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Celebrities’ Support In Elections: Between Partisanship And Patriotism



Nigerian celebrities with APC Lagos governorship candidate, Ambode

One of the most anticipated events of 2015 has come and gone almost in a jiffy.

For a while, people were afraid that the 2015 Presidential elections might not hold after all, with the postponement and intrigue that surrounded it. It has peacefully come and gone with a new president-elect to pilot the affairs of the country for the next four years.

Arguably, one of the groups of people that benefitted the most from the past election has to be the Nigerian celebrities. Most of them smiled to the bank from endorsement deals, special appearances, singing theme songs, hosting ‘special interviews’, attending presidential dinners and so on.

As there were two major parties, most celebrities automatically fell on either side of the divide, loudly proclaiming their undying support and solidarity from the rooftops, with a Yoruba film actress going as far as saying ‘Mo le ku fun PDP’ (I can die for PDP).

Well, we all saw how their patriotism and loyalty played out during crunch time.

If the general elections had held on February 14, which was the original date, celebrities like Basketmouth and Olamide were conveniently in London for a show. Surprisingly, Basketmouth went on to twitter to comment that he didn’t know which celebs were worse between those that were out of the country during the elections and the ones that campaigned for President Jonathan.

Florence Ifeoluwa Otedola a.k.a Dj Cuppy as well as singer, Davido along with his HKN gang faced backlash from fans when they travelled to Nairobi, Kenya, a day before the general elections to perform at the Pan Arican Finale of the Airtel/Trace Music Star. They respectively posted pictures of their trip online and this action annoyed their adoring fans. Most felt they were simply running away from the country in case trouble broke out after the general elections as had happened in the past.

Their fans accused them of lacking patriotism and only valued the country when it benefitted them and their careers. However, Davido and Dj Cuppy fall on a different realm of blame, if you like, as they didn’t publicly declare support for any candidate. Funke Akindele, Tiwa Savage, Flavor and PSquare were all in London for the Dance Afrique Concert.

Ruggedman is still sitting tight in China, while Wizkid hosted a private Yacht party at the Dubai Marina Yacht club, on Friday, a day before the elections. While most Nigerians braved the harsh elements to make their voices count, most of these celebrities were noticeably out of the country on a very important day.

Critically looking at the celebrities that actively campaigned for politicians before the elections, one of the very few celebrities that put their monies where their mouths were was singer Bankole Wellington, a.k.a Banky W. He flew back to Nigeria from Capetown and was actively involved in the whole voting process from beginning to end and showed off his step-by-step process on social media sites Instagram and Twitter. Others include Pasuma Wonder, Kunle Afolayan, Mo’cheddah and Timi Dakolo.

Most of the celebrities went mute on election day and didn’t turn up to vote at any polling unit. This might not be unconnected to the fact that most of them fled the country quietly before March 28. This action begets the question of how useful and patriotic are the celebrities in the long run? When they were endorsing politicians from North to South, most fans and Nigerians called them out as being greedy and striving for their share of ‘the national cake’.

Most celebrities denied this allegation at the time but their actions during the elections have effectively watered down their denials. Even now, some of these political-endorsing celebrities have not been able to speak out. Maybe they are wary of backlash from their fans or maybe they simply want to lay low till events quiet down.

Nollywood actress Rukky Sanda went on Twitter to talk about how elections are not won by the number of celebrities one has as celebrities are just like a drop of water in a bucket.

Many Nigerians have gone on social media to flay the celebrities that supported the incumbent president even when they were told several times that they do not represent the opinion of majority of the masses. Some celebrities like Toyin Aimakhu-Johnson and Ini Edo who actively supported the PDP in the last elections have released statements congratulating the president elect and hoping for a better Nigeria.

This action has not pacified their fans as they have been constantly jeered and ridiculed with some fans even going as far as telling them to quickly join the APC if they wanted to remain relevant in the entertainment scene. Many fans even feel that they are just trying to save face, after collecting money and their chosen candidates lost out.

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