New Telegraph

#EndSARS: We’ve to move from protest to power –Banky W

Bankole Wellington (popularly known as Banky W) was one of the notable names during the 2020 #EndSARS protest. However, the musician has decided to seek the change the protest championed through another means. He has picked the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) nomination form for Etiosa Federal Constituency of Lagos State. He speaks with ONYEKACHI EZE on his ambition

 

What informed your decision to delve into the murky waters of partisan politics?

Well, I’m getting into politics because I have a genuine desire to serve. I think that for me, politics shouldn’t be about servant leadership, it should be about people, who recognise that there is a reason they call government, public service because you’re supposed to be the servant of the community.

And in the capacities that God has opened the doors for me, in the areas that God has opened for me, I’ve tried to serve my community.

I’ve served young people and I’ve been a stepping stone to many young people in various sectors. I believe that the greatest impact that we can have is when we engage with our political system, try to participate in the political system and use the powers of a particular office for the benefit of the community.

So, I’m in politics to serve. I’m in politics to build, I consider myself a builder. God has used me to build people in various sectors and I believe that by the grace of God, if given the opportunity and the mandate of my constituency, He (God) will use me as a stepping stone for a choice and for all the young people in it to stand around Nigeria.

The All Progressives Congress (APC) is the party in control in Lagos, why join the PDP?

I believe that with the PDP, there is a genuine intention to give young people a seat at the table. I believe that we have a chance to build a bridge between those who have been in the political terrain for many years and those of us who have been protesting from the sidelines.

 

If all we do is shout from the sidelines, we will never actually change anything, will never have any impact. I believe that the PDP is welcoming us with open arms and open doors. And it is an opportunity for us to join hands together and rebuild Nigeria and rescue Nigeria.

 

What is the relationship between music and politics?

I think part of the problem is that we have left politics to politicians. There are some people in politics who have never build a business; they have never had to provide jobs, they have never had to struggle to build a career.

They have just been kind of in the place of entitled politics because that is just what they do. I know what young people go  through to build a career, to provide jobs for other young people, to go against the grain in the very difficult terrain that is Nigeria and try to make something of yourself, and trying to make something of the people around you and the people that God brings to you.

 

And so I think there needs to be a change or there needs to be a difference in the selection of people that we choose to enter office. It should be people who have built something and I have been fortunate enough to have been used by God to build things in the music and film industry as well as food and advertising; in my spiritual work in my community and community service.

These are all areas that I’m extremely active in and that should be the requirement. It should be somebody who has experience across multiple sectors, who knows the pain of young people in Nigeria, who has experienced some of that pains himself and who has also learned how to channel that pain into purpose, channel that journey into fulfillment, not just for himself but for the other people around him. I think that should be what we expect of people who are entering politics.

So, it is not so much about the fact that I’m a musician, but it is about the fact that I have had to put my hands to the plough and make something for myself and others in this kind of country. And I think that if we have more people with like minds like this, then it will spell a better day for government as a whole, for our National Assembly and for our young people.

In 2019 you had an unsuccessful bid for the House of Representatives. What actually went wrong with that election, and what do you need to do differently to come out successful in 2023?

You said something interesting, you said that 2019 was unsuccessful, but I completely disagree. The reason I say that was that if you recall, in 2019, I didn’t declare for office until about three months before election day, which is completely unheard of. It’s insane.

So, for us in 2019, it wasn’t about winning a seat, it was about planting a seed. And I think we successfully did that because what we did was we came third, and we won in some areas as an independent candidate. We won in some areas in our constituency where it was completely unheard of. We won in wards and polling units that were previous strongholds for either of the big two parties.

But at that time, it was about showing young people that this is something we have to get involved in even though we were late to the race. We just planted a seed; let’s just stick our toe in the waters.

You know that there are some things that you cannot learn unless you are in the trenches yourself. So, that was the entire goal of the 2019 campaign was to plant that seed, was to get involved was to learn what it was and also to become a rallying point for the younger generation to see, to say: ‘Hey, this is something that we have to do and we have planted that seed.’

Now, it is about winning the seat and I believe that we will be successful this time. If you take what we did in 2019, and you take what the PDP did in 2019 in my constituency, we would have won decisively if we were working together at that time as we are working together now.

I think that it spells good things for the Lagos PDP and for the PDP as a whole, where young people are now seeing because of what we are doing that okay, you know what, maybe this is something that we can do, maybe this is someone we can go with, maybe we can join forces, maybe we can be a part of the system and help to fix it and help to reform it from within. That’s what we’re trying to do and I believe that will be successful.

 

What are your chances of winning the election?

It is like a David and Goliath situation but I’m more comfortable being David. You know, the stakes are high, the big machine is against us, but I do believe that what we may lack in money, we have in meaning because we have a mission and a message.

If Lagosians are truly happy with the way everything is happening, then maybe, we don’t stand a chance but somehow I suspect that is not the case and that people are ready for something fresh, something different, something unique, something that speaks to the heart of someone who wants to serve and who wants to see the nation better.

So, I’m content to stand on my own two feet with the support of the PDP, our young people and the support of my community in saying that because I know that we represent something different. I think that that is what my people have been waiting for.

They are waiting for a representative who truly cares about the community and who has a track record to show. They are waiting for a representative who truly cares about Nigeria’s young people and who has a track record of being a stepping stone for those young people.

So, I believe that by the grace of God and with the support of the people, we will get the mandate. I’m crazy enough to think that we can pull off an upset and have a lot of people that are crazy with me so we’ll see what happens.

 

You were one of the leaders of #End- Sars protest. What is the message on that protest?

For a lot of young people, what you saw was a peaceful protest and I think it is important to make the distinction that most of the people that I know, and that I was involved with throughout the protests were those that were the peaceful protesters.

So, I think that for a lot of the protesters, it was about speaking up against oppression, being frustrated enough to stand and to speak out for change. My message to them now is that the truth of the matter is we cannot protest about every problem that Nigeria has, they are too many. If you play a Fela song today, the song that he wrote in the ’70s, it might sound like he wrote it last week because the issues are the same, if not worse.

 

So, when you think about protests, they are necessary and I have been part of many protests in Nigeria. But we can’t protest about every problem, there are too many problems. It is not sustainable. We can’t protest forever. So we have to move from protest to power.

That that is what we are trying to do now, that is what this campaign represents. It is the motivation and the encouragement for young people to understand that the same energy that we used, that same mindset, that same frustration, that same anger, that same feeling of despair, we must channel it to power now because that is actually the biggest protest that we can do.

I think that is the biggest statement that any protest tries to make. If we successfully do that in 2023 and beyond, it will force everyone in power to sit up and actually serve and listen to the voice of the people.

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