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Nigerian Celebrities and the 2023 General Elections

Nigerian celebrities are also eager to make their mark in the political arena, leveraging various platforms and tactics to further their ambitions as politicians.
February 24, 2023
8:09 pm
Admonishing Nigerians to be peaceful on election day

Nigeria has always been a country that is passionate about politics because every citizen, in one way or another, is involved in governance and the welfare of the country that is dubbed the “Giant of Africa.”


This enthusiasm often provokes a giddiness, which informs behavioral patterns that might be considered undemocratic in both the electorates and those vying for their votes. This time around, as tensions begin to rise and the general elections draw closer, some Nigerian celebrities have thrown their hats into the political ring, vying for various political positions in their respective states.


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For them, though, politics is not entertainment: it is serious business, especially now that Nigeria appears in need of a new direction. The likes of Banky W, Funke Akindele, Tonto Dikeh, Desmond Eliot, and Femi Branch are in the thick of campaigns running for political offices. Their fate will become obvious in a few days.


Apart from running for political offices, others have been politically vocal on social media by endorsing their favorite candidates, educating their fanbases on the importance of voting, and aiding those in need of election information and resources.


However, the spotlight is shining on those celebrities who have bravely taken on the challenge of running for political office.


Some Nigerians have expressed skepticism about their motives for contesting while others wonder what real change they intend to bring to their communities. Folks can only wait with bated breaths as they count down the hours that decide the fate of our celebrity hopefuls. For now, TNR would analyze their dossier and political pedigree.


Banky Wellington on a campaign trail

« Banky W

Bankole Wellington, popularly known as Banky W, is not just a popular Nigerian musician, he is also an emerging political figure in the country. In 2019, he contested for the House of Representatives under the platform of the Modern Democratic Party (MDP), a relatively new political party. Although he lost the election, he never gave up on his political ambitions. He continued to be vocal about the state of the nation and the need for young people to be more involved in the political process.


Recently, Banky W made a switch from the MDP to the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). He contested and won the Eti-Osa federal constituency primary ticket of the party ahead of the 2023 general elections. This move has further cemented his position as a serious contender in Nigerian politics.


To gain support for his political ambition, Banky W has taken to the streets of Lagos to canvass for votes. Along with his wife, Adesua Etomi, he has been seen trying to garner the attention and interest of the public both online and offline. This strategy seems to be working as many young Nigerians have expressed their support for Banky W’s political ambition.


Funke Akindele

« Funke Akindele

Funke Akindele, the superstar actress turned producer is the running mate of Abdul Azeez Olajide Adediran, the candidate of the PDP in Lagos for the gubernatorial election. A lot of Nigerians were shocked by this development and have openly mocked the PDP for choosing Akindele as a candidate. She has no previous political experience and has never shown an interest in politics up until now.


Last year, she was criticized for appearing unprepared on live TV to talk about her party’s blueprint for Lagos. However, this has not deterred her from continuing her political pursuits. She has been seen actively campaigning in public, even in the wake of her mother’s death, and has shown her unwavering commitment to her cause. She even attended the Lagos State movement program which was meant to mobilize support for her and Adediran.


Ahead of the forthcoming elections, the actress has taken to her social media pages to mobilize supporters, canvass for votes, and educate Nigerians on the importance of carrying out their civic duties.


Tonto Dikeh

« Tonto Dikeh

Tonto Dikeh is another Nollywood actress that was nominated as a governorship running mate. It is no secret that she has long been nursing a political ambition. She even declared that she will be contesting in the 2023 election two years ago.


Even with her track record of being one of Nollywood’s most controversial figures, she was nominated as the running mate of Tonte Ibraye, the governorship candidate of the African Democratic Congress (ADC) in Rivers State in June 2022.


Amidst the drama between her and her ex-husband, she took to her Instagram page to remind Nigerians to respect the political choices of others.


“Politics doing what it has been doing from day one putting citizens up against each other. Your choice is your choice, you can’t force another to see your candidate is the best when they feel there is the best too.. the energy you are using to fight someone else is using it to make sure voter’s cards don’t go out. Online is not reality,” she wrote.


Desmond Elliot with a supporter at a recent campaign event

« Desmond Elliot

Desmond Elliot is certainly not a newbie in the Nigerian political scene. The actor contested and won the Surulere Constituency 1 seat in 2015 under the All Progressives Congress (APC). After four years in office, Elliott was re-elected for a second term as a lawmaker in 2019. He is once again contesting to retain his seat for a third term as a member representing the Surulere 1 Constituency in Lagos in the 2023 general elections.


Elliot has not only been seen campaigning for himself but also for the presidential candidate of his party, Bola Ahmed Tinubu. He is a regular attendee of the various public mobilization programs hosted by his party, and like his colleagues, he is trying to garner support online by uploading posters and videos that propagate his cause.


Femi Branch campaign poster

« Femi Branch

Femi Branch is another actor competing for a political seat in the upcoming elections. Last year, he was named the running mate of Tofunmi Ogunronbi, the 2023 governorship candidate of the National Rescue Movement (NRM) in Ogun State.


The actor has mostly been seen online urging the public to vote while canvassing for votes for his party. Notably, he urged Nigerians to not only be online supporters, but offline supporters as well because getting involved in the political affairs of your country physically is the only thing that would bring about the desired change.


He said.  “Nobody was born a politician, and political experience can only be gained in service even if you have a Ph.D. in Political Science! Anyone that is passionate about serving his/her people and loves his/his country is free to run for office! It is the right of every citizen! Talking on social media alone will not change the Nation, getting actively involved will! You can only change the system from within.”

Akinmolayan on the power of the people

With the political clock ticking, it is becoming increasingly evident that political canvassing and campaigning are not just the domain of the bigwigs and full-blown politicians. Nigerian celebrities are also eager to make their mark in the political arena, leveraging various platforms and tactics to further their ambitions. From A-listers to rising stars, it seems that many of them are keen to take up the mantle of public service and make a difference in the lives of Nigerians. Whether they succeed or not remains to be seen, but their passion and drive are certainly making waves in the political landscape.


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