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NIGERIAN TELEVISION ROLE MODEL CELEBRITIES AND POLITICS



Reported by Niyi Tabiti


Wherever and whenever the success of the most remarkable electoral victory in the world (Barak Obama’s American presidential bid) surfaced in political history, the name-Oprah Winfrey would come up as one of the greatest influences of the period. Millions of people around the world hold Oprah in great awe because of the positive impacts she has been making through her lively and thought provoking television show.
In a place like Nigeria, someone like Oprah would ordinarily be classified as a mere TV presenter or better still an entertainer but in reality she is a role model celebrity. How far can our celebrities go to be genuine inspirations for positive socio-economy and political change in our nation? When it comes to political issue, do people take television personalities with so much seriousness?
Today in Nigeria, there are women who have indeed carved a niche for themselves with their commendable talk shows. Funmi Iyanda, Mosunmola (Mo) Abudu, Lola Oduba, Agatha Amata and a few others have indeed carved a niche for themselves here. Fine face, good smile and creative balance but the one billion naira question is- can it sow a seed of making you change your vote for the price of nothing?
Bimpe Fatokun a university undergraduate in Nigeria told http://www.niyitabiti.blogspot.com/ that television personalities like Mo Abudu and Funmi Iyanda are good brands for political influence but they have been limiting themselves.
“Look at it this way; they are popular and adored because of the issues they have been highlighting on their shows. For someone like me who has little or no interest in politics, I can easily be convinced to line up behind any candidate by these people because I admire them but I have not seen them coming out campaigning for any one”
On his part, Fola, a senior executive with a courier company in USA disagreed that some of the television personalities have not been doing much in the area of politics. Fola who was in Lagos recently for a seminar told http://www.niyitabiti.blogspot.com/ that most Nigerian television presenters don’t pretend about their political affinity. Citing the case of Funmi Iyanda, Fola disclosed that she has been known to be an all rounder, particularly in the media. In her newspaper columns and TV shows, she is known to have used it as a pedestal to talk about human rights abuses and short fall in the living standard of the people.
A popular actor told us there would have been more involvement of presenters in politics but they can’t openly campaign for someone they are not even sure would do their own will. Adding a humorous dimension to it, the actor said unlike America where it is a case of principle, in Nigeria politics is a case of figures. The electorates and godfathers think more about how much money they would share. So, if you like- put all the entertainers in Nigerian together for one man, they can only add colour but not change anything because the election results would have been written before the day.
“Does it mean actors and musicians have greater influences here?” gistmaster asked.
“Capital no!” he replied. “I told you earlier that what we have here is still politics of influence. Most of the musicians dancing behind politicians durning electoral period are only out for their daily bread. In America, most of them offered to be volunteers because they believe it is a moment for change. Niyi, do you know how much a Fuji musician pocked for doing an album for Asiwaju Bola Tinubu as governor of Lagos State?”
“All the Yoruba artistes who were also calling Tinubu’s name in their movies also benefited from the huge purse of his political machinery. We can only have someone influence our elections like Oprah did if election is actually based on principle not money. It is a sacrifice that starts as far as the entertainer refusing to collect money for such ‘services’. I know that one day; one of these women would achieve that feat”

3 comments:

  1. I am a fan of your blog site Niyi and do reside in Washington DC USA. Oprah has only ever endorse one politician openly(Barack Obama) she isn't one to let her views in Politics be known until now. Barack Obama probably deserve that endorsement because he changed his campaign in many ways; like rejecting money from lobbyist so that upon winning he will be able to really change how politics is done in Washington. There is a lot of envidence that supports the idea that President Elect Barack Obama would have won this election without the open endorsement of Oprah. According to Statistics in the US, President Elect Obama won 95% of African American votes, 43% of White Americans and 66% votes of Hispanic/Latinos. He won 363 electoral votes (all he needed was 270) and alot of the Red states (Rassist states) that typically vote republican voted his way because his message resonanted amongst American. He is seen as the face of change (almost in an iconic way). I(for one) felt the message which is why I stood in line for Five hours to cast my vote for him not because he is black but because of his message and how true it touched me.
    I watched Fummi's show while getting ready to go to the office. I would say that she does have a lot of potential but to reach her full potential (worldly forum) she will have to address issues of in- equality, topics that promote great causes (ways to help the poor)and not just talk about light topics like women and fashions and celebrities because that will not do it.
    Niyi, keep up the good work; love your site.

    Fan from the District of Columbia.

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  2. Oprah is seen as a role model because of the type of topic that she cover. She is able to mix both heavy/serious topics like health, women's rights,how to help the more etc and light topic like having celebrities in her audience to discuss their movies and lets not forget building that school in
    Johannesburg South Africa etc.
    In Addition, President elect Barack Obama has promise already (even before getting into office) to bring 2.5million jobs to the American people. He has created a website change.gov where the American public can stay connected and get updates on what his plans are. I hope that Nigerian politicians can begin to emulate these examples by these powerful citizens of America.
    I just thought that I add to the previous Anonymous blogger.

    Fan from UK.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hi Niyi,
    The issue here is to understand the politics of this country.It is no mean feat to be a T.V Personality in Nigeria. However, the resilence of the presenters would be tempered in the face of some odds.
    If a big and respected T.V station like Channels can be off air at the whims of an incumbent president, then the rest is left imagined than said.
    Another fact to be considered is the affliation of these presenters to their sponsors. He who pays the piper dictates the tune.With the exception of a few , what are the platforms of these T.V personalities.What was their pedigree.
    You can only make a difference if you are true to yourself.If only we have such, then am sure,we would have bees singing a different tune.

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