Nigerian Entertainers and Politics: You’re Having a Laugh!
Entertainers and politics: No laughing matter.
One of the sub plots of Nigeria’s election season so far, has been the entry of actors and musicians into the political arena. Kenny St. Brown, Desmond Elliot, Bob Manuel Udokwu, Kate Henshaw-Nuttal, Kenneth Okonkwo, Tony Tetuila, ‘Alapomeji’ himself, 9ice including Dayo Adeneye, one half of the ‘Kenny and D1’ duo, have all thrown their hats into the ring for this election cycle.
The local government of this author in Rivers state has not been spared this influx. There, Gift Eke (nee Uwame), more popularly known as singer and actress Muma Gee, is contesting for the Abua/Odual seat in the State House of Assembly under the PDP.
Her colleagues have similarly modest ambitions. Mr. Adeneye has targeted the Ogun State House of Assembly with the APC, Kate Henshaw the Federal House of Representatives under the PDP in Cross River, Tony Tetuila – with dyed hair in attendance – for the Kwara House of Representatives, 9ice contests for the Federal House of Representatives in Oyo, Desmond Elliot and Kenny St. Brown in the Lagos State House of Assembly, Kenneth Okonkwo for the Federal House of Representatives in Enugu and Bob Manuel Udokwu in the Anambra State House of Assembly.
There are a number of ways from which to look at this trend. One angle is to see a list of people whose careers in entertainment have essentially come to an end, and have decided to move on to other pursuits, with political involvement being one of the things that can guarantee the kind of visibility and status previously enjoyed. A less cynical person would applaud them for taking the step to ‘get involved’ in the process, while simultaneously criticizing the naysayers who prefer to ‘make noise’ from the sidelines.
Broadly, there are three types of candidates in elections: There are those who go into the contest with significant levels of real support and are in it to win it, then there are those who go into the contest with an illusion of popularity, often urged on by sycophants, and get roundly defeated at the party primaries or the elections proper. The last group are those who know they have no chance of winning, but are in the ring to be visible and to position themselves to be ‘settled’ by the stronger candidates, either with promises of appointments or contracts, or just cold hard cash, by which they recoup whatever they spent.
It is possible that most of the entertainers above belong in the last group, but one interesting case is that of Julius Agwu, one of Nigeria’s most recognized comedians. Like Muma Gee, he is an indigene of Rivers State, and made headlines in August by announcing that he wanted to become the governor of Rivers State, as a result of a ‘clamour by indigenes of the state’ for him to run.
While some were still deciding whether to take him seriously or not, the punch line from the former ‘Crack Ya Ribs’ host duly arrived yesterday, with the announcement that he was dropping his governorship ambition, after a meeting with his Ikwerre kinsmen. You see, Rotimi Amaechi is also Ikwerre, and is about to conclude eight years as governor. It is time for another ethnic group to have a taste. Instead, like 9ice and Kenneth Okonkwo, ‘D Genius’ will contest for a Federal House of Representatives seat.
Again, the cynical interpretation would be that what he wanted all along was a run at the House of Representatives, and not the governorship, especially since he probably knew that being in the same ethnic group with the outgoing governor would rule him out.
Then, the inevitable question comes: What do our entertainers want to achieve by running for elective office? Do they have something to offer? Or is politics just an end in itself?
These questions can only be answered over time, and on a case by case basis. And if by a stroke of sheer genius, Julius Agwu and his fellow entertainers are serious about their political ambitions, and have something to offer their constituencies, it is only right to wish them well. Public service is no laughing matter.