Despite popularity, Nigerian entertainers fail to clinch political seats
Popularity, they say, is a critical success factor for a politician and her/his party to win elections. But that hasn’t been the case with most Nigerian entertainers who, despite their celebrity status, have continued to suffer embarrassing defeats at various polls across the country.
Prior to the 2023 general elections, some industry heavyweights announced their retirements and sojourn into partisan politics. Among them are Nollywood actresses Funke Akindele and Tonto Dikeh, who were the deputy governorship candidates of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and African Democratic Congress (ADC) in Lagos and Rivers states, respectively.
Others include actor Femi Branch, who was the deputy governorship candidate of the National Rescue Movement in Ogun State; singer Olubankole Wellington, popularly known as Banky W, who ran for the Eti-Osa House of Representatives seat under the PDP, and “The Johnsons” star, Olumide Oworu who was the Labour Party candidate for the Surulere Constituency 1 seat in the Lagos State House of Assembly.
DAILY POST observed, unfortunately, that the voyages of Nigerian entertainers into the murky waters of politics haven’t been smooth sailing.
Except for veteran actor-cum-politician, Desmond Elliott, who defeated Oworu, the rest of the pack lost their bids.
Akindele was the running mate of the PDP’s gubernatorial candidate, Abdul-Azeez Adediran, aka Jandor, in the just concluded Lagos State governorship election.
Many had high hopes for her and her principal, considering her celebrity status and “street credibility”.
However, all those hopes were dashed when she and her boss finished a distant third (62,449 votes) behind the incumbent governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu of the APC (762,134 votes), and LP candidate, Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour (312,329 votes).
Days later, the actress deleted all campaign photos from her social media pages.
Veteran singer/rapper and record label boss, Olubankole Wellington, better known as Banky W, made the headlines when he lost the Lagos State Eti-Osa Federal Constituency election to a less-known Attah Thaddeus of the Labour Party (LP).
The LP candidate, surprisingly, polled 24,075 votes as against 18,666 votes by Banky W, who was the PDP candidate, while the incumbent, Babjide, son of Musiliu Obanikoro, a former Minister of State for Defence and APC candidate, got 16,901 votes.
The music executive had previously lost the Eti-Osa Federal Constituency election in 2019.
His latest electoral defeat triggered some of his friends, like Nollywood actor, Deyemi Okanlawon, to challenge the victory of the “unpopular” LP candidate, Thaddeus Attah, online, which didn’t sit well with many social media users.
Controversial Nollywood actress and brand influencer Tonto Dikeh suffered a similar fate as her colleagues in the Rivers State governorship election.
Dikeh’s celebrity prowess failed to save her and her boss, Tonte Ibraye, governorship candidate of the African Democratic Congress (ADC) in Rivers State, from losing to Simi Fubara of the PDP.
Despite her popularity, her party performed poorly at the poll, with the APC and Labour Party doing far better than them.
Shortly after the election, she took to her Instagram page to thank her fans and well-wishers for their support despite the defeat, insisting that she cherished the experience.
Rising actor, Olumide Oworu was not officially entered into the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) portal as the Labour Party candidate for the Surulere Constituency election. However, he campaigned for the position under the platform.
He claimed that INEC failed to enter his name due to some reason. Adebayo Bode was the name officially entered as the LP candidate for the election.
Notwithstanding, the LP lost to the incumbent, Desmond Elliott of the All Progressives Congress, APC.
APC polled 17,837 votes against 7,822 votes by the LP, and 1,045 votes by the PDP candidate, Thompson Sulaimon Abolaji.
Oworu and his supporters were reportedly attacked during one of their campaigns.
Veteran actor and filmmaker, Femi Branch was the running mate to the Ogun State gubernatorial candidate of the National Rescue Movement, Tofunmi Ogunronbi, in the just concluded election, which the duo lost to the incumbent, Dapo Abiodun of the APC.
His celebrity status couldn’t influence the voters as his party was among the bottom losers.
APC polled 276,298 votes to emerge the winner, while the PDP candidate, Ladi Adebutu, scored 262,383 votes to come second.
Biyi Otegbeye of the ADC polled 94,754 votes to come third.
Femi Branch rejected the results, insisting that the election was flawed.
The actor wrote via Instagram, “It is the audacity for me! After buying (sharing) the voters between themselves, APC and PDP also compromised the Independent National Electoral Commission; and the small parties are suffering for it. Any candidate declared winner in Ogun State is a fraud.
“First, (there were) fake ballot papers and after protests lasting over two hours, another set (of ballot papers) was brought, and we finally voted; only for them to count only APC and PDP votes,” he added.
Actress Carolyna Hutchings was the running mate to the African Action Congress governorship candidate in Akwa Ibom State, Iboro Otu, before stepping down a day before the election.
The election was eventually won by PDP candidate, Umo Eno.
TV reality star Tuoyo Ideh was the House of Representatives candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance party (APGA) for Warri Federal Constituency of Delta State.
However, the former Big Brother Naija housemate lost the election to the incumbent, Thomas Ereyitomi, of the PDP.