Known by his stage name Banky W, Olubankole Wellington, an actor, rapper and singer, put his entertainment career on hold this past year to enter the realm of Nigerian politics.
Born in the United States, he returned to Nigeria as a child at the age of four. At 18, he went back to the US to do his university studies in engineering. After spending a few years there, he felt the pull back to Nigeria and returned, where he has been ever since.
In his office in Lagos city, he reminisces on his time in the US.
“New York is a beautiful city. Actually the energy of New York reminds me of the energy of Lagos. They are both very bustling cities, filled with people on the go. People with big dreams, people that are trying to do things for themselves.
“I love the vibe of New York. Almost as much as I love the vibe of Lagos. But Lagos is still number one,” says the 37-year-old.
The call of Naija
Coming back to Nigeria was a chance for him to concentrate on his true passion – music. Studying engineering was something he was good at and it was a sure thing in hand: “I wanted something to fall back on.”
Before resorting to plan B, he decided to go full speed ahead into the entertainment field. “I always looked up to people like Jay-Z and Dr Dre, people who started in music and were able to build different empires and different business interests from that musical space,” the artist gushes.
And it was this dream to combine his love for music coupled with a business that propelled him to take a risk.
“The challenge is just getting people to pay attention to what you want to do and show how you’re a little different from anybody else. And then there’s the challenges of financing and networking and not having certain connections or people backing you to invest in your craft.
“That’s not just a Nigerian challenge. It’s a challenge for anybody that wants to break into the entertainment business around the world. Thankfully I was able to.”
Makings of a politician?
“In the ten years of being a relatively successful music entrepreneur, I had always tried to use my voice and my platform for bigger causes,” explains the musician. As far back as 2009, he had tried to rally up people towards causes, such as ‘Light-up Nigeria’, an online movement (#LightUpNigeria ) of young people to pressure the government to pay attention to electricity throughout the country.
During elections, he had always tried to motivate young people to vote. But this time round he had another idea.
“We talk a lot, we complain a lot, we point fingers, we tweet, we do all of these things that complain about the country we have, but then when it comes down to it, we’re not much more than talking.
“If we really are serious about trying to fix Nigeria, we have to start participating for real, and we have to start not just registering to vote, but joining political parties, putting up our own candidates – candidates that are going to fight for the issues that concern us.”
And that’s when Bank W the entertainer, decided to announce his candidacy for a post at the House of Representatives for the Eti Osa constituency in Lagos under the Modern Democratic Party.
While he didn’t win, in an interview with the national paper ‘Punch’ he says “I can live with trying and failing at achieving a goal, but I cannot live with not trying.”
The man of dreams says while he has not quit the entertainment business, he will continue to roll with the momentum created from his political campaigning.