My journey into politics is a divine providence- Banjoko
Nigeria has witnessed influx of women into politics in recent years. Some of them have made huge impacts in the process across parties. As 2023 draws closer, some women have declared their intentions with some looking strong to win their party nominations; could this be the golden era for the woman in Nigerian politics?
One of such women with powerful prospects is Kate Omolola Banjoko, a staunch grassroot politician with great followership in the grassroots.
Banjoko, a Lagos- born successful business woman and politician born on October 18, 1973. She’s a quintessential leader, human welfare champion, environmental sustainability advocate, policy development expert, human right activist, philanthropist, lover of youth, women and children, loving wife and caring mother, responsible sister and adorable daughter who loves creative and analytic thinking.
Banjoko began her career as a Personal Assistant at the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing Headquarters between 1994 and 1996, after which she worked at Guaranty Trust Bank PLC between 1996 to 1997 as an Industrial Attaché with untainted records. She was also gainfully employed in November 1997 into the department of Domestic Operations, Transaction Services at the Integrated Corporate Services Ltd (Seconded to Guaranty Trust Bank PLC) until December, 2003.
Banjoko rose to the position of a Branch Settlement Head, Metropolitan Bank Limited in Victoria Island Head Office between January 2004 and December 2005. In February, 2006, she was hired as a consultant and Marketer for Eagle 8 consulting until the expiration of her contract in September of that same year.
Following her wealth of experience and expertise, she rose to the administrative level and became the Personal Assistant to the Managing Director for Ineh Mic Bureau De Change and multitasked as an Administrative Assistant to the West Africa Representative of Ford Foundation between September, 2006 and July, 2007.
With great input, prudence, dexterity and industry, Kate Omolola Banjoko rose to the office of an Administrative/Operations Manager, Ineh Mic Bureau De Change in July, 2007 through December, 2007. Being a sought after player, Kate moved to Treasures Microfinance Bank Limited and became the Head, Operations and Customer Service/Information Technology personnel between December, 2007 and June, 2008. Eventually, she was appointed Group Head, SME Bank/Business Development, Treasures Microfinance Bank Limited in July, 2008 and she served in the capacity till March, 2010.
Kate played a great role at Sammie Davito Enterprises as the Marketing Manager between April, 2010 and September, 2011 in the bid to advance its course.
Kate became the Head of Human Resources, Marketing and Admin for Vektro Foods Nigeria Limited in 2015 and got elevated to the position of the Chief Operating Officer in 2018, a position she recently stepped down from to focus on her mission to represent the people of Amuwo-Odofin at the Federal House of Representatives.
Driven by passion to cause holistic impact, she contested and was elected Councillor Eko Akete Ward A1 – Amuwo Odofin Local Government, Lagos, where she tripled as Chairman House Committee on Health and Environment and Deputy Chief Whip between April, 2011 to September, 2014 and made tremendous impacts.
She again contested for the Lagos state House of Assembly to represent Amuwo Odofin Constituency 1 and as the Executive Chairman, Amuwo Odofin Local Government in 2015 and 2018 respectively and was near victory.
She has since been making tremendous impacts and being a bespoke, determined and progressive individual, Kate Banjoko has decided to run for a seat in the House of Representatives, Amuwo Odofin Constituency in 2023 and victory is ascertained as the people are trooping all out in support of her ambition.
Speaking about her childhood experience, she said: “As a child, I was exposed to a life of luxury, class and close family ties. I remember that we had a dedicated vehicle that conveyed my siblings and I to school every day, we had every domestic staff possible to cater to our needs, we had teachers come to the house to teach us specially apart from regular study of the exam success packs with our father. On Sundays we would always go out for Lunch at Sheraton, Golden Gate Chinese restaurant, etc as a family. We went to fun places, visited notable sites such as the berthing of ships at the Marina, bar beach, Amusement Park, etc. I enjoyed my childhood until my dad passed on when I was about writing my J.S.S 3 exam in September 1988. I had to start working during holidays to fend for myself and my family. I would teach in a nursery school or work in a business centre where I learnt some office skills and typing.
“My Father, Nelson L.G. Jack, who also lived in Lagos for the most part of his life, was born into the Jacks compound of Abonnema in Rivers state, He studied mechanical Engineering in the prestigious Oxford University in the United Kingdom. He was an industrious and unapologetic entrepreneur with a high drive to succeed in all his endeavors. He formulated and produced hair and skin products for women which were inspired by Mother’s beautiful skin and very full hair. He made sure that we had the best education and was very involved in our (my siblings and I) academic lives. His involvement in our lives as children helped to shape our lives positively even after he passed on at the prime of his life at the age of 49 on the 29th of September 1988. All my siblings and I have grown to be successful in our various chosen field inside and outside the country.
My mother, my pillar and best friend Princess Victoria Aina Jack, was born in Zaria to the Royal Family of Pa Emmanuel Awofeso of Erunwon Land, Ogun state. She was a trained secretary who worked at a printing press until she met my father who in a bid to take good care of her told her to stop working and concentrate on the family. She was my father’s friend, lover and partner. At my father’s death, his extended family members were very unkind to her as they collected everything that he had left behind, this incident was one of the reasons I determined to work and fight for the cause of women, especially widows and children of widows. My siblings and I were made to live with different relatives who resided in different cities. This was very devastating for my widowed mother, who had to pick up the pieces of her life and continue the production of Hair and Skincare products on a very meagre scale in order to continue to pay our school fees and meet our basic needs. Her siblings were very supportive as best as they could. Eventually she moved to Ibadan where she settled down and continued to do her best to keep the family together.
On her aspiration, she said: “Amuwo Odofin Federal Constituency is the fourth largest local government in Lagos state. It is larger than some countries such as Estonia, Mauritius, Cyprus, etc with little or nothing to show for it.
“I did a simple investigation into the assets of Amuwo Odofin and realised that Amuwo Odofin can and should be able to operate like a country with all the human and capital resources available if there is adequate support from the Federal government because most of the infrastructure here are owned by the Federal government.
“Another unique thing is that there are several international opportunities that can revitalise our constituency and usher in development; I am very aware of these opportunities and I know how to tap into them.
“Hence for the self sustainable Amuwo Odofin to be a reality, a credible and competent person must be elected to represent the good people of Amuwo Odofin at the Federal House of Representatives. This is why having ticked all the boxes and with the support of my family and encouragement from members of my Constituency I opted to be the representative of the good people of Amuwo Odofin Federal Constituency come 2023
On the challenges facing the constituency, she said: “The challenges facing Amuwo Odofin Federal Constituency are numerous despite it being endowed with talented human capital, industries, waterways, islands, etc, we are still faced with lingering poverty, youth unemployment, security challenges, dilapidated Federal infrastructure, (road network in Festac Town, satellite town, abandoned Federal projects, terrible roads within and around the industrial layouts) and all of these are pointers to the bad representation of Amuwo Odofin at the Federal level.
“I would confront these challenges by first addressing the low hanging fruits, by establishing wealth creation mechanisms for our constituents, engage and lobby the local and state agencies to carry out palliative works on some of the roads to at least make them motorable. Then I will begin to engage and lobby the Federal agencies in charge of various ministries for lasting solutions. Such ministries as works, housing, youth and sports, woman affairs, ministry of health and the ministry of education.
There will be a two-way feedback mechanism that will ensure my Constituents are abreast of steps being taken and that I am also able to hear from them.
“I am very very very confident of my capabilities to bring about the much needed positive change to my community. By reason of the trainings I have received over the years (both locally and internationally), the work experience over the years in the public and private sector as well as the experience gathered during my time as Councilor who represented Ward A in Amuwo odofin, I see myself as being groomed and prepared to adequately, effectively, efficiently, qualitatively and quantitatively represent my great people of Amuwo Odofin Federal Constituency.
“I believe my people should chose me and will choose me because I live within the community and I have done so for over 20years therefore I know where the shoe pinches.
“I was an elected councilor 2011-2014 and I have worked in both the public and private sector for over 30 years. The experiences gathered over the years have helped to make me a better manager of people and resources whilst being guided by the rule of law and the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“I am very committed to the service of my people and very desirous to put Amuwo-Odofin Federal Constituency on the map as the most improved Federal Constituency with measurable indices such as number of lives positively impacted, infrastructural development, education, improved healthcare, etc.
“Motions and bills will be sponsored and co-sponsored where and when necessary. Matters of national interest will also be addressed as those matters will have direct implication for my Constituents.
“The vulnerable (aged, people living with disability, victims of GBV, the widowed, etc) within my Constituents will be catered for by exploring existing laws and relevant agencies to give them a better life. I will also ensure that these groups are major beneficiaries of empowerment programs whose progress will be monitored to ensure they are properly established and they can in turn help to establish others. A clear case of one candle lighting another candle, one at a time.
“Youth unemployment will be addressed with every urgency it requires. Our youths will be adequately trained and re-trained to take on entrepreneurial and money management skills as well as human resource management skills. These trainings will make them more attractive to employers within and around Amuwo-Odofin.
“If elected as a Member of the Federal House of Representatives, I will enshrine peace by handing out an olive branch to my co-aspirants in Amuwo Odofin. Secondly, I would establish an expanded leadership structure to bridge the gap between the elderly party leaders and younger party members so that the younger generation can learn from our political Apex leaders. Thirdly, set up a data centre to gather information for proper analysis and profiling of my Constituents. Then call for a townhall meeting to lay the foundation for a qualitative and quantitative representation. I would run an all inclusive model of representation.
“Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu is my political leader for a few reasons that we share in common, such as he is a technocrat turned politician. I am a technocrat turned politician
Left a high paying job to join politics, I left a high paying bank job to join politics
He loves Nigeria passionately, I am a die-hard lover of Nigeria.
He believes Nigeria can be better and he is taking steps to make it better; I believe the same and I am taking bold steps to contribute my quota to making Nigeria great again.
“I believe that Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu is the best man for the Job of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. He is a patriotic, detribalized Nigerian who has a track record of excellent performance in the transformation of Lagos State and the formation of a formidable opposition that was successful in the swing of all but one southwest state to the rule of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and finally he was very instrumental in the emergence of APC as the ruling party at the centre in 2015 and 2019, despite the fact that he served for only eight years as a seating governor.
Speaking on her view about Nigerian Politics, she said: “Nigerian politics is a developing one that will take a long time to mature because of our exposure to so many wrong notions about leadership especially during the military rule. Democracy which is defined as the rule of the people by the people and for the people, is new to us (culturewise) as a people. Remember that as children, one could not argue or disagree with what our parents said nor disobey instructions that were obviously detrimental to our wellbeing. That same attitude is what we have transferred into our democracy, where young ones are not allowed to express themselves without coming off as rude or arrogant to older people and our mates or contemporaries.
We are gradually beginning to understand that with constructive criticism of existing policies or norms, we can challenge the status quo to forge and develop a better society. For instance, young people challenged the status quo with the End SARS protest even though, it was later hijacked by ill-meaning Nigerians. That singular incident gave credence to the fact that Nigerians are evolving and they have learnt that with one voice a lot can be achieved.
“Women are the salt in the stew of politics without which governance is incomplete. In a country where women form at least 50% of the population, policies and laws that guide the running of the affairs of the nation will be lopsided if women are not allowed to contribute their own perspectives to the laws and policies that will guide their existence as Nigerians, affect their health, wellbeing, citizenship rights, child rights, reproductive rights, etc.