Olubankole Wellington, also known as Banky W, on Saturday declared his intention to contest for the House of Representatives in 2019.
The entertainer is currently seeking to represent Eti-Osa local government area in Lagos on the platform of the Modern Democratic Party (MDP).
Read his full speech below.
Good evening Ladies and Gentlemen… my name is Olubankole Wellington.
I’d like to start by saying a very special thank you to who is to me, on the inside and out, the most beautiful and incredible person in the world.. my wife, Mrs Adesua Etomi-Wellington.
For myself, and the team behind this MDP movement – the Modern Democratic Party, I can honestly say, that tonight is a dream come true. I’ve seen that happen many times, you know? I’ve seen dreams come true; and it’s amazing everytime. I am, infact, living proof, that the unlikeliest of dreams can indeed come true.
In 1981, I was born to a father from Lagos, and a mother from Cross Rivers – both of whom struggled and were it not for the Grace of God, had no business receiving University educations abroad. My Dad was an orphan, who was shuffled from relative to relative, and depended largely on a combination of street smarts, book smarts, and athletic abilities, to put himself through school, using a combination of scholarships, student loans, and multiple part time jobs.
My mother’s story was not much different… born in Calabar, to a single mom, she was sent off to live with her relatives in Lagos. Through her belief in God, a lot of hard work, and sheer force of will, following her secondary education, she too earned and worked her way through University.
Neither of them grew up in particularly fortunate circumstances… but they held on to a set of beliefs that I have since inherited… we believe that what you lack in wealth, privilege and connections, you can make up for with hope, hard work, and determination. My parents taught me that if you believe in God, believe in yourself, never give up hope and work hard, dreams that seem impossible, CAN indeed come true.
In 1985, our family returned to Lagos. Like most families with a limited income, sacrifices had to be made. 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.
But I went from Corona Primary school to Home Science Secondary school, and in 1999, just like my parents did, I gained admission into a University in the USA that the family really could not afford. But again, just like my parents did… by the grace of God, I used a combination of scholarships, student loans, and every job under the sun that you can imagine.. to put myself through school. It took focus, prayers, a lot of hard work – everything from working in Mcdonald’s restaurant, to at one point being a door to door knives salesman – and a whole lot of hope. That courage to Hope in spite of circumstances is what helped me earn a Bachelor’s Degree from one of the top Engineering schools in the USA.
Hope is what my best friend and I held on to in 2002, when we were crazy enough to start a record label in my University Dorm Room. We had no idea what we were doing, or what it would take… we didn’t know one single person in the music business home or abroad… but that’s kind of what hope and faith is all about, isn’t it? It’s about taking that first step even when you don’t see the entire ladder, or where it leads. You dream big but you start small, and you never let small minds convince you that your dreams are too big.
It’s incredible what can be achieved with a dream, the willingness to work hard, and the courage to hold on to hope in spite of the odds. I’ve seen rock bottom create champions. I’ve seen grass watered until it becomes known as grace. “Hope” is almost always the common denominator. Hope is what helped a former househelp/plantain seller and a kid born blind at birth become 2 of the most internationally acclaimed and successful Music Producers, from this same Nigeria. Hope is what convinced 2 young Nigerians that they could take a company that at one point, wasn’t worth the paper it was registered on, and build it into one of the foremost Media and Entertainment Empires in the country. Hope is what convinced me that a scrawny little kid from Ojuelegba Shitta could one day become the biggest Artist on the African continent. Hope is what has helped me through 3 separate battles with skin cancer.
And to me, that’s what tonight is all about… it’s about this generation having the courage to hope again, and the will to work towards making our dreams for Nigeria, a reality. That’s what we are attempting to do with MDP – the Modern Democratic Party.
You see, subconsciously, we’ve kind of given up, haven’t we? As a generation, we have essentially accepted that things will never 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.
For many years, I’ve been a vocal critic of leadership and bad governance in Nigeria, and a vocal proponent of young people participating in the political process. And yet, the turn out is never good enough, because we simply just don’t care enough to do what it takes.
I realized that all my years of Activism in Nigeria, didn’t amount to much more than my plight as an Arsenal fan. You see, as Arsenal fans, we love our club, but we knew it was time for change. We complained, we tweeted, we held up banners at the stadium, we shouted and hashtagged for many years. But until the people who were a part of the system – the board, the shareholders, the executives etc – until THEY decided that it was time for change, all of that noise would not have amounted to anything. Our former coach could have remained in that position until the day that he died.. and there’s not a damn thing any of us could have done about it.
The same can be said for Nigeria. Until the day that we decide as a generation, to get involved with the affairs of our country, nothing will EVER really change. 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 you believe in. We must take things one step further by building a new political platform for this generation. One that is not built for selfish interests.. 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.
Make no mistake, WE ARE a generation in a battle for the soul and direction of our country, BUT we ARE stuck in a lose-lose situation. But when you’re in a lose-lose situation, you don’t pick sides. You change the situation. It’s time for us to do that. It’s time for us to hope and believe again. It’s time for us to work and build.
25 years ago, the majority of Nigerians overwhelmingly bought into a vision called “Hope ‘93”. We had the freest and fairest elections in our Nation’s history, and elected a great man called MKO Abiola into the Presidency. May his soul rest in peace, and his sacrifice not be in vain. Our Country’s trajectory might have been very different, had he been allowed to live and assume his rightful position.
Back then, it didn’t even matter that he fielded an all Muslim ticket… because poverty, lack, and suffering do not discriminate. Unemployment, lack of infrastructure, a declining educational system, poor healthcare, gender inequality… these are issues all Nigerians are struggling with whether we are Christian, Muslim, or Atheist… Yoruba or Igbo, Hausa or Ijaw, Edo or Delta, Efik or kanuri.
Our generation does not really believe in the existing powers that be on both sides of the divide.. and for good reason. We have been taken advantage of and lied to.. we are tired and disenfranchised. We are frustrated and suspicious. We don’t believe in our current political options, so it’s time for us to build our own. We want a seat at the table of Governance in Nigeria, but we must bring our own chair. Because if we are to get in to leadership, it MUST be on our own terms and conditions, with our own vision and set of ideals… otherwise we risk being marginalized and handcuffed by the same systems we are criticizing.
And this vision is for beyond 2019, and for more than just the office of the President. It’s about every electable office in this country. We must start now to build a movement towards 2023 and beyond, otherwise, in every election we will find ourselves in this exact same spot.
We want to fix Nigeria, but we must begin by rebuilding our communities. Everybody seems so obsessed with the Presidential race – it’s one of the most frequent suggestions I get – “Banky W, run for President”. But see, like I said earlier, I do believe in dreaming big, but I believe in starting small, and working your way up. Hope is what we needed in ’93. 25 years later, hope is what we’ll need in 2019. And it is with the greatest sense of humility, purpose and destiny, that I announce my candidacy for the 2019 Federal House of Representatives, in the Eti Osa constituency of Lagos State.
I have spent the majority of my life in Eti-Osa. It is where I went to Primary school and part of Secondary School. It is where I have built my home, and my business; it is where I plan to spend the rest of my life, with my wife and the children I pray God blesses us with. Most of the friends I have, most of the businesses I admire, and even most of the businesses that inspire our entire country are based here.
The economy of Eti Osa is central to the Nigerian Economy, with a GDP contribution that dwarfs several states combined. And yet in spite of all this, it’s no longer a secret that much like Nigeria at large, the people in our neighborhoods are yearning for better representation, across local, state, and federal levels. Eti-Osa is infact, a microcosm of Nigeria as a whole. It is home to people from various backgrounds… it is home to the Market women in Ajah, the billionaires in Banana Island, the creatives living in Lekki, and the multicultural ethnicities in Obalende.
We have people from various tribes and tongues, people from all walks of life.. extreme wealth, and extreme poverty. There are things that we should be proud of, and there are plenty areas for improvement. This is the headquarters of Corporate Nigeria, a model that has continued to encourage investors both local and foreign to sow into our country. And yet we still have residents who cannot afford 3 square meals a day.
Everyone knows that we have generated trillions of Naira at our toll gates, yet we still have potholes. We have the very best and worst of education in our school system and the same could be said of the healthcare in our hospitals. However this is not the time to point fingers and accuse.
It is the time for all our leaders and citizens to come together, across party lines, and work with each other to love, rescue and rebuild our society. If Nigeria is to work as a country.. then Eti Osa must first work as a community. We must team up, with each of us playing our part, to make this the most desirable local Government in the country, and that will inspire others to do the same.
My legislative agenda and detailed manifesto will be shared on my website, and I encourage you to please take a look at it in the coming weeks and engage me on the issues of job creation, gender equality, youth inclusion and empowerment, affordable healthcare, and education. I would love to hear from my constituents, current leaders in Government, regardless of background or affiliation – we can do this, if we do it together. That is how we can fix Nigeria, one community at a time.
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 only to our leaders for change… instead of looking in the mirror and at the neighbors around us. Isn’t it ironic that we are the ones we’ve been waiting for all along?
I have shared this vision with quite a few people. Some have been incredibly supportive, but some have advised against it. I am under no illusions that this run will be easy. Considering the machines we are going up against, some THINK it is impossible.
They said we don’t have the money to run.. we say we our strength lies in our numbers. They said we don’t have the structure, we say we will attempt to build it. They said “what if you lose”? I say, what if we win?
You see, my entire life has been a story of just dreaming dreams, praying about those dreams, setting goals, and working until they come true. I can live with trying and failing. I can not live with not trying.
So while we may not have a godfather, we do have God. And we have vision. And intellectual capacity. And integrity. And the right intentions. And last but not least, a whole lot of hope.
At the end of the day, hope may be all we have, but I believe that it is all we need. Thank you and God bless Nigeria.
#Nigeria Decides: Corps members lament shoddy treatment
Members of the National Youths Service Corps (NYSC) have called on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to put adequate logistics in place, ahead of Saturday’s elections.
The Corps members lamented lack of security, inadequate transportation and the poor communication channel between them and the INEC officials.
They noted that they slept in the open fields, on bare floor and benches with election materials without security presence before the commission announced the elections’ rescheduling.
It was gathered that in some of the schools, the NYSC members were posted to, the schools’ gatemen were not aware they were coming. It was also learned that the corps members were alone in most of the schools overnight without policemen to provide security.
Many of the Corps members also lamented that they were at least expecting dinner to be served, mattresses and mosquito nets from INEC because they were told that they would be taken care of, but they got nothing.
A Corps member, Princess Ukaps, told The Nation that she and some of her colleagues were at the INEC office around 4 pm last Friday. She said they were there to check the names of their polling units and supervisors.
“After waiting endlessly, we moved to the primary school we were posted to and we got there few minutes to 9 pm. We were there hoping that INEC officials would come and address us. We also hoped they would give us food, mattresses and maybe mosquito nets because we were told that we would be taken care of.
“To our surprise, we waited endlessly and later went to look for food and drinks. I had to take my bath at the back of one of the classrooms in the school that night because I can never sleep without taking my bath. It was one woman in the school that gave me a bucket and water. I slept on a bench in one of the classrooms, but mosquitoes bite me seriously. Some slept on the floor in the classrooms. I learnt that at some other schools, the gatemen did not open the gates for the corps members and many had to sleep inside buses and on the floor on the roadsides. The experience was pathetic.”
Another Corps member, who simply identified himself as Chinedu, who was attached to a local government on the Lagos Mainland, said the way many of them were treated last Friday was inhuman and uncalled for.
“INEC made us feel less of a human being. We were left to sleep in an open space and no one catered for us; no one communicated with us. When I and some of my friends got to the primary school we were posted to, we were expecting some of the INEC officials to come to the school for our final training. They told us at the previous training they had with us that they were would come to our polling units to give us final training on the election materials, card readers and all, but no one showed up. We all slept in an open space.
US backs postponement of elections
The United States Embassy in Nigeria has thrown its weight behind international election observers on the postponement of last Saturday’s presidential and parliamentary elections in the country.
In a statement made available to New Telegraph, the U.S. Embassy said it fully supports the joint statement by the heads of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and other international election observation missions on the decision of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to shelve the polls by one week. “We join in encouraging all Nigerians to ensure a free, fair, peaceful, and credible election by supporting INEC while it finalizes electoral preparations this week and by voting in peace together on February 23,” the statement read.
The heads of the international election observation missions and the United Nations in Nigeria had, on Saturday, appealed for calm over the sudden postponement of the general elections in Nigeria by one week due to logistic and operational challenges. The international observers are drawn from the European Union, Commonwealth, African Union, and ECOWAS, amongst others, said they would continue to stand in solidarity with the people of Nigeria in their desire for credible and peaceful elections and would continue to closely observe preparations for the rescheduled polls across the country, “We have taken note of the decision of INEC to postpone the 2019 general elections due to logistical and operational challenges. “While we note that this decision has caused disappointment for many, we call on all Nigerians to continue to remain calm and supportive of the electoral process as INEC works to implement its new timeline.
“We urge INEC to use this time to finalize all preparations and ensure that the new election dates are strictly adhered to. We encourage INEC to provide regular updates and information to the public on its preparations in the coming days and weeks to enhance confidence and trust in the process,” they said. Other groups that endorsed the joint solidarity message include the Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa Election Observation Mission; National Democratic Institute/ International Republican Institute Election Observation Mission; Organisation of Islamic Cooperation as well as the Office of the United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General for West Africa and the Sahel Region. Similarly, the Centre for Transparency Advocacy (CTA) has described the postponement of the polls as a bold and courageous decision by the leadership of INEC, saying that the alternative could mess up the electoral process.
Tinubu promises to reward APC members
The National Leader of All Progressives Congress, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, has promised to give a substantial amount of money to the party faithful if their votes can secure reelection for President Muhammadu Buhari.
Tinubu, former governor of Lagos State, also disclosed that he had enough money to bankroll elections without requesting any money from Buhari or dipping his hands in Lagos State’s treasury.
He made the remarks in a leaked audio tape THISDAY obtained yesterday from an authoritative source that pleaded anonymity.
In the tape, Tinubu said, “For all those who have come to Bourdillon, you know why we are here. We are here for mobilization. You know what I mean by mobilization.
“So, as registered APC members, you have to go and get your neighbors to come out and vote for the APC. It is after I have seen the favorable results of the elections that I will bring out good money.
“Buhari does not have the money that I want to steal and he doesn’t have the money I want to take from him. Also, he does not have the war chest for this presidential election.
“Therefore, whatever I’m promising you is for real – and it is coming from my own pocket. It is not until I go to Alausa before I can get money to give you.”
He, however, told the APC supporters who had come to visit him in preparation for the now-postponed presidential and federal parliamentary polls that he would reward them financially after they had “delivered victory” for Buhari.
Explaining why, Tinubu stated: “Before now, party faithful would gather here around me like ants around sugar, asking for mobilization. They always succeeded in getting something substantial from me with many of them from the same areas.
“That was then. This time it does not matter if your footwear wears out. Once you can deliver in this election, I am committed to giving money that is substantial. We’ll never lack.” The maverick politician also stunned his supporters when he admitted demeaning the people of Osun State. Until now Tinubu had denied making any denigrating statements regarding the financial capacity of the state.
INEC to meet today over ban on campaigns
Following the opposition of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC) to the Independent National Electoral Commission’s (INEC) ban on electioneering during the one-week extension of the poll, the commission will meet today to review the restriction.
INEC, according to its national chairman’s Chief Press Secretary (CPS), Mr. Rotimi Oyekanmi, would meet to review its position and decide whether or not to reopen campaigns.
The two leading parties have argued that the commission’s restriction has no basis in law.
The PDP also alleged that fresh facts have confirmed that officials of the federal government and the APC have been sabotaging INEC in a well-orchestrated plot to engineer staggered presidential election, contrary to simulated stance by the presidency and the party’s National Chairman, Mr. Adams Oshiomhole.
The main opposition party also urged the electoral body to rescind its decision on the suspension of campaigns by political parties, a position backed by the Director of Strategic Communications of the ruling party’s Presidential Campaign Council, Mr. Festus Keyamo, SAN, who described as illegal, the decision of INEC not to allow political parties to engage in further campaigns, despite the postponement of the presidential election to Saturday.
However, the South-south Coordinator, and Special Adviser on Youth and Support Groups to the PDP presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, Rev. Chukwudi Eke, has called on the federal government to ensure peaceful and credible elections.
The National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, in a statement yesterday said the reason for the postponement of the presidential and National Assembly elections was that President Muhammadu Buhari was determined to have a staggered election, where he could use security agencies to subvert the will of the people at the polls.
According to the PDP, APC sympathizers in INEC engineered actions that affected the distribution and delivery of INEC’s sensitive materials to designated locations, thereby frustrating the electoral process.
The party stated: “We also have details of how a hired team of data hackers corrupted the voter register, with a view to causing mass confusion and voters suppression on the election day.
“Nigerians would have been shocked that many registered voters in possession of their Permanent Voter’s Cards (PVCs) would have arrived their polling centers on election day, only to discover to their amazement that their names have disappeared from the register in their units.
“Intelligence available to us further details how agents of the Buhari Presidency infiltrated the distribution system and ensured that sensitive election materials do not arrive at the designated locations, with a view to stall elections in several states and pave way for a staggered election.
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