Ahead of 2015 general elections, the atmosphere is charged with more Nollywood stars declaring interests in vying for elective positions in the country.
While many have described this move as a welcome development, others say it’s a waste of time, resources and energy, on the part of the movie stars.
But whatever may be the case, there is an urgent need to ascertain whether the influx of entertainers into politics will help in reshaping the future of the country.
Already, Nigerians are clamouring for change which will definitely usher in a ‘new breed’ of politicans that would be saddled with the responsibility of re-writing the history of this country. And with these crop of Nollywood stars vying for elective positions in the land, the desired change may not be unattainable after all.
One is aware that there has been an exisiting relationship between the movie industry and national politics. In the United States of America, Hollywood stars played a vital role in shaping the future of that country.
Through their compelling larger-than-life cinema presence, likes of Charlie Chaplin, Louis B. Mayer, Edward G. Robinson, George Murphy, former President Ronald Reagan, Harry Belafonte, Jane Fonda, Charlton Heston, Warren Beatty, and Arnold Schwarzenegger, all brought their overpowering influences on American politics.
From actor and senator George Murphy, who tutored Eisenhower on camera-friendliness before the 1952 election; and Reagan, who understood better than anyone concerning the power of a simple message genially delivered, to Arnold Schwarzenegger, who learned all his lessons by heart using the power of celebrity, the politics of image over substance has been rooted in American politics. It’s also desirable to replicate the same in Nigeria with the emergence of Nollywood stars in politics.
As pointed out by one time president of the Actors Guild of Nigeria (AGN), Segun Arinze, the influx of movie stars into politics is healthy for the industry and the nation at large. “It is good for the industry and the country at large.
And I think they will do well. Someone who decides to run or come into an office knows why he or she decided to run for that office in the first place. I don’t think they are going into politics for the money. I’m not going to be one of the people who would come out and say they are going into politics for the money. But they are going there to positively affect society,”Arinze said.
Prominent among these movie stars-turned-politicians are Offiong Kate Henshaw, veteran actor Jibola Dibo, actor-turned-lawyer,Keneth Okonkwo, Desmond Elliot, Funke Adesiyan, Bob Manuel Udokwo, Tony Muonagor popularly called Tony One week. Others are comedian and singer Julius Agwu, Anthony Olanrewaju Awotoye a.k.a Tony Tetuila and Kenny Saint Best (KSB).
While Kate Henshaw is contesting for the Federal House of Representatives for Calabar Munical/Odukpani Federal Constituency under the PDP platform, Jibola who is known for his ‘Sugar daddy’ roles, is also contesting for the Federal House of Representatives for Owo/Ose Federal Constituency in Ondo State.
Desmond Elliot, popular for his roles in movies like Games Women Play, Reloaded, Finding Mercy, and Wind of Glory is contesting for a seat in the Lagos State House of Assembly under the the All Progressive Congress (APC) platform just as Yemi Solade, award-winning TV series, Super Story star, is contesting for a seat in the Senate on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Lagos State.
Also, Bob Manuel Udokwo who is currently the Senior Special Adviser on Nollywood and entertainment to Anambra State Governor, Willie Obiano will have his colleague, Tony Muonagor a.k.a Tony One Week, an incumbent member of the state’s House of Assembly to beat in order to clinch the ticket to represent Idemili North at the Anambra State House of Assembly.
Actor-turned lawyer, Kenneth Okonkwo, only last week picked PDP nomination form wants to represent Nsukka/Igboeze South Federal Constituency at the National Assembly. He’s known for his role in the movie, Living in Bondage. Actresss Funke Adesiyan is equally contesting for the seat of the Ibadan South-East constituency in Oyo State House of Assembly.
Meanwhile, looking at the credentials of these movie stars, political pundits believe that they are not only going to bask in their fame as movie stars, they will also work hard as politicians to bring about the desired change in the country as they have done on their screen careers.
For instance, Kate Henshaw was quoted as saying: “I have no money to share, and I’m not entering politics for the purpose of financial gain, instead I will “push” myself to better the country.”
Like Kate Henshaw, Abolore Akande, a.k.a 9ice, explained that he was going into politics to make a difference and impact on the lives of the people. According to him, God has blessed him before he went into politics.
Desmond Elliot suddenly remembered to emphasize his Yoruba name to further endear himself to Lagosians, promising that if voted into office, he would not renege in his promise to impact positively on the lives of the people of the state.
From all indications, the stars are like the beacon of hope for the country. But with the present political climate, how far can these stars go in actualising their political ambitions?
Inasmuch as many have expressed the fear of the unknown, predicting that combining acting with politics would be somewhat tasking, the stars’ ultimate vision is to entrench the world they want to see and are willing to work to usher in that desired change in society.