The lawmaker representing Ajeromi-Ifelodun federal constituency, Rita Orji, has pleaded with her constituents to be patient as she unfolds her plans for the communities.
Speaking at a town hall meeting in Ajegunle on Saturday, Mrs. Orji said that her monthly salary as a federal lawmaker is N409,000.
”The truth in life is that if you are somebody that has not seen money before if you see money you’ll start shaking,” she said as she brandished what she said were her pay-slips.
“That money, when you look at it… N10,000, N20,000 for those who are sick, hospital, I waste it before the month finish.
“What I want to beg you is, the job of a legislator is to attract government to come to your area and do something good. Anybody that says that this job we cannot do it, na dem and God go talk am o, no be me.
“Because I have told them that except when Ajegunle people say ‘Rita e don do,’ that is when they have power over me. But whenever you say continue, no stopping,” she said in a mixture of English and pidgin, the widely spoken language in Ajegunle.
At a town hall meeting she organized in July, Mrs. Orji had frowned at people in the community who flood her mobile phone with their account numbers, saying she would rather embark on empowerment programmes.
“I want to tell you, there are things that make a legislator you will want to change your phone number. Since I win election, my number remains the same,” she said.
“But I want to beg, there are some people that make it as if I have become their house girl. Some will call, I will tell them this is how it is, they will now ask me question, ‘When I voted for you?…’ Remember we have fifty something thousand people that voted, if I share N409,000, how much will you get?
“If you call me I didn’t pick, I may be in a meeting. Somebody called up to 17 times yesterday, I sent sms ‘I’m in a meeting please.’ The person continued. The next thing I saw was ‘You wan make I go thief? I’m looking for 50,000.’
”That one no stop, the other one ask me say ‘U no fit to dey give us 50, 50,000 every month.’ I laughed.
“That is the reason I showed you my money. These people are members of the House of Reps. If I’m lying of what I’m receiving, they’ll be able to say it.”
Also present at the town hall meeting were Solomon Maren, representing Mangu/Bokkos federal constituency in Plateau State, and Danladi Baido, representing Ardo-Kola, Lau, and Karim-Lamido federal constituency in Taraba State.
Mrs. Orji accused the All Progressives Congress in the state of frustrating her efforts to provide people-oriented projects within the constituency.
She also stated that, in addition to petitioning her before the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (which led to the EFCC inviting her), the APC caucus in the lower chamber had written to the Speaker to deny her any leadership position.
“I am not going through problems because I won election. I am going through problems because of Ajeromi-Ifelodun,” she said.
“This paper I have in my hand here,” she said, displaying a piece of paper, “was passed to the Speaker of the House from Lagos State caucus APC that they should make sure they don’t put me in any position.
“And they didn’t know that the letter will get to me. I just want to show you because if I dey talk am, una no go understand. Because I’m doing more roads, I’m doing culvert, why will you do it? You are not supposed to do it.”
It was a dramatic afternoon at the expansive, sandy grounds of Saint Mary’s Catholic Church in Ajegunle as the lawmaker marked her first 100 days in office. The legislator and her animated constituents gyrated to loud music belched off giant loudspeakers.
Mrs. Orji said that the APC in the state were telling her to focus her projects on only federal roads in the local government.
”You are to work only on Kirikiri road, that is the only federal road. I don’t know whether na wetin una want?”
The crowd thundered: ”No. Holy ghost fire.”
Mrs. Orji: “I brought Ajegunle that Ajegunle people are suffering, that we need a federal presence. And they said una no dey suffer.”
Shouts of “Over suffer worry us. We dey suffer o” rented the air.
The legislator also showed copies of the motions she had moved in the Lower House, including one for the construction of Kirikiri road to Boundary.
The crowd broke into a dance: “Carry go carry go Rita Orji carry go.”
Mrs. Orji said that all the projects she had embarked on since she was elected were funded with her private money.
“And I want you to know, I put up a borehole… and I am surprised that people will be playing politics with your own lives and you will be giving them support. Where a pail of water from the well is sold N20, somebody came to put borehole for you you said I should go and take permission from governor or from councillor. I don’t understand whether we no go change for this kind of life,” she said.
“So I want to beg the people of Ajegunle, don’t allow people use you to stop good projects. I wanna tell you, any community I’m coming to do a job for and you allow Anti Peoples Convention, they don’t want your life, they don’t want to give you, and they don’t allow me to do. If you sit down and allow them stop your work, that is your problem.”