People from different walks of life participated in the recently concluded general elections, and entertainers were not left out. Faith Ajayi takes a look at the entertainers that ran for different offices, and how they fared
Olubankole Wellington, popularly known as Banky W, is a singer, actor, entrepreneur, and more recently, a politician. It was a pleasant surprise for many when, on November 11, 2018, he announced his intention to contest the Eti-Osa Federal Constituency seat in House of Representatives, on the platform of the Modern Democratic Party, which was formed in 2017.
The entertainment personality eventually lost the election to Babajide Obanikoro, the candidate of the All Progressives Congress.
Banky W later ditched the MDP, and joined the Peoples Democratic Party, where he secured the ticket to contest the same seat.
However, despite his spirited campaign, he lost to the candidate of the Labour Party, Thaddeus Attah.
Though many people were rooting for him to win, the singer accepted his loss in good faith. In an interview after the result was declared, Banky W said, “I feel very grateful, even in defeat, because of the things we were able to accomplish.”
An actress, filmmaker and politician, Olufunke Akindele-Bello, popularly known as Jenifa, is undoubtedly a popular face in the entertainment industry.
However, she got into a new terrain when she was nominated by the PDP’s gubernatorial candidate in Lagos State, Olajide Adediran, aka Jandor, to be his running mate in the 2023 election.
In justifying her nomination, Jandor maintained that the actress would add more value to his candidacy.
While accepting her nomination, Akindele, had in a now deleted Instagram post, said, “I am not unaware of the cost of this assignment on my vibrant career, which I must now necessarily put on hold. It is a huge personal sacrifice. My resolve is that no sacrifice is too huge for the actualisation of the urgent mission to rescue our people and our dear state.”
In an interview with The PUNCH, the entertainer had also stated that her last movie, ‘Battle on Buka Street’, was like a farewell. She said, “Because I am going to be the next Deputy Governor of Lagos State, I am passing the baton to the new ones, because we need to give them opportunities. I will be in the background to advise and supervise them, but let us celebrate them. Are you not tired of seeing old faces?”
However, the Jandor and Akindele lost the election to the incumbent governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu of the APC.
An actor, director and producer, Femi Branch, began his career in the entertainment industry while he was a student of Dramatic Arts at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife, Osun State, in 1991. That same year, he featured in a Yoruba stage play titled, ‘Eniyan’. He has since appeared in over 100 films, some of which he produced and directed.
Ahead of the 2023 elections, Branch was named the running mate to the Ogun State gubernatorial candidate of National Rescue Movement Party, Tofunmi Ogunronbi.
Ogunronbi stated that he picked the Ogun State-born actor because he believed that he would add more value to his candidacy, considering his vocal stance against bad governance and social injustice.
He added that his running mate had a clear understanding of the task ahead, and the need to work with a co-visionary with a shared passion for the emancipation of the good people of the state.
The duo eventually lost the election to the incumbent, Governor Dapo Abiodun, though Branch believed that the process was not free and fair.
Taking to his Instagram page, he alleged that there was partisanship at the polls. He wrote, “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.”
He added, “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.”
Actress-turned-politician, Tonto Dikeh, was the Rivers State deputy governorship candidate on the platform of the African Democratic Congress. She was a running mate to Tonte Ibraye.
However, Dikeh did not eventually test her popularity at the polls, as shortly before the election, she and Ibraye endorsed and supported the candidate of the APC, Tonye Cole.
Taking to her Instagram page a day before the election, she wrote, “Having carefully listened to the advice of elders and political leaders in Rivers State on the need for the opposition to look inwards and present a unified, competent and generally acceptable candidate with the capacity to win the gubernatorial elections, and the need for the opposition to prevent splitting its votes amongst several candidates, today, we officially adopted Tonye Cole as the consensus and unifying candidate of the opposition.
“Upon his victory, Tonye Cole will form a unity government comprising the APC and other opposition parties in this alliance titled, ‘Stronger Together for a United Rivers State’. I hereby call on all my supporters to vote for Tonye Cole of the APC this Saturday.”
However, the endorsement didn’t eventually count for much as Cole was defeated by the candidate of the PDP, Siminialayi Fubara.
After the election, she wrote on Instagram, “As the 2023 election concludes with a newly elected leader, I want to urge everyone to ensure we prioritise the peace and prosperity of our darling Rivers State over our emotions.”
A former Big Brother Naija contestant, Tuoyo Ideh, contested the Warri Federal Constituency seat of the House of Representatives, on the platform of the All Progressives Grand Alliance party, but lost to the PDP’s candidate and incumbent member representing the constituency, Thomas Ereyitomi.
An actress and TV reality star, Carolyna Hutchings, initially signified her intention to contest the Akwa-Ibom governorship position under the African Action Congress, as a running mate to the governorship candidate, Iboro Otu, but dropped out of the race a day to the election.
In a post on her Instagram page, she wrote, “As today marks the end of our race together, I wish you the very best. I pray Akwa Ibom sees the amazing leader that you are for the next election. Thank you AAC for the opportunity. I pray for you a more structured party, with more great and young leaders. May God guide your steps. To those who rooted for me, the race never ends, till there is no life. We keep it moving. We live to fight another day. God bless Akwa Ibom,”
The election was eventually won by the candidate of the PDP, Umo Eno.
A veteran actress, activist and youth advocate, Hilda Dokubo, has never hidden her support for the Presidential candidate of the Labour Party, Peter Obi. She participated actively in the campaign.
On September 28, 2022, the actress declared her interest in contesting the Asalga/Akulga Federal Constituency (Rivers State) in the House of Representatives under the Labour Party.
However, she was later appointed the chairman of the party in Rivers State.
Recall that Dokubo was once a member of the Peoples Democratic Party, before leaving to join the Labour Party. At one time, she served as the Special Adviser on Youth Affairs to a former governor of the state, Peter Odili.
She also runs a non-governmental organisation— the Centre for Creative Arts Education—which uses the creative arts to empower women and the youth.
A rising actor, Olumide Oworu, popularly known as Tari, announced his intention to run for the Surulere Constituency 1 seat in the Lagos State House of Assembly, under the Labour Party. In a post on social media, he wrote, “It is with a sense of honour and duty that I announce my candidacy for the Lagos State House of Assembly— Surulere Constituency 1— on the platform of the Labour Party. The youth of this generation in Nigeria are more politically aware than ever and are now striving to have our voices heard and take part in the governance of this great country.
“As someone with a passion for youth development, it is on this note that I tender myself in service to playing my part in the actualisation of an all-inclusive government, where young Nigerian intellectuals have a chance to make a change by being a part of the move for the creation of a new Nigeria. Thank you for your support. A new Nigeria is Possible.”
Few days to the election, his campaign team was attacked. He eventually lost the election to the incumbent and fellow actor, Desmond Elliot.
Actor, Desmond Elliot, has been representing the Surulere Constituency 1 in the Lagos State House of Assembly on the platform of the APC.
However, he courted controversy when he referred to social media users as ‘children’ during the #EndSARS protests of October, 2020. As a result, many youths had lambasted him on social media, with many urging his constituents to vote him out of the assembly during the election.
However, he eventually won the election. In an appreciation post, he wrote on social media, “Thank you, Surulere. I commend the worthy effort given by other candidates in other parties. I am glad for the youthful zest you put into the campaign. Please, I am more than willing to work with you and share ideas on how to make our dear constituency a better place. I pledge to give my utmost best at giving succour and relief to my constituents to the best of my legislative ability. Thank you. Suru wa a lere ooo.”