•Igbo, S/south movie stars file behind PDP; Yoruba actors, Kannywood for APC
OLAOLU BILAU writes on the unfolding drama in Nollywood, Nigeria’s movie industry, where practitioners have become polarized down the line in their bid to support either President Goodluck Jonathan or his closest challenger in the forthcoming election, General Muhammadu Buhari.
The presidential election campaigns have become very explosive. It has more or less been reduced to a battle of sort that has polarized Nigerians along ethnic and religious lines of North against South and Muslims versus Christians.
The North-South divide has now been further reinforced in the Nigerian movie industry as each of the different sections that make up Nollywood have pitched its tent with one of the two leading presidential candidates in the forthcoming election, President Goodluck Jonathan or General Muhammadu Buhari of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC) respectively.
Three Faces of Nollywood
Nollywood is made up of the English language speaking practitioners comprising actors from the South-east and South-south geo-political zone, the predominantly Yoruba genre artistes from the South-west and the Hausa-speaking actors from the North often called Kannywood.
Pro- Jonathan Movie Stars Predominantly from South-east, South-south
On the side of President Jonathan are actors and actresses from the South-east and South-south led by President of the Actors’ Guild of Nigeria, Ibinabo Fiberesima and others including Zeb Ejiro, Patience Ozokwor, Rita Dominic, Omoni Oboli, Toyin Aimakhu Johnson, Segun Arinze, Ini Edo, Fred Amata, Monalisa Chinda, Lancelot Imasuen, Mike Ezuruonye, Grace Amah, Fidelis Duker, Kate Henshaw, Emem Isong, Osita Iheme as well as Ramsey Noah and Mercy Johnson just to list a few.
Speaking at the PDP Presidential rally in Asaba, Delta State recently, popular actress, Patience Ozokwor was quoted as saying: ‘’ PDP is the party, if you know what has happened in Nollywood in recent times, it is the power of PDP that has supported us. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan and Sambo are the only people that have supported us, they have sent us for training; they have given us money to make films…’’.
Recall that President Jonathan’s administration recently set up a $2billion fund to address issues of poor distribution system and the menace of piracy in the industry.
And in reciprocity, the actors have continued to campaign for the re-election of the president on the social media, where many of them enjoy large following and also through short videos clips like the ones that featured Omoni Oboli, Ramsey Noah, Segun Arinze and Sani Danja, including Rita Dominic.
Buhari Enjoys Support of Actors from South-west, North
Like their counterpart just mentioned, movie practitioners in the Yoruba category have also thrown their weight behind the candidate of the APC, General Buhari.
In collaboration with Fuji Music star, King Wasiu Ayinde, the Yoruba actors recently recorded a song and video for Buhari, his running mate, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo and Lagos State governorship hopeful, Mr. Akinwumi Ambode.
But unlike the Yoruba actors, Kannywood, the Hausa section has not been forthcoming with indications of who they are likely to vote for. But some analyst believed they will queue behind the APC flagbearer, who is from the North.
Reactions have however continued to trail these developments.
Ayodele Olanrewaju said: “By dabbling into politics, Nollywood is becoming disgusting all because of egunje… They are now split, one arm supporting PDP and the other backing APC”.
Actress in Hot Exchanges with Fan over Support for Jonathan
However, there was a mild drama recently on the social media when actress, Ufuoma Ejenobor posted a message, endorsing President Jonathan’s second term.
Ejenobor was one of the Nollywood stars, who met the president recently. She however, elicited reactions from fans after sharing a picture of herself in a handshake with President Jonathan.
Ejenobor had said in her post: “ This administration has done tonnes for my industry and even if I haven’t personally partaken in the human capacity building or grant, I’d be lying to say it doesn’t exist… #MyPresident #IHaveDecided #GEJTill12019’’.
A fan, Sarah Peace took the actress on saying: “U know d truth that Jonathan is not worthy to be a 2nd term president, but becos u taken your share of the national bloody cake, u are pretending, what of Chibok girls, d killings in the North, u are a mother, ur so-called president couldn’t do anything about it, no light, no water, no security…’’
The reply from the fan obviously angered the actress who lashed out at the fan, using unprintable words.
The actress later gave a stern warning to anyone who might still want to condemn her for supporting President Jonathan:
“Guys, I promise you I have your time ON THIS PAGE, the minute you prove to be a goat, I will flog you with hot koboko. I don’t follow the crowd o. I don’t do bandwagons. But that which is my choice, I’m convinced and confident about. I won’t be bullied nor bamboozled by insults that I have been paid, “she posted.
But Ejenobor was not the only pro-Jonathan Nollywood actress who has been criticized for supporting the president’s re-election.
Omoni Oboli also had her share of social media bashing though, unlike Ejenobor, Oboli took it in her stride.
Oboli posted: “Everyone has a right to support whoever for whatever reason. Let’s not reduce ourselves to name calling and insults! We are better than this! #votenotfight #weareone.
The actress said she stood for what she believed in and urged Nigerians to allow peace reign.
Some Nigerians have been accusing the movie stars of receiving inducements from the present administration to endorse it for a second term in office, but others have argued that the opposition APC also has some actors on its side too, wondering why they were not being criticized like the pro-Jonathan group.
Besides, they argued the actors have the right to get paid for their roles in the campaign just like other music stars that have been performing at the political rallies though some critics however chided the actors, saying, endorsements of political candidates by celebrities believed to be role models in the society should be above monetary considerations.