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2015 Elections: Much Ado About Celebrities’ Endorsement



CELEBRITIES world over are known for their efforts at bringing change, and not the money they make. Angelie Jolie, Madonna, Oprah Winfrey are all respected philanthropist, whose work are geared at making the world better. These days, however, celebrities are becoming more money and fame conscious. Therefore, they do whatever they like to make the money, even posing naked for magazines.

   According to The Guardian’s checks, about 194 celebrities worked towards the election of the first US Black president. And the reason basically was to bring change. A trend that was followed in Nigeria, in 2011. Then, the creative industry had queued behind President Goodluck Jonathan to win the 2011 election. 

      A careful observation of the country’s political space will show that celebrities have gradually assumed prominent role in the dispensation.     

   Since the 2011 general election campaigns, Nigeria actors, actresses, musicians and even comedians have been engaged as political tool. Most of them are now campaign officers, as they go about endorsing politicians, believing that their popularity and influence would compel voters to accept whomever they have endorsed even without giving reasons for their endorsement.

    In the build up to 2011 election, notable celebrities and entertainers including, Onyeka Onwenu, Sam Okposo, Stephanie Okereke, Bob Manuel Udokwu, Segun Arinze, Felix Liberty, Yinka Davies, Daddy Showkey, D’Banj, Wande Coal, Weird MC and Sasha P, drew attention of the public to the candidature of President Goodluck. 

     The Koko master, D’banj, during the electioneering process had the rare privilege of interviewing President Goodluck Jonathan, who was the standard bearer of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), while the Francis Duru-led group joined other celebrities at the Eagle Square, Abuja to perform and pledged their support for Jonathan. These entertainers include lady of songs and elegant stallion.

     An album featuring top musicians like Zaaki Adzee, Sunny Neji, Sammie Okposo, African China, Naeto C, 6ftPlus, Kefee (now late), Waje, Tosin Martins, and Daddy Showkey among others was produced in the course and tagged, Goodluck Jonathan.

    There was another category of the campaign known as I Believe In Goodluck Jonathan, which had top Nigerian actors including the Lagos State House of Assembly APC candidate, Desmond Elliot; Ejike Asiegbu, Ngozi Nwosu, Clem Ohameze, Femi Brainard, Ufuoma Ejenobor, Nonso Diobi, Yul Edochie, Yemi Balq and Mercy Aigbe. Others were Uche Ogbodo, Nuella Njudigbo, Maureen Solomon, Tony Umez, Uche Iwuji, Chinyere Winifred, Emeka Enyiocha, Benita Nzeribe, and Anne Macaulay now Idibia among others.

     That same year, a campaign/endorsement video featuring Genevieve Nnaji, Ini Edo, Olu Jacobs, Monalisa Chinda, Ramsey Nouah, Desmond Elliot and Stephanie Okereke streamed online, but was later removed.

     In Lagos, majority of the celebrities endorsed Babatunde Raji Fashola the candidate of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) now All Progressive Congress (APC). Artistes and comedians such as P-Square, 2face Idibia, Banky W, Weird MC, WizKid, Darey, 9ice, who tried to get the APC ticket for the Ogbomosho Federal House of Reps, but was edged out in the primary; Basket Mouth, SeyiLaw, Princess, Peace, Saheed Osupa, Sunny Neji, DJ Zeez, were said to have performed at the Teslim Balogun Stadium in support of BRF.

     The same year, the controversial musician, Kelly Hansome, released a song titled, Say Yes To Amaechi in support of Rivers State governor for a second term in office. According to Olanrewaju Dabiri popularly known as eLDee, prior to the 2011 voters’ registration exercise, some celebrities were very excited as they saw the exercise as an opportunity to effect the much-needed change in the country. 

     He had geared up and began non-partisan campaigns aimed at the youths in Nigeria to ensure that they register, vote and protect their votes, stressing it is sad and indeed worrying that people continue to take advantage of good intentions and initiatives for selfish and corrupt purposes. 

     “I use this medium to make public know that I have never, and will never be a part of any campaign for any politician and I will be glad to announce if and when I do, but until then, I don’t appreciate my image and likeness being exploited for political purposes without my consent,” he said.

      He added, “I spent at least four to six hours every day campaigning on social network platforms, electronic and print media. My team and I did everything we could from explaining the process, to following people on twitter that posted pictures of their registration cards, to giving away cellphone airtime and even went as far as helping local INEC officials with some of the technical difficulties they faced at the commencement of the registration exercise.

    From what is seen daily on TV stations, read on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and other online media platforms, it is obvious that Nigerian celebrities are now tools in the hands of politicians, who are struggling for votes. It is no longer news that many of them are smiling to the banks following their share of the largesse given to them by the various candidates and their parties.  

   There are already versions of campaign videos by Nigeria entertainers, who have endorsed and campaigning for the candidates, particularly the presidential hopeful, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan (GEJ) and General Muhammadu Buhari (GMB), and the Lagos State governorship candidates for the All Progressive Congress (APC) Akinwumi Ambode, and his major rival, Jimi Agbaje of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) streaming on various cable channel in the country and online, showing their supports for the next Lagos State governor.

     In the campaign song titled, Gbabe, several faces in Nigerian entertainment industry including Desmond Elliot, who emerged as the candidate to represent the APC, Surulere Constituency, and others celebs such as Ice Prince, MI, Olamide, Banky W, Funke Akindele, Uti Nwachukwu, Yemi Alade, Flavour and many others campaign for the APC candidates.

     This has, however, irked a lot of fans, which believe that this trend will kill the profession. A woman, who gives her name as Laide, said, ‘our artistes have gone mad’. 

   According to her, they should remember that no matter the amount of money they get, nothing lasts forever.”

     Singer-turned columnist, Etcetera, in his recent write up, titled: Celebrity Political Prostitutes called for the heads of all the entertainers who have lend their voices and support to the politicians. 

     In particular, he lashed out at some few names like Olamide, Banky W, Don Jazzy, Flavour, Duncan Mighty, D banj, Mercy Johnson, Ibinabo, Ini Edo, Mama Gee, Naeto C, Joseph Yobo, Daddy Showkey, Kanu Nwankwo, and Sammie Okposo, who he said popular soft porn actress, Afrocandy is more sensible and professional compared to them.

     “I have been asked several times if our celebs should get involved with politics. But today, let me push the same question in different words to everyone reading this article. Do politicians making affiliations with celebs prompt you to vote for them? For me, it’s a definite No,” he said.   

    He added, “Nigerians are not influenced by celebs to indulge in certain acts because their favourite celeb says so. For instance, I like Kate Henshaw, but expecting me to vote for a candidate she supports in the forthcoming elections is like asking me to start buying a particular milk brand because Don Jazzy endorsed it. Puh-leez, things like that don’t cut it here in Naija. Naija is a different kettle of fish compared to what is obtainable in places like the US.”

      He further stated that the politicians using celebs for their campaigns should ask themselves what on earth the average person has got in common with D’banj. “He has millions and he may never have to lift a finger again in his life if he so desires. And you think the boys in Okokomaiko who are not smiling will listen to his unrealistic rants on TV and radio? 

    “Using a celeb for election campaigns is as stupid as the political aspirants themselves dancing in their campaign musical videos. Imagine Jimmy Agbaje and Ambode dancing in their campaign videos? Ok, I am sorry, no imagination is needed. I feel sorry for the politicians that Nigerians are not fooled by all the media images of celebs pushed at them every day on TV. 

     “It has become so much that we can’t tell the difference anymore between political campaign videos and the Nigerian musical videos. The only cocktail of politics and celebrity that the masses are bound to endorse is that of creating useful awareness that will benefit the larger society,” he stated.

     A female avid follower of some of the celebrities on twitter, had tweeted that Nigerian celebrities are tools in the hands of politicians that is why they could be used as campaign machinery and evil promises that are of detriment to the citizens.

     According to her, take for instance the 2011 general election, the celebrities were seen fighting without shame for the money given to them by politicians for campaigning for them. She, however, urged them to desist from such despicable act of shame or their musical career would be jeopardised, stressing that as the 2015 general elections draw near, Nigerian celebrities in the entertainment industries should advocate for development and not their personal pockets.

    Nollywood’s iconic actress Omotola Jalade Ekeinde on Tuesday, cried out on Twitter about the pressure she is under by an unnamed political party to support their candidate. “So much pressure on me to support them … Smh… You won’t have to hussle if you were trustworthy… I do that for free! #backoff,” she tweeted.

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