Election Splits Nollywood



Funsho Arogundade

As the forthcoming 2015 general elections in Nigeria inch closer, a deep wedge has been driven into the once united Nollywood as many of its members have been pledging and drumming their support for different candidates as well as political parties.

With the candidates criss-crossing the country for their electioneering campaigns and rallies, Nollywood actors are playing a very strategic part through public appearances, radio jingles and television commercials. And they are polarized along the lines of two political parties and their candidates: President Goodluck Jonathan of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and General Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress, APC.

Officially, Nollywood actors and stakeholders in the entertainment industry supporting President Jonathan and the PDP include: Ibinabo Fiberesima, national president, Actors Guild of Nigeria; Monalisa Chinda, Mike Ezuruonye, Segun Arinze, Patience Ozokwor, Joseph Benjamin, Fidelis Duker, Ramsey Nouah, Omoni Oboli, Charles Novia, Lancelot Imasuen, Femi Ogedengbe, Zik Zulu Okafor, Kate Henshaw, Ini Edo, Emem Isong, Grace Amah, Osita Iheme a.k.a. Paw Paw, Muma Gee, Chinedu Ikedieze a.k.a. Aki, Rita Dominic, Mercy Johnson and Bovi.

While on the camp of General Buhari are Jide Kosoko, Desmond Elliot, Funke Akindele, Foluke Daramola and most of the Kannywood segment of the industry.

Like those in the larger society, different interests have been adduced for their actions. In a recent chat, Fiberesima said the creative industry has benefited greatly under the administration of President Jonathan thus a natural reason for them to throw their weight behind him in his bid for re-election.

“We must continue to believe in this great nation of ours. Nigeria belongs to us. The president cannot do it alone. He needs our help and we should not let him down at a time like this when he needs our votes to get the job done,” she said.

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But many observers think beyond the president’s achievements, the actors’ support is heavily induced.

Like during the 2011 elections when some Nollywood stars were said to have been paid to support Jonathan, hundreds of actors were said to have benefited from the President Jonathan’s Project Act Nollywood with some accessing grants to shoot movies and others sent for training abroad.

This was said not to have gone down well with many others in the industry.

“The decision by some Nollywood stars to campaign for the President with a fee has attracted criticisms from Nigerians, who claimed that as role models, the movie stars should not be directly involved in politics, and if they must do so, not because a candidate is ready to part with some money,” an industry buff opined.

Observers have also pointed out that ethnic sentiments have also played strong role in the choice of candidate that many Nollywood stars have queued behind for the forthcoming elections.

In the Western world especially America, Hollywood and other showbiz stars support various presidential candidates during their campaign, but none of them could be accused of doing it for pecuniary reasons.