How Nigeria’s Youth Participation Campaign Swept Banky W For Breakfast
To enhance the success and consistency of any meaningful public programme, the ability to forge an emotional connection with young people is critical. Especially if you want to establish a Tsunami of super-charged enthusiasm and fierce loyalty.
Without any doubt, the youth segment is also quite critical because of its demographic power and peer influence
The young people of today’s age are very politically conscious, enormously aware of their rights, and passionate about social, political, and environmental changes. They don’t accept any reality without quality information and diverse perspectives on it at their fingertips. This allows them to be well-informed, empathetic, and self-assured. This generation views their behavior in line with their values, so they are more likely to support personalities they believe can make a positive impact.
If the last “Endsars” protest in Nigeria against police brutality did nothing, at least it revealed the real strength in youth mobilization, their level of awareness, empathy, and belief systems. A lot of young people have jolted into action with the awareness that bad leadership was the nucleus- of all the challenges that have plagued the country and what can effectively change things is when they get actively involved.
From that period, young people began looking around for a magnetic force in the country that can create the desired change, that can tackle mounting insecurity, economic stagnation, and corruption. They were also quite ready to take their destinies into their hands.
The entry of Peter Obi into the Labour Party with a message that Young people can readily connect with was all that they needed. So, they create an army called “The Obidients” that has created multiple ripples in Nigeria’s 2023 elections including the sweeping away of Olubankole Wellington – known more popularly as Banky W, a young music artist and record label executive who was poised to take up a seat at the Federal House of Representatives.
How did a relatively unknown Thaddeus Attah of the Labour Party with 24,075 votes, overcome two heavyweights- Olubankole Wellington (Banky W) of the Peoples Democratic Party who polled 18,666 votes, and Mr. Babajide Obanikoro, the son of the popular Senator Obanikoro of the APC who scored 16,901 votes? How did Attah win the highly coveted House of Reps seat? This puzzle is really a case study for researchers and experts in political marketing.
Banky W, 41 has had a prominent presence in Nigeria’s entertainment circle for more than 15 years. An accomplished singer with four albums to his credit, his EME Label introduced the megastar, Wizkid to the music world, and he also managed the superstar for about 5 years.
Banky’s wife is a popular brand, just like the husband. She has featured in some of Nollywood’s biggest movies, including “The Wedding Party” where the couple acted together. As far as personality branding and appeal are concerned, it would be a very challenging task to identify a more appealing pair than Banky and Adesua to present to any enlightened constituency
Banky was indeed running to represent Eti-Osa federal constituency, an area in Nigeria’s commercial nerve centre of Lagos Island which comprises affluent neigbourhoods like Ikoyi, Lekki, and Victoria, as well as some less economically endowed communities around them. The expectation was that creating a connection between Banky and his elite constituency would be seamless, especially since he was now running on a platform with a stronger national appeal- the People’s Democratic Party.
Banky has always had a great record of community service, even after he lost at the last polls in 2019. He was at forefront of the Lekki Food Bank Initiative during the COVID-19 lockdown period giving out food to the needy. Community service was his clear passion. The belief was that now that he is seeking their votes, it would be almost natural for them to vote for him.
So, what went awry on Feb 25? How did this young, vibrant, and popular, candidate lose to a candidate who never campaigned and most times could barely recall that he was contesting on Feb 25?
Many observers feel Banky must have wrongly generalized the perception that the democratic climate where people have a particular candidate for a particular aim applies everywhere.
Banky W, most probably did not check the tide of the political wave. He did not know that he was swimming against a Tsunami poised to clear so many things on its way.
An online comment on Twitter from Benard Ojo advised Banky W should go and get some good rest. Ojo went further, “He has chosen the path of Atiku, he should take what comes with it. Banky didn’t read the clouds. I lost interest the day I saw a Banky W poster with Atiku’s face on it too. You can’t join our problem and claim that you wish us well…”
Also commenting on Twitter, Rangoon Osis opined, “Everyone was punching Labour Party on all the ballot papers with annoyance. We did not know that the other candidates were. If Banky was in LP I’m sure he would have won. It was just a case of being at the wrong place at the right time. We are just tired of PDP and APC. We just want a better option.”
For Clo_Designs, another commentator on Twitter, “Banky would have won under Labour Party… But it’s all good… Congratulations to the winner. People like me, I just did LP all the way… I have never heard of the other candidates. We dey build our structure… Small, small…”
Also commenting on Twitter, Original_Baba K said: “If I had known, I would have personally bought LP form for the House of Rep, I swear. This dude that won never campaigned. Peter Obi’s oil just covers all of them. I hope they won’t decamp to other parties if LP doesn’t win the presidential election.”
A few others taunted him on social media. One anonymous commentator said, “I hope Banky W will now face his music career rigorously. I bet politics is not his calling. He was beaten black and blue. Politics is not child’s play”.
However, many others have also taken to social media to defend and console him. Wiz Okeke said, ‘Why exactly are people mocking Banky W? We said we want more youths in politics, a youth came and tried his best and lost and the best we can do is mock him? Truly we deserve every single bad leader we have as a country”.
Okorafor Orji also twitted, “I sincerely don’t understand how we claim we are tired of oldies in politics. Then young people step up and u are mocking them for losing. Banky W and the other young people who contested are supposed to be applauded no matter the result.”
For any country or society, progress can be extensively guaranteed when the youths are in active participation in its affairs. Of course, it is no fallacy that youths are the pioneers of a blossoming future for any establishment, society, and the world at large. Young people are full of adventure, hope, energy, most importantly; ambition. They dream big and when empowered, pursue such dreams to their logical fulfillment. There is no willpower that can surpass that of a developed and determined youth in his/her prime.
Empowered youth recognize their competence, self-determination, and value. They experiment on things worthwhile just like Banky W did in politics. They possess values they work with. The opinion of others cannot suppress their aspirations in life. When they fall, they pick themselves up and aim for greater and giant strides. Most importantly, they tap into that innate desire to beat the odds and do better by the day.
This should be the motivation for Banky W and all the youths who tried their hands with this 2023 but could not hit their targets- pick yourselves up, beat the odds, and push for 2027. Prepare harder, observe better, and look out for better ‘connections’.
I sincerely believe we still have many young people with great perspectives and ideas. By encouraging them to voice their opinion on governance, we could be opening and moving the political world forward. This will not only be good but necessary for our society. If our youth don’t engage in politics, even if it is through pressure groups, there would be many challenging issues with our political establishments in trying to keep policy fair and sustainable for future generations.