By Jide Taiwo
On February 16, 2019, when Olubankole Wellington sinks his finger into a stamp pad and presses against the logo of his party Modern Democratic Party, he will be carrying with him the hopes and aspirations of a generation. Although it is his name on the ballot, the election is not for him alone. You see, the entertainer known as Banky W has not been merely that: he is one of the few entertainers who has used their celebrity status for bigger causes, and as Nigeria stands at a precarious stage, he has decided not to only talk about it from the sidelines but also to be part of the process and seek to change the course of the nation.
On that day, Banky W is not only running against the other candidates on the ballot, but he’s also running against the status quo. The status quo that kept Lagos where he’s contesting from in the firm grip of hegemonic dynasties, thereby making it function only according to the dictates of the powers that be. At this critical period in Nigeria’s existence, it is impossible not to choose a side. Not just for the romance of it, but to be a part of the birth of an idea whose time has come. Therefore, Nigerian Entertainment Today wholly supports the candidacy of Olubankole Wellington as the next Federal House of Representatives member from Eti-Osa, Lagos.
A democracy is only as strong as the laws that govern it. The president might be the chief executive but without the national assembly, he can do precious little. For far too long, Nigerians have focused mainly on the president and governors, inadvertently giving legislators a pass. Those from Lagos have certainly enjoyed that pass for a long, long time now. As a result, Nigeria’s most valuable city, the so-called hub of the West African subregion is a mega city only in name; the amenities that make it so are nonexistent here. Essentially, it is a $130 billion dollar economy propped up by area boys, generators and slums.
After the All Progressives Congress won the general elections of 2015, having being the only state to have withstood the near imperialist rule of the People Democratic Party and remained under the leadership of former governor Bola Tinubu through variations of his political parties- first Alliance for Democracy then Action Congress of Nigeria before forming a merger that created the present APC, there was a jubilation of sorts at “the alignment of Lagos with the centre”. Elected officials promised to enact laws that would ensure that the state attracts the sort of support and investment from the federal government. It hasn’t happened. What’s worse, the dramatic putsch that saw the APC turn on the incumbent governor gives credence to the allegation that the entire state is tied to the coattails of one man. In the words of Olamide, don’t mess about around Bourdillion; that’s where Oga is…
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Who is your Representative? How do we hold our leaders accountable when we don’t even know who they are?? Is it just about shouting “Honourable!!” and “Your Excellency” and “anything for your boys”??? I’m a candidate of the Modern Democratic party (@mdp_ng) for the Fed House of Reps in Eti-Osa. I hope my community gives me a chance to show what a Representative should be. Pls swipe left to hear my thoughts, and pls share. #MDP #StrongerTogether #BankOnBanky
A post shared by Banky W. (@bankywellington) on Jan 23, 2019 at 2:52am PST
Geographically, Lagos is a small state. Politically, it is even smaller. As Nigeria’s economic capital, it provides more than a third of Nigeria’s entire gross domestic product. But its shady and opaque politics has prevented it from becoming truly world class.
Although there are ten candidates vying for that position from Eti-Osa (arguably one of the richest districts in the entire country), the contest is between Wellington and one individual- Babajide Obanikoro. The most important element of Obanikoro’s candidacy is his family name. As the son of the former senator and minister Musiliu Obanikoro (a star witness in the EFCC case against ex Ekiti governor Ayodele Fayose), his political career has been according to daddy’s current alignment. When the elder Obanikoro was a PDP power broker whose voice was heard in an incriminating tape that appeared to be proof of him using his powers as Minister of Defence to coerce an army chief into doing his billing, Obanikoro Jnr was also a PDP member that ran on the same platform as his father and associates. Three years in the political wilderness and on the verge of being dragged to court for an array of crimes, he switched his allegiances once again and became an APC member. Needless to say, his son followed suit. Mr Wellington does not belong to that sort of fiefdom.
Why He’s Running
Don’t just tweet and talk, walk the walk. And don’t just walk the walk, run…” A line from a speech Candidate Wellington gave in December 2018.
Before now, Banky W has used his stature for advocacy and civic engagement. As far back as 2010, he was part of a group that used music to preach against internet fraud. When some of his contemporaries were glorifying Yahoo Yahoo, Mr W was singing “Maga no need pay”. Two years later, he inserted himself into the mass movement that became the short-lived Occupy Nigeria movement. He didn’t necessarily care to remove the government of the day as many other people came to do, his aim was to force the government to listen to the people. Since then he has advocated youth involvement in politics – to vote at least and have an input in choosing who runs the affairs that affect all of our lives. When the Chibok girls were kidnapped from their school dormitory, he was part of the group who took to the streets to demand the safe return of the students.
But beyond that, his candidacy is a testament to the fact that politics cannot be left only to career politicians. It is not enough to be on the sidelines, griping about the process. At some point, we must all get involved. As the saying goes, the only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing. The state of Nigerian politics is far too grave for citizens to look on and do nothing.
In his words: “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.”
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This was not a rented crowd. These were just people who heard our message, and decided they’re ready to try something different. Some are underestimating us, but they’re starting to understand that maybe this time.. it’s about more than money and the same old structure. It’s about the people. History is only made by those who dare to think they can do the impossible. We can do it, if we do it together. Stand with me. Hope with me. Go Door to Door with me. We will fix Nigeria, one community at a time. Starting with mine. #EtiOsa #MDP #BankOnBanky #Hope19 PS Lol clearly I need to invest in a megaphone ASAP PPS Please help by reposting this video 🙏🏽
A post shared by Banky W. (@bankywellington) on Nov 26, 2018 at 1:11am PST
Throughout his very visible campaign, Wellington has shown that he’s the future – and he wants other people to join him in fighting for the collective future. That future hinges on how much we are ready to hold all of these leaders accountable for the offices they occupy. The time has come for citizens to vote in individuals who know that being a public official is not a license to enrich oneself and one’s “friends”. Time and time again, the majority of Nigerians have no idea who their legislators and representatives are. Now is the time to reverse that and have an individual who will be accountable into office. It is fitting then, that he is seeking to represent Eti-Osa, an area that has some of the most affluent neighbourhoods in the country and at the same time, has poverty-stricken natives, whose lives mirror the worst stereotype of poor Africans. They too, need somebody to speak for them and ensure that their children do not grow up to become robbers and kidnappers who will terrorize the rich in their make-believe castles. “Our generation needs a realistic rallying point. We need to begin in community, earn our way into the system and up the ladder. We need someone to stick their neck out and pave the way. The problem is that we’ve always looked to our leaders for change… instead, look in the mirror and look around you. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for all along.”
Why He Should Win
He may be an A-List celebrity today, but it wasn’t always so. As he eloquently described his childhood in his announcement speech back in November 2018, his was a story of determination- first by his parents who, in the face of an ailing Nigerian economy, ensured that their children had a great education even if their living condition wasn’t quite so.
“My parents realized at that time, that they couldn’t afford to rent a nice flat AND send us to a good school at the same time – it would be one or the other. And so we attended Corona Primary school in Ikoyi, while we lived on the ground floor flat of a sinking building in Akoka, Yaba. We were classmates with children of the rich by day and playmates with children of the street by night. I remember during the peak of the raining seasons, our flat would literally get flooded and come up to about the knee level, and so Momsie would wake us up early to scoop water in buckets out of our home, before heading off to school and work.”
His own determination to better himself saw him combine odd jobs with his education to earn a degree, whilst starting an entertainment company that will go on to generate millions of dollars before his 35th birthday.
However, his candidacy is not just a celebrity pastime. If young Nigerians weren’t aware, the governance of the past four years has shown clearly that there is a dire need for a change of guard. His manifesto is precise: make laws that will make it possible for every Nigerian to have a chance at a better life. The five-prong agenda i.e job creation, gender equality, youth inclusion, access to healthcare and education is an important place to start the fight to save the future of Nigeria. As he himself says, “The time has come for us to play our part. We can no longer afford to remain mere spectators. Getting a voter’s card alone is no longer enough; because that does not give you a say in putting up the kind of candidates that we can believe in. We must take things one step further by building a new political platform for our generation. One that is not built off for self-interest and sustenance… but one that is built off of a shared vision and ideals. One that will put up the right kind of candidates: people with integrity, the right intentions and the intellectual capacity to lead. People with vision and the ability to execute.”
It is hard to argue that Banky W does not possess the vision and ability to execute the responsibilities of a legislator. In spite of the fact that his party is in the minority, his message is not, and has been heard all across Eti-Osa Federal Constituency. The same cannot be said for his opponents.
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A post shared by Banky W. (@bankywellington) on Dec 11, 2018 at 4:54am PST
In every election, there is always an alternative. This year, Bankole Wellington is the alternative to the status quo, the familiar demon that plagues many Nigerians when it’s time to choose their leaders. Every single vote for him is a refusal of incompetence and unaccountability, the bane of Nigerian politics. In the (in)famous words of Musiliu Obanikoro, this is not a tea party. This is a defining moment for all Nigerian who want to see actual change in the political process and in their lives. If there is anyone that can be the Neo of this Matrix, it is Banky W.
To the candidate himself we say, now is the chance to show your qualities as a youthful progressive leader who knows first hand the challenges that face young people and the consequences of bad leadership. Now is your chance to show that true leadership goes beyond rhetoric and placid resignation when the powers that be refuse to do what is right. This election is about hope and the dawning of a new beginning.
May your road be rough.
The post Why Nigerian Entertainment Today Is Banking on Banky W: An Endorsement appeared first on Nigerian Entertainment Today.