Dear celebrities, please check your influence meter. It’s running empty

Dear celebrities of the world,

There was actually a time that people followed you lot. A 10-year old in 2002 would have done anything that Beyonce or Puff Daddy endorsed. Same as a 24-year old in the same year but a lot has happened in the past few years and across continents to throw you off your throne of influence. We not only now disbelieve you when you tell us that you have and have not done to alter your anatomies or who you are/aren’t with; we also do not accept your endorsements anymore.

Especially when it comes to politics. The world could not even take Kanye seriously when he said he’d run for the Presidency of the United States in 2020.

Imagine if 2016 were 2000 and Michael Jackson ran against The Donald . Do you think Liberia and Tanzania would now be worried about whether their nationals will be admitted into the United States? Don’t you think Angelina Jolie would have easily adopted one more child by now? Why do you think Madonna is so mad? It’s all because none of your endorsements got Hillary into the White House. You failed to win the popular votes.

Ellen DeGeneres, Lena Dunham, Bruce Springsteen, Katy Perry, Robert De Niro and even the Queen Bey, for all the concerts and #IStandWithHer social media endorsements could not get Hillary Clinton a place in the hearts of all your fans or maybe it is your fanbase that has reduced. But that cannot be true. And Chrissy Teigen’s Twitter clap backs still get an insane amount of retweets and tabloid coverage apparently.

According to a political science professor from the Kentucky area in the United States, the only thing that celebrity endorsements are good for these days is to make people feel good about what they already like and even then, people have to already like said celebrity. Essentially, only people who already supported Hillary as at the date of the concert got a good time out of it and if the good Professor David Jackson knows what he’s talking about, then only the number of Hillary’s supporters who had the good time reduced further by the number of them who did not particularly fancy Katy Perry, or those who didn’t recognise Springsteen enough to be bothered or those who god forbid weren’t part of the Hive.

But this is not just about America. It’s about you too, Nigerian celebrities. The issue has a little bit more currency here with what has just happened last week. Or did we miss something and it is not Tuface Idibia of the African Queen blues that just had to doubly prove his sincerity to too many Nigerians to overlook? We’ll leave this for a while.

During the 2015 elections, more that Goodluck Jonathan, Mama P and the People’s Democratic Party, it was the Nigerian celebs who took the largest chunk of the fall.

Rita Dominic, Sammy Okposo, Omawunmi, Oc Ukeje, Mike Ozuronye, Oritsefemi, Ramsey Noah, Patience Ozokwor, Gordons, Ini Edo, Daddy Showkey, Mercy Johnson, Bovi, Toyin Aimakhu, Mochedda, Ibinabo Fiberesima, Onyeka Onwenu, Kate Henshaw, Monalisa Chinda, Joseph Benjamin, Joseph Yobo, Fred Amata, Daddy Showkey, Ben Murray Bruce, Ruggedman, Essence, Segun Arinze, Fidelis Duker, Omoni Oboli, KCEE, Eedris Abdulkareem, Zaaki Adzee, Harrysong, Majek Fashek, Omo Baba, Zeb Ejiro, Charles Novia, Saheed Osupa and Obesere. That’s 39 celebrities and basically the rest of Nollywood that could not get Nigerians to but a sitting President’s promise of a real agenda in 2015.

That’s very confusing because there was a time when just D’banj and Don Jazzy (a number of other stars but definitely not the whole of an industry) got us to buy the same dream. Oh! back to the Professor’s theory: maybe Nigerians were already sold on the idea of voting Jonathan before the endorsements in 2011.

And there’s no conflict here because it’s hard to think these were the primary people that got millions chanting “Sai Baba”:

 

It’s not that Fathia Balogun (Williams), Tony One Week, Kenny St Brown,9ice, Funke Akindele, Ice prince, Uti Nwachukwu, Muyiwa Ademola, Sanyeri, Adebayo Tijani, Wasiu Ayinde KWAM1, Femi Adebayo, Mercy Aigbe, Yinka Quadri, Foluke Daramola et al couldn’t have done it. It’s just that they didn’t.

In addition, there’s a a very interesting twist to the lack of celebrity endorsements’ waning influence in Nigeria. It brings us back to the #IStandWithTuface business and a tweet that sadly, too many Nigerians would say rings true:

Too many Nigerians think that the celebrities are sellouts once they take the bold step to endorse any candidates. It’s sad but it’s hard to say it has never happened. This runs the influence meter down even further in the case of Nigerian celebrities.

Another problem is the way Nigerian celebrities choose to endorse the candidates – without reason. This also ties in with Minister Lai’s insinuations above. It just always seems like it’s whatever serves the best interests of the celebrities that informs their choices.

In fact, moving away from the insinuations of wads of cash exchanging hands, let’s take Desmond Elliot for example. In 2011, he was such a staunch supporter of President Goodluck Jonathan but by 2015 he was already pro-APC. In fact, he ran for and won a Representative seat on the party’s platform. What changed though? There was hardly any concrete explanations.

The same thing goes for their endorsement of brands and companies – there’s rarely ever any evident case of alignment of purporse. It’s always just a company smearing the face of a campaign with a celebrity that’s “hot cake”. But the people have become a lot more enlightened and there’s need for depth.

For example, it will be interesting to find out Yemi Alade’s take on Shell Petroleum Development Corporation’s involvement complicity in the oil spills in the Niger-Delta or the Federal Government of Nigeria’s allegations against the oil giant over the $12 billion missing oil revenue. Why did she feature in an advert for the company without as much as addressing those issues with Nigerians first?

Now, Yemi Alade cannot possibly believe she can still sway Nigerians on crude oil-related or environmental policy issues on behalf of any candidate. The people are too “woke” for that.

A third example of celebrity fail will be Ghana; using their 2016 elections. Here, celebrities like actor John Dumelo, radio presenter, Abeiku Aggrey Santana, actor, Belinda Nana Akua Amoah (Mzbel), Clement Bonney, highlife musician Nat Brew Amandzeba, and actress Kalsoum Sinare, Sellasie Ibrahim, boxers, Bukom Banku and Ayitey Powers and Becca are amongh the many celebrities that publicly endorsed John Dramani Mahama. While President Nana Akufo Addo had a few celebrities on his side too (the only one we remember though is Sarkodie), it was a point that Mahama’s 72 year old opponent, like Trump in America often used against him – that he was spending so much on celebrity endorsements at the expense of addressing real issues. We all know how that played out on the 7th of December in Ghana.

But all these celebrities still have their die-hard fans so the questions till remains: why is that not translating to real influence amongst the fanbase? Dear celebrities, are you also asking yourselves this?

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