Saturday, 3rd June 2023

How ready is Lagos for actress, Akindele

By Kehinde Olatunji
26 August 2022   |   4:07 am
The emergence of Funke Akindele as the deputy governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Olajide Adediran, popularly known as Jandor, is generating lots of reaction from different quarters.

Funke Akindele-Bello. Photo Style Rave

The emergence of Funke Akindele as running mate to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate, Olajide Adediran, popularly known as Jandor, is generating lots of reaction from different quarters.

The unveiling in Ikorodu was greeted with surprise and bewilderment, even though there had been speculations about her emergence the rumour was taken with a grain of salt.
Lagos is one of the states that had been consistent with female deputy governors, as it has produced the highest number of female deputy governors since 1991.
Alhaja Lateefah Okunnu was the first female deputy governor in Lagos State from 1988-1991, and was the first woman deputy governor in Nigeria.

Lagos State also had female deputy governors such as, Chief (Mrs) Sinatu Ojikutu (1992-1993), Senator Kofoworola Akerele-Bucknor (1999-2002), Princess Sarah Sosan (2007-2011), Princess Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire (2011-2015) and Dr. (Mrs) Idiat Adebule (2015-2019).
Most aspiring gubernatorial candidates in the state, especially, in the progressive camp- Alliance for Democracy (AD), Action Congress (AC), Action Congress OF Nigeria (ACN) and now the All Progressive Congress (APC) – have always had a female running mate. However, this narrative was altered in 2019, when Babafemi Hamzat was picked by APC Chieftains as Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu’s running mate.

When Jandor announced Funke Akindele as his running mate, many believe it would serve as a respite for the female gender even though the office is widely considered as that of a ‘spare tyre.’
Deputy governors are considered important, mainly when the governor is working under pressure. So, he delegates some responsibilities to them.
However, the past two administrations in Lagos State since 1999 have shown that most female deputy governors don’t spend more than one tenure compared to their principals who enjoy the comfort of two terms in office except Akinwunmi Ambode (2015-2019).
The office of the deputy governor is in charge of supervising the Office of Civic Engagement and the Ministry of Education. It coordinates the Local Government chieftaincy committees and supervises ministerial portfolio, as may be assigned by the Governor, especially the Ministry of Women and Poverty Alleviation.
While the office of deputy governor may be an attractive portfolio, it is bequeathed with elusive power. It is believed that Section 130 of the 1999 Constitution is responsible for the hollow authority the office of the deputy governor wields.
Regardless of whether the deputy governor is male or female, the office holder is still considered a ‘dignified’ subordinate, who is constitutionally idle with a precarious influence, and without a security vote, his or her poise in office is determined by the whims of the power-puffed governor.

Akindele is an Ikorodu born actress, movie producer and songwriter. She started her career in early 90s and rose to fame and gained nationwide popularity with her blockbuster movie Jenifa.
Although Akindele is widely known for her acting prowess, not many remember that the actress holds a National Diploma in Mass communication from Moshood Abiola Polytechnic in Ogun State before proceeding to the University of Lagos where she obtained her first degree in Law.
From conquering the movie industry as the producer of Omo Ghetto one of the highest grossing movies in Nigeria, Akindele said she is making the biggest sacrifice of her life to quit movies and focus on politics.

Akindele is not oblivion of what she is getting into, as she expects people to react positively, and otherwise, to the news of her choice as running mate, the actress maintained that she would not let the opportunity to liberate women and the youths slip away from her hands.
Akindele noted that she considers politics as a much bigger facet of service to humanity despite her career in the entertainment industry, which has spanned over 25 years.

“With the God given grace to achieve quite remarkable success, I have had the privilege of access to work and engage with people from all walks and strata of life. Within this period, I have watched with great concern the plight of the less fortunate especially in the youth category, this drifted me towards my less popular but equally strong passion which is to help, assist and contribute to the growth of youths, women and children.
“I was raised by a strict teacher father, who retired as a school principal and a caring mother who is a medical doctor to be hardworking and to have value for life; therefore, dignity of labour and compassion for the needy has become a second nature to me. This resulted in the birth of Jenifa foundation. With this, I have been able to reach out and help the youths by providing job opportunities and welfare to those in need.
“When the Lagos PDP gubernatorial candidate, Dr Adediran asked me to be his running mate as deputy governor in the next year’s gubernatorial election, I saw it as an opportunity to help liberate and improve the welfare of our people, particularly the deprived youth, women and the girl child.  My decision is not only to accept these huge responsibility but also to work tirelessly and complement Jandor’s burning desire to see our dear state of Lagos live up to its full potential with the people as immediate and direct beneficiaries.”
She added that over the years, a lot of young people have been ignored, victimised, maimed for daring to have a dream.
“So, I use this opportunity to call out all well-meaning residents of Lagos, especially the youths, that it is indeed time to use our numerical strength to our full advantage. It is time to take our rightful place in matters that concern our lives and our future, its time to rally ourselves and support our own.
“I am not unaware of the cost of this assignment on my vibrant career which I must now necessarily put on hold, it’s a huge personal sacrifice but my resolve is that no sacrifice is too much for the actualisation of the urgent mission to rescue our people and our dear State.
“I must express my deep appreciation both to our party leadership and our gubernatorial candidate for considering me worthy of such a great call to serve our people. It’s a call that I take with reverence and utmost sense of responsibility. Indeed, we can achieve a Lagos that truly works for all residents as opposed to a privileged hand-picked few. Lets do it, given your mandate, be assured that the people’s governor, Dr Adediran with the support of my humble self represent the much needed breath of fresh air in Lagos State.”
Explaining that she initially thought of rejecting the offer when she was nominated for the ticket, Akindele expressed satisfaction that she has God and the people behind her. She said, “I answered the call. We are the owners of Lagos, we will vote, win and govern the state. For the women, I am going there for you. For the youths and the children, I am there for you. We can do a lot for this state and country and make things work. We are youths, we can run, we have energy to fix Lagos state. For my Ikorodu people, I thank you. I will not put you to shame.”
On what the people of the state should expect from her team, she said the PDP administration intends to confront issues such as, infrastructure needs, health system and improvement in the standard of education in the state. “In Lagos, what we have is an unusual situation and it requires an unusual solution. This is why we have presented to Lagosians a total departure from the norm. This is something fresh,” she added.
Jandor, while describing his running mate, Akindele, explained that he picked not just an actress, but a filmmaker and a lawyer, who has been creating jobs for Nigerian youths for many years now.

Jandor said he believed in the abilities of the younger generation and the female gender to rule over the affairs of the state in order to bring fresh and workable ideas that would move the state forward.

The Lagos State PDP Publicity Secretary, Hakeem Amode, described Akindele as qualified to be the deputy governor, saying Funke’s ability to handle her career successfully shows she is fit for governance.

“Politics is not rocket science. Every individual that has managed a business in the past or currently, one way or the other, s/he is engaging in politics. As you manage your business, you are managing people. She has distinguished herself. If you look at the way Femi Pedro was brought into politics, he didn’t even have any experience in politics. She is not different from any other person. Delta State Governor, Ifeanyi Okowa is a medical doctor. Senator Bukola Saraki is also a medical doctor. The most important thing is that you must distinguish yourself in your chosen profession.”

He maintained that her passion for women and children is one of the attributes that would stand her out in governance. Amode added that given the economic and security situation of the country, many have gone into depression, saying that the State needs compassionate and focused leaders who would salvage the situation.

“She makes people laugh, part of what is killing lots of people is depression. She makes a lot of people happy. As of today, where ordinary people cannot even afford to feed themselves, people just go into depression knowing that they cannot even feed their family, and knowing the security is bad. Everything the APC government promised the people, they have failed. Akindele shouldn’t be the story. It is because APC is scared of what she is bringing to the table. Lagosian have seen clearly that PDP has got4 it right this time. We have brought somebody who has shown to the generality of Lagosians that she has done well for herself and is ready to replicate what she has done.”

“This time around it’s going to be a different ball game. Lagosians will see that the system works and it will work for them. A lot of people are now interested because of what we have seen in Ekiti and Osun states elections. People now believe in the system. Its different from what we had 3 ½ years ago.  People are now seeing that with the new electoral act, their votes will count. She’s (Akindele) been encouraging and talking to people and making sure that a lot of young people will come out to vote PDP.”

Executive Director, Initiative for Women and Girls Right Advancement (IWOGRA), Nkechi Obiagbaoso-Udegbunam, stressed the need to empower women and give them an orientation that they can achieve anything they want including being the President.

“They have been made to believe that they cannot compete with men. If women can be made to understand that they can have equal chances with the men, it will go a long way. Another issue is that women don’t like supporting women in politics. The general public should be sensitised to see the need to support every woman. We can make it like a national campaign, asking every party to bring out a woman,” she said.