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Silver-spoon lawmakers: Dambazau, David Mark, Alaafin and other children of the rich, powerful in N’Assembly

Many prominent and influential Nigerians have their children and family members in the current 9th House of Representatives. LEKE BAIYEWU writes about the chips off the old block in the lower chamber of the National Assembly

BENI LAR

Beni Lar, a lawyer, is the eldest daughter of a former Governor of Plateau State, the late Solomon Lar. The 51-year-old is a member of the Peoples Democratic Party representing Langtang North/South Federal Constituency of Plateau State.

She was elected to the House of Representatives in 2007 and became the Chairman, House Committee on Women Affairs. She was re-elected in 2011 and became the Chairman, Committee on Human Rights. In 2015 during her third term in the House, she was Chairman, Committee on Science and Technology, a position she has maintained in the current 9th House.

OLUMIDE OSOBA

Representing Abeokuta North/Odeda/Obafemi-Owode Federal Constituency of Ogun State, Olumide Osoba, is the son of former Governor Segun Osoba. Olumide who ran on the platform of the All Progressives Congress where his father is a kingmaker in the state, defeated another silver spoon, Rinsola, one of the daughters of the late MKO Abiola and candidate of Action Democratic Party.

Olumide had represented the constituency in the House between 2011 and 2015 on the platform of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (now APC). He is now Chairman, House Committee on Sports.

BABAJIDE OBANIKORO

A Political Science graduate, Babajide Obanikoro is a 37-year-old son of Musiliu Obanikoro, a former member of the Senate and ex-Minister of State for Defence. The fresh lawmaker had lost elections into various offices before eventually winning the House seat.

He had failed to become Chairman of Obalende/Ikoyi Local Council Development Area (2011) and member of the Lagos State House of Assembly (2015), both on the platform of the PDP.

Babajide later in February 2018 dumped the PDP, where the senior Obanikoro had also lost his governorship bids, and joined his father in the APC. There, he got the ticket of the ruling party and won the 2019 election to become the lawmaker representing Eti Osa Federal Constituency.

Despite being a first-timer, he is now the Vice-Chairman, Committee on Steel

AKEEM ADEYEMI

Adeyemi, Akeem

One of the sons of the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi, Prince Akeem Adeyemi, has been representing Afijio/Atiba/Oyo-East/Oyo-West Federal Constituency in Oyo State since 2015.

Incidentally, 42-year-old Akeem, of the APC, contested against another son of the foremost Yoruba king, Bayo, of the PDP, in the 2019 election.

MOSHOOD AKIOLU

Similar to the royal Adeyemi family in Oyo, Moshood Akiolu, the son of the Oba of Lagos, Oba Rilwan Akiolu, is representing Lagos Island Federal Constituency II in the House of Representatives on the platform of the APC. The first-timer is Vice-Chairman, House Committee on North East Development Commission.

SHAMSUDDEEN DAMBAZAU

Representing Sumaila/Takai Federal Constituency of Kano State is Shamsuddeen Dambazau, a son of the immediate past Minister of the Interior, Lt.-Gen. Abdulrahman Dambazau (retd.) who served as Chief of Army Staff between 2008 and 2010.

BLESSING ONUH-MARK

Blessing Onuh, representing Otukpo/Ohimini Federal Constituency of Benue State, is the daughter of a former President of the Senate, David Mark. The senior Mark was in the Senate representing Benue South Senatorial District from 1999 to 2019, during which he was Senate President (2007 to 2015).

Her father, a retired Brigadier General and PDP stalwart, was military Governor of Niger State (1984 to 1986) and later Minister of Communications.

Incidentally, Onuh contested against Mark’s cousin, Umahi Ahubi (the then Speaker of the Benue State House of Assembly), for the PDP ticket and lost. She got the ticket of the All Progressive Grand Alliance and defeated her uncle in the election.

  • Reps from famous families

Apart from children of prominent Nigerians, there are members of the House who are also related to notable figures. They include:

KHADIJAH BUKAR-IBRAHIM

Khadijah Bukar-Ibrahim had represented Damatura/Gujba/Gulani/Tarmuwa of Yobe State in the House for three terms (2007 to 2015) before becoming Minister of State for Foreign Affairs (2016-2019). She returned to the House for a fourth term and is now Chairman, House Committee on North East Development Commission.

Khadijah is married to Senator Bukar Abba Ibrahim, who was Governor of Yobe State in the Third Republic (1991 and 1993) on the platform of the Social Democratic Party. He became governor again in the Fourth Republic (1999 to 2007).

Ibrahim then joined the Senate in 2007, where he was till 2019. In October 2017, he had said in the Senate, “We are very grateful to God and to all Nigerians. Let me categorically say, Mr Senate President, that I will stay in the Senate until death do us part. Everybody tells me that I’m senator for life. I’m going to be in the Senate for life.”

BABAJIMI BENSON

Representing Ikorodu Federal Constituency of Lagos State in the House, Mr Babajimi Benson, is also from a famous political family. The boardroom guru and legal practitioner, is related to the late Theophilus Owolabi Shobowale Benson, popularly called TOS Benson, according to the online profile site, Wikipedia.

TOS Benson was a chieftain of the National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons, an opposition party in the Western Region, in the defunct First Republic. The senior Benson, said to be Babajimi’s granduncle, was a Senior Advocate of Nigeria and prominent Yoruba chief, especially being the Baba Oba of Lagos. He was also Minister of Information, Broadcasting and Culture during the era.

SHINA PELLER

A businessman rated as one of the kings of nightlife in Lagos, Shina Peller, first got elected into the House in 2019, has recorded a motion and a bill on sexual offences related matters.

Representing Iseyin/Itesiwaju/Iwajowa/Kajola Federal Constituency of Oyo State, Shina is a son to one of the most renowned magicians in Africa, the late Prof Moshood Abiola Peller, fondly called Professor Peller.

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BABAJIMI BENSON

Member representing Ikorodu Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives, Mr Babajimi Benson, tells Leke Baiyewu about how the late TOS Benson inspired him and others in the family to join politics

How are you related to the famous TOS Benson?

He is my great-uncle. He was my grandfather’s brother, to put it in a nutshell.

He was a prominent politician, did he influence your leaving the corporate world to join politics?

Definitely, he inspired me. He participated in the creation of Lagos State in 1967. He was the first Minister of Broadcasting and Communication in Nigeria. He was also a parliamentarian. Definitely, he inspired me. He was a very generous man. He brought major development to Ikorodu Federal Constituency. He is still talked about till date. His big shoes are so difficult to fill. Everybody has a good thing to say about him. He was a socialite, philanthropist and one who believed in doing good to all. He was a member of the NCNC, so he was very close to Igbo people. I always tell people that at my young age, I met Zik (Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe), (Chief Obafemi) Awolowo, the late Ooni of Ife. All those men were of timber and calibre, who I met at a very young age. So, he has been a very positive influence for me to join politics and his name also resonates in my constituency.

Apart from you, how many others in the Benson family are in politics?

A lot of us are in politics. We have a Special Adviser to the Governor of Lagos State (Babajide Sanwo-Olu) on Housing, Toke Benson. A lot of us have contested elections and a lot have lost. I think I am the only one who has won election in the family, because we use to come from NPP and NCNC kind of (opposition) parties. I came into the mainstream, from Alliance from Democracy to Action Congress to Action Congress of Nigeria to All Progressives Congress. And Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu was also close to Otunba TOS Benson. I remember meeting him (Tinubu) a couple of times in his (Benson’s) residence in Lagos and London. They were also very close and I know that Asiwaju has fun memories of him. He was a politician who was larger than life.

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