Ilori Adebanke is a Nigerian Legal Practitioner and Politician. She currently works with KOWA Party as the Director for Policy, Research and Development and she is also involved in advocacy for Youth Participation in Politics.
Politics has always been part of Banke. She was raised as a first child in a politically conscious family where she grew up listening to political discussions. She started contesting elective offices while in Secondary School where she vied for the post of Club President. The journey has continued from then as she took up more leadership roles. In her University days, she headed a Faculty Press board, served as member and Chairman of various Committees both within and outside her faculty. She participated in elections in her faculty. She won once and lost another.
She has been able to learn about true leadership by virtue of the experiences she gathered while taking up the numerous responsibilities. She did have some challenges learning about building interpersonal relationships while on the job. She also had to learn how to multi task and make the best use of the scarce resources available to Student Bodies. She had to learn how to work with her peers and superiors, especially some male counterparts who had problems taking directions from a female.
Over time, she came to understand that leaders must value and strive to understand the opinions of others. No matter how good the leader’s intentions are, she must carry others along while sticking to the vision of the organization or society.
Her political party is doing something different. they are calling Nigerians up to a greater level of accountability, transparency and true leadership in all that they do. They are seeing something a lot of people have stopped seeing, a better Nigeria!
“It gets hard sometimes because the system has institutionalized ineptitude and other vices and It’s always challenging when you think of what you are coming up against, almost depressing,” she said.
“There is however a need to find a way to make things if they don’t exist. I believe you make a way when you can’t find one, be tenacious. If you want something, you make it or take it,”she added.
Adebanke believes she has been able to handle challenges due to her relationship with God and by having a good support structure to keep her going when tough times come.
“When there’s a difficult decision to make, I just quiet myself to figure out what is best. I recently learnt about the banner headline which talks about how you would feel if your actions appeared on the front-page of a major newspaper. This has also helped me put things in perspective. The applause of people is very fickle, people agree with you today and disagree tomorrow, this helps me put into deep consideration, how my decision affects the bigger picture, that is my ultimate aim in that given situation”, she said.
“With respect to Youth Participation in politics, the general consensus is that the youths on the African continent need to engage their polity more. In Nigeria, our participation has been limited to helping a group that has been in power before we were born to get into power over and again. I always say that as a young person, don’t participate in politics just because you are young but because you have something to offer the system. The Nigerian situation is on a painfully slow but steady path of progress. My goal is to have more Youths ask questions and equip themselves with the information needed to bring about the desired change. Essentially, I see us drawing closer to engaging all Nigerian and ultimately African youths to taking part, not just as bystanders or commentators but as qualified and equipped decision makers”, she added.
Currently, Adebanke also works with the National Youth Caucus of her Party and they organize town hall meetings where young people can come together, discuss, strategize and seek answers to various questions. The meetings leave the young people challenged and motivated to begin to study how to make Nigeria better. Her party currently has these structures in 18 States and they are hoping to expand as they spread the message of the possibility of a better Nigeria. They also hope to organize more of these meetings in other to start the desire for a leadership better than what they currently have in the hearts of other Nigerians. They have started fielding candidates in elections who are trustworthy and thoroughbred. It is their hope that Nigerians will see the change they want to bring to the country and vote them in to deliver true leadership.
Plans for the future
In the next twenty years, Adebanke desires to see a more politically conscious and vibrant Nigeria. She believes her country is going through a kind of revolution as there is a general discontentment with the status quo.
“My age group has started making Nigeria and will be making it work in twenty years. For the African continent, I see and hear stories of young people doing great things. I believe by then, all these seemingly little drops of actions would make a mighty Africa; a continent to be esteemed,” she said.
Advise for other young people
“A truth is that things are currently bad and will be bad for a longer period if we all do not begin to work together to make our Nations better. The better and more impactful truth is that some people are currently changing the narrative and daring to be different. For every reason you have decided to say it is impossible, someone else has decided to take away the impossibility and think without a box. We cannot continue to depend on others to do things for us. We must begin to take up responsibility for our lives and destinies. I believe our Nations can be better when we all put in our very best efforts to be excellent at what we do. Things must only get better.”