Banks INFLUENCERS

INTERVIEW | Power is Not Given, Youths Must Participate – Omishore [@MrBanksOmishore] #TheInfluencersNG

Bamikole ‘Banks’ Omishore is the Special Assistant on New Media to the President of the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki. Banks received a degree from Coppin State University in Management Science. As New Media Aide to Nigeria’s Senate President, he spear-headed the #MadeInNigeria initiative, which gave a powerful voice to the diversification of the Nigerian economy, with the President of the Senate as the champion. In this interview, he talks about his work as New Media aide to the Senate President of Nigeria, youth, politics and governance amongst other issues.

Excerpts;

You are the Special Assistant on New Media to the President of the Senate, Federal Republic of Nigeria, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki. You’ve worked closely with him even before he became Senate President. Tell us, what does your job entail?

First, let me congratulate you guys for the beautiful work your parent company SIGNAL is doing. In the last few months, you have managed to carve a niche that distinguishes your organization within the fragile media environment and I hope you will be able to build on that. For me, working for Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki as Special Assistant on New Media has been a great opportunity. The job entails working with other members of the media team to push out information of what’s being done by the Senate President both personally and officially and the Senate as a whole institution to Nigerians on all New Media platforms. We also gather information from different online platforms on which we, the entire media team now itemize a strategic plan of action. The Senate President being an avid new media user himself from time to time directly gives assignments on special projects he wants me to handle.

As a young Nigerian in the corridors of power, what are the three major lessons you have learnt through your work? 

In the six (6) years I have been working with Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, I have learnt quite a whole lot of things but I’m going to narrow it to three major lessons: 1) 100% loyalty is key for a smooth working relationship. 2) A Media Aide is only as effective as the access he has to his Principal and to information. 3) Don’t allow the position to get to your head; Make friends across the divide.

Why do Nigerian youths especially in the new media space appear so divided along party lines? Everything seems to be viewed from the angles of my candidate is better than yours or my party is better than yours?

Well, that is the billion-dollar question that I would love to see a lot of young Nigerians answer. I do agree with the assessment that there is a lot of hostility online that is not based on issues but simply based on party affiliation or individuals. It is important that we start to form a consensus on agreeing that regardless of whoever is doing something that improves the lives of Nigerians we should agree that is good for our nation and if otherwise, we say so with one united voice.

What should young Nigerians do to scale the walls of exclusion in politics and governance?  

Power is never given to anyone or group. You must actively participate to take it. I am of the humble opinion that for Nigerian youths to take their rightful place in politics and public life, we must get involved actively at the local level. From the Polling Unit to Ward, to LCDA, to Local Government Level. We must have strong presence; people must feel the impact you bring to the community that they will rather back you than anyone else regardless of political party affiliation. Imagine a young guy that assists to train younger ones in the community; that leads different community outreach; that improves the life of the people, it will be easier for them to rally around you than just one money-miss-road that they can collect the money and still vote the right person.

The emergence of a 39-year old Macron as President of France has got a lot of young Nigerians thinking and talking. Can Nigerian youths replicate that feat in Nigeria?

Like I said above, to change the status quo we must be able to agree on things outside of political affiliation, religion, tribe and ideological understanding that allows us to use our numerical strength to dictate who our leaders will be.

In the six (6) years I have been working with Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, I have learnt quite a whole lot of things but I’m going to narrow it to three major lessons: 1) 100% loyalty is key for a smooth working relationship. 2) A Media Aide is only as effective as the access he has to his Principal and to information. 3) Don’t allow the position to get to your head; Make friends across the divide.

What is your take on the Not Too Young to Run Bill currently being pushed at the Federal House of Representatives and the Senate?

The Not Too Young To Run Bill which seeks to lower the age for contesting elections is sponsored by Senator Abdul-aziz Murtala-Nyako and has been forwarded to the Constitution Review Committee chaired by Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu. The Bill is a good one as it will improve the participation of younger folks in the electioneering process. I believe both the House of Representatives and the Senate are eager to pass the Bill even as they look at other matters like Diaspora Voting and Independent Candidacy.

There have been concerns that Nigerian youths will be worse than the older generation they are clamoring to displace from power. True?

I really cannot say if Nigerian youths will be better or worse than those currently in power. There are both good and bad people among the younger and older generations. Regardless of age, I am of the opinion that going forward, it is very important that we pay closer attention to what individuals have been able to achieve in their previous endeavor before running for office. We should be able to ask ourselves the hard questions that; is Mr X or Ms X someone that can perform if given the opportunity to govern and the answer should help shape our electoral choice.

Power is never given to anyone or group. You must actively participate to take it. I am of the humble opinion that for Nigerian youths to take their rightful place in politics and public life, we must get involved actively at the local level. From the Polling Unit to Ward, to LCDA, to Local Government Level.

One of the reasons the older generation has advanced for their inability to trust Nigerian youths with power is the failure of the youths to manage themselves e.g. through bodies like NANS, NYCN etc which have been fraught with scandals and leadership crises. What’s your take? 

I think the youths group can do a better job coordinating themselves but then that goes back with serving for a purpose and not for personal gain.  If we can have leaders across board who are going into positions that we can say Mr or Ms X is running to lead this student/youth group and people remember her antecedents such as championing a campaign that benefitted this number of people and if given the opportunity we expect she will be able to help more people. Then that will enable us to use the bottom up approach to influence the way leaders emerge.

Many vocal Nigerians, especially youth influencers are being arrested and detained for comments in the social media. What do you think is going on?

When you say many influencers are being arrested, I will slightly defer on the use of many but then again one (1) might be too many if they were arrested for speaking which is covered under freedom of speech but where I have a little reservation is that I have seen quite a number of so called influencers try to use their online publicity to blackmail and extort money from people which is important that as much as we want to always uphold freedom of speech, we must find a balance to hold people accountable for false news.

What should Nigerian voters look out for in a presidential candidate in 2019?

Nigerian voters need to look beyond immediate gains and look deeper at those running for office. No matter how you think someone looks or how much people are singing their praises or because they speak your language or practice your religion, you must check if they are capable of delivering on what they are promising. We must move beyond sentiments to ask the candidate about their plans.

Do you see yourself running for office one day?

Some of us will rather work behind closed doors to put Nigeria on the right path. I have seen what my boss goes through and I must say I do not envy him. Every minute of the day, he must be available to those that elected him from his constituency, senators and other political meetings. I do not believe I’m cut out to run for elective post but I will continue to play my own part.

Nigerian voters need to look beyond immediate gains and look deeper at those running for office. No matter how you think someone looks or how much people are singing their praises or because they speak your language or practice your religion, you must check if they are capable of delivering on what they are promising. We must move beyond sentiments to ask the candidate about their plans.

Any final thoughts?

It is possible for new breed of politicians to emerge but we must first unite and begin to trust and respect ourselves. We must also see beyond the ephemeral and focus on the more important things.

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