Saturday, August 29, 2009

On NFVCB's NDF: We Are Selling The New Distribution Framework - Rabo

By Al-Amin Ciroma
(Published in LEADERSHIP today)

In 2007, when Mallam Abubakar Rabo took over the mantle of leadership as the director-general of the Kano-State Censorship Board, he inherited a movie industry that had no standard or respect for professionalism. Most of the companies in the industry were existing in portfolios or in vehicles. They were not even registered with CAC and had no structures. And so he started a clean up exercise targeted at sanitising the industry and building structures. Many stakeholders considered his measures then as being too stringent . He proudly opened up in this interview to say that in Kannywood today that, 'We are selling the new distribution framework' . He also spoke on a wide range of issues in the industry and on the soft loans the state government is giving to filmmakers to raise standards. Excerpts:

On assessment of the movie industry vis-a-vis job creation and youth empowerment
I want to say that the movie industry, particularly Kannywood is a very good economic activity. It’s an empowerment sector and of course it is very complementary to the gross domestic product (GDP) of Nigeria as a nation. I have to appreciate the administration of Umaru Musa Yar'Adua for the vision 2020 with regards to economic growth, as projected.

On the level of compliance by stakeholders
The level of compliance is encouraging, because we are speaking professionalism this time around. We are speaking ethics; we are speaking standards when it comes to the employment of gadgets in public projects, filmmaking in particular. So when you speak in line with what is the standard; what is the practice, I don't think you will have any problem with very good hands. People used to cheap projects are used to cheap popularity, and they don't appreciate modern trends. Some are even drop outs. They see our measures as being stringent. How can you convincce a mediocre person, somebody that has not yet completed secondary school to conform to modern trends? A professional in the industry, like a movie director, ought to have some directing skills, likewise a producer, a scriptwriter and so on. It is not just talent or creativity that matters. It is far more than that, because when talent is shaped educationally, then definitely the outcome is going to be a multiplier of positive trends. When we were new here, there was not one production company with a corporate registration operating in Kannywood. Now we have more than 52 that are duly registered with the CAC and pay their taxes. They are no longer tax evaders. They register with the state Ministry of Commerce, co-operatives, and register with the local authorities.

On conviction of Iyantama
No practitioner was taken before our mobile courts and charged on anything outside the law. If people are sincere, they should find out. We are now in the world of verification, world of scientific proof. Things shouldn't be concluded without given fair hearing being given to the other party. Far more than what is being said about a stakeholder that was prosecuted or taken for prosecution, before any court of law, the Board has a stake. We ought to be contacted.
All we do is to supplement, to provide and to complement prosecution counsels where very necessary, with facts, evidence and the necessary sections of the law establishing our operations to prove beyond reasonable doubt that so and so person is really a defaulter. So, Hamisu Lamido Iyantama in particular was never in the history of his case regarded by the counsel before the court of law as a practitioner outside the film industry. He was taken as a practitioner in the Kannywood industry and was charged from the appropriate section of the Kano State Censorship Board’s law and he was sentenced accordingly by the same court of law. So ours is a legal battle from the point of professionalism and from the point of law and we are soft and open-minded people. We always invite stakeholders to learn their mistakes for the first time, but where crime or breach of law persists, then we have to go ahead with prosecution, this is our style, we believe in proactive measures. First of all, we issue a warning sometimes, but if crimes persist we don't have any other option but rather to prosecute.

On film release in Kano
This is in line with the arrangements of NFCVB, that states have the right to have similar regulatory agencies. This is the provision of the Nigerian constitution, concurrent legislation. In the concurrent legislative list of the 1999 amended constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, items 16, and 13 spelt out the power of the state assembly or state assemblies to establish similar bodies meant for censoring.

On whether the arrangement would not create a bottleneck
It is never a bottleneck when authorities are exercising their constitutional powers and whosoever feels offended by the state and local authorities’ nature is trying to be a deviant and I don't want to believe that it’s the culture of our practitioners. In Nigeria, there are customary laws operating in some quarters of the nation. There is the penal code in the northern part of this country, notwithstanding the constitution that operates in the entire nation. So it is not seen as a bottleneck by the good minds. In fact it is even better for you to be checked locally when it comes to the peculiarities of where you are operating-the societal values. It is better known by the local authorities, it is better known by the local stakeholders, it is now reshaped and it is now blessed and certified by the local authorities. It’s making your project ‘heavy’ because even if you take it for international exhibition, you will start by saying that even your local quarters appreciate your project, proven by the certification and the national certification. And that as a good citizen of your country, I am in compliance with the requirement and this is the position of the DG of NFVCB. He was saying that state censorship agencies, being very close to the stakeholders, are in a better position to respect and ensure compliance with the societal values, compliance to the local requirement of practitioners, than even the national video censors and when such certification is presented to the National Film and Video Censors Board, they would assume that things have been done on their behalf by the local or by the state agency.

On Filmmakers fleeing from Kano
This is history! When we were new here, we were of the view that things ought to be done the right way, the professional way, the standard way. Somebody who is used to M3500 cameras and now you are talking digital camera, he feels these changes are too stringent. Somebody who is used to filming without a script, you are now saying, scripts must be introduced, somebody who is operating a mobile production company, you are now saying must have an office, he feels it’s too stringent. Somebody who doesn’t regard the CAC or their form of registration and certification.

On the relationship with stakeholders
The relationship is cordial, because what is expected of a mother is that she breastfeed her child, is lenient with the child, shows some amount of mercy to the child. This is why we are now introducing soft loans to the stakeholders. In the law establishing this Board, it is not well accommodated that we are a filmmaking agency, or we are a development agency to film activities. We are nothing but a regulatory body, just like the NFVCB. There is no department given a very bulk amount of money from the national treasurey to be administering soft loans to the NFVCB because it’s not the primary of the body. But now we at the local level come to appreciate that, no we don't have Nigeria Film Corporation (NFC) like the nation is operating, you understand. So now why don't we make the government appreciate the need for investment. Now the government has appreciated, that and has started investing money. It has started investing in skill. We have sponsored more than 15 practitioners to various technical and training workshops. We were there, at Shoot! 2008. The participation of Kano State was higher than other states of the federation and we all sponsored the practitioners just to ensure that there is skill in Kannywood. Above all, we want the filmmakers in appreciate the code of ethics attainable to their profession. You can only have this if you have the knowledge. That’s why we have embarked on a series of training, seminars.

On areas of collaboration with NFVCB
There is the first offer given to, us which we are still looking into, by the director-general of NFVCB. He is using this Board as a primary or preliminary censoring agency for the national preview committee. I see that as a very good offer, a situation whereby our certificate will be requested. Any film that is Kannywood-based, any film that is made about our native culture, native society, will be introduced to the Board through our certification. I see that as a very good offer. Secondly, there is the area of having a sort of memorandum of understanding. When we accommodated the DG (NFVCB), we hosted him for a two days familiarisation visit where we interacted. The board, the state board, the national board and teeming stakeholders, so look at the level we have been operating at. Even when we were at Tinapa, the key paper presented by the NFVCB’s boss was remarked. We are now selling the New Distribution Framework (NDF), we administered questionnaires to our stakeholders of all the ideas of this new framework for exhibitors introduced by NFVCB. We are here at the grassroots to complement the national arrangement, with consideration to our peculiarities.

On ensuring that films released before the take-off of NDF are withdrawn and re-distributed to conform with the new framework
I believe that where we are expected to complement NFVCB to that effect, (the withdrawal), if we are communicated to, if we are involved, we will do it officially and even if we are not officially involved, or we are never asked, out of our appreciation of the wisdom behind these initiatives, believe me, we will be advocates and we will encourage our stakeholders to appreciate that what is being introduced, is for the development of the industry.

On the area of film development
Presently, we make the government appreciate things through a task force committee established by the Kano State government. A committee that came into being as a result of the Hiyana saga, the controversial film clip. We made the government appreciate the fact that, the history of our industry goes way back to when troupes were 100% under the sponsorship of the state government, under the sponsorship of media houses owned by the state government in the northern part of this country.
On the area of training, we have so far, of recent organised a cinematography workshop jointly with the French embassy, the Motion Pictures Practitioners Association of Nigeria (MOPPAN), another professional association, to ensure that our cinematographers operating from Kannywood have the best experience.

On attracting filmmakers from other regions to Kannywood
We are trying to do films to meet our local, unique, peculiar requirements. It is when you have a unique package that people will come to appreciate your potential. Let me give you an example. The typical Hausa bowl which you use to eat, if you are exposed to it and if it is introduced in projects, use the way we were living before the contemporary modern building, if it is well packaged, believe me, somebody from Asia, America or Europe will be interested in the uniqueness. But in a situation whereby you are making semi-western sort of projects, a copyright from India for example, nobody will appreciate you. Therefore, before you invite somebody to come to your house, you have to put necessary structures in place.

Taking you away from business, how do you relax?
I relax with my kids, watching cartoons, it has also made me adapt to their way of doing thing; you know kids with cartoons. Sometimes we even argue. I derive pleasure in playing with kids.
Culled from The Classifier

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

2-Effects Empire Rejoices On Birth Of New Baby

By Al-Amin Ciroma
(Published in LEADERSHIP -- August 22)

The Kannywood’s Dolce & Gabbanna, Yakubu Mohammed (Yax) (famous movie director, lyricist & singer) and Sani Musa Danja (top actor, producer and playback singer) are celebrating the addition to Yax’s family through the safe delivery of his bouncing baby girl. The baby was born Thursday August 13, 2009.
The naming ceremony and Walimat took place at ace Director’s residence, Saminu Link, Badawa Layout, off Sardauna Crescent, Nasarawa, Kano last Thursday August 20, in line with the Islamic traditions. In attendance were cerebrated icons of the industry, including relatives, friends and well wishers.
Yakubu Muhammed and his lovely wife Halima-Sa’adiyya, named their beloved daughter, Nadiya-Ummu Salama.
It will be recalled that Danja, last year, also celebrated his daughter's (Khadijatul-Iman) naming ceremony in Abuja, where he and his wife, Mansura, hosted the crème-de-la crème of the society.

...And Nollywood: On Edochie's Release

Published on August 22, 2009 (LEADERSHIP)

By Al-Amin Ciroma
Stories on the update about the recent kidnapping of the renowned Nollywood star, Pete Edochie show that the Nollywood dude has been set free by the kidnappers after an undisclosed amount was paid as ransom, his son Uche Edochie, has said. Some sources close to the family said that the kidnappers initially demanded N50m and when they went ahead to plead, reduced the ransom to N10m.
The veteran actor was held by the kidnappers for about 24 hours; from Sunday last week when he was kidnapped till Monday, 17 August 2009.
He was kidnapped at a village called Npkor, a surbub community near Onitsha in the company of his family members. Armed men stopped the car he was travelling in and Pete Edochie was the only one kidnapped. Details still foggy since there has been no trace of the kidnappers.
Pete Edochie is considered one of Africa's most talented actors, by both Movie Awards and Movie Magic's Africa Magic Cable network. Although a seasoned administrator and broadcaster, he came into prominence in the 1980s when he played the lead role of ‘Okonkwo’ in an NTA adaptation of Chinua Achebe's all time best selling novel, Things Fall Apart.
Edochie got into radio broadcasting in 1967 as a junior programme assistant after which he was elevated to the level of a Director. He was director of programmes, but doubling sometimes as Deputy Managing Director and occasionally acting as Managing Director.
He quit ABS because the government decided to politicise the affairs of their FM station, thereby resulting in the entire management being asked to move out, including him. He was to be the immediate successor to the MD but had to leave and enrol in the movie industry.
Prior to that, he had featured in Things Fall Apart and had won International Awards. The BBC flew into Nigeria to interview him for his role in Things Fall Apart.
Minister of Information and Communications, Dora Akunyili, in a statement, condemned the attack and called on security agents to ensure his quick release and also, counter future occurences.
Also speaking, the president of the Actors’ Guild of Nigeria (AGN), Ejike Asiegbu said, “We at AGN are not happy with the kidnapping and abduction of Chief Pete Edochie. We condemn it and pray that government will interfare and rescue the matter from future occurence.”
Meanwhile, lots of people are sending in their comments on the matter. A blogger posted his comments on what he termed 'lies' of the police, "Is it not embarrassing that the Anambra State Police Command said Pete Edochie was not kidnapped, but that armed bandits escaped with his car and just carried him along to use his influence to pass the Police whereas in fact, he was kidnapped and a ransom paid before he was released? What kind of Police Force do we have in this country? Must our police continue to tell these kind of infantile lies?"
Many movie makers in Nollywood have condemned the incident. A market survey revealed that the case brought a hault in the movie business in Nigeria. A lot of people, according to the survey, have been thrown out of business since the beginning of the case. “It is unfortunate, because since Edochie was kidnapped, we can tell the amount of loss experienced by to the industry, because we can’t do anything...” cried one movie maker.

Beyond The Shores... From Bollywood: Sharukh Khan Detained At US Airport

Published in LEADERSHIP (August 22, 2009)

By Al-Amin Ciroma
The famous Filmfare Best Actor, 2008, Sharukh Khan was said to have been detained by security agents at the Newark International Airport, New Jersey for hours. The Bollywood actor said he was humiliated after being detained for questioning at the immigration department of the airport, but later downplayed the incident as an "unfortunate procedure."
Reports indicate that Khan, 43, was questioned for more than an hour and detained, according to him because, his picture showed up on a security alert list. "It was absolutely uncalled for, having just finished work there a couple of weeks ago," he said. Adding that, "They said I have a common name which caused the delay... they checked my bags... I felt angry and humiliated."
In a statement, the officials at the airport said they were only concerned about the actor's luggage, which was reported missing. According to them, the questioning was part of routine process. The statement further indicated that the examination took only 66 minutes - which they said would've taken less time had Khan's luggage not been lost, a statement, which the actor denied, saying that he was singled out for questioning by the US immigration officials due to his Muslim name -- sparking outrage among his millions of Indian fans, as well as senior politicians and the Indian press.
"America needs to understand one thing... that there are about 190-195 smaller countries and that make up the rest of the world. It's not an isolated, parallel universe existence for this country. There is a whole world which makes all the good and bad that is happening," said the actor, who is one of the biggest names in Bollywood.
"So if we are scared of violence and terrorism, all of us are responsible for it. It's not that the world is and America is not," he said. Khan further disclosed that he understood US security concerns after the 9/11 attacks.
Meanwhile, the Indian civil aviation minister vowed to take the matter up with the US government, while Indian newspapers slammed the discrimination allegedly inflicted on one of the country's most loved actors.
US officials have said that Sharukh Khan, was subject only to routine procedures at the airport and was questioned for little more than an hour. But the actor Khan, just came back from the United States where he finished shooting his film, My Name is Khan, a movie due out next year that features the contentious subject of racial profiling.
The US embassy in New Delhi attempted to end the controversy describing Khan as a "global icon," who was a welcome guest in the United States.
It will be recalled that series of classic racial profiling have hit Bollywood icons, and this is seen as a clear abuse of civil liberties and lack of due diligence from the bureaucratic side of the US government. "It's not the iconic Sharukh Khan who should be intimidated, its the lazy, ignorant, unionized employee who should feel threatened and it is time to kick to the curb the incompetent, in a recession full of qualified people who can do the job of a US border official far better," says the film maker.
Reports also show that famous among those humiliated were Kamal Haasan, an Indian actor, who was detained in April 2002 for hours at the airport, after commencing the film Pantchathathiram's shoot in Toronto, on his way to Los Angeles. Reports also show that Aamir Khan had a similar experience a month before Haasan at a Chicago airport.
"Each year thousands more tourists and famous filmmakers join the silent ranks of those terrorised by the racial profiling practiced by the Western immigration and police. What chance does an average tourist have in the US when even the Ex-President of India, Dr. Kalam was hassled there," added Mr. Nair, the famous Indian Filmmaker, stressing the fact that this is not an isolated incident.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Mourinho And Muslim World

Mourinho's Ramadan comments have landed him in hot water once again as Islamic dignitaries react with anger...

Mourinho was my hero until August 25! I respect those who respect other people's opinions, thoughts, religions and way of life. As a Christian, he should respect the doctrines of Islam because both are divine from God. A true man of God should at least have a fair bit of interllectuality. If your player can not perform well because he is fasting, why should you make a nasty comment on him? As far as we know, Ramadan is a cleanser. It has positive reactions to Muslims. Therefore, Mourinho should keep quiet!!!

The player in question was Sulley Ali Muntari, a Ghanian.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The First Customised Cars And Biking Stunts In Abuja

It was the first of its kind, the event was held at the Eagle Square last Saturday. Al-Amin Ciroma and Nasir S. Gwangwazo were there and reports:

Stunt biking is a cross between sport motorcycling and a kind of rough-around-the-edges ballet. To do wheelies, tank tricks, and other popular stunt bike moves, a stunt biker will need a stunt bike. A stunt bike is a motorcycle or motorbike used to perform stunts or tricks. However, some people occasionally refer to a traditional, non-motorised bicycle used to perform tricks as a stunt bike.
Stunt bikes are basically modified sport bikes, adapted to make the bike tricks of stunt bikers easier and more flashy. Some stunt bikers go with the street fighter look — using a pared-down version of a sport bike, with no windscreen, and the traditional clip-ons replaced by dirt bike handlebars. Others opt for full faring — meaning that their bikes look a lot like regular sport bikes, and, include clip-on handlebars. There are also dirt stunt bikes and street stunt bikes; the name refers to the surface that the stunts are performed on.
While most stunt bikes are tricked out, or modified by their owners, there are a few basic elements that most bikers like on their stunt bikes. Some tricks require that the biker get up on the tank of the motorcycle and some bikers find that a smashed tank helps accomplish these stunts. To do this, they’ll flatten out the tank using a rubber mallet, while being careful to avoid puncturing the tank.
Since bikers don’t want to slide off in the middle of a wheelie — a trick where the biker rides the bike on one of the bikes two wheels — the bike’s seat will often include non-slip material such as skateboard grip tape.
Stunt bikes also have a handbrake. This is a hand-operated version of the rear brake. Attached to the left clip-on handlebar, it helps stunt riders when doing advanced circle wheelies, tank tricks, and other stunts.
A cage is often included on a stunt bike to protect the engine in case of falls or other mishaps. Stunt bikes are also typically altered on the front gears, allowing greater flexibility and maximum stunt potential.
The first customised show for cars and bikes held at Eagle Square, Abuja, on August 15, 2009. The weather at the Federal Capital was quite condusive for the show. The organisers, Bluefield Partners made it fantastic and tagged it ‘Abuja Custom Car and Bike Show 2009’, the event was interactive, participants asked questions on the operations and modifications of the customised cars and bikes, and how they could get their cars customised.
It was kick-started with a special sermon by a Road Safety official, who stood in for the the provost of the commission. She expressed the need for road users to adhere to the rules and regulations governing driving and riding. According to her, a qualified driver or biker is he who arrives his destination in peace.
The show raised awareness on the need to customising cars, stunts, candy carwash, and award ceremony came in at the end of the event.
There were also side-attractions, where notable artistes performed. Charlie Boy was also in attendance, where he did a little performance. Also present were Banky-W, Mode-9, Darey Art-Alade, El-de and Kal.
Stunt stages, according to expert bikers, who attended the show ranges from a pro-stunter right in the comfort of your own home. They opined riders of all levels of skill and experience will be trained to showcase their expertise.
Meanwhile, the event according to the organisers would be an annual event that would rotate amongst the major cities in the country.

At the end of the event, our correspondents cornered Yusuf Sani Doki, ‘Chairman,’ as he was fondly called by his colleagues. Doki won the award for the BEST STUNT 2009. He bares his mind on the know-how of biking, his achievements and how they come about forming their 09-Bikers, excerpts:
Briefly tell us about yourself.
My name is Yusuf Sani Doki, I am from Bungudu Local Government Area of Zamfara State. I read Mechanical Engineering from Birnin kebbi Polytechnic, after which I proceeded to Nigerian Police Academy in 1996.
From Mechnical Engineering to Police Academy and now biking, why these huddles?
Actually, I was motivated and moved by the outfit of the bikers, putting on their helmets, jackets and their accessories, these are some of the things that motivated me into the game. And from the on set, we used to browse and see for ourselves how the bikers around the world use to organise themselves.
Are you operating indivisually or in a group?
We have a club in Abuja called 09 Bikers and I am one of the prospective member of the association. We have our defined goals and objectives, we normally go out biking during weekends.
What does it take to be a biker?
To be a biker in Abuja, first and foremost, you should own a bike and a register with the club, which is a registered organisation with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC). The club, like other organisations, has roles and regulations. Our training department in 09 Bikers is well equipped. We have trained officials who train our members to adher strictly to traffic regulations, biking rules and what have you.
How do you cope with the risk in the game?
There is no any extraordinary risk involved in biking, most especially when you are cautioned. For example, you can’t go biking without helmet, your gears (jacket-armour) and most importantly, one obeying traffic rules.
Wich model of bike qualifies one to be in your club?
We don’t authorise ordinary motorcylces because they can not withstand the huddles The minium capacity of the bike is from 400CC and above. Depending on the model you can handle. We have up to 1200CC and even higher.
Considering the high cost of purchasing these bikes, can an ordinary man be able to procure them?
It is just a hobby it also require interest. If you can save from your little income, one day, you will be there. Some of us are from poor backgrounds, but then, since the interest is there, they were able to get the bikes and join the club.There are different categories of people among us. We have police, doctors, military personnel, including road safety marshalls. So, you will agree with me that the game is for anybody who is willing to join. There is no disparity in it.
I could recall, before I own mine, I did some savings. So, it is a matter of interest.
Tell us about the just concluded custom car and bike show in Abuja.
We were invited to attend the show. It is a kind of jamboree of bikers around the country. We did not organise it. We went there and tremendousely made fantastic appearances, we did some stunts and what have you.
What success have you recorded in the show?
I was awarded the best stunt 2009 at the grand finale. The award goes to any biker that can make wonderful things with his bike, including twist and sommersaults. That is what we call the ‘willy’and the ‘stoppy’,’like moving with one tyre and so on.
What fun do you derive in biking?
My most memorable moment was when we were invited to attend a wedding ceremony of a friend at Gurara dam. The trip was memorable, because we went there and made some shows and came back tremendously. There was no casualties recorded.
What is your appeal to government?
Our appeal to government is to approve a piece of land for us so as to create a racing track for our trainings.
And to your fellow bikers?
My appeal to my fellow bikers as the provost of the club, is to always abide by the rules and regulations of the game. For example, no biker is allowed to ride on his bike without the primary accessories, e.g hand gloves, helmet with complete armour to avoide the risk involved. In Nigeria, when you are driving, you are driving for yourself as well as others. Therefore, my appeal to the fellow 09 Bikers is to adhere strictly to the rules of the game.


Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Nollywood Sans Kannywood

By Ibrahim Sheme

I think when the world (or even Nigerian federal officials) talk about Nollywood, they are not thinking about the Hausa film industry, a.k.a. Kannywood. Nollywood is simply the Nigerian movie industry WITHOUT its Hausa component. Surprisingly, Nollywood includes the Igbo and Yoruba productions. The question is: why are Hausa movies not included? In my view, it has to do with the fact that federal officials working in the culture sector - Ministry of Information and its parastatals such as the National Film and Videos Censors Board and the Nigerian Film Corporation - hardly remember Kannywood when they are designing policies. Until in recent years, they scarcely included Kannywood stakeholders in their programmes.

Of course, things have been changing in recent years. Kannywood stakeholders have been making an in-road into the federal culture sector - participating in film festivals, awards and meetings. Nevertheless, there is still a long way to go before we get THERE, largely due to the dominance of non-Northerners in the sector and in the mainstream mass media. If you take a look at the entertainment pages of Nigerian newspapers where news and gossip about the Nigerian movie world are told, you will hardly see anything being said about Kannywood. That is, with the exception of northern papers like Leadership, Trust, New Nigerian and Triumph.

The senseless attacks on Kannywood operators by officials of the Kano State Censorship Board in the bogus name of sanitising the industry appears to have taken Kannywood back in reckoning. That's the actual target of the censors. But theirs is a futile exercise because only a dimwit will presuppose that a censorship regime can destroy the progress of the new information technologies, of which movies are a significant part.

This is more so in a democracy, which has a preset tenure. As the Hausa say, "Zalunci ba ya karewa!"

Monday, August 17, 2009

Pete Edochie Kidnapped

By Al-Amin Ciroma, Abuja
Sunday, 16 August 2009 22:17

Nollywood actor, Pete Edochie, was yesterday reportedly kidnapped by suspected kidnappers. According to reports, the veteran actor was kidnapped at Nkpor Village, a few kilometres to Onitsha, Anambra State.

Speaking in a telephone interview with LEADERSHIP, the actor's son, Uche Edochie, confirmed that the actor was being driven from his country home in Enugu in the company of his family members when armed men stopped the car he was travelling in.

Edochie disclosed that though the incident was obviously financially-motivated and one of many in a string of recent kidnappings of influential Nigerians, the kidnappers were yet to get in touch with the family, or demand a ransom, "our family is still in shock, and making attempts to contact the police; there is no handbook on what to do when your father is kidnapped," he said.

As at the time of writing this report, most of the stakeholders and practitioners in the motion picture industry were startled.

It will be recalled that this is the second incident where a movie stakeholder is kidnapped. A few months ago, a renowned Hausa movie actress, Shamsiyya Habib (Kansakali) was equally kidnapped in Zaria, Kaduna state. Meanwhile, all effort to contact the officials of Nollywood to comment on the matter proved abortive.

Friday, August 14, 2009

The Sky Is Not My Limit, It’s My Starting Point! —Abba El-Mustapha

By Al-Amin Ciroma

Published in LEADERSHIP, August 15, 2009

At the start of his career, Abba El-Mustapha was usually cast as a romantic hero. His first major hit film was Ruda from where he gained the household name, Ruda. When his movies became popular in the early days of his profession, El-Mustapha starred as lead actor in many such films. Abba’s most memorable role in movies was in the blockbuster, Jarumai where he was teamed with big shots in the Hausa film genre, Ali Nuhu, Sani Danja, Aminu Shariff (Momo) and Ibrahim Maishinku. Asides Ali Nuhu, (according to critics), no other film star can claim to be equally good in showcasing reality as Abba El-Mustapha. Recalling back his early days, the star said he developed interest in acting after the completion of his course at Kano State Polytechnic.
Born 31 years ago in Gwale local government area of Kano State, Abba Ruda made enquires into the happenings at Kannywood and as a result embarked on his quest to stardom. The adorable and most-charming actor was opportuned to nurse a prolific acting career for some years and has recorded tremendous success. In his early days, Abba Ruda has featured in about five blockbuster movies, which include; Ruda, Qamshi, Dausayi, Girma, Feshi and Jarumai and now, he has recroded more than 100 films to his credit. The multi-talented actor also happens to be a good director; this shows how versatile he is. Abba ‘Ruda’ has been able to distinguished himself as a professional actor and a gifted director; he has directed numerous hit movies among which are; Rataya, Auduga, Tufafi, Riba and Feshi, etc.
This ‘screen lord’ obtained a diploma in Crime Management, Prevention and Control in 2002 from the Bayero University Kano. The actor’s appetite for versatile knowledge helped him gain admission at Kano State Polytechnic where he studied Banking and Finance in a bid improve on his curriculum vitae.
Personal Life:
One striking feature that stands him out as a showbiz personality, is his great sense of glamour. His style he says is a reflection of his personality. The actor, who is said to be a very casual and down-to-earth person, has extreme fondness for his mother and siblings. Although known for making jest of his colleagues, the star actor’s brash confidence, charisma and impressive physical appearance make him one of the sought after faces in the Hausa Movie Industry. The actor is said to exhibit inexhaustible reasonability and directness, one of his strong assets in his interpersonal endeavour. Abba ‘Ruda’ as he is lovingly called by his colleagues and fans, is potentially one of the biggest film actors in the industry.
On how he copes with fans, Abba says; On sight, people might think an actor is pompous or snobbish, but this is usually not the case. Let me speak for myself. I am very delighted to tell my fans that Abba is a simple man, who embraces all his fans; I am as simple as cool drinking water. Without my admirers, I might not be a star. We are into the entertainment industry to act and showcase make-belief actions in order to enlighten and entertain. Therefore, I want to inform you that, I tend to gain more from my teeming fans. I love them today and always. Even though, some may take your simplicity for granted, I learn to cope with all siutations that come my way. I treat all of my fans alike (both male and female) and that is how I have been getting it going."
On the trend in the industry, Abba Ruda says, "With the inclinations in the motion picture industry, the sky is just a starting point for my acting career. I am always moved by the rapid development in the motion picture industry and in the near future, I hope to write my name in the world's most popular Hall of Fame."
The award winning Kannywood star believes in himself. Noting that as a versatile actor, he so much cherishes his acting abilities. "Sometimes, one has to blow his trumpet otherwise; nobody else will do it for you. Sometimes, I caution those who allow threats from different angles discourage them. I respect a lot of stars in this game, but I must admit, I believe in myself. I am a role model of my humble self."
Kannywood is also a venture of sorts where lots of things happen day by day. Asked about his most memorable and embarrassing moments, the film star said, "My most embarrassing moment was the Hiyana scandal. Although it brought a lot of reforms in the industry; for example, the poor girl might not have thought of marrying earlier than now but she is now in her husband's house. Secondly, the circumstance helped immensely in restructuring the industry. However, some 'stooges' used the avenue to satisfy their diverse opinions. But then, no one prays for its recurrence.
“On the memorable side, the words of my mum on my first day on set will never be forgotten. She said to me, ‘Abba, go ahead; you will make it. Just believe and the Almighty God will see you through."
Like any other actor, Abba Ruda's zeal in the showbiz arena has earned him some awards and nominations. He dedicates all his awards to his mum and teeming fans.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Behold, The Music Queen: 'I am the Only Artiste to Sing for Obama'

By Al-Amin Ciroma

Published in LEAERSHIP, August 08,09

Aishat has been in the music industry for decades. Recalling age-old memories of her school days, the Bauchi State-born artiste said, "Music is my life. I love to compose songs. I started by writting poems, because they portray ones’ innermost feelings. Poems or songs are means of communciation and information dissemination, as well as tools for entertainment and enlightenment."
The music queen is also a reality TV documentary producer. Shedding light on the subject, she said a documentary incorporates interviews with the people involved in a subject and an actual footage of what is relevant to the society. She said her vision is to realise her dreams and the best way to do that, the bold and courageous lyricist opened up, is via a broad category of visual expression that is based on the attempt of a ‘documentary’ reality. "Although, documentary film’, originally referred to movies shot on film stock, it has subsequently expanded to include video and digital productions that could be either direct-to-video or made for a television series."
Asked how she goes about the two aspects, Aishat said that one should define his goals and work hard to actualise his or her dreams. "Documentary production and music are two different things, but they also go hand-in-hand. Music is my hubby, I am a born artiste and I equally developed a flair for producing documentaries, which is more or less a cinematic tradition that showcases individual talents. Both have a clear boundary. If I am on location producing documentaries, even though there are different entities of documentaries, I will basically insist on personality profiles and societal re-orientation."
A lot of up-comming artistes are now on the floor, and asked what her plans are to survive in the world of competition, Queen stated that art is nature’s gift. According to her, there is no basis for competition. "I don’t compose songs to seek for roles in movies. My music is basically on political awareness and human interest angles. Even though I am not the only one doing that, but I can assure you, that, if you believe in yourself, the Almighty Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala will equally lift you up. I don’t look at other people’s work. I concentrate on mine. If by chance we meet, we shake hands, otherwise, everybody is on his own," she said.
Looking at role music plays in the political arena, the ever-courageous artiste opined that politics is all about advocacy. With music, she emphasised, a politician will be able to convey his plans to his teeming audience. "Music travels far and near, a true political train will not prosper without singing its gospel. So, music helps a great deal in political campaigns. It is also an avenue to remind leaders of their primary obligations and what they owe their subjects, she said."
Queen Aishat boasted that, so far, she is the only artiste in the North to sing for the first black president of the United States of America, Barack Obama. "Following the trends of US democracy, I found out that Obama is a great man, so I joined millions of people around the world in expressing delight and happiness. I composed a song in Hausa for Obama, and I can assure my audience that my music is currently being played at the White House, where I recieved a lot of commendation."
How did she do it? "It’s simple! I have told you earlier that one needs to identify his or her goals and map out strategies for achieving his dreams. My brother works with the Voice Of America (VOA), Hausa service; he is Ibrahim Alfa Ahmed. He is the pillar of my success. He first aired the music on the first 100 days of Obama in office, and thereafter submitted it through the appropriate channels."
The award- winning singer feels proud to have her works scale through the office of the world’s most powerful leader. "When I heard my songs aired on the Voice of America, I felt great. I look forward to meeting Obama one on one."
While wishing Aishat the best in her career, we wait to see pictures of her with Barack Obama at White House!

Exclusive: Am Nobody's Stooge - Rabo

Interview published in LEADERSHIP, February, 07, 2009

Mallam Abubakar Rabo is the director-general of the Kano State Censors Board. In this exclusive interview with Al-Amin Ciroma, Rabo opened up to discuss exclusively achievements so far recorded by the board, the challenges he is facing, his political ambition and sundry issues. Excerpts:

Sir, you’ve been in charge at this board for about one and half years. What achievements have you recorded so far?
What we have been able to achieve has to do with social reorientation towards films and related projects. One of the primary goals of this administration as we are all aware of, is the societal reformation. It is targeted and aimed at enjoining people to do the right thing and act the right way.
Before now, there was a problem that generated public outcry of which most of the stakeholders in Kannywood were challenged. Some were even stoned. There was tension and to restore that confidence, the matter had to e taken in a holistic way – that was why government was very wise using this very board where we restored the confidence of the general public by addressing the problem squarely. That is one of our foremost achievements.
I will like to use this opportunity to inform people that one of the fundamental objectives of the government, in addition to infrastructural development, is social security. You can only ensure it if the trust and confidence of the society is very much appreciated by the leadership. This is the biggest achievement we have so far recorded. On the other hand, some of the stakeholders who were on the fore front complaining that things are being done the wrong way and unchecked are now convinced that government is really out to ensure the code of ethics, professionalism and law compliant to forms and related projects. Therefore, I would like to say the positive elements within the stakeholders now agree that film making is a profession where government came to fulfill its own quota and obligation for the development of the industry. So I can now vividly point out the balance of achievement from the societal reorientation point of view.
Another issue is the physical achievement. So far the board has sponsored many of the stakeholders to various skills acquisition and training to acquire true knowledge of film making in a more professional way. In the Kano State Censors Board, we are now happy to announce that we have launched war to eradicate the menace of TV-games. TV-Game is also another problem of the future generation. I see it as very abusive to children, in fact, it is the highest child-abuse you can ever imagine, where children are denied the basic education, which will be a solid foundation for their future. It baffles me. For instance, if Barrack Obama who is US president can vividly and outwardly condemn TV-game, I see it very unbecoming of a third-world entity like ours, particularly the northern part of Nigeria, where we are still far behind in terms of civilisation, yet our children have become patronisers of such games 24 hours. Fortunately, we can now proudly say we have succeeded in eradicating over 95 per cent of TV-Games centres in the state. Another achievement is the ban on the circulation of pornography in both orthodox and local medications. We are not fighting medical business. In as much as they are duly fortified by the appropriate authorities. But if the packaging is not offensive to the general public, we can query such packages in question.
Another point of achievement is the issue of the creative write. Much earlier before now, most of the write-ups were not professional. There was no creativity, but we are now able to harness them and have successfully changed their attitude towards writing.

In view of societal orientation and in your capacity as the boss of this board, how do you evaluate Islam and film making?
Obviously, Islam is being under-portrayed and sometimes mis-portrayed by infidels, proclaiming that they are promoting the religion, but unknown to them and in the actual sense, they are demystifying Islam. And this is where our local stakeholders are being used sub-consciously. What I am trying to point out here is this, if our stakeholders are sound enough educationally, they will be able to check all these problems. A common film maker should at least have a fair knowledge of philosophy, sociology and the basic technicalities to be employed. They should have basic knowledge of the project they want to execute. It should be well-researched. Professional consultants should be contacted in order to come up with an objective project worthy of international competition.
In a nutshell, I am trying to encourage our film makers to know the know-how in the movie business. A typical example occured, few weeks ago. A young man submitted his script to us for vetting; fortunately in his story, he tried to define ‘Nafsul-lauwaama,’ meaning ‘the blaming soul.’ He was trying to translate and interpret a Qur’anic verse. In the actual sense, we have good stories to tell, illusion, politics, sociology, psychology, etc, and that is where things originate.
There are quite a number of sound traditions of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (may Allah be pleased with him and his purest progeny) which states that, if a portion of the human body is bad, the entire body is corrupt, and if it is good, then you are saved. We are appealing to the movie stakeholders to appreciate their trade, business and profession, so that their immediate audience, who are mostly Muslims and even Christians, will benefit immensely because we live together as one nation.

Is this a clear message to those who portray movie making as un-Islamic to know that films matter alot to the society?
In fact, he who is very primitive, very dogmatic and adamant to respond to time and advancement of various ramifications is doing more harm to Islam than good. I am sorry to undermine whosoever feels movie making has no room in Islam. I have to be an advocacy-ante to that kind of persons ideology. In fact, you need to propagate this religion with contemporary means.
The way the Holy Prophet (S.A.W) preached Islam in those days is quite different and you can’t do it in this modern society. We have now come to a time when people are very much committed to their economic transactions. How can you go to a market place, where everybody is busy, some with loudspeakers advertising their product and set up Da’awah (preaching) expecting to convey messages and preach to people? What I mean here is that, what was assumed the appropriate ways of preaching in those days can change, so there is need for the stakeholders in the industry to use their avenues to contribute in propagating their religious ideologies and societal regeneration.
We are aware that the goal of creating the Kano State Censors Board was to check all these problems. What do you think led to the sudden change of state of affairs at the board, even with you being the director general?
I doubt much if I can guess the mind of the governor, the chief executive, but I have a very simple way of saying there should be changes. For example, I was somewhere, here I am today, and the person that was here is somewhere else now. This is public service. I would like to use this medium to say that when people are in a particular career, they ought to be given another chance to have a say on certain issues. I don’t know anything about movie making in addition to what I was taught in the university as a mass communication student, but the issue is this: what is the attitude of leadership towards challenging issues? I think that counts; secondly, there is issue of societal reorientation, whereby it has to suit the contemporary challenges. All I am saying are assumptions, I can’t pre-empt what was the motive behind the decision of my being here, but I assume the government feels that I can do it, that is why I am here.

But there are allegations that Rabo is a stooge of Governor Shekarau, to deal with the film makers, who also played a vital role in the ‘Allah Maimata Mana’ (second tenure campaign). Please can you react to that?
(Laughter) I believe I have some respected elders in my career and life, but in actual sense, when it comes to Rabo as a person, I doubt much if anybody is strong enough to be the person tele-guiding the ‘dos’ and ‘don’ts’ of Abubakar Rabo. Not that I am arrogant, the issue is this, the most insignificant person you can imagine, can change me provided he/she has facts, or reasons and logic in addition to Shari’ah. But a person who is empty on Shari’ah, empty on logic, empty on reasons, to think that he is big enough because he is acquainted to a traditional sort of institution, or political sort of institution, I am sorry for that person. Because he is deceiving himself. I remain my humble self because I have principles, I have defined goals, I know where I am, and I know where I am heading to because I have a target called Hadaf. Therefore, if people think I am somebody’s stooge, won’t they persuade the person to talk to me on certain issues, or bend me to suit them? Therefore, if you are unjust or biased, don’t even approach me, whoever you are, because you won’t succeed.

What are your constraints and limitations on this job?
My constraints have to do with misconceptions and fallacies. The delusions have become an issue to us to an extent that people are personalising the entire project we are executing, and I see it as very unbecoming. There are a lot of misconceptions about us, because all we are saying is that people should use their senses, they should balance it, but all they speculate is that Rabo is out to harass film makers, writers and other film related business men. This is one side of the story. If you don’t mind, come to the board, we have an open door policy. Irrespective of your calibre, you can have access to this office because we are public servants. All criticisms are welcome because they make us work hard and conquer challenges.

What are your terms of reference?
There is what we call approach to defaulting stakeholders, God knows better, but I want the Almighty Allah to be our witness this time around. The law of the land says ignorance is not an excuse in the eyes of the law. I am very much aware and well briefed by the jurists to that effect, but I undermined it because my faith in Islam is superior, which says we don’t punish, until somebody who admonish – a Warner comes after. I see that more closely to me being my faith and more practical. What we say is this; people should submit their original projects of which we should have our inputs where necessary, or advices considerate of the law, so that one will not be punished by the law unknown to him. The best way to go about it is to advise people and enlighten them not to default, so that their subjects will not be seen as ex-convicts, as criminals. What we are doing is preventive, we first of all call you; we have never arrested any film maker or marketer without first issuing him a warning or giving him the benefit of doubt. Most of the time, we invite them for about two or three times, and advice them in a simple language, my dear, so and so has happened in your project and look at what the law says, but don’t mind, amend it next time and please don’t do it again.’ How do you imagine that same person repeating the same offence? What do you expect from us? To continue being friendly to law breakers? We have to take the other side of the authority, which is punitive. All we are doing is being done somewhere, like the National Film and Video Censors Board (NFVCB). Recently, they apprehended a film from Ghana. They have been raiding the market, but due to the fact that the NFVCB is a national body, the stakeholders don’t complain. Again, if we are to transfer the cases of the Hausa movie stakeholders to NFVCB, the punishment would have been more severe. Imagine a case of somebody who abducts a young girl in the name of movie making without her parent’s consent, they will surely take drastic action against such a person.
These two bodies (NFVCB and NAPTIP) use to question us, saying, ‘Mallam, why are you abusing our jobs? Just transfer the case to us, we will take them to the federal high court,’ that is how they have been charging us. Even when we say N2.5m is a facility bond for a production company to acquire from their banks, they (NFVCB) said it is supposed to be N10m. They said we are undermining the federal legislation.

You mean the NFVCB queries you on all these?
Oh yes! N10m is the provision of the federal legislation for a working capital of a standard production company to operate and recently they set N50m target as a working capital for national marketers to operate. What would you think if the NFVCB directed us to comply with the national standard? Most of our local stakeholders, including the marketers, will be out of business. Nobody has that amount. But all we are saying is that they should have a bond of N2.5m from their respective banks as a security facility and we will give them our certification and endorsement, which is purely in the interest of their business. Much earlier, we were here with over 290 nominal production companies, nowhere to be located, some are even mobile. But now, we have about 47 standard production companies duly registered with us, with their Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) certificates, they can operate anywhere in the country. I believe in the near future. The stakeholders will smile and equally know that we care for the future of their business.

What is your ambition after this seat?
I will go back to my farm in Kura and continue to be a transporter of goods and farm products in addition to my educational career.

Sir, do you have any political...
(Cuts in) No! Never! In fact, I was cautioned by my mum. And she is the most respected person in my life.

Even if you are called upon by the electorate?
In that case, I will refer them to my mum, to go and convince her, fortunately she is alive. (Laughter) After that, I will now ponder on it.

What if she responds in affirmative?
Then I will re-caution her to go back to her former words.

But you said if they convince her, you would give it a thought?
You see, the issue is this I don’t think I will go for politics because I am not the right person for it. I don’t tolerate nonsense. For example, when I close from work, I go straight to my house. On the way, I will stop and buy everything my family needs. I don’t have an after-office joint for somebody to dictate my life. But then, I have my contacts and a lot of bosses and guides.

Finally, may we know your most memorable moment as director-general of the Kano State Censors Board?
My most memorable moment in this board was when people who engaged themselves in deforming my character and person insulted me, but later, come here to apologise, confessing that they did all they did the wrong way, because they were misguided. Such cases happened more than seven times and there is none that is not forgiven. I see it as very memorable; history started vindicating me. Even before they come, some of them even said for fear persecution they will not come, but subsequently, when they came, I opened my arms and received them. And on the other hand, nothing has moved me ever since I assumed this office.

Maishinku: The Jason Statham Way

By Al-Amin Ciroma

Published in LEADERSHIP, February, 14, 2009

No doubt, the fans of breathtaking movie - The Transporter- will forever hail star actor, Jason Statham, who exhibited all sorts of stunts in the super movie. The actor’s background in martial arts enabled him perform beyond the bounds. Born in 1972, Statham has done quite a lot in a short time. He has been an Olympic diver on the British National Diving Team, and finished 12th in the World Championships in 1992. He has also been a model, black market salesman and finally of course, an actor. He got the audition for his debut role as Bacon in Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels through French Connection, for whom he was modeling. They became a major investor in the film and introduced Jason to Guy Ritchie, who invited him to audition for a part in the film by challenging him to impersonate an illegal street vendor and convince him to purchase fake jewellery. Jason must have been doing something right because after the success of Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998), he teamed up again with Guy Ritchie for Snatch (2000), with co-stars Brad Pitt, Dennis Farina and Benicio Del Toro. After Snatch. came Turn It Up (2000), with US music star Ja Rule, followed by a supporting actor role in the Sci-Fi film Ghosts of Mars (2001), Jet Li's The One (2001) and another screen partnership with Vinnie Jones in Mean Machine (2001) under Guy Ritchie's and Matthew Vaughn's SKA Films. In 2002. he was cast in the lead role of Frank Martin in The Transporter (2002), Jason was also in the summer 2003 blockbuster remake of The Italian Job (1969), playing Handsome Rob.
On the other side, Ibrahim Maishinku, an ace actor, is one of Kannywood's new generation movie stars in the world of Hausa movies, taking the magic of Kannywood to the wider world. With his multi-disciplinary approach and flair for the thespian style, Maishinku has also marked himself out as a dynmic Hausa movie actor.
Born October 6, 1976, in Kano city, heart of Kannywood, the young Maishinku attended Dala Special Primary School for his crucial education. He successfully obtained his NCE certificate in 1999 at the Gwammaja II Secondary School. The highly competent actor is happily married to a beautiful and understanding wife, Zainab. She holds a diploma in Accounting and Auditing from Bayero University Kano (BUK). Zainab has fufilled the saying: 'Behind every successful man, there is a woman'. A lady of true feminine virtues, Zainab has supported her husband in all the ways a man needs to be supported in pursuing his career.

Maishinku started when he was in school. He used to keep a group of five friends. Speaking with our corrrespondent, Ibrahim revealed that he normally hanged out with his friends after school; their hobby was to drive around town and see places of interest. "One day...", according to him, "Aminu Shariff Ahlan, chairman, Ummi Productions, Kano, met Nura Nasidi, my cousin, and told him he wanted to feature me in his movie, if and only if I would be interested. Without any hesitation, I saw my dream come to reality.
His sudden debut into the showbiz was a slap on the faces of some of his firends, who see it as unbecoming. "I was introduced into film acting with a movie called Saki Reshe Kama Ganye. It was fun really, but my most memorable moments then was that I used to sneak from home as early as 6 am to go to location. I did that for many reasons. First, my family: nobody gave me a listening ear when I want to venture into acting, because they saw it as weird. In fact, I was rejected by virtually all of them. But I remained my humble self."
After the success of Saki Reshe, he again dwelled more into Kannywood in Ibrahimawa's Mugun Nufi, which the charming debutante actor wilfully accepted. "I believe in myself. I come to realise that the obligation on every human being is to have a positive ideology of his person. Movie business, like other works of life, is full of risk, full of uncertainties. You must be committed to your goals because as a start, you may be like a zombie in your locality in the sense that people might look down on you. As it is, our society is such that people termed movie making as wayward kind of venture, but specifically, it all depends on who is there for what."
Maishinku crossed the lethal bridge from acting into producing with his branded movie, Hujjah. The multi- talented actor debuted the Hausa movie industry with a ground-breaking character, the twine Maishunku stand till today. He is known to be the most self-effacing and down-to-earth actor in Kannywood.

Maishinku has featured in quite a number of movies, precisely 200. He has also won a lot of awards within and outside Kano State. The most notable award he triumphed is the best actor category he received from the Kano State government in 2003 for his selfless commitment into the hausa movie industry.
Some of his chartbusters are Marhaban, Waazi, Akiba and Tangarda. Others are Mahandama, Gidauniya, Harsashi, Madadi, Jarumai, Dan Zaki, Gidan Danja, Sa'ili, Musnadi, Risala, Madadi, Lura, Turnuku, Hujja, among others.
Maishinku's break into the entertainment business came as a divine one because he portrayed decency and dynamism in all the roles, likewise Statham, when an agent put him on an advertisement for the French Connection clothing company, he also had a unique and stylish manner in all his characters in the movie. The entertainment industry in the world, I may say has an outstanding loop in the professional way. And to the Jason/Ibrahim, I am sure sky is not even their limit.

Misbahu Ahmad/Kubra Dacko, Earning Their Stripes?

By Al-Amin Ciroma

Published in LEADERSHIP, March, 07, 2009

It has been barely two years after the Maryam Hiyana scandal, an outrage that I am pretty sure everyone heard about. The poor actress and her lover accidentally let a raunchy video clip leak to the public. The scandal nearly made the film business in the northern part of the country, history. Immediately after the saga, a lot of the practitioners and stakeholders in the game either fled Kano or went underground. Having shared opinions on the matter, a lot were of the view that the shameful scandal came at the right time, believing that the players will come to their senses and conform to the yearnings of the society. While others saw it as blackmail, they assert that the actress apparently did not give her consent for the “show.” She told her 'lover' not to video it but the mean man went ahead probably to feed his ego. One of the people who shared this view said: "I can't count the number of times I have had to support them, verbally. People think they spread immorality. I always tell people not to blame the actors but rather the changing society for all the nonsense you read in papers. I'm running out of ways to support them now, since another actress has been caught doing one of the acts they have been stereotyped with. I'm afraid saying many positive things may be blindly running away from the bitter truth..."
Another said, "I am actually glad that it happened, because now the Hausa film industry can undergo a much needed reform. And when everything is cleared, I promise to still remain a loyal fan! So far (or a far as I have read) no charges have been laid against Maryam Hiyana and Usman Bobo and I doubt if any would be laid in the future.
I think the public’s reactions is way too harsh, as Maryam has been banned from acting, I doubt if she'd ever return to acting regardless." Fortunately for Maryam Hiyana, she is now in her husband's house with a bouncing baby boy, Usman Jr. However, our piece this week centres on some successful stars in Kannywood, whom as a result of the scandal, went ahead to explore greener pastures in other parts of the world. Some, according to our findings, fled Kano for neighbouring states to settle down with their families, while others went back to school to acquire further knowledge. For Mishabu M. Ahmad and Kubra Dacko, Malaysia was their target. They gained admission into the Malay universities to pursue their academic dreams.Who Is Misbahu M. Ahmad?Ahmad, a top playback singer, producer and actor, is one of the most successful actors in the Hausa film genre. Born 14th day of November, 1974, Misbahu had both, his primary and secondary education in Gwammaja, Kano State before enrolling in an Arabic and Qur'anic recitation school for Islamic studies.Musbahu Ahmad developed interest in acting as a child and has been a very good song writer since his early teens. His dreams of becoming a modern playback singer was made true by Aminu Mohammad Sabo, director/CEO, Sarauniya Films, Kano, who invited him to write a song for their hit movie, Allura da Zare, titled Gamu cikin Harka, which the actor did excellently. After the success of Allura da Zare, Sarauniya Films gave him yet another contract to produce the theme lyric for their blockbuster, Sangaya.His captivating performance alongside the industry's superstar, Ali Nuhu, drew so much attention afterwards.
Musbahu's musical talent was again displayed in Hayaki, in which he wrote and did playback for all the songs in the film. He reminiscing experience was a gain felt in another film; Samodara, a film he acted alongside Fati Muhammad, another superstar. Having been blessed with opportunities to work with some of the best actors and actresses in the industry, the actor's acting passion was seen in the hit movie Dawayya, a film. he acted alongside Rukayya Umar Santa, who debuted in the film. Dawayya gave. him the name 'Musbahu Dawayya' and his professional performance in the film is memorable. As an actor, Musbahu has the tremendous confidence to wear different costumes in almost all his films, with success, his trademark, Musbahu acted, did playback and produced his first film, Amalala through his film production company Usmaniyya Nigeria Limited. To prove his versatility, the star actor also produced and directed another hit film Lalajo.
Musbahu is one actor with great potential and is responsible for producing some hit movies in the Hausa movie industry; Amalala, Kansakali, Lalajo, Basaja and Kakaki to mention a few. The star actor also did some jingles for some giant companies and agencies around the nation; Kabo Air, IRS, Dangote, Chanchangi, Rambo Mosquito Coil, and Triumph are just a few of his numerous patrons. The star actor has acted in while over hundred (100) films; Sangaya, Basaja, Lalajo, Dawayya, Samodara, Kakaki, Laila, Kansakali, Jini daya, Amalala, Alkawari, Adali and Taurari to mention a few. The actor is yet to be nominated for any award but there are speculations he is about to grab the showbiz honour very soon. It s said that age is not important unless you are or an actor, it is the excellence of an actor and his fans which keep him going. An actor par excellence, the actor is presently at the pinnacle of his career, as today, he is governing his own giant production company all. Though not an outstanding formal student, he has sufficient knowledge and Islamic values. Musbahu has managed to traverse the road to success to acquire gradual fame.Being one of the few well read, singers, his priorities are to produce and act the best possible films. 'I am not interested in any kind of competition,” he said adding 'I don't want to surpass anyone, I have always tried to produce a product with a hundred percent attention to make it the best', he concluded. An acclaimed entertainer, he aspires to prove his mettle in film production as well as give something outstanding and different to the viewers.

…And Kubra Dacko?
The screen queen, Kubra Dacko is a Nigerlite. Born 8th June 1984 in Mina, Niger State capital, to the family of late Alhaji Abdullahi Dacko, she did her primary and secondary education in her home state and she later gained admission in Bayero University, Kano to study sociology.
Before debuting into acting, Dacko, in a personal capacity, had deep passion for the entertainment industry. She stepped into the Hausa film industry when she met late Ahmed S. Nuhu, who paved her way in. She was introduced into the industry by the latter, who featured her in his successful 'Gata', a movie that brought Kubra into limelight. After which she followed with a lot of super hit movies.
These are the two Kannywood stars who enrolled themselves into Malaysian universities. A lot of their fans are now asking, why Malaysia, when a lot of Nigerian universities stands among the best in the world today? Others who see these actors nowadays in the streets of Abuja and Kaduna have some unanswered questions. Are they on vacation or have they successfully completed their course of study? Before hearing from the horses' mouth, we wish them success in their academic pursuits.

Cultural Life of Mambilla Dwellers

By Al-Amin Ciroma

Published in LEADERSHIP, February, 07, 09

Standing, at its peak, at over 1,850 metres above sea level, Mambilla Plateau is one of the highest plateaus in Nigeria. Situated in Sardauna local government area of Taraba State, the weather is conducive for tourists and travellers, who constantly avail themselves of the delights Mambilla offers.
Life in Mambilla is said to be synonymous with that of the inhabitants of the Fantasy Island in Germany . The dwellers, who are predominantly Fulani, enjoy the panoramic display of the highland formation that extends farther than one's eyes can capture. The rich cultural life of the Mambilla Fulani is highly enchanting. In Nguroje and Gembu for instance, majority of the Fulani nomads have very lush pasture for their cattle that gives them rich milk, butter and cheese production.
The beautiful landscape of the Mambilla Plateau, green vegetation and scenic beauty charms and enchants reminds one of the biblical Garden of Eden. Experts' view of the beauty of the environment, most especially the Fulani, shows that although the clan is one of the most fascinating races of humanity, their beauty on the plateau tends to exceed others. The temperate nature of the Plateau, plus its numerous pockets of waterfalls gives them much healthier skin and glowing looks.
Apart from the pressure of the ‘big names’ taking up large plots of land on the Mambilla Plateau, the herds on the plateau are increasing, especially during dry season when the low lands have no grass and vegetation. This has also generated tension and conflict, which resulted in in the clashes of 2001 and 2002, which witnessed the exodus of Fulani herdsmen into the Cameroon as refugees.
Another problem that is associated with the Mambilla Plateau is the lack of conducive access roads. Driving up the plateau is scary, because it is the highest in the country. "For it to serve as a world class haven for tourists, unbeatable in the whole of Africa, an air-strip, if not airport, as well as top class hotels need to be built there for the comfort of visiting tourists and vacationers from around the world. This place could become yet another huge foreign exchange earner for Taraba State, nay the country, if leaders are actually serious about changing the face and fortunes of the country, as well as that of people in tune with the new millennium goals," said a student.
Also, Mallam Hassan, a retired civil servant, said access roads could be provided by rehabilitating and upgrading the abandoned federal road that was constructed in the 1950s along Takum-Lissam-Kwesati-Tutuwa-Nyido-Kofai-Gatari-Bissaula and Nguroje, to link up with the Mambilla Plateau. "It will be easier and cheaper for the government to think along this line, because the area from Bissau to Mambilla has lower hills and a flat land surface which will not be difficult for constructing the road on."
Another major problem that stands in the way of Mambilla Plateau’s true tourists’ haven is the dispute between the Fulani ethnic group and the indigenous Mambilla people. Before independence, the Mambilla used to be administered by the Lamido Adamawa, who sent district heads to the place to becoming administer over the area on his behalf. This did not go down well with the natives who felt that their land was being administered by 'foreigners'.
According to some historical facts, the first two district heads of the Mambilla Plateau that were sent from Yola by the Lamido of Adamawa were Mallam Danlawan and later, Mallam Muqaddas. After them, an indigene of the place, Mallam Audu Baju was appointed district head. After his death, another Fulani fellow, Mallam Mohammed Mansur, became district head, and when he died in 2000, the Mambillas vowed that no ‘foreigner’ would be their chief again. “This partly contributed to the crisis that rocked the area," said Jibrin, who worked on the Mambilla Plateau as a civil servant in 1990s.
Although the Fulani camp claims that there have always been seven Ardos (village heads) for the Fulanis and eight Jauros (village heads) for Mambilla who serve as kingmakers to form the electoral college through which the chief of Mambilla is chosen, the Mambilla people say there have always been 25 Jauros who chose their chief and that at no time was there ‘mixed grill’ of Ardos and Jauros serving as kingmakers, and that the appointment of the previous Fulani chiefs of Mambilla was an aberration.
They said Ndoti Zubairu, a Mambilla indigene, who has been acting as chief of Mambilla, should be confirmed and a gazette should be made that only the Mambilla should produce the chief of Gembu. But the Fulanis insisted that since historically, they had ascended the throne of the chief of Gembu, the new gazette to be produced should make it mandatory that there should be two ruling families in Gembu; that is, after Ndoti Zubairu, the Fulanis will produce the next chief of Gembu.
Now, the governor is saddled with the problem of sorting this out as well as that of Takum, whose last chief died in 1996 and which has caused conflict between the and Kutebs and the Chambas. However, a village head in Wukari also shared his opinion with our reporter. "The only safe, albeit difficult path route for the governor to tread in the chieftaincy dispute in Takum and Gembu is to refer to the history of succession in these areas. Let the governor close his ears to all threats and follow the history of succession to appoint chiefs in the areas. The dispute as to who or which group should produce the chiefs was settled a long time ago by the colonial government and handed over to us.
“Creating new laws or getting court decisions to accommodate new interests, or old ones that were not successful at the time the white men decided to gazette ruling families in Northern Nigeria, will be very, very dangerous, because that will mean other groups or people who lay claims on thrones elsewhere will now have a leverage to open agitations for a new gazette that will include them in the traditional rulership of their places.
“If allowed, the trend would engender endless bloodshed, which is unnecessary. The governor was not there when the history was being written, so let him follow history and leave the rest to posterity. This is my advice, but please, don't mention my name, because that will expose me to danger," he said.
In all, it is clear that Nigeria stands a better chance to utilise Mambilla as one of its tourist centres that may generate lasting revenue and boost our economy.

We Are Now Appreciated Worldwide - Ali Nuhu

By Al-Amin Ciroma

Published in LEADERSHIP, March 21, 2008

The Master Of The Game Speaks...
Kannywood has now become a force to reckon with on the international scene, with the screening of Sitanda, where the foremost star of the Hausa movie indsutry, Ali Nuhu, took a lead role. The film was officially selected and approved for screening at the main pool during the last North Korean film festival.
Immediately after he returned from the historic festival, Nuhu took out time to share with our correspondent his experience at the international event.
The father of two said, “The screening has shown the world that something good can come out of Kannywood, and we have bridged the gap between Nollywood and Kannywood with this screening and I intend to share the glory with my other colleagues at Kannywood.”
He further stated that his appearance in English movies has not affected his fans in the North. “I once went to a local village in Niger State, which has no electricity and I saw one room used as cinema hall, when I went in, they were watching one of my English movies. you could see that none of them understands English, yet because my picture is on the poster, they bought it. So I am happy to say that my romance with Nollywood has not affected my obligation to my northern fans. I still act in Hausa films, they made me what I am today, so I can never dump them for anything.”
Speaking on the film that fetched him international popularity, the actor said, “Sitanda was the movie that gave us that opportunity, aside this, my favourite movie in the English genre is yet to be released movie by 3SP International, called Hamza, the legend while Wasila, Sangaya and Dijangala are my favourites in the Hausa collections.”
On his most challenging movie so far, Ali Nuhu stated that the stunts he did and mountain climbing in Sitanda were quite challenging, while his role in Hamza and Sangaya were tasking as he was taught how to work, eat, laugh and dress like royalty, which changed his perception about royalty.
Debunking the rumours that he was a womaniser, the handsome actor stated that he is happily married to Maimuna, who had born for him two wonderful kids, Fatima and Ahmad. He further revealed that he had separates his professional life from his private life.
On his financial status, Ali said, “I am not yet rich, but I am comfortable. Acting has given me the privilege to acquire properties. I have houses, cars, shares and other things that make life comfortable and the glamour and fame has also opened new doors which also gives me an edge above others when I go to a place.”
Going down memory lane, the actor said he begged somebody to finance their first film. “It was until the movie came out and sold-out before the man paid me. After that, he sponsored the second one.”
On the number of films he has acted in, he said he has lost count, “But I think its more than 200 hundred, I lost count a long time ago. Sometimes, people have to remind me that I once featured in so so film. I have also sponsored some and producing others. You could say I have the natural talent to do anything concerning movies. Those that I have produce were hits and producers have now accepted the fact that, any movie I appear in sell like hot cake.
While thanking his fans all over the world who made it possible to reach the top, the actor charged his colleagues in Nollywood to break the barrier and include Kannywood in their movies so that the industry can grow.
He described films like Mohammed Dahiru’s Hamza, that featured Omotola Ekeinde and Olu Jacobs, as a pacesetter for the industry. Western fans will have no choice but to watch it, because of the presence of their favourite actors while the north too would not resist buying the film, insisting that Omotola and Jacobs enjoyed the opportunity of mingling with them.
In a related development, the Hausa movie world finally broke the Kano State monopoly, by branching into other states like Lagos, Kaduna, Abuja and Jos, after the state censors board formulated some draconian conditions guiding movie productions. The conditions include compulsory registration at Corpoate Affairs Commission (CAC) and a movie company must have a minimum of one million naira in it's account, while singing with ladies in film was also prohibited.
These and other problems prompted the move by key players like 3SP International, who released a hit buster, Hamza and had the preview in Abuja recently, other companies like 2 Effects Empire, Unic ventures, NH production have branched into other states, insisting that, a public hearing should have been set up to hear the public’s views on whether Maryam Hiyana's personal nude video, warranted the suspension and the new conditions issued out by the board.
It would be recalled that the whole of Kannywood was in an uproar the year before last due to a scandal that involved the popular actress Hiyana’s nude video clip. The video drew the ire of the state Hisbah and NBC’s resulted in the banning of the activities of the movie industry in the state and some stars. Though it has been resolved and the industry opened, key players have since refused to comply with the conditions set by the censorship board and Kannywood’s foundation is shaking.

Water Vendors In 'Power'?

By Al-Amin Ciroma

Published in LEADERSHIP on April 18, 2009

The menace caused by water vendors, popularly called 'Mai Ruwa,' in Hausa language is really astonishing. The truck pushers have invented unique ways of roaming the streets of urban settlements in the north, including Abuja, the federal capital territory. This piece focuses on their ways of operation and the atrocities and inconveniences caused by them. It has come to the notice of most people resident in the north, how these truck pushers shove their way through the main streets, including major link roads.
Very early in the morning, wherever you experience traffic jams, there is a fifty percent probability it is caused by the long queue of the water vendors. In the federal capital territory for example, the Mai Ruwas have already been banned from operating in the city centre because, according to the authorities, it is not the responsibility of the water vendors to provide water for the city's residents. The authorities on the other hand were cautioned not to shy away from their responsibility of providing clean water for the needs of the teeming populace. The water vendors were advised to seek other sources of livelihood because water vending was not in their interest, their customers or even the government, as it has serious consequences on all parties. In other parts of the north, like Kaduna, water vending is one of the most lucrative businesses that fetches desired profit.
From our investigation, many youths are now into the business of buying Kuras (Trucks) and Jerry cans to give out to the vendors on hire basis, who in return, pay back, daily or weekly, depending on the agreement reached by both parties. Very early in the morning, Mai Ruwas are seen in various streets within the metropolis shouting "Za ku sayi ruwa (“will you buy water?”)?" alerting people that they are around. Residents who are always in a hurry to get the water first, usually come out to book for one or two trucks, or may be deposit money with their neighbours to buy for them. Investigation also show that an average water vendor makes an average of N6,000 daily especially during the dry season. According to one of the vendors, “Sales usually drop during the rainy season and in some instances, a water vendor may not sell even a jerry can of water a day. He said in the dry season, sales are high and they normally give priority to customers who patronise them during the rainy season. "During this bad market season, our good customers give us money and food. When water is scarce, we usually drop some jerry cans of water for them before other interested people are considered," said Shu'abu Danbirni. The price of a jerry can is normally increased from N15 to N35.
They usually attribute the hike to bad roads. They claim they go through rigours before reaching a particular residence and that affects the price. "Even when we are supposed to fetch water for free, borehole owners sell it to us for N15 to N25 per jerry can and then, we have to add something to make our own profit." According to another vendor, “The business is quite lucrative but people see us as mere water vendors who get nothing from what they do. "We have families like every other person trying to earn a living as well. There are no job offers for us," he said.
The question of joblessness is not an issue in this regard, what matters here is what the authorities are doing to eradicate the hazards caused by this group of people. Water vendors are normally young men, who migrate to the urban areas from the neighbouring rural settlements, most of who are quite uneducated and lack skills. Most of the water vendors are examples of typical hoodlums. Many before they start their job for the day, take illegal substances or drugs. Our correspondent learnt that they, for example, drink Benylin Syrup, which is meant to treat cough for children and/or some other drugs to embolden them so as to be rude to other people who come their way. This leads them into series of altercations with people. A typical example is that they invade traffic, and if one tries to call them to order, they either make fun of you or toss their trucks on the road to cause accidents. Kaduna inhabitants experience a lot of accidents caused by these behaviours. A motorist, Alhaji Kabir, who spoke with Leadership Weekend said, he was driving from his house to the office, when suddenly a group of truck pushers emerged from nowhere, and as he tried to control his car, one of them flung his truck across the road, leaving him with no option than to crush the truck. Before he could park the car, they all surrounded him and started abusing him. It took the intervention of some good Samaritans to arrest the situation. Investigations, however, revealed, that this group of people have an organised structure; they have their president, lawmakers, state governors etc. they operate in that hierarchy. The president is the chief security officer of the group, and whoever offends him or violates the 'rules,' might be banished from operations. The superior officer normally does not hawk alone, he must be in company of others.
They may not be in a convoy, but with a little distance apart. The president enjoys absolute immunity. Now, the biggest question begging for answer is what the authorities are doing to exterminate or wipe out this problem that is now becoming unbearable to the teeming populace.
Nigeria is known to be the giant of Africa; a lot of countries within the continent have already forgotten the issue of water problem.
When other countries, even our immediate neighbours are celebrating 10 or 20 years of un-interrupted power supply, there is no state in Nigeria that can boast of stable electricity and water supply for 24 hours. Little wonder the Mai Ruwas have the audacity to stand as a formidable nation of their own. One may also applaud their valour to engage in water vending, but who knows what may happen if there were no water vendors? I think the president and governors, as a matter of urgency, should revert to only two-point agenda: Power and Water insted of their bluffing 101 agendas!

So Far How Well? Music & Dance In Hausa Movies: The Moral Paradigm (1)

By Al-Amin Ciroma

Published in LEADERSHIP on April 11, 2009

The film industry in northern Nigeria was dormant for quite some time, until it recently bounced back with the massive production of Hausa home videos, principally. Largely based in the Kano-Kaduna-Jos axis, the industry, known as Kannywood, fondly fashioned after the legendary Hollywood and by extension, Nollywood, has been experiencing a couple of teething problems since inception. First and foremost, like other local film industries, Kannywood lacks creativity and originality, as it merely churns out renditions of popular Hindi movies, with the themes largely revolving around love, lust and betrayal. Secondly, as a growing industry, there is the big problem of unprofessionalism; as it has become an all comers' affair. This has resulted in poor quality productions and bad scripting. Other challenges faced by the industry include: poor financial base, lack of technical know-how in terms of production, lack of corporate support, and the wrong notion that actors and actresses are men and women of easy virtue.
A distinctive feature of the Hausa home video is its musical component. It is very difficult to watch a Hausa home video without one or two musical interlude. While it has served a purpose or achieved an objective, to some people, this music breaks was moral aberrations.
Movie production in northern Nigeria is solely governed by an act of moral eccentricity. A lot of people and groups feel that the movies are out to counter the moral values of the northern communities. This issue has generated a lot of controversy and debate, with people expressing divergent opinions. A director at the Centre for Hausa Cultural Studies in Kano, Professor Abdallah Uba Adamu, in an interview with the media, said, "It got to a stage where unless a Hausa film has girls in tight dresses, singing and dancing suggestively, it will not sell, and filmmakers have been defending this by insisting that they are in the business to make money, not art. One of them bluntly told us, 'to hell with Hausa culture; I am a filmmaker and I want to make money, if you people want a cultural film, do it with your own money'. This marketing mantra led to more songs and dances with girls dressed in tight clothes, shaking their body suggestively, even when the story does not warrant a dance."
This clearly indicates that culture and its attendant belief systems have contributed in no small measure in shaping our moral paradigm. However, what is needful to be seen is whether this scenario of moral anomalies influencing cultural roles has been wholly transmitted into the movies.
For instance, Ashiru Nagoma's movie, Tutar So, has the razzmatazz and glitz of a typical Kannywood movie but showcases not only the sorry state of Kannywood, but also a clear ignorance in film production.
In the said movie, the producer/director composed a musical theme, with the real names of the performing artistes in the film. The movie is just a perfect example of a badly produced movie. Just after the debut of Tutar So, many of the producers are now trying to imitate what they feel is an innovation by the so-called 'intelligent' director.
The point here is the imperativeness of the message. What the moviemaker wants his audience to feel and learn through the production should be dynamically addressed. We are in the jet age, where creativity and originality should be the watchword. With this trend in the Hausa movie industry, one would not cease to wonder if there would ever be a transformation in Kannywood. A typical producer will tell whoever cares to listen that he is contented with what he is doing now, and that there is no going back. Their priority is money, irrespective of the quality of the film they churn out.
Most of the people who expressed their opinion about Kannywood suggested that the filmmakers should at least employ a little sense of maturity, at least to deal with one aspect that will perk up the society if not contribute to the moral upbringing of the northern people. Also, a considerable number of those who expressed their views also urged the government and wealthy individuals to come to the rescue of the budding industry. According to them, "When movies are loaded with negative messages - armed robbery as a means of livelihood, borrowed cultural exhibition (music and dancing), violence, witchcraft, gross disobedience to parents, suggestive sex, corruption, without enough emphasis being placed on godly virtues, then your guess is good as mine regarding the effect of such messages on the discerning mind."
Having noted that the advent of the home videos in the north was widely accepted for reasons like easy access, low cost, affordability, as well as being a substitute for foreign films, the film makers should, as a matter of urgency, employ at least a little bit of intelligence in their business. They should be thoroughly informed and try to match their counterparts elsewhere in the world, bearing in mind that they are producing for a learned audience.