Banky W, fate and faith, By Simbo Olorunfemi

Even though I have been meaning to write about Banky W for some months now and had been thinking and talking about him since the end of the elections of February 25th, I only really got inspired to write about him Wednesday morning.

Again, it was on my early morning walk. With the many posters on the walls to my left and right, one might have mistaken this pathway for a black-carpet. There was a way his poster spoke to me this morning that inspired me to write. Perhaps it was the message on the poster.

“They have the billboards, we have the people”.

Whereas my initial thought/interest was to delve into the nitty-gritty of his election loss and interrogate the circumstances around the particular election, but after listening to him speak later in the day, I was no longer sure what direction to take in approaching this.

“This was to be our thanksgiving service; after the election, we would come celebrating God, and I was just going to give a short charge to say see what the Lord has done, and we use that to build up your faith, and then we finish the service, and I go to Abuja to start looking for apartment and office space.”

This was Banky W speaking, I presume last Sunday, a week after the loss at the polls. Some might find his statement here rather presumptuous, even arrogant, some might say. But you need to understand that Banky is a man of faith and he was speaking within the context of his faith, before people of same faith with him. Then, within the context of that election, Banky had every cause to be that confident about a positive outcome, because he had put in the shift and had been well received by the community.

His victory at the election was almost a given, many concluded within the constituency. Even members of the APC had long resigned to this as a fair accompli, as many of them were known to have sympathy for Banky. Some members silently rooted for him and might have even voted for him in place of their party’s candidate in that election.

Banky first made the move to represent Eti-Osa Constituency in the House of Representatives in 2018, joining the Modern Democratic Party (MDP), a relatively unknown party led by some youths. That was preparatory to the 2019 elections. Many took this as a joke. I didn’t see it as such even though I knew he stood no chance at the time.

It was to be a straight fight between the PDP and APC, with the APC having the easiest contest in a long time, with the major powers in the PDP in the constituency having crossed back to the APC. Inevitably, Banky lost, but he definitely put up a decent showing at the polls, coming third behind APC and PDP, in spite of having started late and running on a weak platform.

He was smart enough to see the race as a marathon, moving on after the loss to continue to build on what he was able to accomplish at the polls. Identifying the weakness of the platform as one of the drawbacks of 2019, and with the MDP now defunct, Banky joined the PDP.

At the time, I didn’t quite think he should have joined the PDP, as I felt he had gathered enough steam around his movement that stood him in a better stead as an independent than 2019. I also felt that the energy that had been ignited by the endsars issue might have been enough to carry him through, no matter which platform he runs on, knowing that the incumbent from the APC and the most likely Candidate to emerge was not standing on solid ground. But I could also see why he chose to join the PDP and what potentials were there riding on a structure that was quite strong in the constituency.

Outsiders might not know it, but Eti-Osa Constituency has a peculiar configuration that has always made election there quite competitive. It is a mini-Nigeria, with a healthy mix of people from all parts of the country. The sentiments that drive national elections are more present here, shaping the outcome of elections there every cycle. So, in a way, Banky was well-placed and he stepped up after the controversial primaries, which he was first listed to have lost, to dig deep and connect with people in the constituency.

Of course, as we have now seen, that eventually did not translate to a victory for Banky, as he came second behind Attah, the unknown Labour party candidate. With that loss, some have queried Banky for not running on the platform of the Labour party. Apparently, they are looking at this post-facto, forgetting that at the time he emerged as the PDP candidate, there was no Labour or Peter Obi wave.

In fact, at the time Banky contested the first PDP primaries, even Peter Obi was still in the PDP. Except the argument is that Banky should have either foreseen the emergence of the Obidients or jump ship when it emerged, not many would have seen that he would become a collateral damage in the indiscriminate voting for Labour by many in his constituency without regard for the candidates on the ballot, until results from the exercise emerged. Safe to say that Banky was, as stated, a collateral damage and there was not much he could have done to stem the tide of the tsunami.

It is the tears, crocodile in some instances, after the act that makes the Banky W loss a pitiable one. The sad thing for Banky must be the fact that he put in so much only to lose, not to the opponent he thought he was contesting with, but candidate who was largely incognito. Some even claim that a handful of posters that we saw last week only came up after the election had been won and lost.

But it is what it is. As I pored through results from each of the polling unit from the 10 wards that make up the constituency, the pattern was uniform, the Banky W factor evident in the fact that while the PDP consistently came third in the PUs in the Presidential election, it consistently emerged second in the House of Representatives election, beating the APC to the third place.

No doubt that he did put in the shift and connected with the people. I bet that the circumstances of this loss makes it undoubtedly painful and he would need a strong faith to be able to deal with it. That, he does seem to have.

“And God said, is it only faith when you win, because the truth is your faith in God does not stop you from hurting, but it helps you heal, and it helps you deal. It’s not just about everything is rosy, and it’s a walk in the park.”

“Your faith doesn’t help you avoid troubles, but it will help you transform it, it helps you process it, it helps you understand it, it helps you overcome it.”

At this time, he would have to remember his words, after the loss of 2019 :

“This is a lifelong commitment. We have started a movement that has shown the potential for success down the line; the key for us now is to sustain the momentum and continue to build the movement. Consistency is crucial. Our movement has just begun, and it will go as far as we are willing to take it.”

I believe that we have not seen the end of Banky W in politics. Difficult as it is to process a pathway from this point at the moment, but I will hold on, again, to his words, believing them to be true and send them back to him to encourage him to keep the faith. He says, “If you think my story is ended, then you don’t know me, you don’t know my God.”

His story is no way ended. It is only the end of one chapter and the beginning of another. The seeds he has planted will still germinate and yield good fruits. At the right time. Keep the faith, Banky.

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