If you ever saw the viral clip from a Nollywood movie of Funke Akindele (Jenifa) running from a man in a very dramatic and hilarious fashion, while he shouted ‘Why are you running?’ repeatedly, then you understand why I could not pass off the opportunity to title this article this way, and now, here’s the kicker: I think we just found out why she was running. As of Tuesday, July 12, 2022, news of Funke Akindele being confirmed as the running mate of Dr. Abdul-Azeez Adediran –the PDP Gubernatorial aspirant for Lagos State- had filtered in.
And much like the reactions on social media, boy was I surprised. For some reason, many people (myself included) never quite pictured Funke Akindele making a detour into politics. Neither did they think that if she did, she would be taken seriously, talk less of joining politics at a gubernatorial level. However, when I think about it, how many serving governors or deputies have built a more impressive and respectable reputation than she has? To be honest not many come to mind. She is well educated, articulate, hardworking, a maestro in her field, and a very successful entrepreneur.
At the official unveiling of Funke Akindele as his running mate, Dr. Olajide Adediran said, “My running mate is someone who is large-hearted and has a rich history of service and advocacy, a successful entrepreneur who has grown her business from zero to success it is today, a practitioner and an employer of labour in the entertainment industry, an amazing talent whose creative works have won awards over and over again.”
The impressive antecedents of Funke Akindele are not in doubt and I think she is more than competent to be a deputy governor, regardless of whether she has political experience or not. The Lagos chapter of the APC however believes that Funke Akindele has no electoral value, which they sternly expressed in what I consider a rather distasteful and disrespectful statement. The Lagos State chapter of the APC through its spokesman, Mr. Seye Oladejo said the selection of Funke Akindele as a running mate amounted to ‘trivializing the importance of the forthcoming gubernatorial elections by giving political neophytes who have absolutely nothing to bring to the table their electoral tickets. It also shows a lack of depth in the party as regards quality members to put forward for elections if they could give a member who crossed carpeted a few days before their primaries the governorship ticket and now went to the make-believe industry to fetch a deputy’.
Expectedly, he also took a swipe at her over the recent reports of her marriage crashing. This unwarranted vituperative outburst was not just rude, it also makes you wonder if they truly believe she has no electoral value or if they already feel threatened. Elections are all about popular votes, even though I understand that winning an AMVCA is much different from winning an election. That notwithstanding, her fame and popularity have to count for something. The Likes of Ronald Raegan (former president of the United States) and Arnold Schwarzenegger (former Governor of California) were both actors before assuming high political offices and are proof that an entertainer/celebrity can make a successful detour into politics if they play their cards right.
Funke Akindele, in her response to being selected as the gubernatorial running mate, said, she would abandon her business and join Dr Olajide Adediran because she is very passionate about youths and women. With a good PR team, I think these are two subjects she can run successfully. It is also a great answer to the question, ‘why are you running?’ Time will tell if Funke Akindele has the political bite to push the ticket forward. However, I think this is a welcome development, a departure from the norm. Politics is not just for career politicians and political jobbers, it is for everyone.