At 52, Benson Soldiers on with Exceptional Lawmaking

At 52, Benson Soldiers on with Exceptional Lawmaking

Udora Orizu pays tribute to ranking Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Defence, Hon Babajimi Benson, as he clocks 52 on Saturday.

The member representing Ikorodu Federal Constituency of Lagos State in the House of Representatives, Hon Babajimi Benson, will turn 52 on Saturday, March 30, 2024 and is serving his third term in the Green Chamber of the National Assembly.

At this age that comes with fragility and number of years in the parliament that triggers complacency, the undoubtedly cerebral lawmaker is proving economists wrong as far as the Law of Diminishing Marginal Utility assumes.

 The law of diminishing marginal utility explains that as a person consumes an item or a product, the satisfaction or utility they derive from the product wanes as they consume more and more of that product.

Rather, JB (as he’s popularly called) is giving more meaning to the saying that: “The older the wine, the sweeter it is”, through quality legislation, representation and of course, oversight, being the cardinal duties as well functions of a legislator and the legislature.

Just as it was in his first and second tenures between 2015 and 2023 when he was relatively young, within the ruby to golden jubilee, the two time Chairman of the House Committee on Defence has continued to wax stronger in the performance of his constitutional, national and constituency duties with ‘uncommon grit’ (Apologies to Senate President GodswillAkpabio).

Benson, as a matter of fact needs no introduction to many Nigerians, having served and led in critical areas of the socio-economic spheres.

He chaired the House Committee on Banking and Finance, Sub-Committee on Habitat, Deputy Chairman, Committee on Delegated Legislation; member of Committees on Works and currently chairing the Defence Committee from June 2019 to date.

But, for some others who may not know, Benson was born in 1972 in Ikorodu, Lagos State; studied law at the Lagos State University; graduated in 1994 with an LLB and attended the Nigerian Law School in 1995 and bagged a Bachelor of Law (Honours).

He then proceeded to obtain an LLM in Comparative International Business Law at the London Guildhall University graduating with a Merit in 1999 and capped it up with a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from Warwick Business School (UK).

A member of the Nigerian Bar Association and the International Bar Association, he worked variously as a Legal Officer in the General Counsel Division at the United Nations Headquarters, New York; in-house Legal Counsel at Ecobank;  Deputy Manager (Legal), Lead Bank PLC; Non-Executive Director at the LekkiFreetrade Zone and Company Secretary (Strategy, Legal & Corporate Governance), Lagos State Development & Property Corporation (LSDPC).

Armed with that rich high profile public as well as private sectors experience and the crave to serve his people and nation better, Benson was first elected into the House of Representatives to represent Ikorodu Federal Constituency in 2015, re-elected in 2019 and again returned at the 2023 general election on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

Consolidating and even thriving as if to surpass his previous legislative outings, the lawmaker who retained his Defence Committee Chairmanship position, a feat rarely attained except in justification of the proverb that: “the reward for hard work is more” resumed his third term with advancing age on impressive ground.

To mention but a few, in the preceding tenure, Benson sponsored the Good Samaritan Bill, Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (Alteration) Bill, 2020 to address the need for defined periodic population census in Nigeria, Electric Power Sector Reform Act (Amendment) Bill, 2020, Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (Alteration) Bill, 2020 to alter the minimum educational qualification for aspirants into political office and National Icons, Symbols Legacy Agency Bill, 2020, a Bill for an Act to Amend the Armed Forces Act, Cap. A20, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 to Foster Collaboration Between the Armed Forces and Other Security Agencies.

He was not lacking in motions either as he moved the motion to commemorate the World Teachers Day and celebration of Nigerian Teachers, where the Best Teacher in Nigeria 2019, Mrs. Agnes Elusakin of Oriwu College, Ikorodu was honoured by the Speaker of the House, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila and members of the House; laid a petition before the House against the Accountant General of the Federation for his refusal to pay salaries and pension arrears of officers, who retired from the Federal Civil Service between 2012 and 2020.

The lawmaker also left indelible marks in the area of representation particularly that of constituency project with launching of the iCare Foundation project, a Food Bank idea conceptualised to cater for the aged, widows, needy and vulnerable; establishing a community radio in his Ikorodu constituency, the radio, IKD 106.1FM and securing employment and empowering many of his constituents.

Benson hit the ground running in his third term and the 10th House as he was appointed Chairman of the Ad-hoc Committee on the Screening of Service Chief Nominees before standing Committees were constituted.

Drawing from his experience as Defence Chairman, he carried out the assignment with efficiency, putting the nominees for the Chief of Defence Staff, Major General Christopher Musa and Chief of Army Staff, Major General TaoreedLagbaja, who were later joined by the Chief of Naval Staff, Rear Admiral Emmanuel Ogalla and Chief of Air Staff, Air Vice Marshal Hassan Abubakar on their toes.

Also, barely a month in the current Assembly, Benson sponsored the Electricity Act (Amendment) Bill, 2024 seeking to address the concerns of host communities, and set aside 5% of the actual annual operating expenditures of power generating companies (GENCOs) from the preceding year for the development of their respective host communities recently assented to by President Bola Tinubu.

He also moved an urgent motion on: “The Need for Justice, Safeguarding the Legacy of Late IlerioluwaOlademejiAloba A.K.A Mohbad, and Protecting the Rights of Young Promising Artists in Contracts with Their Record Labels.

The House adopted the motion with a resolution to monitor the investigation into the death of Afrobeats musician, IlerioluwaAloba, popularly called Mohbad, especially the allegations of harassment and unpaid royalties while the Committee on Justice took further legislative action.

The astute lawyer and financial expert also moved a motion of urgent national importance on:”Need For Banks To Implement CBN’s Policies On Holding Excess Long Foreign Exchange And Net Open Position Limits” in which the House agrees to conduct an investigative hearing on.

Furthermore, the House Defence Committee under Benson monitored the investigation into the military drone attack that led to the death of over 80 Nigerians in Kaduna State in December, 2023.

To equip members of his Committee for the task ahead, Benson in collaboration with the National Defence College organised a two-day post inauguration retreat for members during which House Speaker, Hon Abbas Tajudeen commended him for the foresight in planning the retreat to equip lawmakers on how to discharge their oversight and lawmaking functions effectively.

On his part, the DefenceComittee Chairman reiterated his assurance to Nigerians that members of the Committee are determined to carry out their legislative functions effectively, efficiently, and in a manner that will ensure the safety of lives and property.

“Consequently, I have sponsored several bills aimed at revolutionising Nigeria’s defence sector. These bills include the Defence Industries Corporation of Nigeria Bill, Nigerian Armed Forces Support Trust Fund (Establishment) Bill, Defence Research and Development Bureau Bill, Armed Forces Act (Amendment) Bill to establish a Space Force for the Armed Forces of Nigeria and many others,” he had said.

The ranking lawmaker is still pushing for the revival of the Defence Industries Association of Nigeria (DIAN) which will help in transforming the security architecture of the country.

He recently lamented that DICN which was established in 1964 to provide the material needs of the nation’s Armed forces and other security agencies has been unable to deliver on its mandate, adding that it was in attempt to correct this anomaly that he sponsored the Defence Industries Corporation of Nigeria Bill in 2019 for DICN to transit  into a Military Industrial Complex (MIC) by making it largely self-funding and giving it the powers.

Moreso, Benson who has been a member of the House of Representatives Constitutional Review Committee since the Eighth Assembly is an advocate of women inclusion in political and other leadership positions.

He supported and voted in favour of gender bills and as well lobbied and appealed to his colleagues to support the bills during voting on the constitution amendments in the last assembly.

‘No wonder, he was born in women’s month – March, when the International Women’s Day is celebrated’.

Among other interventions by the lawmaker for his constituency, is an 80-bed hospital at Imota in Ikorodu, Lagos State, inaugurated by the Speaker, Rt. Hon. Abbas.

The Speaker had commended the lawmaker, saying the hospital, equipped with state-of-the-art facilities and equipment, is poised to provide essential maternal and child health services, tackle diseases, and respond to emergencies, thereby enhancing the lives of the people in the constituency and Lagos at large.

Happy Birthday to a  politician par excellence!! Wishing you many more years in good health.

-Orizu writes from Abuja

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