Very passionate about the holistic development of Ikorodu Federal Constituency in Lagos State, Hon Babajimi Benson who presently represents this Constituency in the Federal House of Representatives has indeed recorded several feats just in his first term as a Legislator. Apart from several laudable motions which he has spearheaded in the Green House, his Non-Profit Icare Project tagged 'StartUp Ikorodu' meant for building entrepreneurial ecosystem for Ikorodu has recorded success with hundreds of youths benefiting from the human capacity development. A lawyer by Profession, the handsome dude speaks on his experiences so far as a Federal Lawmaker. Excerpts
Q What has been some of the experiences so far at the Federal House of Rep?
ANS The experience has been so good, met people from different part of the country representing their respective constituencies. I have witnessed what is really called the National Budget, power tussles and many more national issues that are discussed in the society trivially. I have been able to see that Legislation is a veritable tool of social change and the legislatures have got the shortest reign in governance in this country over the years. What I mean is that, anytime a military takes over in the past, they will suspend the National Assembly but the Executive and Judiciary still continue. But now, it is gradually gaining its feet, with time the legislature will get there in Nigeria.
Q What are some of the impacts you think you have made in the House?
ANS I have been able to interject in some of the areas that affect my constituency, like the Ikorodu-Shagamu road, the executive has assured it will be in next year’s budget. I raised the motion that the Police should be proactive in freeing the school girls that were abducted in Barbington Macauley School, we thank God they were rescued. I have co-sponsored a motion that has to do with employment, because 70% of our youths constitute our population and majority of them are unemployed, I did that with Hon Gbajabiamila seeking for ways it can be ameliorated. I have been made Ad-Hoc Chairman of some important committees; I was the Chairman Ad-hoc Committee that investigated the Power Distributions Companies, to look at the infrastructure and billing challenges. I was also part of the Committee that investigated the action of Attorney General as it concerns the House of Assembly issue, I am also a member of constitutional drafting committee, I represent Lagos in the Committee.
Q How has the House of Representatives been able to handle several frictions that have brought both the National Assembly and Executive against each other?
ANS Being a very important arm of government, and the fact that we mean well, all the issues we raised are always pro-people. Although the issues of the budget brought us against each other, but this is democracy, there are bound to be slips but it will be corrected. I am sure such will not come up when the next budget is prepared. I believe this year's budget epitomises change, in the past budget were just passed without scrutiny. The 2016 budget for the first time represents the wishes and aspirations of Nigerian people.
Q The issue of Kogi is still pending, as a member of the committee; can you tell us what actually happened ab-initio?
ANS What actually happened was that from a House that comprises of 25 members, only 5 were presiding and the others wrote a petition to us that they were being prevented because they have the police backing, so a committee was set up which I was among. The situation was not normal by section  4 in the constitution, hence we invoked the section to take over running in the House, the Senate were on the same page with us but unfortunately, the Attorney-General told the Inspector-General Solomon Arase to re-open the House for Legislation, it was that action that made just 5 people to pass the budget in the State.
Q What will the National Assembly do now that the Kogi House is functioning with?
ANS In our opinion, we have advised the Attorney General according to our constitutional rights and resolutions, if he has contrary view, he should seek legal redress. To us, whatever they are doing there is illegal, so he needs to reverse his order.
Q The budget has been passed, what are your expectations?
ANS Nigerians are very resilience, I must commend that despite the fact that we generate less than 3,000 MW, we still stand strong as the biggest economy in Africa. I have always said if we had power, we will overtake India. India GDP is 2trillion, ours is 500billion dollars, they have 24hrs power, however if we have steady power supply we will overtake them. This new administration has a good plan to increase power. There are ample plans and policies to ensure the economy is diversified. If we are able to diversify and generate as much as we generate in Oil, we won’t be in this kind of mess. If you do not know, Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire import more than us, the GDP to import ratio here is low, I believe this government will definitely address that overtime.
Q How optimistic are you that the economy will be revitalized?
ANS I am optimistic because our major bane has been corruption, and that is what this government has started tackling head-on. It has shown its anti-corruption stance and frugality, his body language frowns at corruption totally.
Q How would you rate the performance of Governor Ambode in Lagos State?
ANS I will say the Governor is consolidating, he has brought out new initiatives that would keep youths off the street, even as a Legislator, I am banking on some of his ideas, like the employment trust fund of 1billion he will make available for each division, so we are helping them train our youths in Ikorodu and we will pass them over to the government after that. He's also helping doing some projects, like building two roads in each Local Government, you can imagine if he continues this for 4years in all the Local Governments, our roads will surely be world class. They have also sign, MoU for the construction of the Fourth Mainland Bridge which will also bring commerce to Ikorodu, the Mile 12 Market has been relocated to Imota, he recently commissioned a Market in Sabo, lots are happening in my Constituency and that is the reflection in all the other Local Governments.
Q What are some of the supports you are also giving in form of security to your constituency?
ANS Since the Commissioner of Police reports directly to IGP, most people have their own community operatives, and in Ikorodu we have what we call 'On'yabo', they stand as the community security and they are doing very well to ensure orderliness in the area. Recently, one of their chiefs was gunned down by a suspected cultist, I had a strong word with the Commissioner of Police to make sure the culprit is found and brought to book. We keep supporting the police with any information as well, we know their plight because we learnt they are also under-policed but we have told them to take Ikorodu as a special case because Ikorodu is the fastest growing community in Lagos State.
Q Your Empowerment Scheme; “Startup Ikorodu”, how did you conceive the idea and what are the achievements so far?
ANS It is a process whereby we brought together competitive youths, we scrutinize them and we choose the best 100 and hand them over to Lagos State Vocational Institute and some other partners that we have after three months training. We then hand them over to Ministry of Wealth Creation in the State who will give them capital to start up what they have learnt. After that we go to our Database to look for another 100 and start the process all over again.
Q Do you intend to do this throughout your 4year term?
ANS Yes, and apart from this we have our 'Back To School' project. I lead my team with artisans among us, we go to schools when they are on holidays to help clean up the schools and do some carpentry works where necessary. We have been doing that and we will continue.
Q What are some of the direct support or empowerment you have done in your constituency?
ANS We own a grader and roller which we use in grading some of our roads, Ikorodu is one of the fastest growing community in the State. There are so many area that are just opening up, we try to go to the site with our grader, so that they are commute-able pending when the road will be properly given attention by the State.
Q What are some of other plans you have up your sleeve for your constituency?
ANS We are planning to make sure the LCDA are listed by the Government, we want to have a kind of food-bank for indigent people in the Constituency, whereby, we give the vulnerable a bag of food that can last them for 3months. We are also expanding on our Micro Finance loan project that we give our constituents. We already have 400 people, we write-off the interest element to ease peoples burden. Initially, it was N4million, now it has grown to N10million because they pay back and our partner bank grants them more.
Q For you, what has really changed in you since you became member of the federal House of Representatives?
ANS Now, I can easily dissect anybody coming to me for assistance. I have been able to move close to the grassroot and understands that they do not even want much, at times, just N10,000 can change somebody's life, what they need is just the support. I have realised that we are very entrepreneurial in Ikorodu, they are ready to work as much as they see the support