Olubankole Wellington, popularly known by his stage name Banky W, has been a consistent and very successful musician for more than a decade now.
Aside from having a huge fan base as an artiste, he has bred other highly successful talents such Wizkid, Skales, DJ Xclusive, and Niyola among others, through his record label, Empire Mates Entertainment.
The singer did not stop there as he is also out here getting all the applause as an actor for his roles in ‘The Wedding Party and ‘Up North’. Banky W talks to Azuka Ogijuiba about these and more.
You shocked many with your aspiration for a political office. Many were wondering if it was just a movie scene or you were serious. Tell us about it. How long did you nurture the desire to run?
Honestly, for me, I probably resisted the urge to run for office rather than nurture it. I resisted it for a long time probably because it was just tough to accept the fact this is something I need to do while considering the things I’d need to give up in the process. For me, just being a vocal critic of government, leadership and the issues that have been going on in Nigeria all this time was not enough. I have been a vocal critic for a very long time. The challenge is, that is not enough, because we can talk all we want all day long, but if there aren’t the right people with the right intentions, the right character and the right level of intelligence entering the government at different levels, then this change that we dream about will never actually happen. So for me, this year, when I started telling people ‘let’s register to vote’, I had to sit down and tell myself that ‘you know what, you have been an arm-chair critic and until you yourself is willing to stand up, pay the price, sacrifice and attempt to be a part of the people that change and fix the problems, then all of that talk… is just talk.’ So, that’s how I shocked myself, my wife, my business partners and I guess I shocked everybody else. I just think it’s something that had to be done.
How were you able to convince those around you about this?
When I first had the conversation with my wife, she said she was worried about me getting into politics in Nigeria because it’s dirty and dangerous… and she didn’t want anything to soil me or harm me. I told her that yes she was right. Politics in Nigeria is very dirty and dangerous, but that’s because the good people always avoid it. So, it will remain dirty and dangerous forever unless people with the right intentions and who want good for Nigeria, start to be a part of the people that are trying to change Nigeria. We complain about it but we never want to get involved. So for me, part of the goal is to inspire other credible individuals in our country to stand up and be the change we so desperately need.
As a singer, how do you intend to handle your home front, music and being a politician?
What you’d hopefully see from the way I operate in my career is that I give priority to different things at different points in time. At a certain point, my priority was being an artiste , putting out my own music and all, then at some point my priority was being a record label executive and helping other artistes grow.. and at other points, it was corporate engagements, or charity or making movies… and now it’s politics and public service. I’m concerned with making an impact, and the best way that I can do that is through politics and public service. However, in all of that, my home front is my number one priority, over everything and I will always pay attention to that.
Some ladies recently called you out on social media after sighting you in an old range rover. This got your attention and you replied them saying you were going to auction the car and give the money to charity. Tell us more about it?
There are some people who felt that I shouldn’t have replied or should not dignify any insult with a response and that’s true sometimes, but I also wanted to use it as a teachable moment and hopefully leave a lesson behind. First, what’s our priority as a generation? Is it just to stunt and to slay? Is it to look rich or to be wealthy? If I was someone who was driving a luxury car or a billion Naira car and I’m still paying rent in the compound where I’m packing that car… it just doesn’t make sense to me. Where exactly are our priorities at? Even before the incident with the stalker ladies, I had already been having discussions about a month or two prior, on how to auction the car and donate the money to charity. So we used their attempt to slander me as publicity for the car, did the auction and raised N2.8 million for charity. Actually, the car was sold for 2.3 million but the company (Cars45) that organised the auction for me were kind enough to chip an additional N500,000 making it N2.8 million. So N1.4 million went to the School for the Blind while the other half went to the Pink Oak Cancer Trust fund, a body I have been working with to donate money and create awareness about cancer and treatment. All of that was me trying to show that we have to get our priorities right. I could have given that car out to just one person or sold it and added the money to buy my next car, but I believe that together we can use what we have, to fix ourselves as a society and help each other, one community at a time.
From taking a lead role in the Wedding Party, and now Up North, what is your vision as far as acting is concerned?
The vision here is to be part of those few people who are currently working hard to open doors for other people to invest in filmmaking. You can invest and get your money back with the right crew, script, directing and cast. That’s why I’m a co-executive producer in Up North. It is such an interesting film that addresses a lot of issues. When you think about the Northern part of Nigeria these days, you tend to think about terrorism; nobody is talking about the beauty of the region and the amazing people there just because of the few bad eggs. So ‘Up North’ shows that amazing side of the North you don’t get to see or hear much about. It also stresses the need for us to educate and empower our children, especially our girl-children, who we haven’t been very kind to as a nation. In fact, it touches on so many important issues, but it cleverly disguises them in this comedy about a rich, spoilt brat’s NYSC experience. It’s so much more than what people are expecting and I can’t wait for everyone to see it.
A lot of your fans out here would like you to address the Wizkid’s issue after missing your traditional and white weddings.
I think people unfairly judged Wiz and a lot of them were a little bit too harsh on him for missing the wedding. Many people forget that around the time of my traditional wedding was also when One Africa Music Fest was going on in Dubai. So, there were many other artistes at the event, who were struggling trying to make it back to catch up with the wedding. In fact, Tiwa Savage had to take the last available economy seat in the plane, even though she had an upper-class ticket for a few days later, just to get her back in time for my wedding. So, it wasn’t just Wizkid that missed it, a lot of people who were at the concert did. Either way, people should know that the relationship between Wizkid and I is deeper than any fame or fortune. Wizkid is my younger brother, he has been for a very long time and that is never going to change. We love each other and that’s my brother for life. And honestly, the same goes for Skales, Xclusive, Niyola, Shaydee, MasterKraft , Suka Sounds, Timothy King etc. Everyone we worked with at EME during the early years. Osagie, Uche, Anuel and others… there’s a bond between us all, it’s a family affair. No matter what happens, family remains family. Family first, family forever.
When you are not working, how do you relax?
My favourite relaxation activity is being at home with my wife. I think we both work hard and are always busy, so any spare time that we have, we prefer to put the phones on silent and just stay indoors. Also, whenever we get the chance, we both love to travel and explore other places.
What’s your wife, Adesua’s favourite colour and favourite local meal?
It varies… she likes things like Amala and seafood okra, yam pottage, but I’m turning her into a big lover of meat and protein generally. Her favourite colour also changes, at the moment I would say green. She also likes pink related colours such as peach and blush. But she hates pink as a colour .
What would you say is the highlight of being married given the high cases of divorce and broken homes in the industry?
The highlight of my marriage so far… honestly, it has been the entire journey and the entire experience. It’s very important for this generation to understand that it’s okay to wait. Before now, one of the most frequently asked questions during my interviews was when would I get married and I’m glad I didn’t give in to that pressure. I’m so glad that I waited because now I’ve found not just a wife but someone that is my purpose partner, someone that we can build our destinies together.
Then as far as divorces, broken homes, and drama in marriages, I’m of the school of thought that you try and keep whatever issues affecting your personal lives between you, and off the internet/social media. Don’t forget that sometimes there are children involved, and they’ll be affected as well if you put everything out there.
What’s your guilty pleasure?
It has always been food. I’m such a foodie. I have also recently started playing FiFa 2019 on PS4, and it is fun.
Who is your favourite actor and who has influenced your career?
My favourite actor is my wife. Also, internationally, I like people like Will Smith and Denzel Washington, Julia Roberts and Halley Berry. At home, my favourite male actor is RMD, he is someone I love dearly. I call him Pops. I love Aunty Ireti Doyle, Aunty Shola Shobowale and others.
Man United and Arsenal Go Head To Head In The Premier League on DStv
It’s another big weekend for Manchester United as they face Arsenal in the English Premier League on Sunday November 1, 2020.
Still battling with a wobbly start to the new season, the Red Devils will be looking forward to ending their home games woes as they face the Gunners at the Old Trafford in the Super Sunday match.
United head into the match under intense pressure to regain fans’ confidence and get its Premier League campaign on track after an unimpressive home run. They have won their last 10 away games in all competitions but none of their last five at home.
It is United’s worst start to a season at Old Trafford in the last 48 years.
The once dreaded Old Trafford where opponents visit with their hearts in their mouths is fast becoming a common ground after United suffered 3-1 loss to Crystal Palace, 6-1 to Tottenham and refused to score a goal against the Blues last weekend. It is left to be seen whether Arsenal will come close to repeating the 6-1 plummeting of United by its North London rivals.
Despite losing 1-0 to Leicester City on Monday night, the Gunners boss, Mikel Arteta, will be boosted by the fact that his side has a head to head advantage over United in their last three encounters.
The head to head record appears to favour Arsenal having won two and drawn one of the duo's last three league meetings while United’s last win against Arsenal was in the FA Cup in 2019.
Arsenal presently at 10th place on nine points travel to Old Trafford on Sunday without Gabriel Martinelli, Pablo Mari, Rob Holding, Calum Chambers have all been ruled out with injury. David Luiz who picked up a muscular injury against Leicester is also unsure for the game yet.
United with seven points sits at 15th place will also be without Anthony Martial still serving his domestic suspension, while Eric Bailly, Jesse Lingard and Phil Jones are all ruled out with injury.
While we look forward to the epic battle at Old Trafford this weekend live on DStv, we cannot lose sight of matches from the 18 other Premier League clubs that will all be in action this weekend. The games will also be live on
SuperSport Premier League for all DStv customers.
Kwara Governor, Abdulrazaq Declares 24-hour Curfew
Following the outbreak of violence in some quarters of the State, Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq of Kwara State has declared a 24-hour Curfew on the state starting on Saturday.
Governor Abdulrazaq made this known in a statewide broadcast on Friday night.
Recall that on Friday some residents of Ilorin, the Kwara State capital stormed the warehouses where the government stored COVID-19 palliatives expected to be distributed to citizens.
Also Read: BREAKING: Lagos Government Relaxes Curfew
The warehouses, located at the cargo warehouse of the International airport in Ilorin as well as the agro-mall located in the Sango area of the state were totally ransacked as residents struggled to pack as much food items as they could.
Abdulrazaq said, “Lives are being threatened. Businesses are being looted. Public properties have been targeted. This is unacceptable. It is not who we are.
“To curb these acts of criminalities, I hereby declare a 24-hour curfew in Ilorin metropolis from midnight today October 23rd, 2020. This is in line with Sections 1, 2, and 4 of the Public Order Act Chapter 382 Laws of Federation of Nigeria 2004.
“People are urged to stay indoors in compliance with this curfew. This will be reviewed as we watch developments.
“Our observation is that what has happened today is not a protest, it cannot be defended under any guide, it was a pure act of criminality as some people are hiding under the guise of nationwide protest.”
Lagos Policemen Brutalise PUNCH Journalists For Covering #EndSARS Protest
Two PUNCH journalists, Femi Dawodu and Segun Odunayo, were on Wednesday brutalised by policemen guarding the Lagos State House of Assembly in Ikeja.
The duo had gone to cover events around the Alausa area, a major demonstration ground of the #EndSARS protesters calling for a total overhaul of the Nigeria Police Force.
According to the PUNCH, both Odunayo and Dawodu were recording a live video of activities in the area when the policemen accosted them and ordered them to stop the recording.
After showing the policemen their identity cards, indicating that they are journalists covering #EndSARS protests and monitoring compliance with the government-imposed curfew, the policemen became annoyed and pounced on them.
Odunayo said the policemen tortured them for four hours, adding that they stripped them of their clothes, laid them on the floor, beat them with a stick and guns, and took a video recording of them while torturing them at the Lagos State House of Assembly.
Odunayo said, “Femi and I were at the Secretariat in Alausa around 7 am and were doing a live video of the activities going on in the area. We were heading back to the expressway when a group of armed policemen accosted us at the Lagos State House of Assembly roundabout and immediately collected our phones. We showed them our ID cards, but they refused to let us go.
“What got the policemen annoyed was that we saw them using a stick and a rubber to beat a young man, and during the live video, they heard me saying that they were beating someone. So, after they arrested us, they tortured us and demanded that we should do another live video denying the statement, but we refused.
“Each Time we refused, they slapped us, used a stick to beat us, used the butt of their guns to hit our heads and bodies after stripping us of our clothes. All they wanted was for us to do another live broadcast to claim that we lied and we didn’t because we told the truth.”
Dawodu said it took the intervention of the state Police Public Relations Officer, Muyiwa Adejobi before they were released at the Alausa Police Station, adding that before their release, the policemen took their details, including their addresses, took a video record of them and threatened to go after them if any negative report was published about what happened.
He said, “The policemen were transferring the aggression of what is happening regarding the #EndSARS protest on us. They later took us to the Divisional Police Station in Alausa, and if not for the DPO, the policemen guarding the LSHA that arrested us would have done more grievous things to us.
“The PPRO and the DPO later spoke with them, and we were released.
“But despite his intervention, we were told to write statements. They collected our details, address, took video recordings of us making false statements during the torture, and threatened to use it to blackmail and go after us if we end up doing any bad report against them.”
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