Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Is Watergate Possible Here?

This question was paraphrased from the piece by Leonard Downie Jr., who was executive editor of The Washington Post for 17 years, published in the same newspaper early this week. The piece, titled "Is Watergate Possible Now?", was an analysis of American journalism in the age of the Internet. It was a retrospection inspired by the death, last Thursday, of W. Mark Felt, the whistle-blower popularly known as Deep Throat in the scandal that blew President Richard Nixon out of office. Mark Felt was the anonymous source of most of the stories filed by the Post's reporter Bob Woodward after a break-in at the national headquarters of the opposition Democratic National Committee in Washington's Watergate hotel and office complex in June 1972.

Mr Felt, who was at that time the second-in-command at the Federal Bureau of Investigation, craftily led Woodward in unraveling the cover-ups that were traced back to the Nixon Administration, eventually forcing the President to resign two years later in ignominy. The newspaper faithfully hid the identity of its source, merely calling him Deep Throat -- after a porn movie. Mr Felt, who died at the age of 97, revealed himself only in May 2005. The Sunday Times of London this week aptly described him as "the most famous anonymous source in the history of journalism."

The Watergate scandal, an unforgettable milestone, did spawn a plethora of investigative journalism not only in America but also across the world. The spirit lives in many journalists today. Many a journalist now treats the powers that be with caution, dreaming of fishing things out about them, nasty, smelly things that could help bring them into disrepute or even out of power. The feeling is apparently mutual. The powers that be -- people in government, in business, in crime, in sports or even in the service of God -- find journalists barely tolerable; in most cases they find them intolerable -- and treat them so. Whenever they talk of mutual cooperation, you will out that the benefit is also mutual. Sad.

In America, the fall of Nixon created a frenzy in newsrooms as many news organs tried to equal or surpass The Washington Post's prowess. Indeed, very big exposes were made by bigger and smaller media. The spirit liveth, no doubt. However, none has equaled the impact and glory of that newspaper's epoch-making feat, not least because no President was forced out of office again but due to the watershed nature of the first case. President Bill Clinton was boxed into a very tight corner during the Monica Lewinsky scandal, but he was able to weather the storm.

The news media have become transformed worldwide since the '70s. The biggest change came with the Internet. Apart from making journalism 'more democratic' by turning anyone on a keyboard with a connectivity into a newshound and publisher, the Internet has made sources of information more readily available and also made information dissemination easier, instant and more widespread. Leonard Downie Jr's concern is with making journalism not simply a medium of holding Presidents (and other leaders) accountable to the people, which is equally important, but a way of improving the life of the people. Journalists might be called "sons of whores" by powerful figures as Nixon's character in the new movie, "Frost/Nixon," played by Frank Langella, did. But it is worthwhile to continue doing the good work because in the long run it would be in the interest of the nation.

So is a Wategate-like scenario possible here in Nigeria? First, we have to examine the motive of anyone wishing for such a scandal. W. Mark Felt was suspected of having resentments, hoping, as the Sunday Times of London editorialised this week, "to elevate himself in the bureaucracy." It noted, however, that "there was his sense that something was wrong and needed to be exposed." Any Nigerian who dreams of seeing a President, governor or Local Government chairman felled should, first, have a motive which, ideally, should be in the best interest of the community rather than self. The same goes to the potential whistle-blower.

There are too many willing whistle-blowers in this country. Unfortunately, however, many a Nigerian 'Deep Throat' would usually want to step forward when he is left out of the booty-sharing after, say, a theft from the public till. Which means that most of our people would rather keep quiet when corrupt practices are committed as long as they are involved in eating the cake.

If most Nigerians were a moral lot, there would have been more exposes about election and examination malpractices, thefts and break-ins, robberies, infidelity by spouses and sexual pervasions, murders and assassinations, pay-offs and rip-offs, counterfeiting of currency and documents, smuggling and numerous other vices. But because the moral souls in our midst are arguably smaller in number than their opposites, or are beaten into the background, such exposes are few and far between. The result is the erosion of morality in the society and the frantic pursuit of material things. Hence the retrogression in the quality of relationships, family values, service delivery, capital projects, and total lack of direction in statecraft.

To get a scandal of Watergate proportions in this kind of environment of moral aridity can be quite a pipe dream. Besides, there are other factors. Granted that since the end of the Civil War there have been a great number of exposes made by the public-spirited Nigerian media. In pursuing the cause of public interest, our journalists have shown immense courage, working mostly under conditions not known to their counterparts in America; military rule, for example. Nigerian journalists have exposed numerous cases of corruption and fought dictatorship.

Indeed, given the political climate in the last four decades, they could be regarded as a more fearless and dogged lot. Whereas the American system guarantees all sorts of liberties and protections to journalists, we in Nigeria have operated mostly under military decrees; where a sort of democracy exists, such as during the Shagari and the Obasanjo/Yar'Adua eras, journalists are hamstrung by remnants of military-era edicts and mentalities that were lobbed into the constitution and our daily life respectively. In the American democracy no television station would be shut down overnight by government agents because of a faulty story aired or a newspaper sued by the President because the paper had reported something about his ill-health.

In this kind of climate it is easy not to witness a Watergate -- a cyclone of a political embarrassment massive enough to force the Number 1 Citizen to throw in the towel. To the best of my knowledge, not even a Local Government chairman in this country has ever resigned because of a newspaper story. If anything, certain exposes have only helped steel the grip of some of our leaders, such as the state governors and the President, on power. In saner climes, Stella Obasanjo's tummy tuck scandal could force a president to quit. But it only made the President a hero to sympathise with, and the late Stella a celebrated martyr.

Clearly, we are not there yet. We don't even seem to know exactly where we are. The Washington Post and its two reporters were called all sorts of names in the early days of the Watergate scandal, but they held out till the end, refusing to be fazed by the loud grumblings of presidential aides and government contractors. That helped ease "all the president's (bad) men" out of power. It helped the cause of American democracy. And journalism the world over is the better for it. That, in fact, is the greatest lesson for Nigerian journalists from the Watergate scandal.


Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Mission Impossible, Possible!

The Hajj is over. Over the past week 8,308 pilgrims have been flown back to Nigeria. But 76,692 of us are still in the holy land, waiting to be transported. (Hundreds more should have returned to Nigeria by the time you are reading this). In my case, two journeys are ahead of me: one to Medina and the other to Nigeria. I do not know when either will take place. Out of the 85,000 pilgrims that came to Saudi Arabia for Hajj through the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON), only 44,600 have been to Medina to pay homage to the Prophet's mosque and other interesting religious sites, prior to the start of Hajj proper. The rest are in Mecca, waiting. In the house where I stay, and in many other houses dotted across Mecca, there is a great deal of uncertainty about just when we will be moved to Medina, after which we will wait to be taken to Jeddah and then Nigeria. Though the Medina visit is not a pillar of Hajj, it is nonetheless a significant aspect of the pilgrimage. Prophet Muhammad (may peace be upon him) has stressed, as reported in so many Ahadith, the importance of visiting his mosque where his grave and those of his companions are located. One Hadith of Muslim says Abu Hurairah (RA) reported the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) saying: "A prayer in my mosque is a thousand times more excellent than a prayer in any other mosque, except Masjid-al-Haram (Makkah)". So we wait.

The wait can be excruciatingly annoying, though. It tugs at one's patience. We "kill" time by going to the nearby mosque for congregational prayers or to the Haram for circumambulation of the holy Ka'aba (Tawaf), window-shopping, visiting other pilgrims' houses, or simply taking a siesta. Some even watch movies on potable DVD players. Rumours have it that our batch of pilgrims that has not been to Medina may be moved there tomorrow or the following day. Or the next day. Or, maybe, next week! Those lucky pilgrims that have been to the Prophet's city are the ones being flown back to Nigeria. The way things stand, with pilgrims being jetted to Nigeria in trickles, we fear that we are going to be marooned in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) for the next three or four weeks. The stay would have otherwise been of great spiritual value because it affords one the rare opportunity to pray in Islam's holiest site. But because every pilgrim wants to return home after the satisfyingly grueling rites of Hajj, most would rather just leave.

Lack of information from officials compounds the situation. It reflects the uncertainty and disorganization that dogged the preparation for Hajj months back. In normal societies it is possible for a pilgrim to plan his trip - from the date of his embarkation to the holy land to the date of his departure there-from - but in our country it seems that keeping the pilgrim in the dark about almost everything is one of the major pastimes of the Hajj officials.

A mid-level Nigerian official was here last night. When someone complained about the painful anxiety of waiting in the dark, he explained off the situation by saying that it was caused by the airlines. If the companies given the contract of transporting the pilgrims had done their job properly - by providing enough aircraft the way, say, the Pakistanis, the Indonesians, the Malays and other "more civilized" countries have done - there wouldn't have been this problem. From his explanation, and the incriminating evidence one sees everywhere, one got the distinctive impression that Nigerian Hajj administration is the worst on Planet Earth.

Due to the straight-jacketed culture of corruption and partiality that has been entrenched in the system across the years, one of your greatest nightmares begins as soon as you've decided to perform the Hajj from Nigeria. You would soon discover that it is a mission impossible that is made possible only by Him whose exhortation you have ventured out to fulfill - the Almighty Himself. There are many stumbling blocks on your way. While some of them are natural and are, therefore, bound to happen, most are man-made. For instance, natural problems can (and do) occur from the overcrowding, which creates other cataclysms. You cannot have over three million people in a small field like Mina or Arafat or squeezed into small embankments like the Jamrah and not expect to encounter mountains of problems, more so when those millions hail from diverse cultural backgrounds.

The man-made problems are the ones that pilgrims grapple with. Nigerian governments at all levels do spend incredible sums of money every year in order to overcome or at best minimize those problems, all to no avail. Right from the registration of intending pilgrims to transporting them back at the end, the hurdles seem to defy solution. Why? Answer: no realistic solutions are applied.

The buck stops at the table of Hajj officials. From what I see here in the holy land, the whole exercise is run by semi-literate undertakers, supposedly superintended by the senior, more educated officials. Many of the so-called senior officials do not even know why they are here, or pretend not to know. Many of them appear to think that they are in KSA for their personal pursuits – some picnic away from Nigeria. Tales of their alleged unholy exploits abound. The obvious one is the cat-and-mouse game they play with confused pilgrims, disappearing just when they are most needed. Once in a while you catch sight of them cruising around town in big American cars (their favourite is GMC) with their women: their parents, wives and or sisters, I suppose, though a friend of mine derisively said "girlfriends". They wear an air of "hard at work" when they catch your eye and promptly zoom off, lest you would ask for 'lift.' An exception here are members of the medical team, who stay at their desks attending to the needs of pilgrims. I doff my hat to them.

Our Hajj officials should stop behaving like privileged brats, thinking they are doing a favour to the pilgrims. They are in this country enjoying all those unnamable perks courtesy of the poor pilgrims. They should, therefore, dedicate all their time to the service of the pilgrims even if they must miss their own Hajj. (Note that they are not here to perform Hajj themselves). They should know that if they perform creditably well, their reward isn't just in the hefty estacode they receive, the choice accommodation and transport they enjoy, etc., but it is also in heaven because they would be contributing positively to a religious duty.It is very important for them to constantly provide relevant information to the pilgrims: when Hajj airlifts will begin, where to go in the holy land, how and when to get there, what to do there, the exact date and time for returning home, etc. Some of these tasks can be accomplished in liaison with other agencies, such as the airlines and local authorities.

Can they do these? From what is presently on the ground, my verdict is a grim one: the present officials are incapable of a change because they are the beneficiaries of the corrupt, decadent system they had helped create. The huge sums of money they milk from the system, as well as the privileges they enjoy, would vanish if the system is reformed. Expectedly, they would stand in the way of any change, insisting on maintaining the status quo. To kick them out would require a visionary, fearless leader who is unattached to the system, someone who would divorce the Hajj administration from politics. I suggest that the President of Nigeria should get involved actively, possibly by assuming the title of Amirul Hajj for at least four years. This way he would see things first-hand instead of relying on the annual report of an appointed so-called Amirul Hajj, who is (as happened this year) an absentee politico in the holy land. State governors and local government chairmen in Muslim-populous states should do likewise. The time to start the new system is now, not later, when the 2008 Hajj exercise is being wrapped up amidst ceaseless uncertainty and disappointment.

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

On Holy Ground

I am writing this piece from a house in Shahar 16 quarters of Mecca City, a walking distance from the Harami (Kaaba), Islam's holiest site. I am one of the millions of Muslim pilgrims taking part in one of the most personal journeys of all time -- the Hajj. So permit me if I sound personal, or even cocky, in this write-up. It's my personal one-off impression of life as I see it in the holy city, which I am visiting - together with my mother and wife - for the first time. Nothing original, of course, as many of you had seen it all before, in many cases several times over, across the years. But a writer always has an eye for unique things while in a strange place. And Mecca, the cradle of Islam, is unique in many tantalising, even if provocative, ways. For the first-time vcisitor, the attractions are doubly provocative.

Because of the unique things that abound, there is, ab initio, the problem of what to describe first. Is it the quietude which ushers in the break of day, punctuated by the occasional honking of vehicles, or the moving stream of human traffic? Or is it the multiparity of languages representing diverse cultures? Or is it the beauty of Arabic being spoken by almost everyone? Chances are you would find yourself rambling on and on, oscillating between a topic and another, and back again, until you are almost lost in the beehive of your emotions. I am a victim of that dilemma as I sit, here, by the window of my sixth floor room, watching the streets below coming back to life early on Wednesday morning. People -- the first spectacle of any adventurous writer -- have begun to walk by, clad in Islamic dress, with a majesty akin to that of the rulers of the land, whom I have not yet met (and can't possibly hope to).

Mecca is a city that bubbles and rumbles with life. A lugubrious quietude belies its surging energy. At night it is a city of lights; bright neons done in wonderful calligraphy; street lights that never go off; well-lit houses with their tiny, zig-zagging streets, and bazaars decked with expensive clothes and other (expensive) ornaments. In the daytime it throbs brilliantly with people and vehicles. And you can't help but marvel at the topography, which I see as "central" Middle Eastern even if it's needless for me to say so in the spirit of "Don't tell us there is water in the Atlantic Ocean." The buildings out there are stylish. Mosques dot the atmosphere, and readings from the holy Qur'an blare out at prayer times.

And talking about cosmopolitanism, the great influx of foreigners for the Hajj has made the city a place of diversity. It has always been that way because pilgrimage here is not necessarily an annual ritual but a round-the-year exercise: apart from Hajj, there is the Umra, or lesser pilgrimage, which one can embark on at any time of the year. Apart from the pilgrims, many nationals have made Mecca their home. Especially West Africans. Now, talking about West Africans is more or less talking about Nigerians. In Mecca, any black person is regarded as a Nigerian even if he/she has never been there. It's like the Northerner in the South, whom people see as a "Hausa" Muslim person. That is because of the role of Nigerians living here play -- good or bad. I have heard incredible tales about the mostly negative exploits my compatriots are credited with doing here -- stealing, touting, prostitution, drugs and other forms of vice. I am still searching for someone to tell me the good things that they do. On my part I know two, at least. First, there are many Islamic scholars teaching in big schools and professionals such as doctors, English teachers and oil engineers contributing to the Saudi economy and society. No one talks about these, of course. Second, Diaspora Nigerians in Mecca have created a "Little Nigeria" here, or a "Little Kano." Once you are in the "Little Kano" areas of the city (and I hear that the Saudis have ensured that your level of education determines whether you live in these parts or not), you are home. Hausa is widely spoken. Even some Arabs speak it. And you can eat "Hausa" food, including very pristine ones like tuwo, danwake, kunu, the ubiquitous shinkafa da kaza, and even fura da nono. All these are sold right at the door of our house. Indeed, some of these delicacies are harder to find in parts of northern Nigerian cities than in Mecca. Home sickness? It's non-existent, sir. The "Little Kano" residents, majority of whom live in Mecca illegally, playing a Tom & Jerry game with policemen and immigration officers, have nonetheless made the Arab citizens in these parts look like illegal aliens.

Am I comfortable in Meca? This question reminds me about the Hausa truism which says that once you have left home on a journey, it is the journey that "owns" you, and not the other way round. Which means that the nature of the journey determines your comfort or otherwise. The journey for Hajj is not designed to be a cozy one. About three million people converge in Saudi Arabia during Hajj. And they come from different nations of the world, forming the biggest melting pot of cultures on earth. It is obvious that the Saudi authorities have put in place stringent measures to deal with the situation, providing comfort and security. Their efforts are complemented by those of the authorities of various nations and states. Even so, it's impossible to create an atmosphere that could give each pilgrim 100% comfort.

I did not expect to find comfort even though I have heard on the radio about the wonderful preparations made by the various pilgrim boards to make everybody happy. Personal contacts with other been-tos and the reading of Hajj literatures prior to my departure, especially the book, "Getting the Best Out of Al-Hajj" by Abu Muneer Ismail Davids, have warned me never to expect too much. So my renown optimism has been tempered by a huge dose of expectant realism. So I am happy. I am not one of those Nigerians that moan about lack of this or that. Not yet, though. Thank God.

What of worship? That is why we are here. We, the tourists of God, are here to complete one of the five pillars of Islam, the Hajj. Hajj is a journey of renewal of faith, couched in the absolute belief in the oneness of God and obeisance to Him. It is also one of the greatest opportunities of all time, the chance to visit the holy sites, perform both the compulsory and the recommended rituals therein. Ultimately, one hopes to gain Allah's forgiveness and mercies. This hope is not vain, especially when you are performing the Hajj. Those who have accomplished Hajj should be grateful for the opportunity, and those who are here are excited, while those who have never been here should pray to be here. Hence our spending time in piety, going to the Kaaba every day to perform the Tawaaf (circumambulation of the Kaaba) and the five daily prayers.

I could write about this enchanting journey endlessly. The big comfort here is that this is a great lesson in piety, in the belief in the oneness and mortality of mankind, in the hope that life will change for the better, not only for oneself but also for all men and women seeking to do good in life, with the overall prayer that salvation will come through good deeds like this journey to Islam's very origin. If you can come next year, please do so.


Thursday, 27 November 2008

Rule Of Low

Some suppress freedom in the name of law and order
- George Washington

There is something uncanny about the notion of reward for sacrifice in our political lexicon. First, the saga unravelling around Nuhu Ribadu now has shown us that you cannot win against the bad guys in this country. Instead of receiving a pat on your back for your sacrifice, be ready to reap the whirlwind. Second, the ill-treatment of the former chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission by the security agencies is a signal for those working to sanitise the society in various sectors that it is not worth their while after all. It is a sign that if you stick out your neck in the name of patriotism, or as Kennedy called "what you can do for your country," someone is going to chop it with a sharp blade after you might have vacated your seat. Since crime pays, fighting crime wouldn't pay. It's for the same reason that many people in service who have seen graft and other forms of atrocity have decided to keep mum. They must have seen how keeping your mouth shut had paid off handsomely for others.

A good example of a patriot who paid a high price for his audacity is Malam Nasir El-Rufai. Here was a man who, in his zesty commitment to a-righting the wrongs in the nation's proudest city stepped on many big toes. Granted that the bulldozing of homes had caused a lot of agony, but no one was interested in the fact that the abuse of the Abuja master-plan was done intentionally by the perpetrators, many of whom were among the 'untouchables' in the country. Little surprise that such people went for El-Rufai's jugular as soon as he stepped out of office, swearing revenge. The man must have regretted ever serving Nigeria the way he did, and that must have been one of the intentions of his detractors.

Nigeria will always find a whipping boy for its past pains. Ribadu is the new kid on the block. His frenzied fight against corruption had earned him powerful enemies, and that should not surprise anyone. This country is a jungle of sorts - where the big fishes swallow the small fishes, aside their swallowing of each other. It has made the top numbers in any corruption index, local or international. Fighting corruption was something of a refrain during the various regimes since independence. It was during the last Obasanjo Administration that the fight was given a true fillip, with Ribadu as commander. You could blame Obasanjo for many atrocities, but the kind of bloody nose given to corrupt leaders had never been seen in the past. The governors and their collaborators were hitherto untouchable; they were law unto themselves.

We can't forget too soon - the forgetting nation that we are, though - how excited we all were whenever Ribadu's EFCC made a big catch, announcing the recovery of gargantuan sums of money stashed abroad by some of the pen-robbers calling themselves our leaders. The nation had salivated from those huge exposes and Ribadu was hailed as a hero, a fearless cop who went after anyone suspected of a caper. Even though the EFCC was/is handicapped by the immunity clause in the constitution, which gives cover to the undeserving execs, Ribadu wasn't deterred. In recognition of his work, many nations and international organisations began to take Nigeria serious for once. EFCC won many garlands and additional donations.

But here is a disclaimer. I am not calling Malam Ribadu a taintless saint. There are many accusations against him, principal of which is that he was used by Obasanjo to fight the government's perceived enemies. You can't exonerate the chairman from those accusations because the fact of their veracity had stood out so prominently. Here are a few samplers: Atiku Abubakar and Orji Uzor Kalu were hounded by EFCC operatives even when they had obtained court injunctions. Also, many candidates for election into various political posts were unjustly disqualified by election tribunals and INEC based on perceivably cooked up reports sent in by the EFCC. Nonetheless, these charges, in spite of their weight, and if they are true, cannot reasonably compare with the main fight against corruption led by Ribadu. This is meant to say that the EFCC chairman had done more good than harm in the overall fight against graft. If that is so, why should he be crucified for the simple reason that he is not there?

The surprising thing about the whole saga is that Ribadu's victimisers are none other than government officials who should otherwise be using taxpayers' money to protect him. More surprising is that the hounding is being perpetrated by a government whose stock in trade is invoking some nebulous rule of law. Examined carefully, however, it can be surmised that the Yar'Adua Administration is appearing to be predicated on the rule without the law. In recent times it had demonstrated this penchant for lawlessness, thereby constituting a risk to the survival of democracy. Its harassment of the independent media is an example. Another is the current demonization of Ribadu. What it will do next is left to be seen, but it can almost be guaranteed that it would soon kick again.

But is it necessary? It is the idle mind that should ordinarily be the devil's workshop. Aren't there enough problems in the country to occupy the government? Electricity supply has gone from bad to worse. Clean drinking water is a luxury for most communities in the country. The roads are still death-traps. The crime rate is sky-high. Disease and squalor are on the rise, beating all imagination. And corruption, the turf where Ribadu attracted his travail, is still an ugly spectre. In fact, under the same rule of law cover the EFCC has since mellowed down, allowing public officers from local to federal levels to feel freer to steal. Many fraudsters who had fled the country during the Ribadu years are surging back. Is that not enough worry for our leaders to spend sleepless nights over? Should Ribadu be our priority in these sad times? What is Nigeria's benefit in stopping one police officer from graduating from some elite school?

Let's for a moment pause to imagine that Ribadu had purchased all those mansions and duplexes around the world, then what? In such a situation, a government which prides itself on the observance of rule of law would simply gather its facts and sue him. He is not above the law. Even so, he would not be pronounced as guilty outright until the facts have proved it. Failure to do it this way, as has happened, is an indicator of the government's determination to rule the Nigerian way - outside the law. The commando-style. Anyone in this government who believes that this is the best way to go, taking revenge against men like Ribadu, should remember the Chinese saying, "Let him who seeks revenge dig two graves." They should also advise President Yar'Adua to stop mouthing the rule of law mantra. He should stop pretending and act without shame - like his predecessor - within the “rule of (the) low.”

(Published in my column in LEADERSHIP on Thursday, November 27, 2008)

A Zamfara Stalwart’s Tale

The place of mai shayi is a newsroom of some sorts. It’s a place where you get to hear some of the most tantalizing stories in town. Mai shayi, or tea-seller, is found in almost every street corner in the north, the Hausas being arguably some of the leading drinkers of tea on Planet Earth. I have been a connoisseur of commercial tea for ages because of my love for the earth-shaking revelations that usually emanate from tea drinkers.

One thing I learnt from that, however, is never swallow hook, line and sink the news you hear there. Believe everything at your peril. As a journalist, publish it at the risk of your professional demise. Some of the most imaginative and fiction creators do sit there. They will tell you stories of events you’d never heard before. Samplers: exactly what is wrong with President Yar’Adua’s health; how Turai could transform from First Lady to First Citizen; how Aliyu Modibbo Umar was shown the door because of his misunderstanding with Governor Danjuma Goje, rooted in his alleged ambition to replace Goje in 2011, and (don’t laugh!) Barack Chukwuemeka Obama’s Igbo origins.

That notwithstanding, there is something uncanny about the stories you hear at the mai shayi’s: the depth of analysis is uncanny. The arguments are punchy. And sometimes the revelations are rewarding. I have seen that in Gusau, the capital of Zamfara State, recently. The city has countless tea-selling joints. Top on the topics usually discussed at such places is the nature of politics in the state. The city is one of the hotbeds of political activism in this country. You could feel politics pulsing in the town, coursing through the veins of the residents like an angry river, translating into energetic analyses. Like every state, the concern of the people is to have a caring government in place.

Three words stand out during debates on the political future of Zamfara State: MAS Two Times (or MAS Twice as some say). It means that the executive governor of the state, Mahmud Aliyu Shinkafi (MAS), having won election and is spending his first term in office, deserves to rule two times. That is assuming that he has already ruled once.

All over the state, especially in the capital, colourful posters bearing the photographs of His Excellency MAS are pasted on walls, roundabouts, government and private offices, cars, buses, et cetera. The first impression a first-time visitor would have is that the governor is a beloved figure among his people. Indeed, one of his aides told me that the posters are a proof of MAS’s mass appeal. He assured me that nobody was forced to paste the posters on their car bonnets or house walls. It was a spontaneous appreciation for the way Shinkafi has turned around the fortunes of the state, he said.

I am an untiring searcher of beloved leaders, especially in Africa where most leaders are regarded as common thieves and gangsters. I know many states where governors can no longer drive by safely among their people without fear of being attacked, verbally or otherwise. If MAS were such a chummy leader as to have his name painted all over the town, it’s okay by me. But why all the hue and cry? To get an answer, I decided to take some tea at a hut outside Gusau Hotel one morning. As fate would have it, a hot conversation was already underway over the MAS Two Times campaign. Obviously a stranger in town had raised the matter with a political stalwart, a diehard supporter of Governor Shinkafi, arguing that it was too early to start campaigning for second term after only a year in the first term. The stalwart argued that MAS Two Times was the best thing that had happened to the Zamfarawa; in it lay the hope and aspirations of the average Zamfara citizen. The governor of the state has demonstrated his love for the people through hard work and native political calculation. According to him, Shinkafi has sworn to work for the welfare of the people in the first two years of his first term. The governor, he explained, has asked that during this period, political stalwarts who helped him acquire power should exercise patience and not expect to be paid immediately as was the practice before. They should allow him to work. That is why Gusau and the rural areas are wearing a new look as graders have been rolled onto the roads, working as if democratic rule in the state had just begun. He said the political jobbers would be paid after 2009, i.e. in the second half of the governor’s first term. Which means that between 2010 and 2011, the government of Zamfara State would be ‘dashing’ money left, right and centre to political stalwarts as compensation for their role in the 2007 election. Developmental projects nko?

Then what happens in 2011? I wondered out aloud. The stalwart, who exuded an air of confidence, looked at me pityingly, perhaps assessing my ignorance about Zamfara politics. His answer was that if MAS spends two years doling out the gravy, he would be rest assured to win the 2011 polls.

This story is couched in native wisdom, horned in the furnace of grassroots politics only a Zamfara man could explain. It could all be fake, though. But let’s assume that the tale is correct after all, then what? It would mean that the MAS Two Times campaign is an ingenious plan in the battle of Zamfara three years from now.

In seeking to know a deeper background to the tale, I discovered from chats with some other political jobbers that the MAS Two Times campaign was sponsored by Shinkafi. It originated from the disagreement between him and Alhaji (now Senator) Ahmed Sani Yerima, who ruled the state for four years from 1999. The former’s attempt to grip the camel’s reins in the state’s politics while the latter sits in the saddle created the revolt at Government House now unfolding as MAS Two Times. The campaign aims at showing Yerima that he cannot continue to rule forever. He has had his chance; therefore, he should allow his successor to enjoy his turn. Shinkafi should have his way, really, as long as that would not lead to violence. Yerima should face his job in the Senate while offering an elderly advice to his political ‘son’. Trying to rule in the Senate and in Gusau is like trying to eat his cake and have it.

This was published in my column in LEADERSHIP

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Hira da ni a VOA

A ziyarar da na kawo Amurka, an tattauna da ni a Sashen Hausa na VOA kan yadda tabarbarewar arzikin duniya ya shafi Afrika. A nan, ni ne tare da Malam Umar Sa'id Tudun Wada mu ke hirar a Washington, DC.

My VOA Interview

During my stay in Wasghington, DC, I was interviewed two days ago by Voice of Amrica's Howard Lesser for "Daybreak in Africa" programme. The interview was posted on the VOA's web site at

It goes as follows:

Crisis Underscores Potential World Lending Institution Role as Africa's Safety Guarantor

By Howard Lesser
Washington, DC
13 October 2008

Nigerian Journalist Ibrahim Sheme - Download (MP3)
Nigerian Journalist Ibrahim Sheme - Listen (MP3)
Nigerian Journalist Ibrahim Sheme - Download (Real)
Nigerian Journalist Ibrahim Sheme - Listen (Real)

The heads of the World Bank and IMF have reassured finance officials from developing countries that they would not let the spiraling global financial crisis curtail efforts to foster economic gains for the world's most needy peoples. Addressing a Sunday Washington news conference after a meeting of the two institutions' Development Committee, World Bank head Robert Zoellick said that recently won pledges of aid for desperately needy populations would not be laid aside due to the sudden tightening of credit or a sustained global slowdown.

Zoellick's IMF counterpart, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, pointed out that crisis-plagued impoverished countries, through no fault of their own, were in danger of being penalized doubly by the crisis as they find it harder to get foreign funding, while their exports lose value as highly strapped world demand for their goods continues to plummet due to the global decline.

In light of the international uncertainty, how are African nations facing prospects of diminishing returns on foreign pledges of aid to reverse rising food and fuel costs and fulfill wide-ranging commitments reached at Gleneagles, Scotland three years ago to lift developing economies? Ibrahim Sheme is editor of the daily paper Leadership, published in Nigeria's capital, Abuja. In Washington to cover this month's preliminary and official World Bank and IMF meetings of top financial leaders, he says that African finance experts here take the institutional heads at their word and look optimistically toward continued progress, despite diminished expectations from the crisis.

"From the discussions that have taken place so far, there are clear indications that the World Bank and the IMF are not going to abandon poor nations. Already, there is a $1.2 billion facility which the Bank is putting together in order to assist developing countries as far as this economic problem is concerned," he said.

This year's annual October IMF-World Bank meeting in the US capital has been overshadowed by last Friday's G7 ministerial summit in Washington, which was attended by US President George W. Bush and by a major summit of European leaders on Sunday in Paris. Both meetings vowed to spend hundreds of billions of dollars to shore up their faltering banks and financial systems.

The 185-member IMF and the World Bank have been tasked with putting their stamp of approval on the country group and regional initiatives, while continuing to advocate the safety net to rescue impoverished countries threatened by rising food costs and escalating energy prices. Journalist Sheme says that despite their awareness that tumbling stock values, limited credit, and curtailed investment are likely to impair the recovery efforts of developing countries, African ministers at the Washington meeting remain optimistic that moves toward revitalization of their ailing economies will continue to have an impact.

"Even though the facilities may not be adequate, they will still continue to trickle in. So that's why I pointed out that African countries need to network among themselves. They must look inward and find ways to help themselves. They cannot afford to depend solely on donor nations," he said.

In addition, the Nigerian journalist says that Africa's more prosperous nations, like his own oil-producing giant, and mineral-rich, resource-endowed countries like South Africa and Ghana, have an additional obligation to extend their own foreign assistance across borders to less fortunate African neighbors. This, he says, is a matter of self interest, as well as an acceptance of regional responsibility.

"Major African countries like Nigeria and South Africa have the responsibility of looking at the problems of weaker countries in their respective regions, so that the problems will not spill into their own countries. They will not abandon countries like Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia and the rest. I think they need to wake up to their responsibilities," he said.

Ibrahim Sheme says he has no reason to doubt the commitment of the World Bank and IMF to stand behind the mounting needs of the world's poorest countries. But he says the near future's prospects for a shattering of confidence in financial institutions leaves little doubt that "the facilities that are being proposed may not be adequate to care for our people in Africa."




We are happy to announce the shortlist of the 2nd edition (2008) of ANA ABUJA/ ENGINEER MOHAMMED BASHIR KARAYE PRIZE IN HAUSA LITERATURE. The shortlists are as follows in alphabetical orders (of the authors’ first names).

1. Aliya Z. Mainasara (for HALIN RAYUWA)
2. Abdurrashid Sani Isa Nigeria (Comrade) (for KOWA YA BI)
3. Dala’illu Bobboji (for BAKIN ABI MAGANA)
4. Ibrahim Birniwa (for GARIN MU DA NISA)
5. Muhammad Lawal Barista (for BAKIN KISHI)
6. Nazir Adam (for MURMUSHIN ALKAWALI)

A total of 15 (fifteen) entries were received for this year’s competition. We note that entries have improved despite the short notice that the maiden edition (2008) will, like the maiden edition, centre only on prose writing in Hausa Language as against prose, poetry and drama in alternative order.

The entries is indeed very encouraging as it points to the wider acceptance ob both the Prize itself and the confidence in the final judgment of the literary judges, Mallam Kabir Dan Asabe of the FCT College of Education, Zuba, Abuja and Alhaji Ibrahim Dachia, General Manager, Yobe State Television, Damaturu, Yobe State.

It could be recalled that a year ago, the Secretary of the Federal Judicial service Commission, Abuja, Hajiya Bilkisu Abdulmalik Bashir, instituted what has now come to be known as The Karaye Prize (short for Engineer Mohammed Bashir Karaye Prize in Hausa Literature) in memory and in honour of her late husband, the late Engineer Mohammed Bashir Karaye of blessed memory, with the aim of encouraging creative writing in indigenous language. You may recall that winners were rewarded at a colorful ceremony at Abuja in October, 2007.

The Winner of this edition will take home the sum of N150, 000.00 (One Hundred and fifty thousand naira) while the first and second runners ups will collect the sum of N100, 000.00 (one hundred thousand naira) and N50, 000.00 (fifty thousand naira) respectively.

All arrangements for the award ceremony have been concluded by the Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA) Abuja Branch in collaboration with the Engineer Mohammed Bashir Karaye Foundation, promoters of the Karaye Prize.

The date for the Award ceremony is Thursday, 23rd October, 2008. The venue is Shehu Musa Yar’ardua Centre, Abuja and the kick off time is 3:30pm.

The Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA) on behalf of all its members hereby uses this medium to extend our heartfelt gratitude to the widow of the late Engineer Mohammed Bashir Karaye for this great boost to Nigerian literature. We also call on Federal and State governments and all Nigerians of goodwill to give literature and writers moral and financial support for National integration and development.

Thank you and God bless.

Patrick Tagbo Oguejiofor
Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA), Abuja Branch

Dan Arewa A Washington

A ranar Laraba da ta wuce Allah ya kawo ni kasar Amurka a karo na farko. Na je wurare da dama (irin su White House da VOA), kuma na hadu da mutane daban-daban, musamman 'yan Nijeriya da ke Sashen Hausa na Muryar Amurka. Na hadu da su Malam Oumaten Attah da abokin sa Mal. Adamu Muhammad, wadanda 'yan Nijar ne. Ina jin ba zan iya ba da dukkan labarin balaguro na din ba sai na zauna na natsu, musamman bayan na koma Nijeriya.

Abin da kawai zan fada shi ne: mun zo taron shekara shkara na Bankin Duniya da IMF ne a birnin Washington, DC.

Zan tsakuro abubuwan da zan iya tsakurowa don sakawa a wannan taskar tawa har zuwa lokacin da Allah zai nufe ni da yin cikakken bayani.

Ga hoto na nan a gaban fadar Shugaban Kasar Amurka, wato White House, wadda na ziyarta shekaranjiya.

Sunday, 5 October 2008



Tare da sallama. Ga wata gajeriyar sanarwa kan bikin gasar rubutun Hausa don tunawa da marigayi Injiniya Bashir Karaye, kashi na biyu.

Za a yi bikin fidda gwani na gasar ta bana a ranar 22 ga wannan watan na Oktoba, 2008a birnin tarayya, Abuja.

Majiya ta shaida mani cewa kwanan nan za a bayyana sunayen zakaru uku da su ka kai matakin karshe a gasar inda daga cikin su za a fidda gwani na gwanaye da bi masa/mata da kuma na uku.

Idan kun tuna, a bara, gogan naku ne ya zo na daya da littafin sa mai suna "'Yartsana," yayin da Balaraba Ramat Yakubu ta zo ta biyu, sannan Maje El-Hajeej Hotoro ya zo na uku.

Majiyar ta kara shaida mani cewa Dakta Ibrahim Malumfashi na Jami'ar Usmanu Danfodio shi ne Alkalin Alkalan gasar ta bana, wadda ita ma littattafan hikaya ne su ka shiga.

Idan ba a mance ba, maidakin marigayi Injiniya Karaye, wato Mrs Bilkisu A. Bashir, ita ce ta dauki nauyin gudanar da gasar.

Duk littafin da ya zo na daya za a ba shi N150,000; na biyu kuma N100,000, sannan na uku N50,000.

To, Allah Ya ba mai rabo sa'a.

To, kaka tsara kaka!! In ta bi ta daga-daga, na kurya ka sha kashi! Allah Ya nuna mana ranar, amin.

Thursday, 11 September 2008


Fitaccen jarumin finafinan Hausa, wato Ali Nuhu, ya fito da sabon gidan yana nasa na kan sa. Jiya ya aiko mani da rariyar, kamar haka:

yanar ya na ba da bayani kan daya daga cikin 'yan fim din Hausa da su ka fi sauran yin fice: tarihin sa, rawar da ya taka a fagen fim, jerin wasu finafinan sa, lambobin girma da ya samu sakamakon yin zarra da ya yi a finafinai, da kuma hotunan sa da na iyalin sa.

Sai dai kuma har yanzu ana cikin gina gidan ne, ba a kammala ba, domin wasu shafukan ba su dauke da bayanai. Haka kuma na lura akwai matsalolin haruffa (proofreading) a wau shafukan.

Jarumai a fagagen adabi daban-daban kan mallaki gidan yana domin masu kaunar su su shiga su gani. Sau da yawa ma, ba su jaruman ba ne ke kirkirar gidan yanar, a'a masoyan su ne. Idan su da kan su ne su ka kirkiri gidan yanar, ko su ke ba da umarnin abin da za a saka a ciki, to ya zama "official website" kenan - kamar dai irin na Ali Nuhu.

Mallakar gidan yana ya na daga cikin ci-gaban da harkar fim din Hausa ta samu duk da yake an samu koma-baya wajen shirya finafinai. Ali Nuhu shi ne dan wasa na farko da ya fito da gidan yana kacokam don tallata kan sa a dandalin duniya na intanet. Na tuna, kamar shekaru hudu da su ka gabata, na taba ba shi shawarar ya mallaki gidan yana, amma bai kula da shawarar ba, sai yanzu.

Zai kyautu sauran fitattun jarumai a fagagen adabi na Hausa (wato fim, rubutun littafi, wakoki, ds) su yi kokarin mallakar gidan yana. Sai dai, akasin na Ali, ya kamata su mallaki gidan yanar da harshen Hausa domin hakan zai kara tallata harshen Hausa a duniya.

Thursday, 4 September 2008

2008 Nigeria Prize for Literature

Jude Dibia and Kaine Agary, authors of the novels 'Unbridled' and 'Yellow-Yellow' respectively, have emerged on the shortlist of the 2008 Nigeria Prize for Literature. The contest is organised by the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas Limited (NLNG).

The announcement was made this Thursday at a "world" press conference in Lagos.

Chairman of the Literature Committee, Professor Theo Vincent, said the two writers emerged after a rigorous and meticulous scrutiny by the panel of judges.

149 books vied for the prize, out of which 30 were disqualified and finally 11 were shortlisted, said Prof. Vincent. Dibia and Agary shot out of the 11.

The grand finale will take place on October 11, 2008 when the overall winner will be announced.

The 11 runners-up were:

* 'Dream Deferred' by Ozioma Izuora
* 'Forever Chimes' by Mark Nwagwu
* 'Outrage' by Promise Ogochukwu
* 'The Conquest' by Chinedu Eze
* 'Treasure in the Wind' by Odili Ujubuonu
* 'Unbridled' by Jude Dibia
* 'Under the Brown Rusted Roofs' by Abimbola Aunni Adelakun
* 'Waiting for Maria' by Ifeoma Chinwuba
* 'When the Wind Blows' by Camilus Chima Ukah
* 'Wuraola Forever' by Femi Osofisan as Okinba Launko
* 'Yellow-Yellow' by Kaine Agary.

Here's doffing my hat to Dibia and Agary. We go wash-am with one of them next month!

The photo above, taken by LEADERSHIP's Benedict Uwalaka during the press conference, shows (from left) the Dean of Faculty of Social Science and Management, Bowen University, Iwo, Osun State, Prof Dan Izevbaye, cracking a joke with Prof. Charles Nnolim of the Faculty of English Studies, University of Port Harcourt, and Prof. Tanimu Abubakar of Department of English, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, during the press conference to announce the finalists for the 2008 Nigeria Prize for Literature, in Lagos.

Monday, 25 August 2008

Kano Censorship - ANA National wades in

Here's a piece of curious news out of Kano. This Monday, August 25, the President of Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA), Dr Wale Okediran, and National Publicity Secretary (South), Mr Hycinth Obunseh, were in Kano in order to dialogue with the Kano State Censorship Board on its plans to censor literary works in the state. The matter had caused quite a stir in the last few weeks.

I had spoken with Dr Okediran in the morning while he was already on the road to Kano (he had texted me when I was asleep, asking me to call). He wanted to know my views about the dialogue he was going to attend in Kano. And I told him.

The meeting was attended by the Kano censors and ANA members from Katsina, Zamfara, Sokoto and, of course, Kano. (They're all in the photograph above). The director-general of the censors board, Malam Abubakar Rabo Abdulkarim, headed his board's team. A few speeches were made, with speakers agreeing that there had been a misunderstanding or a break in communcation. At the end, a truce was arrived at, which appeared to have been deliberately designed to read like a no-winner-no-vanquished artwork. All to no avail, for you could easily sift out the winner and the vanquished from the proceedings. The whole thing was captured in a communique. Below is the text of the communique:

An interactive meeting between Kano State Censorship Board and Association of Nigerian Authors (National, Kano, Katsina, Sokoto and Zamfara branches) was held on 25th August 2008 at the Board and resolved as follows:

1. List of membership as well as books already in circulation should be forwarded to the Board through the literary associations (Authors, publishers, marketers) within 60 days from today 25/08/2008.

2. Subsequently, ANA and KSCB have agreed to look into other grey areas of the (KSCB) Law.

3. Kano State Censorship Board and Association of Nigerian Authors will henceforth collaborate on relevant workshop/symposia in the area of censorship.

4. The dialogue agrees that Publishers, Marketers and other Distributors of literary works should register their businesses with Kano State Censorship Board.


Abubakar Rabo Abdulkarim
Kano State Censorship Board

Dr Wale Okediran

Thursday, 14 August 2008


Religion aside, We respect ur person. We see u as patriotic Nigerian who also has d intrst of d North in his heart, hence ds call to put a stop to d activities of ur editor Sheme. His personal attack d censorship board in Kano is attack on Islamic moral values which d Board is protecting and it is doing a good job of it. We don't want to believe u hv a hand in ds, hence ds call to put a stop to it. We don't know what will happen if u do not, but we do know tht d u're putting d Leadership nwsppr on line as well as ur othr invstmnts. We don't know wht indvdl members of d Coalition will do, but I do know tht we've been restraining thm with effort. And these youth are very restive. A stitch in time...


MY COMMENT: My boss, Mr Sam Nda-Isaiah, the Chairman/Editor-in-Chief of Leadership newspaper, Abuja, which I edit, received this threat today. Later, I got a similar threat. Such threats were received by me since last Friday. One was also sent to Mr Nda-Isaiah before his present trip abroad. Apparently, someone is not happy with the paper's coverage of the activities of the Kano State Censorship Board, headed by Malam Abubakar Rabo Abdulkarim. Whoever it is thinks that the best way to stop or influence the coverage is to issue an anonymous death threat, waving the religion card. Honestly, I never realised that the coverage was having such a big impact on some fellow(s) as to attract such a commentary. I also do not believe that apart from keeping the issues of censorship in the news the coverage was unfair. For example, we always made efforts to get the two sides of the story at any time. Mal Rabo was interviewed, at my behest, by all the media in which I have interest. His actions and utterences were always reported very well. We may have disagreed with some aspects of his methods, but not the idea of sanitising society. So why all the fuss? A friend has asked me the question today: "Don't you think Rabo was the one behind the text message?" I do not know how to answer the question very well except to say: But who gives life? Allah. Who takes it? Allah.

Wednesday, 13 August 2008



Idan kun tuna, a ranar Litinin da ta wuce kotu ta sa aka kama furodusan nan Hamisu Iyan-Tama, a kan lafin wai ya k'i zuwa kotu a kan shari'ar da su ke tafkawa da Hukumar Tace Finafinai da Dab'i ta Jihar Kano. An sako shi a yau Laraba bayan lauyan sa ya rubuta takardar neman a ba da beli a karo na biyu. Wasu kuma sun ce manya ne su ka sa baki!

Shi dai Iyan-Tama, abin da mu ka ji na kusa da shi na fad'a shi ne, ko kadan bai k'i zuwa kotu ba. Hasali ma dai ya je kotun da ke Railway har karfe 12 ba su ga alkali ko lauyan gwamnati ba; sai ya wuce kotun Normansland, a can ne ya samu labarin cewa alkalin ya na kotun hanyar Airport. Sai ya tafi can. To amma kafin ya je, ashe har an kira k'arar sa, ba ya nan, sai kawai aka ba da odar a kamo shi a kan laifin wai ya karya belin da aka ba shi tun da farko.

Yanzu dai ya na nan a gidan sa. Za a koma shari'ar a ranar 20 ga Agusta.

Allah Ya kai mu, amin.

Monday, 11 August 2008


A yau ne kotun majistare da ke hanyar zuwa filin jirgin sama na Malam Aminu Kano, karkashin mai shari'a Muktari Ahmed, ta bayar da dokar a kama shahararren mai kamfanin shirya finafinai, wato Alhaji Hamisu Lamido Iyan-Tama, bisa laifin rashin zuwa kotu a yau, laifin da kotun ta kira tsallake beli.

Alkalin ya ba da oda an kamo Iyan-Tama, aka mayar da shi gidan kaso, har zuwa ranar da kotun za ta kara sauraron karar, wato ran 20 ga Agusta, 2008, kamar yadda lauya mai gabatar da kara, Barista Sanusi Ma'aji, ya bukata a gaban kotun.

Har ila yau, kotun ta ba da dokar cewa a rubuta wa mutanen da su ka sa hannu wajen belin Iyan-Tama a karon farko, takardar sammaci, domin su zo kotun su bayyana dalilin day a hana shi zuwa kotu, kuma ba tare da wani bayani ba. Wadannan mutane su ne Auwalu Yusuf na unguwar Gadanga da kuma Muhammed da ke zaune a unguwar Sarari a birnin Kano.

An gurfanar da Iyan-Tama a gaban kotun ne cikin Mayu bisa tuhumar da Hukumar Tace Finafinai ta ke yi masa na sakin wani fim mai suna 'Tsintsiya' wanda kamfanin sa na Iyan-Tama Multimedia ya shirya, wanda kuma ake tuhumar cewa ya sake shi ne ba tare da hukumar ta tace shi ba.

Haka kuma kotun ta tuhumi Iyan-Tama da laifin mallaka tare da tafiyar da kamfanin shirya finafinai wanda ba shi da rajista da hukumar.

A halin yanzu, Alhaji Hamisu Lamido Iyan-Tama na tsare a gidan kaso har zuwa lokacin da kotun za ta kara zama a ranar 20 ga Agusta 2008.

Sunday, 10 August 2008

Hiyana: An Yi Suna, An Samu 'Daddy'!

A yau Lahadi aka yi sunan d'an da Maryam Hiyana ta haifa. Majiya mai tushe ta sanar da ni cewa Usman aka rad'a wa yaron, wato sunan mahaifin maijegon. Kun ga kenan labarin da na bayar a makon jiya (cewa an ce Usman za a rad'a masa) ya zama gaskiya.

To, Allah Ya raya, Ya kuma ba uwa lafiyar mama. Shi kuma angon k'arni, Ado Ahmad D'angulla, Allah Ya ba shi ikon rike iyalin sa a mutunce, amin.

Monday, 4 August 2008

Hausa Actress, Maryam Hiyana, Puts To Bed

Maryam Usman (Hiyana), the Hausa actress at the centre of the controversy that engulfed the Hausa movie industry last year, has given birth to a baby boy on Sunday, a source told LEADERSHIP last night.

The delivery was said to have taken place in a private hospital in Kano, home of the popular Hausa movie industry.

Maryam, the star of the movie 'Hiyana,' after which she was nicknamed, was engulfed in controversy in early August 2007 after she and her boyfriend had appeared in a sex clip recorded with a cellphone.

Hiyana went into hiding as a result of the indecent exposure. She eventually got married to her heart-throb, Alhaji Ado Ahmed Dangulla, a Kano-based businessman, as his second wife last November.

But the controversy led to drastic measures taken by the Kano State government in order to "sanitise" the movie industry. These included a six-month ban on all movie activities and subsequent jailing of actors, producers and distributors.

Ado and Hiyana's marriage life has been quiet and, some say, full of love.

According to our source, both Hiyana and her baby are in good condition, adding that the naming ceremony will be performed on Sunday.


Story in LEADERSHIP of Tuesday, Aug. 5

Maryam Usman Hiyana ta haihu

Mata ku zo ku yi gud'a: "Ayyiririii!!"

Shahararriyar jarumar nan ta finafinan Hausa, Maryam Usman (Hiyana), ta haihu. Wata majiya ta sanar da ni cewa a ranar Lahadi da ta wuce ne Maryam din ta haihu. An samu d'a namiji.

A cewar majiyar, Maryam ta haihu ne a birnin Kano, a wani asibiti mai zaman kan sa.

Idan kun tuna, Maryam ta shiga tsaka-mai-wuya sakamakon bullar majigin batsa da su ka dauka ita da wani saurayin ta mai suna Bobo. Majigin, wanda aka dauka da wayar hannu, ya bulla ne a farkon watan Agusta 2007. Nan da nan ya fantsama a cikin al'umma kamar wutar bazara.

Bullar majigin ya sa jarumar ta shiga buya, ta bar industiri ana ta cece-ku-ce; kai, ba ma industiri ba, har da dukkan kasar Hausa da sauran sassa na duniya.

Bayan watanni uku ana cacar baki, a cikin Nuwamba 2007 sai wani namijin duniya, wanda ya dade ya na soyayya da Maryam, ya aure ta. Wannan ba wani ba ne illa Alhaji Ado Ahmed Dangulla, wani dan kasuwa a Kano. Auren da su ka yi ya burge mutane da dama, musamman masoyan Hiyana. An yi masu fatan alheri.

To amma hayaniyar Hiyana-Bobo din nan ta yi wa sana'ar fim babbar illa. Gwamnatin Jihar Kano ta jefo da wani mutum mai suna Malam Rabo cikin lamarin, a matsayin shugaban Hukumar Tace Finafinai ta Jihar Kano. Ba tare da bata lokaci ba, malamin ya k'ara ingiza harkar fim cikin mawuyacin hali: ya dakatar da sana'ar fim har wata shida, daga bisani kuma ya kulle manyan 'yan wasa, da furodusoshi da 'yan kasuwar finafinai, ban da kamfen din batanci kan 'yan fim da ya shiga yi a kafafen watsa labarai. A yanzu haka akwai shari'u da ake tafkawa da shi a kotu.

Ko ma dai yaya ta je ta dawo, ita Hiyana ta yi zaman ta lafiya lau da mijin ta. Na ji an ce rayuwar auren su abar burgewa ce. To amma tuni ta yi bankwana da shirin fim. Hasali ma dai, ba ta yarda ta yi mu'amala da 'yan fim, sai 'yan kalilan (irin su Maryam Oloni).

A cewar majiya ta, Hiyana da d'an da ta haifa su na nan cikin k'oshin lafiya. Ranar Lahadi za a yi suna. (Wasu sun ce sunan mahaifin ta, wato Usman, za a rad'a wa yaron).

To ko ma dai me aka rada masa, mu tamu ita ce addu'ar Alah Ya raya shi cikin k'oshin lafiya. Kuma Allah Ya ba uwa lafiyar mama, amin.

Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Wrong Censorship

Editorial on p.1 of the Wednesday, July 30 issue of LEADERSHIP newspaper, Abuja

Wrong Censorship

After bullying the flourishing Hausa movie industry into near-extinction, jailing actors, producers and marketers, the Kano State Censorship Board has announced a plan to punish authors that refuse to register with it, beginning from August 1. The move, under the state government's controversial morality programme, is full of contradictions. It is clearly aimed at emasculating creativity and freedom of expression.

The battle against moviemaking has created massive unemployment in a state that has since lost its lead in local industry, and the new theatre of war opened against writers would create more joblessness, discontent and cripple scholarship, all of which are dangerous to public peace. This is a painful irony for a government full of authors and scholars.

Governor Ibrahim Shekarau should stop the slide towards madness. His minders such as those censors would achieve nothing but further odium at a time other societies are keen to honour their home-grown thinkers.

Monday, 28 July 2008

Censorship in Kano

Some Preliminary Thoughts

I have restrained myself from commenting on the new regime of censorship in Kano (the latest I mean, which affects writers) because I had wanted to study the trend of opinion among the writers themselves. Being an author, my first reaction was one of anger, anger against those that work to emasculate intellectualism in Hausa land.

Kano is too important to ignore when it comes to intellectualism and creativity. It is the hub of intellectualism in Hausa land - an enviable position it seized from my native Katsina State. It is as the saying goes - when Kano sneezes, other Hausa cities catch cold immediately. Little surprise, then, that when movie making was banned for six months last year, the ripples were felt all over Northern Nigeria.

I have found myself caught between the extremes of the two stages of censorship unfurled by the Kano State Censorship Board. As a filmmaker myself, and publisher of the leading Hausa movie magazine, I was directly affected by the ban on moviemaking and the subsequent measures that were announced with the clear (though hidden) motive of emasculating the young, albeit vibrant film industry. Many of my close friends were affected; they were thrown out of work. I knew that most of them depended on the movie market to fend for themselves and even feed their kith and kin. They thus added to the army of the unemployed in Kano State. The government of Governor Ibrahim Shekarau (pictured above) has done little to reduce poverty through job-creation for the youths. I was told it employed many driving the A Daidaita Sahu motor-scooters and others in serving the quasi-police agency Hisba. But by banning filmmaking, it created a big market of unemployed youths, this time with young girls as half of the number of victims.

The level of discontent among the populace is unquantifiable.

Now that the censors are preparing to punish unregistered authors, I am caught in the centre again. Being a Hausa author myself (NB: I won the biggest Hausa writers' award with my novel "'Yartsana'), I felt doubly certain that part of the new legislation was directed at me! Of course, I am not the sole target. Everyone else is a target. In fact, I could even be considered a distant target, having not depend on book writing for a living. But the truth is that any writer worth his salt on the globe is a victim of the attack on creativity by a regime anywhere on earth.

The censors have no moral standing to prescribe a moral yardstick for authors because if they were to be judged using the same yardstick, many of them would be sent to jail first. The kind of stories one gets to hear about government officials in Kano, many of them verifiable, you would be at your wit's end trying to decipher the purpose of the current onslaught. Here are people who have failed to provide basic amenities for the common people, but they are using religion to attack others.

Can't those victimised use religion to fight back? This question is important in settling scores in the matter. No government official should consider himself holier than the next person just because he has money to employ hungry malams as radio propagandists. For, religious sentiments were used copiously to overcome filmmakers. The same sentiments have begun to be used by Malam Abubakar Rabo, the Director-General of the Censorship Board, against the authors. In the coming weeks and months, be sure to hear him on radio and TV using moral dogma to belittle and tar the authors.

The Hausa writers should not fear to fight this war. They should assemble their own Qur'anic surahs and the Prophetic hadiths against the unjust rulers and pretenders in order to defend themselves. They should visit radio and TV stations to speak out. They may be gagged there because government happens to be the biggest advertiser, but then they should use the independent media all over the world to expose the hypocrisy embedded in the ongoing war against intellectualism. Their war should be waged against the avalanche of intolerance and insensitivity which seems to be increasingly cultivated by some minority elements within the Kano State government.

They may not be rich enough in material resources to fight, but their ideas and their tenacity of purpose will be of great benefit to them. They are going to be supported by all persons of conscience. They should watch out against fifth columnists among themselves who shall be easily bought with cheap porridge by the censors.

Above all, they should be consoled by the knowledge that power is transient. Shekarau and all those book burners will not be in power forever. By 2011 there shall be a general election and Shekarau will not only go away but also fade away like an old tale. Even if he manages to plant a lackey/stooge as the next state governor, he would not have the guarantee that his interests would be safeguarded perpetually. It happened in Zamfara and many other states of the federation. And even if his stooge remains loyal to him, that stooge would one day leave. Remember that Dr Rabi'u Musa Kwankwaso, whom he defeated in 2003, was the most powerful governor Kano ever had, but where is he now? Is he not in the Siberia of political power even though he had been rewarded with a ministerial post by Obasanjo?

How I wish I could join this war. But I will not. I have only expressed my mind - for the records. My weapons shall remain in their armoury because I have friends in the Kano government. My heart will, however, remain with my friends the authors and the filmmakers. If the war degenerates, I shall fight. But on a different pitch from where both the dog the monkey shall be bloodied.

I have spoken. Ma'assalam.

Sunday, 27 July 2008

Kano Writers Vow To Fight Censorship

* Begin a 3-week ‘warning strike’

From Mansur Sani Malam, Kano

Due to apprehension about the intentions of the Kano State Censorship Board in its decision to censor individual authors and literary works, creative writers in the state have embarked on a three-week warning strike with effect from yesterday, in which they have suspended all production of literary works and decided to use their pens to protect their liberty and freedom of expression.

This was disclosed in a communique signed by the leaders of the Coalition of Authors' Associations in the state shortly after an emergency meeting held yesterday in Kano.

This followed an extensive discussion and review of the state of arts and literature in Kano in the context of the crisis between the authors and the censorship board.

The board recently unveiled plans to begin the registration of all authors and the vetting of literary works.

Those who signed the statement yesterday were the chairman of Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA), Kano chapter, Malam Ado Ahmad Gidan Dabino; chairman of Hausa Authors Forum (HAF), Malam Aminuddeen Ladan Abubakar (a.k.a. Ala), and chairman of Brigade Authors Forum (BAF), Malam Abdullahi Muktar Yaron Malam.

Others are chairperson of the main women writers' group, Kallabi Writers Association, Hajiya Balaraba Ramat Yakubu, and chairman of Hausa Writers Association of Nigeria (HAWAN), Malam Ibrahim Ahmed Daurawa.

As a way of confronting the challenges that seem to lie ahead of them, the various writers groups have also resolved to work under the umbrella of the state chapter of ANA. All engagements, commitments and correspondence of the associations, which had hitherto promoted divergent views, are now to be handled by ANA, said the communique.

This was done apparently because ANA has a national spread and an international network.

A source within ANA Kano told LEADRSHIP yesterday that the authors are considering legal action against the censorship board.

The writers enjoined the Kano State Government to call the Director-General of the censorship board to order, saying his actions would have damaging consequences on the good image of the state and its leadership, as well as undermine the literary prowess enjoyed by the state.

The censorship board had early this month ordered the authors to register with it from August 1 or expect sanctions.

The warning was issued to the writers by the Director-General of the board, Malam Abubakar Rabo Abdulkarim, during and after a meeting he had with the writers at his office.

At the time, he explained that his board could have begun the registration exercise immediately, but relented by giving a month's deadline.

"We see it as very merciful, we see it very lenient of us to at least relent any enforcement effort until the next one month given to them, in addition to the first six months that have already lapsed that they did not formalize, which now we are expecting them to do so in the next one month", he had declared.

The director-general also revealed that the essence of the registration was to check the influx of obscene materials into the state.

"We have designed this in near future and we see it very viable. We see it very good of us if we establish what we call pro-activeness, so that the stakeholders in the literary works can be enlightened and be guided in order for them to be perfect and to make necessary corrections in form of preventive measures," he added.

Rabo revealed that the board had received complaints from the general public, and that some people were using the mass media against some aspects of the creative works, especially the Hausa romance books or novellas in circulation, adding the board intends to help guide the authors through their potentialities of using their creativity for the benefit of society.

Contrary to what he told the authors at the stakeholders' meeting, he explained that the registration exercise would not be on an individual basis, but through writers' associations, emphasising that there is no any process of registration that can be undertaken individually unless if an individual author is operating outside any professional association.

He requested the respective associations to forward members of their associations for the board's processing and registration.

He pointed out that the registration processes would be carried out because the law mandated the board to do so, adding that registration of authors is normal everywhere in the world.

"The National Film and Video Censors does register its stakeholders, so also guilds," he said.

Malam Rabo said whoever does not accept what the board is doing should challenge it in court.

He said: "We are determined to enforce the law because we are law agents. We are established by the law and we must abide by the law because it is the primary yardstick, the primary tool binding the board and the stakeholders together. Anything contrary to the law is not condonable and it is very unbecoming of a law or agency like us to outrage or to operate or to breach the law."

The censors board had waged a long-drawn battle against filmmakers in the state after the sudden appearance of the Hiyana sex clip last year, banning the movie industry for six months and sending leading artistes and producers to jail.

Its current decision to register authors has opened a new theatre of war against the creative arts in the state, a decision the authors seem to be committed to fight in any way they can.


Published in LEADERSHIP on Monday, July 28, 2008

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Saadou “Bori” Abdullahi – Pioneering Innovator of Hausa Disco Music

By Prof. Abdalla Uba Adamu
Chairman, Center for Hausa Cultural Studies,
Kano, Nigeria

It was with absolute shock and sadness that I learnt of the death of Saadou, the Nigeriene modern Hausa musician along Maiduguri road on Thursday 26th June 2008. He was returning from a concert which he gave in Maiduguri.

Saadou, born in 1966 in Niger Republic was best known as Saadou Bori, after his best selling solo album, Bori, released on tape in Nigeria in 1990. I learnt of the tape, and subsequently the musician, after I returned from US where I rediscovered African music. On returning to Kano, I made a direct beeline for the Bata roundabout where a series of Nigerienes keep shops selling music and video items from Francophone Africa. Amidst the tapes of Ami Koita, Nodibo Kone, Zoni Diabate, Salif Keita, Ali Farka Toure, Oumou Sangare, Djenba Seck, Kandia Kouyate, and Inna Baba Coulibaly, there sits Saadou’s Bori – standing as the one out of the mélange of Malian wassolou singers and African blues guitarists.

Bori turned out to be the biggest selling tape-album of 1990 in Kano and other parts of Hausa northern Nigeria. It came at a time when there was simply no Hausa modern music. And the traditional music was relegated to the background of aristocratic palaces and the elegant edifices of the fabulously wealthy merchant class.

Modern music in northern Nigeria was introduced by non-Hausa artistes such as I.K. Dairo and His Blue Spots (Tuwo Da Miya, Mu Tafi Damaturu) in the 1960s. In The Sudan, the Hausa diva, Aisha Fallatiya, demonstrated the power of women in modern Hausa music with Muna Maraba da Sardauna Sakkwato, a welcome song composed for the then Premier of Northern Nigeria, Alhaji (Sir) Ahmadu Bello, the Sardauna of Sokoto on a State Visit to the country. Backed by the “sound of Sudan”—predominantly string quartet of sorts with an accordion, and as popularized by Sudanese male singers such as Hamza Kalas—Fallatiya’s lyrics—sung in Hausa, found a ready niche in the radio plays and urban clubs of northern Nigeria. Some musicians merely use Islamic iconography to appeal to Muslim Hausa club punters. For instance, Ofo & The Black Company’s Allah Wakbarr (sic) as well as I.K. Dairo’s Hungry for Love endeared themselves to Hausa Muslim listeners due to their use of religious expressions. Ofo’s composition consists of repeated chanting of “Allah Akbar” accompanied by a scintillating funk guitar rhythm, while Dairo’s more sober high-life approach was captured in the initial start of Hungry for Love with the lyrics, “Wayyo Allah (Hau. Oh my God), I feel hungry, not for food, but for love” repeated over and over.

The 1970s brought more Hausa modern music principally from Ghana and Niger Republic. In Ghana Sidiku Buari—trained as a professional musician in the U.S.—pioneered the Hausa disco sound as in his debut album Buari—a composition straight out of Kool and the Gang, Ohio Players, The Fatback Band, Earth Wind and Fire, Chic and Brass Construction disco sound of the 1970s. This was sustained much later by Maurice Maiga with Kudan Gida (Hau. housefly) employing disco and highlife sound of Ghana and Togo.

In northern Nigeria modern Hausa music was pioneered by Hausa Christian entertainers such as Bala Miller & The Great Pirameeds of Africa and Sony Lionheart – both from Zaria. With extensive Church training in the use of guitars and the organ, their preferred musical language was Hausa, if only to indicate that not all Hausa are Muslim and not all Hausa musical entertainment is based on Hausa indigenous instruments. Bala Miller’s compositions such as Sardauna Macecinmu (Sardauna our Savior), Karya Ba ta Ta Shi (The lie does not last), Ikon Allah (The will of God) and Sony Lionheart’s Zaman Duniya (This life) became club anthems particularly in Kano, Kaduna and Jos. These modern Hausa musical traditions were sustained in clubs by small bands around Jos and Kaduna such as The Elcados and Super Ants who although predominantly singing in English, nevertheless forayed into Hausa lyrics—all using what can be called domesticated Hausa soul music, with not a single indigenous instrument – kalangu, sarewa, kukuma, kakaki, kwarya, shantu, etc – in sight. The mainstream Hausa youth soon became consumers to these globalizing currents, preferring them, in most part over “the real” music from African American stars. I remember our attempts to copy the Elcados sounds at the Kano State College of Advanced Studies Auditorium in the early 1970s with Yusuf AbdulLateef, trying to create a “Kano modern” sound – which did not work out at all!

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Funmi Adams caused a massive sensation in uniquely adapting a Hausa folktale – Labarin Gizo da Koki (Story of the Gizo the Spider and his wife) – to modern music. What made it more enchanting was a video clip that accompanied the audio tape, giving a rich background to the simple tale of morality for young children.

This fusion music, interestingly enough, was not wholly embraced as an entertainment form by mainstream Hausa youth. This was caused by two factors. The first was the religious and cultural divide. The modernized “Hausa” music of non-ethnic Hausa was seen predominantly as “Christian” and “southern” Nigerian (kade-kaden ‘yan kudu). Secondly, such musical adaptation appealed basically to club circuit patrons—an exclusive class of civil servants far removed from the street level reality of urban youth.

Hausa traditional musicians had always occupied a lowbrow status as maroka (praise-singers) and this had the effect of discouraging the musicians from either training their own children into the craft—for it is considered an occupational craft—or even encouraging “students” to learn the craft and sustain it (rarely do Hausa occupational and craft guilds accept outsiders, are referred to as “shigege”_. A typical example is this response by Alhaji Sani Dan Indo, a kuntigi musician who responded to a question on whether he wanted his children to succeed him:

Unless it is absolutely necessary. I definitely don’t want my son to become a musician. I have seen enough as a musician to determine that my son will really suffer if he becomes a praise-singer. You only do praise-singing music to a level-headed client, and it is only those who know the value of praise-sing that will patronize you. Those times have passed. I certainly would not want my own son to inherit this business. I would prefer he goes to school and get good education, so that even after I die, he can sustain himself, but I don’t want him to follow my footsteps, because I really suffered in this business. Therefore I am praying to Allah to enable all my children to get education, because I don’t want them to become musicians like me. (Interview with Sani Dan Indo, a Hausa popular culture kuntigi musician, Annur, Vol 1, August 2001, p. 48).

However, Saadou changed this perception with the release of the tape-album, Bori (Hau. Spirit possession ceremony of the traditional Hausa) in around 1991, earning him a nickname, as he subsequently became known as Saadou Bori.

The tape-album was a mega hit in northern Nigeria. Filled with heavy disco funk and Jazz rhythms, and with tracks sung almost entirely in Hausa language, it proved for Hausa musicians on both sides of the postcolonial divide that Hausa music can be “modernized”, indeed evidenced by the fact that in 1994 Saadou teamed up with Moussa Poussy and released an extended version of Bori as Niamey Twice.

Saadou’s Bori – The New Age Hausa Disco Sound

Bori redefined Hausa dance music and provided a paradigm shift in the evolution of modern Hausa music. Not only does it provide a dance floor series of numbers, it also neatly meshed modern with traditional in its lyrical forms. Maintaining a heavy disco beat in all the compositions, it uses elements of Hausa call-and-response mechanism in many of the lyrical renditions, where a choir of female (‘yan amshi) echo a specific refrain.

The tape-album version of Bori had eight tracks: Side 1 – Dango, Yelleru, Badossa, and Boudje; Side 2 – Hadiza, Bori, Soyeyya, Maidawa.
Of these eight tracks, two became Saadou Bori’s “bakandamiya” (defining masterpiece) and ultimately signature tune. These were Yelleru (from Side 1), and Hadiza (Side 2). Both were well composed with tight horns and musical arrangement. Yelleru offered a new perspective to Hausa fusion music because it contained lyrics in pulaa (Fulfulde language of the Fulbe). Simple and catchy, it tells the story of a how the economic hardships befell the Fulbe who may have to give up their cattle and nomadic lifestyles for a settled farm life. A pure dance floor composition, it contain at least three midsections that provided the backing musicians opportunities to display their skills with drums and horns.

Hadiza hit the spot more directly with Hausa women. It tells the story of a new bride (amarya) in a two-wife household. The song extols the virtues of the amarya thus:

Kai mata, Oh, women
A rike darajar aure da kyau Hold fast to the values of marriage
A bar hushi da ikon Allah Stop being annoyed with Allah’s will
Dan ikon Allah ya wuce hushi For all that Allah wills is beyond your anger

Zama da kishiya tilas ne Living with a co-wife is inevitable
Ba don Uwargida na so ba And not because the Senior wife wants it

Gyara gida, Hadiza Look after the house
Duk na ki ne It is all with your purview
Gyara wuri, Hadiza Fix the places in the house
Duk na ki ne It is all with your purview
Gyara wurin ki, Hadiza Fix your own apartment
Duk na ki ne It is all with your purview
To ladabi biyayya With respect and obedience
Duk na ki ne It is all with your purview

Ki ba ni ruwa, Hadiza, Fetch water for me, Hadiza
Sai ta durkusa She brings it and courtesies
Ki ba ni hwura, Hadiza, My porridge, Hadiza
Sai ta durkusa She brings it and courtesies
Ki ba ni tuwo, Hadiza Bring my dinner, Hadiza
Sai ta durkusa She brings it and courtesies
Ruwan wanka, Hadiza, Fix my bath, Hadiza
Sai ta durkusa She brings it and courtesies

This song created three mixed reactions. The feminists hated it because it was a reaffirmation of what some of the more militant amongst them perceived as the servitude of women in a male dominated society. Similarly, Senior wives were not too keen on it because it is like rubbing salt in the wound – first being told they have to live with a co-wife, and second the beautiful virtues of the co-wife are being extolled; as if they were the opposites of their own behavioral patterns. A third reaction was from young male husbands who took to playing the song with glee (and I am speaking from an ethnographic experience!) whenever the Senior wife and their amarya are together.

The title track from the tape-album, Bori, is a celebration of the Hausa bori cult medicine. However, it was very clear from the lyrics that Saadou perceived bori not as a form of worship, but as pure entertainment – a process more related to its actual function.

Mace kucaka ba ta bori, A woman of easy virtue does not do the bori
Mace kazama ba ta bori A slovenly woman does not do the bori

Iya bori abin (wa) tsoro Bori is truly frightening
Aljani abin (wa) tsoro Sprits are frightening

Kai bori manyan sarakai Bori really is for important people
Yara kanana ba su yi nai Children cannot do it
Ali aboki na na da bori Ali my friend does it
Kai Bello aboki na na da bori Bello, my friend does it
Ee, Madu aboki na na da bori Yes, Madu my friend does it
Ee, ni na sa kai na bori Yes, I have the bori

In these lyrics – which appeared in a different sequence in the song from here – the stereotypes of bori amongst the Hausa are being reversed. Suddenly, it is glamorous to be a “bori” – evidenced by singer himself. Even album cover photo of the singer – wearing a headband made from cowry shells, one of the many unknown hallmarks of bori practitioners – speaks volumes about bori as an entertainment, rather than a serious religious advocacy of the traditional Hausa cultural anthropology.

Saadou subsequently released other tape-albums, but none had the stunning success of Bori, which even won an award in Niger republic during a festival of Hausa modern music (although I can’t recall the year). In place of the tape-albums — which were easy targets for pirates anyway – he spent the last few years working on what I call the “ceremony circuit”, putting shows for “big” people (politicians and other rich people) during the wedding ceremonies of their children.

Saadou was an innovative songwriter, arranger and vocalist. His creative works appeared in the slack transition period between the when Christian and mainly southern Nigerian musicians used the Hausa language to appeal to the Muslim Hausa (from the 1960s to end of 1980s), and when the video film soundtrack genre (called Nanaye – term for female children’s playground songs – because of its predominant gender base and call-and-response structure must use female voices) emerged from mid 1990s.

With the death of Bala Miller in February 2003, Saadou indeed represented the last breed of truly innovative Hausa musicians and composers with a focus on using real instruments to present their craft. In the mid 1990s, the Yamaha synthesizer became available to the young Hausa filmmakers interested in reproducing the multi-instrument sound similar to that of Hindi films which Hausa filmmakers avidly and religiously appropriate into Hausa language versions. With neither skills to compose music, nor understanding of the relationship between the different musical instruments and sounds, the new breed of musicians rely heavily on sound samples stored in the synthesizers, and the sequencing facility provided to arrange tunes to produce a melody.

In this respect, and without any formal music curricula in the schools for the teeming Hausa Nanaye composers, Saadou Bori remained the last of the great composers of Hausa modern music on World Music level. He practiced music with the true attention to detail of a professional composer and arranger – aware of the relationships between tune and harmony; and inter-twining Hausa mindsets and world views in his lyrics.

Saadou “Bori” Abdullahi was born in Maradi, Niger Republic in 1966. He died in June 2008 in Maiduguri, Nigeria. He is survived by one wife and five children. He will be surely missed as an innovator in modern Hausa disco music.

Brief report on the state of film industry in Kano State, Nigeria

Monday 18 February 2008

National Vice President
Motion Picture Practitioners Association of Nigeria (MOPPAN),
Kano, Nigeria


Motion picture industry in Northern Nigeria popularly known as Kannywood was founded in 1990 when the first Hausa home video titled "Turmin Danya" was produced. The industry was brought into being and nurtured to the present level by the practitioners themselves. Today, the industry employs the services of more than fifty thousand people and supplies 35% of Nollywood movies. It generates over N20 million to the Federal Government annually through National Film and Video Censorship Board (NFVCB). In Nigeria it’s been argued that our film industry alone generates over N30 billion worth of economic activities. This implies that Hausa Film industry generates about N9 billion (about 35% of 30 billion) worth of economic activities.

The following are the existing guilds and associations recognized by Motion Picture Practitioners Association of Nigeria (MOPPAN) in every state:

1. MOPPAN State chapter

2. Film makers Association

3. Film Producers Association

4. Guild of Directors

5. Guild of Artistes

6. Guild of Cinematographers

7. Guild of Script writers

8. Guild of Editors

9. Guild of Production designers

10. Distributors/Marketers Association

11. Association of Film Exhibitors

12. Association of Musicians and Lyricists

Aims and objectives

a) To promote and encourage the interest and advancement of its members in all manners affecting them, as professional Motion Picture Practitioners’.

b) To promote and encourage any activity whereby members will be held qualified in their particular field within the Motion Picture industry in Nigeria.

c) To regulate the relationship between its members and the public based on professional ethics and the Associations code of conduct as may be regulated and modified from time to time.

d) To facilitate professional growth in the art, practice and techniques of the Motion Picture industry by holding seminars, conferences, workshops and film festivals, at national and international levels.

e) To collate and tabulate statistics and publish information useful to its members, and to issue suitable literature and publications, including an official journal to assist in attaining the objectives of the Association.

f) To advance by any legal means deemed fit the standard of technical work in the Motion Picture industry, thereby improving the knowledge, skills and experience of the Associations members generally or individually.

g) To, on behalf of it’s members, liaise with the Nigerian film cooperation for the purpose of patronizing and putting in to effect, usage the technical infrastructure already available in Nigeria i.e. colour film processing laboratory, sound dubbing studio, production and editing facilities and also negotiate rates and credits for the usage of those technical infrastructure in favour of its members in order to boost Motion Picture production In Nigeria.

h) To acknowledge and also reward professional merits and achievements made by Motion Picture Practitioners in Nigeria who have distinguished themselves in their respective fields, and related creative arts.

i) To work towards the promotion of, distribution, exhibition and utilization of Motion Picture throughout Nigeria, African continent and the world at large.

j) To offer its services in resolving any differences that may arise between its members and to defend their various interest as part of the promotion of Motion Picture production.

k) To promote the welfare of the members of the Association in such a manner, as shall be deemed conductive and expedient, but subject to the overall interest of the general public.

l) To cooperate and associate with, or be a member of or to affiliate the Association to any organization nationally or internationally having similar objectives, or whose interest in anyway connected with the aims and objectives of the Association.

m) To undertake all other things as may be considered incidental to or conductive to the attainment of all or any of the objectives of the Association.

Report on cell-phone pornographic clip involving a popular Hausa film actress


Six months ago, there had been several media reports both locally and internationally regarding the above subject matter. Therefore, it had become extremely necessary for MOTION PICTURE PRACTIONERS ASSOCIASTION OF NIGERIA (MOPPAN) to provide a clarification on the subject matter. Following the massive dissemination of this immoral content which was started by some disgruntled elements within the Hausa film industry, MOPPAN instituted investigation to find out the truth of the matter. The Association was interested in the followings:

1 Whether the said incident really occurred.

2 Who are the people involved and their level of involvement?

3 To establish the extent of the spread of the issue within and outside the industry.

Some of the executive members of the Association were assigned to investigate these issues and report to the Association.


After careful investigation the Association was able to establish the following facts;

1 The said incident really occurred some time in early 2006 in Lagos involving a (Yet to be) Hausa film star.

2 The artist involved, Maryam Usman was actually in Lagos on a private trip to Lagos, to meet a male friend, who turned out to be the one who used his cell-phone to record their private sexual activity.

3 That though this incident occurred some 21 months earlier, it did not become a public content until late July 2007 when Maryam Usman acted and become a notable star in a film titled ‘Hiyana’ a year ago, through one of the artist’s female friends within the industry, substantially out of envy.

The Issues

The Association established that this content was massively distributed on cell-phones, CDS, Video cassette, Internet, and Computer flash disk throughout Kano state and possibly beyond. The extent of the spread of this content generated serious controversy within the Kano community especially taken cognizance of the state’s Shari`a policy and the apparent popularity of the film star involved. Prior to this, a Lagos based magazine early this year had published this information. This resulted in the misconception that;

A A pornographic film was made.

B Filmmaking is immoral

C All artistes engage in immoral acts and as such are negative role models on the society.

D Appeals for Government to ban filmmaking.

E Calls for the head of Maryam and others suspected of engaging in acts of immorality.

F Active media discourse on the issues above especially in Kano.

Decision / Resolution

As a result of these developments, especially the way and manner some members of the general public started expressing their concern and disapproval over the clip, stake holders from the film industry convened an emergency meeting of all the Guilds and Associations under MOPPAN. The meeting took stock on activities within the industry and the following decisions were taken in the interest of filmmaking as a reputable profession.

1 The Actress involved, Maryam Usman, was suspended for a period of five years for causing disrepute to the profession.

2 17 other members identified by an investigative panel with different unethical conducts (Not related with Sex) capable of bringing the film profession to disrepute were also suspended for different periods of time.

3 The Kano State Government, through the Kano Censorship Board endorsed the ban on the affected practitioners and call on all production companies/studios to register or revalidate their registration status with the Board immediately.

4 The National office of MOPPAN here endorsed the resolutions of the Kano Censorship Board in tandem with other Guilds and Associations in the state.

5 The National office also resolved that film production practice be suspended for a period of three months during which codes of practice for different guilds shall be distributed and explained to members.

6 MOPPAN will also update its membership register during this period.

Above is for your information, support and assistance please. Be assured of our total commitment to the development of filmmaking in Nigeria and beyond while we remain truly yours.

Banning of all location activities and imposing of new guidelines

The state censorship board broadcasted and distributed a press release in which film activities were further banned for the period of six months and new guidelines for the film practitioners were as circulated without our consent. The Board also urged all the film makers in the state to go and register with them which is the sole responsibility of the guilds and associations. We as well challenged the banning and thought for clarification of the new guidelines which the Board depended in line with the Shari’a system. We lay our complains to the bodies concerned but all in vain. Below is the translated version of the guidelines under which we must practice when the ban is lifted

Guidelines for film censorship in Kano State films must comply with the following guidelines to conform to Islamic Shari’a

1 Singing and Dancing is prohibited.

2 Actresses are prohibited from appearing in trousers, skirts or short tops.

3 Dressing in see-through or tight costumes that expose body features is prohibited.

4 Male Actors are prohibited from appearing in tight fitted clothes that expose their features or haircuts that do not fit with our culture.

5 Actresses are prohibited from combing or exposing their hair.

6 Indecent utterances and seductive actions or immoral dialogue are prohibited.

7 Ridiculing of any religion, tribe or a section of the community is prohibited.

8 It is prohibited to use children in films that are prohibited.

9 Re-inserting expunged scenes from an already censored film, and taking such film into the market is a major crime.

10 Fetish activities and the wrong use of weapons are prohibited.

11 Producers are prohibited from releasing posters and trailers without the permission of the board.

12 Films must have a clear meaning (message) with appropriate names.

13 No films can be produced in Kano, or brought in for sales or exhibition without the permission of the board.

14 All Actors or Actresses and other filmmakers are prohibited from doing film business without obtaining license from the board.

15 Sleeping overnight at film locations with males and females are prohibited.

16 No films shall be made without censorship of its script.

There is a mobile court attached to the board to arrest, harass, detain and prosecute members of the motion picture practitioners’ association of Nigeria including all its 12 affiliate guilds and associations in kano. The Board is also making a serious media campaign misleading the public by making inflammatory utterances portraying filmmakers as anti-Islamic dissident and declaring that hausa filmmakers are pornographic filmmakers. The association organized end of year stakeholders’ forum the communiqué of which is below:


The Kano Film Industry Stakeholders Forum was held on Sunday 30th December 2007 at Mambayya House. Major stakeholders were invited to the meeting. They include all the professional guilds and associations operating in the industry, MOPPAN, national head quarters, the State Censorship Board, The Nigerian Film Corporation, National Film and Video Censors board, the Nigerian police, Office of the Advisor on NGOs, State Ministry of Justice, the State Ministry of Information, Nigerian Copyright Commission, National and international media organizations and some Local and international Human rights organizations. The objective of the meeting is to review the issues and events which affected the industry over the last twelve months with a view to moving the industry forward.

Four papers were presented at the forum covering several areas of great significance to the operations of the industry. Based on the presentations, and after careful deliberations on the issues rose, the meeting took the following resolutions:

1 the Forum agrees to continue respecting and abiding by all the laws and regulations (both state and national) relating to the operations of the industry and encourage practitioners to demonstrate their commitment to this pledge.

2 that there is the need to Islamize film making such that its content conforms with the Islamic heritage and need to our good cultural values

3 that film can be an effective medium for shari’ah advocacy programs,

4 that there is a need to hold an interactive forum between shari’ah bodies and the Industry stakeholders with a view to allowing the practitioners benefit from the abundant resources available in such organizations

5 that relevant governmental organizations should be more concern with educating the public concerning the type of film content they should watch.

6 that the industry was not accorded it’s right status due to the Government failure to hold audience with them as was the case with other organizations of lesser importance to the state economy and social development,

7 that never was a pornographic film produced in this Film Industry,

8 that the forum demand the state government to explain to the stakeholders reason behind the suspension of film activities for a period of six months in the state,

9 that the forum decried the state censorship board’s deceptive attitude, prior to this day the Executive Secretary pledged to stop his insinuating media campaigns against the industry but only to dishonor his pledge. This is quite embarrassing to the government he represents.

10 That the suspension order resulted to about 8.5bn Naira loss in the industry. If Government could pay compensation to the bird flue victim which is a natural disaster, we equally demand compensation from the state government to the industry as to alleviate the suffering caused by Government’s suspension order.

11 The forum also calls for government’s consideration to include stakeholders in any policy formulation in all issues of concern. The previous action where Government constitutes a task force committee on the film industry without our representation was bitterly decried.

12 The forum also notes the need for the state government to come up with means of empowering the industry in conformity with SEEDS policy.

13 That the forum demands that Government should stop the draconian tribunal; instead a disciplinary committee by the professional bodies should be formed, lest we forget that this is a democratic dispensation.

14 The forum calls the state censorship Board to reconsider their position of censoring films already produced prior to the new regulation.


We would like the world to know that our fundamental human right is seriously tempered with as our members (especially marketers and producers) are being arrested, harassed, detained and prosecuted. Most of the practicing artistes, producers, directors etc have fled Kano to other states to exercise their right of earning a living. The local media is restricted from broadcasting or writing our own version of the case. In fact, our lives are in danger as any attempt by us to challenge the Government is termed un-Islamic which exposes us to stigma and even attack from the public.

Thank you very much.