Eti-Osa: Obanikoro’s Son, Banky W Set For Replay Battle

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With less than 50 days for the election of federal lawmakers, the contest for the Eti-Osa federal constituency of Lagos State is expected to be a straight battle between the incumbent lawmaker, Hon. Ibrahim Babajide Obanikoro (IBO) and popular entertainer, Olubankole Wellington, popularly known as Banky W.

The duo contested for the seat in the green chamber in 2019 with Ibrahim, the son of a former senator and Minister of State for Defence, Musiliu Obanikoro, emerging victorious at the end of the exercise. 

The candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Ibrahim, popularly known as IBO, polled 22,250 votes to defeat Anthony Akala Bakare of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) who had 18,767 and Banky W of Modern Democratic Party who recorded 7,130 votes.

However, the 2023 poll is expected to be a stern contest between Ibrahim and Banky W, who is now the candidate of the PDP. The musician turned politician believed he stands a better chance at the poll this time considering some of the successes he recorded under then little-known MDP.

Banky W, defeated APC at Vice President Yemi Osinbajo’s polling unit at the Victoria Garden City in 2019, polling 186 votes to place second behind Bakare of the PDP who polled 244 while Obanikoro had 167 votes. He also won his polling unit in Lekki with 575 votes against PDP’s 540 and APC’s 454.

The filmmaker who explained that the decision to join politics was driven by his desire for good governance in the country, expressed confidence in defeating the APC which has dominated the constituency and the state over the years.

“As long as I have been relevant in the art world, music, film and as a small entrepreneur, I have always been very vocal about the need for good governance and the need for young people to participate in politics,” he said in a recent interview.

While noting that the introduction of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BIVAS) by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) would make rigging almost impossible, he said more Nigerians are getting interested in the electoral process.

“The fact that the Electoral Act was passed has done amazing things for our democracy, because now this election will be won or lost at each individual’s polling unit. No one can go in a room somewhere in a collation centre and thumb print hundreds of ballots for their candidates. Now, you actually have to win the votes,” the PDP candidate said.

However, Obanikoro who said he is seeking a second term to provide more dividends of democracy to his constituents expressed optimism that the APC would retain the seat in the green chamber based on his performance.

“With the feedback we are getting from the constituents, my chance is extremely high. I am confident that my constituents are satisfied with my performance so far and also understand the importance of continuity,” he said in an exclusive interview with Daily Trust.

Obanikoro who noted that experience and continuity matter at the National Assembly because there is hierarchy in standing as there are 360 representatives pulling from the same basket stressed that he had championed many bills, empowered youths and women as well as facilitated developmental projects in his constituency.

“My major achievements are the facilitation of two standard healthcare facilities in Eti-Osa. I also facilitated the construction of over 4 blocks of 3 classroom buildings in different schools across Eti-Osa to help with our children’s education. 

“I also launched a free school bus scheme that runs from Ajah down to Osborne for students. I have facilitated the rehabilitation of 8 roads across Eti-Osa in areas such as Ajah, Obalende, 1004 Estate in VI, Ado, Osapa and Iroko Awę. I have facilitated the supply and installation of over 700 solar-powered street lights in Obalende, Ilasan, Ikoyi, Agungi, Itedo, Ado, Badore, Gbara, Igbokoshu and Ira Nla areas. Also like I said, within the period of my term, I have moved five bills which three have been moved and presented and two are still pending,” he added.

Securing tickets

However, securing the tickets of their political parties was not an easy ride for the duo who share the same year of birth – 1981.  For Obanikoro, the leadership of the party had to intervene after Prince Oyekanmi Elegushi reportedly defeated him in the primary.

Elegushi who polled 25 votes against Obanikoro’s 23 votes at the primary, said he relinquished the ticket in obedience to the party and its leadership.

“While pledging his loyalty to the party, he (Elegushi) appealed to his supporters to respect the decision of the party and ensure all the candidates of the party are returned elected in the 2023 elections,” noted his media aide, Tobi Etti, on his withdrawal from the race.

The return ticket for Ibrahim was a saving grace for the Obanikoro’s family as the father, Musiliu, lost the Lagos West Senatorial ticket to a former deputy governor, Idiat Adebule.

Banky W had to settle for a rerun primary to secure the ticket of the party, two weeks after he was earlier declared winner in the election but the result slip showed his challenger, Sam Aiboni, as the winner.

The party called for a rerun which he won with a landslide of 24 votes to 5.

Voters’ Apathy

Eti-Osa is a strategic constituency consisting of important areas in Lagos including Ajah, Victoria Island and Lekki. In fact, the home of APC presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu on the highbrow Bourdillon and that of his bitter rival and long-time PDP leader in the state, Bode George, on Lugard, Ikoyi fall within this constituency.

However, elections in the constituency in recent times have been greeted with voters’ apathy as winners emerged in 2015 and 2019 with less than 30,000 votes. The total votes cast in 2019 were 51,579 in a constituency with over 250,000 registered voters.

However, this was still among the highest as some constituencies recorded less than 20,000 total votes cast. Aside from Alimosho,no federal constituency had up to 100,000 votes. For instance, Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila had 14,617 votes to win his seat while the total vote cast in his Surulere 1 constituency was 23,024.

Despite having the highest number of registered voters in the country, voters’ turnout in Lagos has not been too impressive.

According to political analysts, the ability to mobilise first time voters as well as passive citizens to be active in the 2023 polls might be a major determinant for eventual winners.

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