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.
INEC advocates for ‘women and disabled first’ during elections
Independent National Electoral Commission has called for easy access to vote for women and disabled persons during the upcoming elections.
Professor James Apam, the Kogi State Resident Electoral Commissioner, has appealed to the electorate to allow women and those with disabilities unhindered access to cast their votes at the polling units.
Apam said it is necessary in view of the strategic position of women at home front and in the society.
He spoke on Tuesday in Lokoja at a one-day workshop on “Mitigating Violence Against Women” organised by the Kogi State Independent Electoral Commission.
He said that women as the weaker sex and in view of the strategic position women occupied both at the home front and in the society, it is necessary to allow them to cast their votes first on the day of the election.
“This will reduce their exposure to the risk of violence that might happen at the polls,” Professor Apam said.
“Whatever happened during and after elections, women, and children were always at the receiving end and so should be allowed to cast their votes first so that they can be free to attend to other important issues on that day,” he added.
He also expressed disappointment at the level of participation of women in politics both at the state and national level.
“It is disheartening to note that in spite of numerous actions aimed at encouraging women participation in politics, we are yet to see more women at the forefront of political participation.
“For instance, in Kogi State, only seven senatorial candidates are contesting out of 70 male candidates while three are in the House of Representatives category,” he said.
Professor Apam called on women to join hands to wage wars against vote buying and selling and other electoral malpractices that might hinder the delivery of free, fair and credible election next month.
2019 Elections: Over 23,000 candidates are contesting 1558 seats – INEC
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has given a breakdown of the statistics of candidates contesting different positions in the February 16 and March 2 general elections.
According the electoral umpire, over 23,000 candidates are contesting 1558 seats across the country.
The Chairman of the commission, Prof Mahmood Yakubu gave this information on Tuesday at the Police Headquarters in Abuja when he led other members of the commission to brief the new Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu on its plan for the election.
Mahmood said there were a total of 119, 973 polling units for the election while 73 candidates are contesting the only position in the presidential constituency.
1,904 candidates will be contesting for 109 Senatorial seats; with over 4,600 candidates contesting for 360 Federal Constituency seats; and over 14,600 candidates will compete for 991 State Constituencies.
He said, “There will be governorship elections in 29 states, for which we have 1,068 candidates vying for 29 governorship seats at state level and then in the FCT, we have 68 constituencies made up of 6 Area Council Chairmen, and 62 councils.
“In all, we have 806 candidates in the FCT. On the whole in 2019, over 23, 000 candidates will be competing for 1,558 seats,” the INEC boss stated.
While speaking, the police IG emphasised the necessity of conducting a credible poll while advising policemen to remain unbiased and neutral during the election.
“This is a crucial election that we are getting into and the election must be free, fair and credible.
“Police official must be seen to be neutral and give every party a level playing field to do what they are supposed to do,” he said.
Council of States: Buhari, OBJ, Saraki, others certify INEC fit for conduct of election
The National Council of State on Tuesday in Abuja expressed satisfaction with the level of preparations of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for the conduct of the forthcoming general elections.
Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State made the position of the Council known when he briefed State House correspondents on the outcome of the meeting, which was presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari at the State House.
Mr Akeredolu said the endorsement of the INEC preparedness for the election followed a presentation made by the Chairman of the commission, Mahmood Yakubu, at the meeting of the council.
He emphasised that the council was convinced on the level of preparedness of the electoral body.
According to him, the chairman also informed the council that the commission had embarked on training and retraining of staff for the successful conduct of the election.
“He informed the Council of the preparedness of INEC and everybody in the hall was convinced that INEC was ready for this election and a lot of things have been put in place.
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“I think we all concluded that it is important for the chairman to even speak to the nation on the preparedness of INEC for this election – that would convince all of us that this forthcoming election is going to be free and fair.
“Look at it, they have improved card reader, the details of what had been done to improve it was made known.
“It was made known that the process of continuous accreditation and voting system (vote at the same time and you leave) was the best.
“He also told the Council that they are not lacking in terms of finance and that all the monies appropriated have been given to them and that they are ready for the election.
“He went further to inform the Council that all training and retraining of every category of staff that they (INEC) will use, they have already started and they are having consultations with every group of people, religious, artisans and trade unions to let them know (about the election).
“So, everybody was convinced that INEC, as at today, is ready for the elections and questions were asked, he was interrogated and he responded and gave adequate explanation to the satisfaction of all of us,’’ he said.
The National Council of State also endorsed N27,000 as new National Minimum Wage.
The Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, who also addressed the correspondents on the outcome of the meeting, disclosed that the council endorsed N27, 000 as new National Minimum Wage.
He, however, said the Federal Government would pay its workers N30,000 as its minimum wage as demanded by organised labour.
The minister revealed that the bill on the new wage of N27,000 would be transmitted to the National Assembly in the next 24 hours for passage into law.
According to him, the N27,000 is the benchmark for all employers of labour with more than 25 workers on their payroll, emphasising that no employer of labour with more 25 workers should pay less than the proposed N27,000.
“On the issue of national minimum wage, we have held series of consultations starting from the inauguration of the tripartite committee in November 2018, to the Federal executive Council, the National Economic Council.
“Finally today, the Council of State and these three organs have permitted the President now to transmit to the National Assembly the new minimum wage bill.
“This is in consonance with the fact that the issue of national minimum wage prescription is in the exclusive list second schedule, item 34 and being on that list, it is not a job that can be done by the executive alone.
“The President has to transmit a bill and the National Assembly will take legislative action and return the bill that has been so treated to the President for assent.
“The bill will now amend the 1981 and 2011 act and the highlights are the figure of N27, 000 monthly has been approved for transmission to the National Assembly, frequency of review of the bill is five years to get in consonance with the pension law of the federation as enshrined in the Nigerian constitution.
“Exemptions to this act will be the establishments that are not employing people up to 25 (workers) in number and the various fines prescribed have also been altered,’’ he said.
The minister, however, stated that the federal government had resolved to pay its workers N30,000 as the new national minimum wage while the state governments were free to negotiate with their respective staff.
The organised labour had insisted on a N30,000 minimum wage as proposed by the Ama Pepple tripartite committee, while the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) proposed N24,000.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the meeting, which lasted for about three hours, was attended by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, former Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo, Goodluck Jonathan, Abdulsalami Abubakar and the former Head of the Interim Government, Chief Ernest Shonekan.
Others, who attended the meeting included three former Chief Justices of Nigeria, Muhammadu Uwais, Alfa Belgore and Mahmud Mohammed.
However, the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnogen, former military President Ibrahim Babangida and former Head of State, Yakubu Gowon were absent at the meeting.
The council also observed a minute silence for late president Shehu Shagari.
Gov. Ortom swore in six local government chairmen
Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State on Tuesday in Makurdi swore in Acting Chairmen for six local governments, following the suspension of some chairmen by the State House of Assembly.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), reports that the local government bosses were suspended by the legislators on Monday, Jan. 21, on the request of Ortom.
Ortom, in a letter transmitted to the legislators, had accused the chairmen of “gross misconduct”. Their suspension is for an initial period of three months.
In a brief speech at the ceremony, Ortom cautioned the acting chairmen against sharing government monies to “elders in their domains”.
“The era of sharing government money to elders is now over; government money is meant to touch the lives of the people positively.
“Be prudent in handling local government finances; do not embezzle the council’s funds, money is not everything, do not be in a hurry to grab it.
“If you grab government money, you will get into trouble. The Bible says money is the root of all evil. Wait patiently for God’s appointed time for you to make genuine money and not ill-gotten wealth,” he warned.
He also admonished Benue residents to eschew violence, especially during and after the forthcoming polls and urged the chairmen to ensure absolute peace in their respective areas.
Responding on behalf of her colleagues, the acting chairman of Makurdi Local Government, Mrs. Lym Goon, appreciated Ortom for the appointments and promised to do everything possible to make him proud.
She also promised to work towards the success of the PDP in the forthcoming general elections.
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