People from the very expansive city of Ikorodu thronged the constituency office of Hon. Babajimi Benson, Member Federal House of Representative, representing Ikorodu Constituency on Monday 16th October 2017. It was to grace the First Anniversary of one of the many programmes under ICare Foundation, Apo-Anu, Food-Bank, a brainchild of the Honorable to reach out to the vulnerable in the Constituency. Just like the first edition, the event recorded a huge success. A lawyer by profession, Jimi Benson as he is fondly called seems to have redefined politics with his finess and modern approach to the downtrodden. He is loved my many, this is always evident in the Constituency especially among the grass roots. Little wonder, he has been picked as the Secretary of South-West Lawmakers in the National Assembly. He spoke to us briefly about his passion for his ICare Projects and his performance at the House of Representatives.
‘APO ANU’ FOOD BANK EMPOWERMENT
This is the first year anniversary of our Food Bank Project, it started last year October, it is in fulfillment of our promise to put smile on the faces of our Constituents. We have various programmes targeted at different people, this one is specifically for the urban poor people, those who can’t afford daily meal. We should teach people how to fish rather than give them fish, but there are some people that need food to be able to survive when you want to teach them how to fish. This is not stomach infrastructure, but meeting the immediate needs of the vulnerable and downtrodden. Even America, the richest country in the world has over 50,000 Food Banks for the vulnerable people. Similarly, London has over 2,000 Food Banks for vulnerable people, not to talk of Nigeria that lacks infrastructure. That is why we decided to organize this food bank for vulnerable people in my constituency, we can’t do it all but we are in that direction. So far, over 10,000 residents of Ikorodu have benefitted from our food bank called ‘Apo Anu’. In each of the bag we have non-perishable food items like rice, beans, tea, milk, noodles, custard, oil, salt, sugar and lots more.
The selection process is that we allow churches, mosques, political leaders to nominate people, we also introduced online nomination. I don’t know any of them, they were nominated by Federal Constituency.
All Under Icare Foundation
The ICare Foundation has various segmentations under its programme, there is a segment where we train unemployed youths in vocations, that was how we started the ‘StartUp Ikorodu’. StartUp Ikorodu is like entrepreneurial hub. We signed an MoU with Lagos State Vocational Studies, we graduated 100 of them recently and provided finance for them under the State Employment Trust Fund set up by our very able Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode.
Primary Assignment [Lawmaking]
Happy to tell you that I am the Secretary of South-West Lawmakers, I have sponsored three bills, particularly the one on special economic status for any City that has population of over 10million. What I thought about is that State will begin to compete for population if they realise there will be a special status for them if they reach the threshhold of 10million that will encourage them to improve on their infrastructure and social amenities to attract people to come and live there. Once you can show that, you are entitled to 25% of the federal generated internal revenue in the area. That will also encourage the Niger-Delta area to improve on their infrastructure because that’s the catchment area that produces oil, they should boast of good infrastructure and population. In Anambra, we have the biggest market in Africa, that place should have over 10million people if they can provide good infrastructure. Lagos State has over 10million people. It’s a way of giving more responsibility to the state, United States allow some States like New York, Texas and some others to remit only 18% to Federal; the rest are used for their infrastructure and we produce lots from here.
The Federal Government should allow Ikorodu division to have some benefits in form of allocation from Egbin Plant, because we are the host area and it generates the most megawatt. We have a lot of socio-economic issues here. We are working with many stakeholders who are also assisting to achieve this. Our National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and Governor Akinwunmi Ambode have been very supportive, if we are able to get the special benefits of more power, it will boost enterprises in the area. Lots of businesses will spring up and people will be employed.
Support From Colleagues
Like the special status bill, it is not only for Lagos State, but any State that the population is up to 10million is going to benefit from. Many of my colleagues have already bought into it because each geo-political zone in the country has potential to increase its infrastructure, and population which in turn will give them the special status.
So Far, So Good
It has been a great dream so far in the House of Representatives, I am there solely to represent my people from Ikorodu Constituency. I am happy to say that within two and half years of my representation, I have surpassed what I have in my manifesto. In that regard, I will like to thank all the stakeholders for their support. The Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode has been very supportive, Leader of the House, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, my colleagues, all our leaders in the Constituency and lastly, the National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.
GOING BACK TO THE HOUSE
Oh yes, it is something I am passionate about and I hope my constituents will support me to represent them once again because power belongs to them.