Nigerian politics remains well and alive and boy is it murky and crazy! Can you believe the national election was postponed? The national elections will now be held as late as April 9th, 2011 with later dates anticipated. Anyway, two issues have been raised during the country’s ongoing election campaign(s). One is a legal issue of the rights of publicity where a celebrity never permitted a use of his image or likeness but that happened. Exhibit 1 is Eldee the Don, an artist who was the recipient of this political/commercial appropriation without his consent. Exhibit 2 is Wole Soyinka a Nobel Prize Writer, Poet and Playright. His name was allegedly used to send texts to Nigerians stating he endorsed political candidates he never endorsed. I won’t get into the above legal issue today. I am more concerned with the issue of celebrity endorsements of political candidates; a non-legal issue raised on a popular Nigerian fashion & lifestyle blog called Bella Naija. The site owner raised some points worth revisiting for me here.
Let’s be clear. First, as I indicated in defending Nigerian popular star D’Banj when he interviewed President Goodluck Jonathan, celebrities have a right to endorse whatever political candidates they deem fit; and interview them if they feel it appropriate. Obviously saying this does not mean they escape the public backlash should the public resist the endorsement. Certainly D’Banj can attest to the insults, threats and boycott among other things that have been hurled against him since his interview of President Goodluck.
What I address are my points and some of the points also raised by the BellaNaija article. How do we guage the authenticity of the celebrities who endorse political candidates? Do their endorsements immediately show a lack of integrity and honesty? Where is the conviction? What is the logical and rational basis for soliciting the votes of their fans for their preferred political candidate(s)? Have these celebs, beyond a short video campaign or nice soundtrack, articulated their positions in their campaigns? Do they understand the issues? Do they have a clear idea how their political candidates plan to execute on their vision(s) for their country so that young Nigerian boys and girls will truly have a chance at the “Nigerian dream,” whatever that may be. Where exactly have they articulated these understandings? On their fan page? Press releases? Campaign trail for their chosen candidates?
Have they been clear and transparent on the consideration i.e. money or other fringe benefits they may or may not have received in exchange for their endorsements? Do they feel a responsibility to both their fans and the public given their clout to provide their rationale for endorsing a candidate? If no, why not?
Bella Naija raises some of these issues and I think the article and comments are worth taking a look at.
Before you do, I must say nothing irritated me as much as the line by Desmond Elliot in the campaign below that said, “we are not as divided as our politics suggest.” Really?
Bella Naija echoed my sentiments with the following statement, “We encourage our celebrities to use the power of their position to help drive our country forward. However, without positive values such as integrity and transparency, the power and relevance of these campaigns is negated.” #Cosign
Full story on BellaNaija.com
Photocredit: Bella Naija