We are excited when help comes from an unexpected source. That was the feeling of award-winning actor and producer, Nuhu Abdullahi, as he spoke about the gesture of an oil mogul from the southern part of Nigeria, Tien Jack-Rich, who, he said, has pumped hundreds of millions of naira into the Hausa film industry.
In this interview with PREMIUM TIMES Mohammed Lere, in Kano, the actor reveals how Mr Jack-Rich, the CEO of Belema Oil Producing Company in Port Harcourt, donated ₦600 million to Kannywood.
PT: How did such a donation come from a southerner who maybe doesn’t even speak Hausa?
Abdullahi: I can tell you Mr Jack-Rich did not only support the industry with ₦600 million, he also promised to keep supporting us any other ways he can.
PT: What is Mr Jack-Rich’s interest in Kannywood?
Abdullahi: We met him in one of our functions around 2016 and we kept in touch. We told him what we do and how it has become a source of employment for young people. But the industry is gradually collapsing because of piracy and the need for us to have more viewing centres for our proponents in order to remain in business.
We kept engaging and he pledged the money to us. We have it in our purse now.
PT: What will you do with the money now?
Abdullahi: We are looking at building viewing centres in some major states in the North and also for capacity-building. That is what is making the whole thing slow. People cannot access our new films again because of piracy and we don’t have places to show them across. Obviously, you (as a producer) would be running at a loss, so many could not continue.
PT: A huge donation for the industry from a southerner is quite interesting. Have you engaged the Northern elite for support like that?
Abdullahi: We are trying our best, we hope they will emulate the good gesture of Jack-Rich. Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State is another person who has also shown made commitment. He has given Kannywood a piece of land in the state to build a viewing centre and also pledged to contribute ₦100 million when the project starts.
These are the only commitments we have received so far. We are really grateful to the governor for doing that and Mr Jack-Rich.
We are appealing to well-meaning Nigerians, especially the Northern elite to come to the rescue of the industry. Piracy has crumbled Kannywood, it is no longer as it used to be. The only solution is the cinema project and viewing centres. We have to be deliberate about it and get it right this time around.
We are appealing to the state governments to key into this project and support us even with land in their states, that will save us money. The industry needs urgent support to get revived as quickly as possible.
We provide huge employment to the youth and even revenue to the government, but all is not well now. We need support and very urgently. We must thank Mr Jack-Rich for all he has been doing and Governor El-Rufai, also Musa Halilu who has been supportive of the industry.
(Mr Abdullahi, the rocking star in the ‘Labarina’ television series showing on Arewa 24, a cable satellite channel, is getting married on Friday to his heartthrob, Siyama AbdulNasir, in Kano).