“My Connection With My People Is Permanent”, says Hon. Jimi Benson

After fixing a block of about six classrooms at Anglican Primary School, Ijede, THE IMPACT crew consisting of its Publisher/Reporter-in-Chief, Kunle Adelabu and Ifeoluwa Ajenifuja, a trainee student engaged, Hon. Babajimi Benson, the federal lawmaker representing Ikorodu Federal Constituency at the House of Representatives in Abuja. He spoke on his plans for the constituents, reconstruction of Ikorodu-Shagamu and Ikorodu-Itoikin roads, government’s efforts in tackling insecurity and his perception of politics among others. Excerpts:

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Hon. Babajimi Benson, Member of the Federal House of Representatives

IMPACT: Sir, recently you hosted the cross section of your constituents to a town hall meeting where you briefed them on your achievements in the last one year. Now, we are going into another year, what should the people be expecting from Jiimi Benson?
Hon. Benson: They should be expecting more of proactive interventions. We just purchased a roller and a grader which we tagged ‘JB Beasts’ meant to use in assisting our people in stabilizing their roads. We’ve got a lot of requests from Ikorodu residents on grading of roads but we are still holding back because of the rain. When the rain subsides, we will be visiting the neighborhood and help stabilize the roads. We want to approach the grading in a unique way by making our people, especially the Community Development Associations IT compliant by making the requests for the grading online. If you recall that when we started our campaign last year, we operated online and many people you thought are illiterate visited our website to interact with us. Basically, the essence of the whole idea is to reawake our people’s consciousness. We would be repeating everything we did last year but the challenge is just the economic situation of the country. Because of the challenging time, we are introducing a new product called food bank which would be administered on indigents and old age especially women who are going to be supported with staple foods. We are planning sourcing for them through party leaders, CDAs and women leaders. Very soon, we will be hosting the graduation for the participants of the first batch of our programme, Startup Ikorodu, in October. Its been very challenging because we have to give them adequate training, fix them in term of finances and monitor their operations.

IMPACT: Sir, on the start-up programme, how many participants will be graduating and what is the response level of the youths to the programme?


Hon. Benson:
Close to 100 candidates. We opened a website for people to apply and over 7, 000 candidates did, but we had to shortlist them to barest minimum was 300 and after personal interaction with the shortlisted candidates they were again reduced to 100 after fixing their characters to their skills. For the graduation, we are expecting the trainees to cater for all our needs. For instance, we are expecting those that studied catering to cater for the refreshment and the graphic students to do all the graphics and printing works, et cetera.

IMPACT: In the recent past, Ikorodu was characterized by insecurity. There was militant unrest in the neighbouring communities, cult activities and so on. Sir, what is the government doing to make the lives and properties of the people in and around Ikorodu safe?

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Hon. Babajimi Benson


Hon. Benson:
There can only be prosperity when there is security and I believe Ikorodu is one of the fastest growing communities in Lagos State. Ikorodu has one local government and five local council development areas and we came from number 11 to 13 in the electoral ranking. This makes Ikorodu important to the state. The governor is also aware of the insecurity challenges we have in Ikorodu. He is aware of the militants activities and how the Ajagungbales are making use of the cultists to perpetrate their nefarious activities. If you take a critical look at how it was before compare to the situation now, you will agree that the situation has improved. Bulldozers have gone into the creeks to clear where the militants are hiding and government have taken over the place. On the Ajagungbale menace, you will recall that a bill that emanated from the office of the Majority Leader was recently signed into law stipulating stiff penalties and again, this has helped in checkmating their activities. The cultism activities are also reducing and the activities of the government, especially the two road per local council and other infrastructural developments are providing economic opportunities that would help in rehabilitating and empowering our people

IMPACT: Talking about the strategic nature of Ikorodu, here is a town with two federal roads, port authority and other facilities that require federal presence. Though, there has been efforts from both the federal and state government to do palliative measures, but sir, when is the government going to fix both Ikorodu-Itoikin and Ikorodu-Shagamu roads permanently?


Hon. Benson:
Well, I can speak authoritatively on this because I had an interaction with the Minister of Works and due to the outcry of our people from Ikorodu, my colleague from Ishagamu axis, Hon. Ladi Adegbudu and I raised a motion on the urgent need to reconstruct the road. The motion was passed and the resolution sent to the Honourable Minister of Works & Housing and we had a meeting on it and the minister explained to us that there was a budget of N100billion for roads and those roads were shared among the six geo-political zones. For the Southwest, the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway which gulped double what other zones were getting was picked. This made it impossible to pick another road but he promised that in the fullest of time which I pray its very soon, the Ikorodu-Shagamu will be reconstructed. I am also aware that the Lagos State Government has plan to expand the Ikorodu-Itoikin road. Let us all pray that the economic situation improves and more money comes into government purse. If we have good economic situation, I do not see why government would not want to do inter-state roads which have significant economic and social impacts. I must commend the political leaders in Ikorodu for their intervention on the roads. At every given opportunity, they harp on the Minister why these roads should be fixed in good time.

IMPACT: Sir, there is an abandoned Federal Medical Centre in Igbogo along Iyewa road. The project was facilitated by Senator Mamora when Sen. Iyabo Obasanjo was the Chairman, Senate Committee on Health but has been abandoned for few years now. Sir, what are you doing about this?

Hon. Benson: I have sent relevant staff to the Ministry of Health, and we are gathering information on it. I can assure that if need be, I’ll raise a motion for investigation into the circumstances surrounding the abandonment and ensure that the project is completed for the benefits of our people

IMPACT: Now, I need to ask this. You are virtually always in Ikorodu every weekend from Abuja and always covering the one local government and five local council development areas in the division. Where are you deriving your strength?


Hon. Benson:
Before I came into the race, many of the political gladiators did not know that I am politically aware of Ikorodu division. They thought I would not be able to cope and they called me many names like ‘Tekobo’, ‘Tokunbo’ among others, but I did not allow all that to distract me from my mission and vision. After the election where the people wholeheartedly accepted me based on my programmes, they again thought that it’s a matter of time before I get tired but we have been driven and propelled by higher force. They thought that after the election, I will sit back in Abuja or travel around the world but they have to realize that when I got connected with my people, it was a permanent connection. Each time I go to political meetings, what I see there has further inspire me to stay closer to my people. They ain’t seeing nothing yet because we would soon start unfolding our plans for the people. As a member of the House of Representatives, you must be able to effectively and adequately manage your lawmaking cum oversight functions with your representation duty to your people for you to remain relevant.

IMPACT: Lastly sir, since your political engagement and emergence as the representative of Ikorodu Federal Constituency, has there been a reason or reasons to change your political perception and plans?

Hon. Benson: A lot has happened. I believe that the popular saying that “in politics, there is no permanent friends but interest” is real. During the electioneering period, some of the co-contestants that were hostile to one another during the primaries are now friends. I also believe that you have to be sincere as a political actor because it is apparent that the people would understand if you are genuine and they will accept you for what you are. A lot of community people in Ikorodu are very understanding once they see your genuineness and passion to work for them.

 

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