By Chux Odoh
As Nigeria’s general elections are scheduled to kick off across the country from tomorrow, February 16, 2019 – beginning with those for the Presidential and National assembly, the destiny of a young man is about to change forever. Born Olubankole Wellington, this charismatic young Nigerian is among those seeking to serve as an elected member of the National Assembly, to represent the people Eti-Osa Federal constituency of Lagos.
Known more popularly by the moniker Banky W, the musician, actor and businessman formally made public his decision contest for office on November 11, 2018, during a ceremony at the Landmark Event Centre in Oniru, Victoria Island, Lagos. His announcement was greeted with mixed reactions, especially for people wondered what a man who they’ve known all their lives as a symbol for entertainment knows and can offer in politics and governance.
But Banky during his declaration speech made a statement which obviously is critical and perhaps strongly influenced his decision to run for office. He said: “Until the day that we decide as a generation, to get involved with the affairs of our country, nothing will EVER really change. We’ve lost hope. It’s why more people vote in Big Brother Africa than in our General Elections. It’s why most of us are too busy to register for a PVC, but we’ll stand in line for days at the VISA Center – further proof that nowadays, for the average citizen, the ultimate Nigerian Dream is the one in which you get to escape Nigeria.” This means that first, Banky believes that despite being a celebrity and a young person, it is important for other young people like him to be informed and get involved in the process of developing the kind of society that suits their dreams and aspirations.
According to various statistics, Nigeria is a country with 75 percent of its vast population being youths. Eti-Osa Federal Constituency where Banky seeks to represent houses the hub of the country’s entertainment industry which is the biggest employer of Nigeria’s youthful population. Many of these youths never get to reach their full potential and have lost hope in ever living the life of their dreams. In fact, many of Banky’s privileged colleagues have since relocated out of the country to seek a better life for their offsprings. Also is the growing rate of cyber-crime in the constituency which is most times borne out of the need for survival in the midst of a failed system. There is also a breakdown of public utilities with most of the roads in a poor state,
Enters Banky who clearly is seeking to lead a new tribe of young Nigerians with his mantra of HOPE. At 37 years of age, the man is an achiever which an enviable track record in several endeavours, first as a successful recording and performing artiste, and also music business executive who is largely credited with the discovery, launching and nurturing the career of Wizkid who is one of the biggest names ever in the African music industry. He is well educated with a degree in Industrial Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, New York and also studied Cinematography at the New York Film School. As an influential A-list musician, Banky has also used his celebrity status to be a vocal activist for social change.
However, to win tomorrow, Banky’s Modern Democratic Party (MDP) must be able to pull more votes than at least two of his major and more established contenders from the incumbent All Progressives Congress (APC) and the People Democratic Party (PDP), both parties which have a strong grassroots network and financial base. Therefore, what Banky lacked in terms of a strong grassroots structure and an unending pool of funds to prosecute an election, he has been able to match with the eloquence at which he has communicated his message Hope and why his constituents must see him as a better option instead of others whom he says, has failed them.
Banky’s message has been so powerful that he is now being regarded as a strong contender who is capable of causing a major upset against the ‘confident’ duo of the APC and PDP. Speaking on why he is running, Banky mentioned in his declaration speech saying: “Don’t just tweet and talk, walk the walk. And don’t just walk the walk, run…”
Indeed, Banky has done that by going around the nooks and crannies of Eti-Osa on grassroots campaign activities, oftentimes accompanied by his wife Adesua Etomi- Wellington who according to him gave her blessings when he first told her of his political aspirations. Together they have visited Churches, Mosques, various community leaders and forums to campaign, talk to the elite and ordinary people in their constituency to sell his manifesto.
So when the people of Eti-Osa go out to cast their votes for who will represent them for the next four years, all Olubankole Wellington can hope for having actively campaigned for this election is that his message is received by all those he was able to engage and that he be voted in to carry out the mandate that he has passionately sought for.