Nigeria 2015 Elections: Who entertainers are supporting and why

The role of entertainers in influencing the decisions of their fans in favour or against a cause has always been exploited fully by political parties and candidates in Nigeria.

Nigeria’s incumbent president and the presidential candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in the forthcoming general elections, Goodluck Jonathan and his major opposition, Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressive Congress (APC) have caused major division in the entertainment circle in the country like never before – as many entertainers are taking the spotlight at any chance, to let their fans and minders know whose tune they are dancing to and canvassing voters day and night, online and offline.

Whether for personal interest or not, the role of showbiz stars in this year’s elections is more than just supporting a political party or candidate; our favorite stars are moving beyond the big screens and farther from the vocal booths to the seat of power – with most aspiring to be law makers at state or federal level.

Entertainers like Desmond Elliot, 9ice, Tony One Week, Bob Manuel Udokwu, Kate Henshaw, Dayo Adeneye (aka D1), Funke Adesiyan, Kenny Saint Brown, Ben Bruce among others ran for elective offices during their respective party primaries. Some won; some were not so lucky this time out.

Those who didn’t make it through the primaries have counted their losses and moved on to supporting their comrades who are still in the race in their respective political parties, especially at the federal level, perhaps for compensations as usual. As it is a tradition in the Nigeria’s marred political system that those who lose out or step down for another during elections are compensated with political appointments in one area or another; qualified or not.

Kennis music exec, Dayo Adeneye, who vied for the ticket of the All Progressive Congress (APC) to represent his Odogbolu constituency in the Ogun State House of Assembly lost to the State governor, Ibikunle Amosun’s former special adviser on Education and has since gone ahead to canvass votes for the governor’s re-election bid while singer 9ice, under the APC umbrella, also lost out in his bid to represent the Ogbomoso/North/South/Orire Federal constituency for the House of Representatives slot but now roots for Oyo State governor, Abiola Ajimobi’s re-run.

And other entertainers who ran for one office or the other and lost share the same fate as D-1 and 9ice. And as the election days draw closer, campaigns are steaming up, more and more showbiz stars are joining their colleagues in different political tents but the big questions many are asking are; have they been paid? How much were they paid? Are they doing this based on promises and what have they been promised, another N3b grant? Or are they doing it truly for a better Nigeria?

If it’s based on promises, wouldn’t it amount to a fruitless labour, knowing a PROMISE means NOTHING to Nigerian politicians? At least it never did if history is anything to go by.

Interestingly, the election campaigns this year have unarguably been one of the most pulsating and captivating in the recent history of Nigeria, especially in the current democratic dispensation which began when former Military Head of State, Abdusallam Abubakar handed over to the democratically elected president, Olusegun Aremu Obasanjo on May 29, 1999.

Partisan politics have been the order of this dispensation as a lot of attention has always been placed more on the parties rather than the candidates. The elections this year though, is seeing an interesting deviation of sorts from this as the focus is more on the candidates – most especially at the presidential level – than the parties.

This is so much so that, at this point in time, virtually all the voters in the country presently root for only two presidential candidates: Muhammadu Buhari and Goodluck Jonathan.

This is a bit different at the State and other levels across the country though; the choice of preferred candidates still rides largely on which political platform holds sway in that region.

So…who is supporting who, and why?
As the 2015 general elections draw closer, a lot of notable Nigerian celebrities have publicly taken sides with political parties and candidates of their choice. While some are in absolute support of the incumbent, Goodluck Jonathan and the PDP, others are in support of Muhammadu Buhari and the main opposition APC.

Many stars have staunchly advocated for the candidate of their choice, using their celebrity status to attempt to influence the public via public campaigns, theme songs, rallies, social media messages and more.

Yet, some prominent entertainment figures too have decided to be neutral and not take any sides in the elections drama.

NET presents a shortlist of entertainers who are actively supporting one party, candidate or the other, and we also take a look at those who have chosen to be neutral as Nigeria decides this 2015.

Celebrities supporting the PDP:
The following are music and Nollywood stars that have publicly declared and thrown their full weight and resources behind the re-election mandate of Goodluck Jonathan and the PDP. In no particular order, they include:

Onyeka Onwenu, Ibinabo Fiberesima, Fred Amata, Daddy Showkey, Ben Murray Bruce, Funke Adesiyan, Ruggedman, Essence, Segun Arinze, Kate Henshaw, Rita Dominic, Joseph Benjamin, Fidelis Duker, Omoni Oboli, Femi Ogedengbe, KCEE, Monalisa Chinda, Sammy Okposo, Eedris Abdulkareem, Zaaki Adzee, Harrysong, Majek Fashek, Omo Baba, Ramsey Nouah, Patience Ozokwor, Zeb Ejiro, Charles Novia, Naeto C, Omawumi, Ini Edo, Mike Ezuronye, Toyin Aimakhu, Emem Isong and Bovi.

Why they support the PDP
In 2011, Goodluck Jonathan took a bold step in expanding and empowering an obviously viable Nigerian movie industry a.k.a Nollywood, by awarding them a grant to the tune of N3b.

Tagged the Nollywood Intervention Fund, this singular gesture has apparently endeared him to the hearts of so many movie practitioners and entertainers in Nigeria as this is the biggest show of solidarity the industry has ever received from any administration.

On Saturday, January 24, 2015, Jonathan had a private meeting with top entertainment figures to solicit for their continued support and while indications point to the fact that he is planning more funding for the industry, the effects of the first grantare still very much visible in the level of support he’s enjoyed from some entertainers so far.

Actors Guild of Nigeria’s president and her deputy, Ibinabo Fiberesima and Toyin Aimakhu have long declared their support for Jonathan. They both attended the private meeting in Lagos along with industry stalwarts like Segun Arinze, Fidelis Duker, Patience Ozokwor, Ramsey Nouah, Omoni Oboli, Mike Ezuronye, Monalisa Chinda and others.

The AGN executives were also very active and vocal during the PDP presidential rally held in Lagos on January 8, 2015 at the Tafawa Balewa Square, Lagos. Ibinabo has been at virtually all the PDP presidential rallies held across the country. After the rally held in Uyo on Thursday, January 29, 2015, Ibinabo posted pictures on Instagram to further declare her support for Jonathan’s cause with the simple caption: ‘GEJ till 2019!!! Believe.’

Nigerian music icon, Onyeka Onwenu too has been very visible in her support, and so have several singers and comedians.

Ben Murray Bruce is contesting for the Bayelsa East Senatorial seat under the umbrella of the PDP, hence his support and loyalty to the party is to be expected. Nollywood star, Kate Henshaw also contested at the PDP House of Reps primaries in Cross River State for the Calabar South Federal Constituency ticket. Her bid did not succeed this time out, but her loyalty to the party remains as well.

Another entertainer whose political dream ensures her loyalties lay with the ruling party is Funke Adesiyan, who also won the PDP ticket to represent Ibadan South-East Constituency at the Oyo State House of Assembly during the party primaries.

Rapper, Naeto C declared his support for Jonathan and performed a version of his hit single ’10 over 10′ for the president at his Declaration Ceremony held at the Eagle Square, Abuja on November 11, 2014. Naeto posted pictures from the event on Instagram and was reportedly attacked by a fan who called him ‘stupid for supporting Jonathan’

The rapper replied: ‘I encourage you to be more positive and support whomever you feel might be a good leader in your opinion…’ The rapper’s alliance to Jonathan is not far-fetched, his mother, Kema Chikwe a former minster of Aviation, is currently the National Women Leader of the ruling party PDP.

Nollywood filmmaker and critic, Charles Novia has also always been quite outspoken and direct over his support for Jonathan. Some of Charles’ recent Twitter posts on this read: ‘I took my stand a couple of years ago and I still stand by it. No screaming one-sided narratives will change it. I vote based on convictions. He has never advocated for violence. Never. I vote for the pacifist rather than the aggressor. If for the freedom of speech GEJ has allowed, taking in insults quietly when others would have killed to silence such. I have taken that stand. It will not change. Those who will vote, will vote. I vote on the positives GEJ has given to our democracy. Those whose lives have been touched positively by his policies are in the millions as well. They don’t need to rant. Every Nigerian should take a stand. That is democracy. You should not be ashamed of your stand nor vote. GMB I really like. Honestly. And GEJ I love. No hate. Let’s just vote and await results and live in peace.’

Omoni Oboli also declared her support on social media with a post that read:

‘My president! Goodluck Ebele Jonathan! 2015! #votetransformation #voteprogress #voteyouthempowerment #voteunity #votecontinuity #voteGoodluckEbeleJonathan #2015till2019 Everyone has a right to support whoever for whatever reason. Let’s not reduce ourselves to name calling and insults! We are better than this! #votenotfight #weareone.’

Celebrities supporting the APC:
The main opposition party, APC also enjoys a tremendous amount of goodwill and popularity from entertainers at the moment. Their lineup of supporters also include immensely popular and influential music, fashion and movie celebrities. Still in no particular order, they include:

King Wasiu Ayinde Kwam 1, Olamide, Ice Prince, M.I, 9ice, Desmond Elliot, Weird MC, Banky W, Funke Akindele, Yemi Alade, Muyiwa Ademola, Uti Nwachukwu, Yomi Fash Lanso, Dammy Krane, DJ Jimmy Jatt, Flavour, Saidi Balogun, Ronke Oshodi Oke, Femi Adebayo, Lola Idije, Dayo Amusa, Sola Kosoko, Kenny St. Brown, MC Kirikiri, Shola Shobowale, Muyiwa Ademola, Femi Adebayo, top celebrity stylist Swanky Jerry, Sanyeri Afonja, Kamilu Kampo, Odunlade Adekola, Adebayo Salami, Lagbaja, Mercy Aigbe, Yinka Quadri, Fathia Balogun, Foluke Daramola, and others.

Why they support the APC
The stand of the main opposition party in this year’s elections, APC has always been on what they describe as an apparent dire need for change. This view is shared and clearly re-echoed by all the celebrities who have declared their support for the party and its candidates both at State and Federal level.

These entertainment personalities strongly support and uphold the APC’s mandate, but not all of them have opened up to publicly (or privately) comment on why they’ve made this choice.

One of them though, has been a long-standing supporter of the APC ever since the party was known as the Alliance for Democracy (AD). Fuji music icon, Wasiu Ayinde Marshall now known as K1 is a party faithful who has always supported the mandate with campaign songs, public performances, and even campaign materials.

According to K1, who has spoken severally on this matter in recent times: ‘Jonathan’s administration has failed in its mandate to the people of Nigeria. The high rate of unemployment and insecurity in the country presently is reason enough for the country to demand for a change. The PDP is not taking this country anywhere positive, so it is time for another party that can deliver on its promises and truly put the people first to rule. That party is APC.’

Popular rapper and YBNL CEO, Olamide recently took his campaign and endorsement of the APC to another level as the artiste recorded two singles to solely endorse Muhammadu Buhari and his running mate, Yemi Osinbajo.

The first song is titled ‘APC Ese’ (Thank You) while the second is titled ‘The Change We Want’. Olamide had featured on a couple of APC themed songs before dropping this singles. You might also recall that Osinbajo was present at Olamide’s album launch event late last year and even took time out to commend the rapper as an impressive young man.

Desmond Elliot is contesting for the House of Assembly on the platform of the APC. He won the primaries held in Lagos last year, 2014, and will be the party’s flag bearer for the Surulere Constituency 01 seat. Other entertainers who by virtue of their political ambitions are inclined to support the party’s mandate, as mentioned earlier, include Dayo Adeneye, 9ice, and Kenny Saint Best.

It is necessary to mention at this point though, that of everybody listed above, actor and TV personality, Uti Nwachukwu has indicated clearly that as much as he openly supports Ambode’s bid to be elected the Lagos State governor, he is very much neutral concerning the presidency as he is not a supporter of any party.

Uti declared on Instagram: ‘As far as Lagos State is concerned me and my people are supporting @akinwunmiambode !! From the first day I met him, my discerning spirit knew instantly that this was a wonderful human being! Yes #Ibelive #Webelieve ! I don’t support Political PARTIES, I SUPPORT INDIVIDUALS ONLY! and I implore lagosians to make the right choice ! And peacefully Vote #intergrity #honesty #kindness #scruples #someonethatsNotcomingToEnrichHimself #hardworker #class #GenuineInterests #VoteAmbode #Ambode!!!!’

The Neutrals:
While some have been very active and vocal in their support for candidates and parties of their choice, a few Nigerian entertainment figures have chosen to remain neutral and just be observers in all the drama.

Some of them have indicated that while they would be voting come February 14, 2015, they would rather keep their choice of candidates to themselves until the elections proper.

These neutrals include Nollywood superstars like Jide Kosoko, Kunle Afolayan, and music icons like 2face Idibia and Sound Sultan. Others include Vector, Davido, Wizkid, Seyi Shay and Timaya.

Award-winning filmmaker and actor, Kunle Afolayan in a chat with NET said: ‘I am definitely going to vote in February because I believe that it is my right and civic duty. I just prefer to keep my choice to myself for now.’

Respected music icon 2face Idibia also stated recently that: ‘I urge all Nigerians to use this opportunity well and go all out to vote for whoever they believe is the right candidate. Don’t say that your vote doesn’t count, or that they’re just chopping all the money. Your vote is your power.’

In a chat with NET at the Headies 2014 in Lagos, popular music star, Timaya also disclosed that he has no favourites and he is not in support of any party.

There are actually more than two presidential aspirants!

According to INEC, only 11 out of the 26 registered political parties in Nigeria submitted names of candidates to run for the presidency.

The PDP submitted the names of Goodluck Jonathan and his vice, Namadi Sambo, while the main opposition, APC submitted the names of Muhammadu Buhari and Yemi Osinbajo as presidential and vice presidential candidates.

Others are Oluremi Sonaiya and Saidu Bobboi (Kowa Party), Ambrose Albert and Haruna Shaba (Hope Democratic Party), Ganiyu Galadima and Balarabe Ahmed (Allied Congress Party of Nigeria), Rafiu Salau and Clinton Cliff Akuchie (Alliance for Democracy) Godson Okoye and Haruna Adamu (United Democratic Party), Nani Ibrahim Ahmad and Obianuju Murphy-Uzohue (African Democratic Congress), Martin Onovo and Ibrahim Mohammed (National Conscience Party), Tunde Anifowoshe-Kelani and Paul Ishaka Ofomile (Action Alliance) and Chekwas Okorie and Bello Umar (United Progressive Party).

The Labour Party, LP, and the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, have reportedly already adopted the PDP candidate, Goodluck Jonathan as their candidate as well. Of all the 11 candidates, only Jonathan and Buhari were candidates in the last election in 2011.

Kwam 1
Ice Prince
Desmond Elliot
Weird MC
Banky W
Funke Akindele
Yemi Alade
Muyiwa Ademola
Uti Nwachukwu
Yomi Fash Lanso
Dammy Krane
DJ Jimmy Jatt
Saidi Balogun
Ronke Oshodi Oke
Femi Adebayo
Swankky Jerry
Sanyeri Afonja
Kamilu Kampo
Odunlade Adekola
Adebayo Salami
Mercy Aigbe
Yinka Quadri
Fathia Balogun
Foluke Daramola
Ben Murray
Bruce Bovi
Charles Novia
Daddy Showkey
Eedris Abdulkareem
Emem Isong
Femi Ogedengbe
Fidelis Duker
Fred Amata
Funke Adesiyan
Ibinabo Fiberesima
Ini Edo
Joseph Benjamin
Kate Henshaw
Majek Fashek
Mike Ezuronye
Monalisa Chinda
Naeto C
Omo Baba
Omoni Oboli
Onyeka Onwenu
Patience Ozokwor
Ramsey Nouah
Rita Dominic
Sammy Okposo
Segun Arinze
Toyin Aimakhu
Zaaki Adzee
Zeb Ejiro
The Neutrals:
Jide Kosoko, Kunle Afolayan, and music icons like 2face Idibia and Sound Sultan. Others include Vector, Davido, Wizkid, Seyi Shay and Timaya.

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