In recent development, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and its flag bearer in the Lagos 2023 gubernatorial election announced the choice of Funke Akindele as its deputy governorship candidate.
Many people expressed shock especially that the coming election is seen as keenly contestable and PDP is expected to move beyond the usual 30-35% failure mark it has averagely scored in the past six elections since the coming of the 4th republic.
Abdul-Azeez Olajide Adediran (aka Jandor), the hitherto partyman of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), chipped off a chunk of the party’s working fingers under his Lagos4Lagos group when they jumped boats earlier this year, and therefore boosted PDP’s chances at the polls.
He went on to outplay the likes of Dr. Ade Dosumu and Deji Doherty to clinch the party’s ticket with a promise of delivering additional 20 to 22% votes from the APC camp. Jandor flatters to have caused an ‘implosion’ in APC with his movement to the PDP and boasts to have the right combinations to change the over 20years proven Lagos guber elections outcomes.
Many, who believe in the need to unset the well-cured political fortress of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu-led Lagos politics, are of high hopes that Jandor may just hold the magic wand. Therefore, every of his action and choices in the build-up to the election are raptly followed to somewhat motivate support towards steering off the compass.
Choosing a running mate, like in every political stage, is a major indication of the availability of a solid strategy. For instance, political analysts infer that Muhammadu Buhari’s victory in 2015 was largely dependent on the huge Christian votes Pastor Yemi Osinbajo’s candidacy endeared to add-up to the assured Muslim-majority Northern votes.
It is also believed that the APC have always gotten it right with vote-yielding choices of deputy governor candidates over the years; either through an appeal to the female voters or balancing political blocks by selecting women and high-profile political leaders in respective cases. Obafemi Hamzat’s selection to deputise a scarcely-known Babajide Sanwo-Olu was a strike for power equilibrium, which delivered at the polls in 2019.
Therefore, a lot of people watched as Jandor and PDP were storming up calculations for who should bring highly-needed votes as many were expecting that a like-wise popular long-term PDP chieftain would have assured the maintenance of the usual 30-35% PDP votes and in combination with the projected harvest of some APC votes, the tide may just sway in 2023.
But to the amazement of many, a rather remote choice was made; Funke Akindele, an actress and a filmmaker, was suddenly introduced into the stormy waters of Lagos politics.
In defence, the PDP and Jandor itemised some reasons for this mysterious pick like Funke’s huge social media influence, the need for a ‘breath of fresh air’, gender balance and strategy to avert intra-party crisis in the event that Jandor picks one of the many hopefuls who have worked many years to give the PDP a scarce lifeline in Lagos politics.
Why the Jenifa Strategy will not work
Though around the world, celebrities have been able to channel their brand power to muscle out strong political opponents at the polls, but that have always been in rare cases. It is only one in every 10 celebs that actually achieve success at the ballot.
It is also believed that most fans have a distinctive delineation between their love for their stars and their love for their nation. Typical of human nature, personal interest of each individual always comes first when it comes to elections.
In the developed world, the interest often revolves round core socio-economic issues and the aspiring political office holder’s established stands or plans on such issues. And it is only when this is aligned that their massive followership becomes a power tool, else it turns into a self-destruct channel.
In Nigeria’s peculiar situation, it is even dire.
Here, politics is a business and a very brutal one at that. Those in active politics have become skilled at aligning all success factors to stay relevant, year-in-year-out. More so because the variables of critical majority of sheepish followers demands that some highly important political alignments are formed across major power blocks. The pedigree of a suitable candidates is often part of the cards on the table; who you are, what you have done for or interest you represent for the power brokers, etc.
Many would ask, what power block does Funke represent other than some overly assumptive popularity on social media? Which of the active grassroot leaders and/or their formations are behind her candidacy such that their voice can be echoed through the streets to galvanise voters’ affinity? What are Funke’s own pedigree in active political engagements, even on the basics of activism, strong contribution to topical socio-political issues or far-reaching charity programmes that can be keyed into to substantiate her leadership attribute?
An outlier must command a tremendous amount of value to cause a black swan event in politics.
We have seen several Nigerian celebrities jump off their high horse to the fantasy of snatching power from career politicians, and it often ended like a brief show. Dayo Adeneye, 9ice, Kate Henshaw, Kanayo O Kanayo and Yul Edochie are a few that tipped their toes in the puddy of politics and quickly jumped off to the sidelines. The similarity of these cases is that they were self-sponsored, so the damage doesn’t go beyond personal ego, a little personal brand devaluation and financial loses.
In the case of a Funke, it’ll go a little further.
The hopes of a huge population of Lagosians, who might be dreaming of experiencing a Tinubuless Lagos may be aborted by this cinch of an opposition front. Surprisingly, this choice was allegedly the call of a supposedly prepared and self-acclaimed liberator of Lagos.
The Funke move is only a display of an amateur’s knack for hasty elimination of the opponent’s pawns on the way to a grandmaster’s gambit – checkmate! Success with this duo, if necessary care is not taken, can only be the product of a fiction; like Funke, like a movie!