IDEAS Radio 30 November 2018
Aghogho Oboh: Right, so it’s Countdown 2019 and we have a big discussion on the IDEAS segment, so you’re welcome to the show where we discuss all the big and significant issues on the road to the 2019 elections. You can follow the programme on Twitter @Countdown2019NG and @RotimiSankore @ideasradiong also too.
Today on IDEAS segment with Ayo Obe, we will be looking at ethics, integrity, and accountability. Let me just read you a profile briefly, of today’s guest. Banky W …
Bankole Wellington: Yes sir!
AgO: … born Olubankole, Oluwabankole Wellington. … in films as Banky Wellington Nigerian singer, rapper and actor, now politician also too.
Bankole Wellington: Apparently so.
AgO: He was born on the 27th of March 1981 in the United States, but then moved back to Nigeria when he was five years old. Singing career started way back at the age of eight at church choir. He’s declared his intention to run for a seat in Nigeria’s House of Representatives, representing Lagos Eti-Osa Federal Constituency. He announced that he would run with the Modern Democratic Party which was formed last year.
AgO: Correct. Ayo Obe.
AO: Well, welcome to the IDEAs segment of the show, could I call you Mr. Wellington, or Banky, or …?
BW: Whatever you makes you comfortable
AO: … the candidate. I think I have to call you Banky because otherwise the listeners …
Sandra Ezekwesili: That’s what the people know.
BW: Well I do need them to know that my name is Olubankole Wellington, for the purposes of elections.
AO: Well, for the purposes of the election on the ballot paper it will be the Modern Democratic Party
BW: Modern Democratic Party, but we also heard from INEC that this year, they will also have the candidates’ names.
BW: That’s not been completely confirmed, but at least that’s encouraging.
AO: Well, on the IDEAS section of the programme, what we try to do, is we try to look at issues of Integrity, Democracy, Ethics and Accountability, and as you know, the way that the National Assembly is perceived in the eyes of the public, particularly having regard to the ongoing investigations by groups like Track It, TrackaNG about the use of constituency funds. It has shown that the virtue of integrity, or accountability for those kinds of funds is a little bit lacking in our current National Assembly. And I wonder, if you were to be elected to the National Assembly, how do you intend to, how do you intend to reflect those virtues, if you think that they are important at all?
BW: Absolutely. So I think that the issue of transparency, accountability and things of that nature are problems with our government as a whole. I think that we have issues with this in Nigeria at every level of government official, at every level, federal, state or local. Now I’m of the opinion, that, you know, when I started discussing that I wanted to run for office, a lot of people were like: No, it’s dirty, it’s dangerous, you know, but it’s been that way for so long because the good people would never get involved. So nobody that has integrity or intellectual capacity or the right intentions that I know, would ever touch politics with a ten foot pole. But the problem with that, is the punishment, like Plato said: “The punishment for not being involved in politics is that you get, end up being ruled by your inferiors” or if I can paraphrase, you end up being ruled by people who don’t deserve the offices that they’re going for.
AO: Or people who went into it because they perceived it as dirty, and felt that that environment suited them
BW: Because they wanted to take advantage of that system. Now … Ok, sorry …
AO: No, no, no, you go ahead
BW: No, no, please, it’s your show.
AO: Well, I mean, the point is that, that may be the general perception, the general picture, but you are running for a particular seat in Lagos, and the issue is: how as a single member of the National Assembly, or the House of Representatives, are you going to spread the virtues of integrity or ethics?
BW: For me I would say absolutely. I think that part of the reason that we decided to do this almost essentially as an independent, is so that we wouldn’t answer to the same systems that have been in control for so long. So we don’t want to have to answer to the godfathers of the political parties, we want to answer to the young people and to the people of Nigeria. And so if you read my legislative agenda, it talks about the issues that we want to focus on, but it also talks about being accountable to our constituents, and being accountable to the country. So we talk about having a constituency office, we talk about having town halls, we talk about giving quarterly reports to our constituents, our constituents and the country as a whole, about the things that we are doing and, essentially the idea is to try and lead by example to show what politics should look like in Nigeria, in the House, and across all levels of government, to show that this thing can and should be done a different way, and we will start with ourselves.
AO: And do you think that if you, as, if you get there as one person you would be able to make a difference?
BW: So here’s the thing. There’s two things that I think are important. For me, one, is breaking the glass ceiling that says: These things are not possible. I think that our generation as a whole, young people need to believe and hope that these things are possible. Like you don’t have to answer to the same people, you don’t have to do things the same way. The problem in Nigeria is that as a generation we’ve been quiet and dormant for so long. And so, some of us end up being taken advantage of by the system and some of us just don’t want to be involved. But the problem with that, like we said, is that nothing ever changes. And so first and foremost we want to prove that it is possible. Secondly, we want to lead by example. Now, me going into the House of Reps; I had a certain segment of the population that was like: Oh, why are you starting at House of Reps, your name is bigger than that, like you should have gone for something more. But I believe that Nigeria, if we’re going to fix Nigeria, it starts in the level of the community. You fix a country like Nigeria by fixing one community at a time And so we’ll start in Eti-Osa, we’ll start with this seat. And because of, by virtue of the career that I’ve had, I believe that I will be a rallying point because I’m not on APC side, I’m not on PDP side, I’m on the side of Nigeria, I’m on the side of young people. And so when we get into the House, I’m friends with everybody and friends with nobody. And so, I’m depending a little bit on the fact …
Rotimi Sankore: We’ve heard something like that …
BW: Oh, no no no, then I shouldn’t have said that, I’m sorry. That just rolled, that rolled off my tongue wrongly.
AO: Well, it probably rolled off, it always rolls of the tongue wrongly because it means that: I like people but I’m not beholden to them. I think that’s really what it means.
BW: Which is what I’m trying to say, is that when we get into the house, we’re not loyal to one side or the other side, we’re just loyal to the issues that affect our …
AO: But are you not running in sufficient enough numbers in the Modern Democratic Party for you to make, to gather a critical mass.
BW: So here’s the thing. As a party we decided that we were going to focus on only two seats in the House in this election. So we’re going for my seat in Eti-Osa and our party chairman’s seat in Ondo State. And that was very intentional. Our original plan was to wait until 2023 and build capacity till then. But then we decided that, you know, the generation needs an example, they need to see that this thing is possible, they need to believe in that, and just, you know honestly, as a party our resources are very limited, so we don’t have the ability to …
AO: Well, it’s another issue because as I said, in this section of the programme, I mean I’m sure that Rotimi will get on to the politics and the strategy and so on, but in this section we focus on integrity and ethics, and when you say that your resources are limited, is there an ethical way to campaign in the face of a situation where vote buying is becoming a little bit rampant, where you have the powers of incumbency, some like to use a strong right arm, which is code for political thuggery. How are you going to campaign with integrity in such an environment?
BW: So, you know what it is: I feel like the country is ready to do things differently. They just need to see that it is possible. So let me give you an example. We went out for our first door-to-door last weekend. We went to different areas of Eti-Osa community just engaging with people. In one of the places, one of the major political parties who has an opponent, that I’m going up against, had actually sent bags of rice and gari and things of that nature, to the community the day before we got there. The community sent it back! So the people themselves are ready to do things differently, like: yes, vote buying is a problem, yes thuggery is a problem yes all of these things are happening, but I think that the community just needs to see a different option on the table, and that’s what we’re depending on. Honestly, listen, we’re either going to get in doing it the right way or we’re not going to get in at all.
AO: So you feel that that kind of campaigning …
RS: Sorry, … we need to run ads
AO: Well, we’re back with Banky W. And, of course, you know Banky W’s Twitter handle @BankyW, I’m @naijama and @RotimiSankore has also joined us. But we were talking, I mean as I said, we focus on integrity, the anti-corruption segment if I may say, of this election campaign. And you mentioned the fact that you’ve, that your party has decided to concentrate on only two seats, and …
BW: Oh, I remember where we were. Do you want to pick up from there or do you want to go ahead?
AO: Sure, go ahead.
BW: So you were asking that how do we intend to compete, essentially with this era of vote buying things of that nature …
AO: … thuggery, yes.
BW: … and thuggery and things of that nature. So, and what I was saying as MDP we’re only focusing on two races, on two seats in the House, because of our limited resources, and so you said: With those limited resources how do we intend to compete?
AO: Yeah, and I’m asking whether the kind of campaign that you’ve been running, which is a door-to-door campaign, at which … Nigerians are a very polite people, they’re rarely going to tell you to get lost to your face, they will even promise to vote for you. But how do you bridge the gap with, when they will say: What have you got for me? Our sort of ‘Your boys are here’ culture and so on. How do you bridge that with, and still conduct a campaign that speaks of integrity?
BW: Right, so the first thing is, the largest voter constituency, if you will, in Nigeria, are the people that don’t show up. They are the people that are disenfranchised, the people that are frustrated, the people that don’t believe the system works or will ever work. And so, for instance, in this House of Reps seat race, in 2015, there were two hundred and fifty-something thousand people registered to vote in Eti-Osa. Do you know how many people voted in, for the House of Reps seat? Fifty-six thousand. Out of two hundred and fifty something thousand. And the person that won, won with thirty thousand or so votes. And so, what that tells me is that there are so many more people who are eligible to vote who do probably …
AO: It’s an untapped reservoir of people who are …
BW: It’s an untapped reservoir of people who, they’re not loyal to any party…
RS: What is just called ‘Voter apathy’
BW: Thank you. Voter Apathy
AO: Well, you may call it Voter Apathy, but the fact is that people may be very energetic in that so-called apathy in the sense that they are saying that it’s not that I can’t be bothered, it’s that I have consciously decided not to engage. And I wonder whether, you see, you have undoubted star power, everybody knows you from, if they haven’t seen you in films, they would have heard your music, they know your music and so on. And if you were to get into the National Assembly, you’ll be coming up against people who may not have the same resources, the same luxury of being able to say I have something else to do if I’m not in power. Do you think that’s going to impact the way that you behave in, if you get into office?
BW: I think that I have a bit of an advantage like you say, because of the career that I’ve had.. And so, I feel like I’m at the point where, I know how much I’m sacrificing to do this. And I’m either going to do it the right way, or I’m not going to do it at all. So it’s either I get into it running the campaign the right way, talking to the constituents the right way, performing in office the right way, or I’m not going to do it at all. And if I get in and I start, you know, messing around or changing or adapting to the system, and this is what I told my volunteers (because we’re having this big volunteer drive and people are signing up in the thousands to help us out), but I told them, I said, you know what? If I get in and I don’t do what I say that I would do and I change in my character or the things that I stand up for, then vote me out. We need to become a one-term government country until we get it right, and that is from the president all the way down. Now in the last elections we unseated an incumbent president because people felt like the administration wasn’t working. So this time, if people feel like an administration is not working, vote them out. If we get in and you feel like we’re not working, get us out of there. This is what Nigeria needs. We need to become a country that says: You get one shot. You mess up you’re gone and we try someone else. That is where, that is how bad things have become, and that is what we need to be. You’re … the office that you hold is not your birthright. It doesn’t belong to you, it doesn’t belong to your family, it doesn’t belong to your party it belongs to the people, and if the people feel like you’re not doing a good job, then kick them out and try someone else and that’s what we’re going to do.
AO: Well I think that the idea of, people will say that Banky W and the Modern Democratic Party are coming with a lot of idealism, but well Rotimi, I’m going to hand over to you now, because I don’t necessarily think that we need to say that idealism is a wrong thing. It’s actually the sad thing about our politics, perhaps is that there’s less of idealism in it, and …
BW: I agree
AO: … and more of ‘what’s in it for me?’
So with that, I want to put an end to the IDEAS segment of the programme, and thank you for showing us how a campaign can reflect these virtues that we’re very concerned with in our segment.
BW: Thank you.
AO: Please remember to look at our website, which is ideas, www.ideasradio.ng and of course, as I said, you can get me on @naijama. And see you next week!
BW: And my website is www.BankyWellington.com in case you feel like checking out another site.
AO: Well, you must have a campaign website?
BW: Yes, that is it: www.BankyWellington.com so please check it out.
RS: So thank you so much Ayo.