can work for anybody who is personate about the masses.
From your analysis, you’re no more in support of both PDP and APC. Are you part of the group called ‘Atunto Osun’ within the PDP?
Aaraj: What is Atunto? I just told you that my people are been threatened within the PDP for asking for their right as members of the party they worked for. And i told them not to fight, rather we moved back to avoid confrontation. Whennit is time, we will identify the right person to work for.
If you’re to assess Gov Adeleke’s one year in office, what percentage will you give him?
Aaraj: It will be unfair to access him in just one year. It is a process, if you have 4 years and people are already judging you in about a year, it is not a good thing.
Aaraj: To all my followers, please try to find something tangible to do, go to school, engage in one business or the other. I am willing to do more, I appreciate all that they have done for me. And for real, none of them will regret knowing me.