The 2023 general elections witnessed the revival of political activism by celebrities in the Nigerian entertainment industry.
Before this time, only a few of these celebrities or entertainers see reasons to speak up against bad governance or political ills in their country as they would rather focus on releasing their new songs or use an election year to write next movies.
This having been said, one can boldly posit that events of the EndSARS nationwide protest of October 2020, has reshaped the country’s political atmosphere and brought about a new consciousness.
Although divided along party lines and carrying different political sentiments, the message is clear; celebrities and entertainers in Nigeria have fixed themselves into the discussion of who pioneers the affairs of their country.
However, while there are new entrants into the political discourse, some voices that were so loud against oppressive and bad government policies seem to be waning. There were voices such as those of Idris Abdulkareem and Tuface Innocent Idibia, who walked in the shoes of the legendary Fela Anikulapo Kuti, through their music and other means, to air their opinions which were, in most cases, on the side of the oppressed masses.
Prior to the presidential election, for instance, celebrities used various social media platforms to preach, plead and persuade the youths, who form the majority of the Nigerian population, to get their Permanent Voter Cards and to use them wisely.
One will not be wrong to say that those celebrities contributed immensely to the high turnout of voters witnessed during the presidential and National Assembly elections of February 25, 2023.
As Innocent Idibia, popularly known as 2baba, Idris Abdukareem and the other frontal legendary musicians might be gradually becoming weaker in political activism, there seem to be neo-political voices rising strongly and fearsomely in the industry.
This set of celebrities seem to have a direction and focus on the very change they want for the country. Among these entertainers include the likes of Veteran actors, Kenneth Okonkwo and Kanayo O. Kanayo. While the former is a spokesperson for one of the political parties, the latter believes the right leaders, according to him, should lead the 21st century Nigeria. Others, including the likes of Yul Edochie, Banky W, Desmond Elliot, etc., believe that celebrities should not stand and watch but should be part of the policy makers.
Other Nigerian celebrities were also very vocal during the 2023 general elections.
Peter and Paul Okoye are among the first musicians who came out to support the Labour Party Presidential candidate, Peter Obi. Peter Okoye told his followers to vote for Peter Obi even before he decamped to the Labour party.
Maverick singer, songwriter, actor, and activist began supporting Peter Obi in 2022. Charlyboy not only promoted Peter Obi on his social media pages but planned a massive rally in support of the presidential candidate.
The activist told the youths to reject the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, and the Peoples Democratic Party PDP.
Veteran Nollywood actor, Kenneth Okonkwo dumped the APC and endorsed the LP candidate, Peter Obi. He was appointed into the Peter Obi presidential campaign council and became one of the committee’s spokespersons. He also represented LP on different TV stations, campaigning for Obi.
Kate Henshaw and Chioma Akpotha
The two Nollywood actresses not only expressed support for Peter Obi, they highlighted the impact of the Obidient movement on the minds of the youths and how it has reminded them of the power they have.
Despite being attacked during the governorship election, the duo still urged the youths to come out and exercise their right.
Toyin Abraham and Eniola Badmus
Toyin and Eniola endorsed the candidate of the ruling APC, Bola Ahmed. The duo said they received negative comments for endorsing Tinubu but maintained that they did not receive money to endorse him.
According to them, Tinubu is the President Nigeria needs.
Omoni Oboli and Uche Jumbo
The Ace Nollywood actresses threw their weight behind Obi/Datti. Omoni also raised alarm that Nigerians were being intimidated during the governorship election last Saturday. She also accused the INEC of moving the polling unit in her estate in VGC without informing the electorate.
Jombo had also urged Nigerians not to insult any celebrity for supporting whoever they chose to support.
The former Big Brother Naija housemate was part of the celebrities who used their platforms to encourage youths to get their PVC.
Tacha had urged Nigerians to exercise their civic right, even as she stressed that those who have chosen to abstain from voting despite having PVC are part of the problems in the country.
Award-winning writer, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, penned a lovely note, endorsing Peter Obi during his 61st birthday in July. She narrated how the LP Presidential candidate is prudent and has unwavering passion to see Nigeria rise above its challenges. This is the first time Chimamanda will endorse any presidential candidate in the country.
Macaroni, Falz and Simi
The three entertainers actively participated in Nigeria’s electioneering season. They were among the most vocal musicians cum activists advocating better governance. While Macaroni and Simi encouraged the youth to get their PVC and come out to vote, Falz represented the youth in a security committee to ensure peace in Lagos ahead of the governorship election.