This time last year, Funke Akindele was mounting different soap boxes in Lagos State selling her candidacy and that of her principal, Olajide Adediran, popularly called Jandor , who was a governorship candidate in the state on the platform of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).
Precisely on July 12, 2022, Jandor, at a ceremony in Ikorodu, unveiled Funke as his running mate.
The decision to run with Funke put a dagger in the party as many of those who had been promised the position saw the actress as a political neophyte, a tyro and JJC (Johnny just come).
Funke also did not mince words when she acknowledged that she was a greenhorn in politics.
Speaking to journalists at the event, Funke had said: “It’s new terrain for me. I don’t like to say I don’t like politics because dirty people or corrupt people have gone into politics.”
She added that she was suspending her acting career to focus more on politics.
“I am going to put aside my acting career now to give Lagosians the opportunity of a better life,” she said.
Funke Akindele is a household name. Trained as a lawyer but she became famous because of her role in the comedy-drama series titled ‘Jenifa’s Diary’, which earned her the sobriquet Jenifa.
Her foray into politics as a running mate did not only elicit rumpus in the Lagos PDP, those in the opposition mocked her as a misfit in the business of politics.
Funke joined politics shortly after her marriage to Abdulrasheed Bello, popularly known as JJC Skillz, hit the rocks.
Some observers and political opponents advised her to go mend her home first before seeking to lead other women.
Her gyrations at political campaigns could not erase the sentiments against her. Reports had it that her campaign train was attacked a number of times by street urchins (area boys) and thugs allegedly instigated by the opposition camp.
A harvest of verbal attacks
Funke Akindele witnessed firsthand the saying by Winston Churchill, 1874-1965- British statesman, that “Politics is almost as exciting as war, and quite as dangerous. In war, you can only be killed once, but in politics many times.”
Her ambition exposed her to swords and darts fiercely thrown at her.
In November 2022, the then presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Ahmed Tinubu, told his supporters that it was insulting to mention the name of Funke Akindele to him.
He was speaking with his supporters at the party’s secretariat on Acme Road, Ogba, during the APC Caucus meeting.
“Don’t even behave as if you remember that name. It is a big insult; it is a big abuse. A fowl wants to enter a house, it is bending down, how tall is it in the first place?”
In July 2022, the APC in Lagos had mocked the PDP, saying that Funke had nothing to offer beyond acting.
Providing a perspective why Akindele was mocked, one Dr. Ola Brown MFR, in a post said: “Funke Akindele being mocked at a political rally is not because she doesn’t have policy experience. Not because she has no track record. Not because she is inarticulate, but because she doesn’t have a husband.”
It is a new day for Funke
Today, less than one year after the ill-fated political voyage, the talented and multiple award-winning actress seems to have brought something that the then presidential candidate of the APC and now President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Bola Tinubu, cannot but acknowledge.
With her hit movie ‘A Tribe Called Judah”, Funke has become a cherished daughter and is being described as “Our own” by those who lightly esteemed her months ago.
When the news broke, that the movie created by Funke has made a history in Nollywood, surpassing N1billion mark, the President was beside himself with joy.
In a congratulatory message, he had celebrated the ingenuity, creativity and immense artistic talents of Nigeria’s thriving entertainment industry. He equally commended Funke for her record-setting film and her contributions to the growth of the industry.
“The creative industry is one of the high-employment sectors, providing jobs for our able and talented youths. It is an industry that is crucial to my administration. I salute Nigerians for their enduring support and patronage of home-grown creative efforts. We will provide the conducive environment for the industry to thrive further,” the President said.
By the same token, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, who quashed Akindele’s political ambition at the polls in March last year, lavished encomiums on the Ikorodu-born A-rated actress.
Sanwo-Olu described Akindele movie’s box office feat as an affirmation of Lagos as truly the home of entertainment, creativity, culture and Arts.
The governor said that Akindele’s latest movie, once again, has proven to the world that Funke is a creative of an uncommon talent, a woman of substance who brings her God-given talent into making theatrical and artistic magic for the pleasure of millions of Nigerians and Africans.
He said: “What we’ve witnessed is a confirmation that our dear State remains the hub of entertainment, leisure, creativity and tourism in the West African sub region. Funke Akindele and her colleagues in the creative industry have shown to the world that Nollywood, as an industry, resides in Lagos.
“I, therefore, congratulate her for achieving this great feat, while urging her not to rest on her oars as the future remains a lot brighter than it is today.”
What if Funke had won the guber election last year?
Since the news broke on the feat she achieved with the new movie, many people have continued to ask, what if she had won the election with her principal last year? Perhaps, the project would not have seen the light or day, or could have been delayed.
One important lesson to glean from the avalanche of commendation pouring in from all quarters, is that what was at stake during the election period last year was a struggle for power in the which opponents armed themselves with all manner of arsenals. It does not destroy the kindred spirit.