Nuhu Abdullahi is considered one of the finest from out of Kannywood. The producer and actor who has starred in both Kannywood and Nollywood movies, has been a household name for years. In this interview, the artiste speaks about his absence from the screen and the recent crisis in the industry, among other issues. Excerpts:
Weekend Magazine: You have been off screen for a while; are quitting the industry?
Nuhu Abdullahi: No, not at all. I have been very much around Kannywood in a different capacity. I ventured into politics to support candidates in whom we believe so that better things could be attained through them.
I was the cconvener of ‘Kannywood for PMB 2019,’ a Buhari ‐ Oshinbajo Presidential Campaign Support Group consisting of actors and actresses in the Hausa movie industry in Nigeria. That was what had taken most of my time over the period in question and I had not been featuring or producing movies due to the project at hand then. I was also appointed member of the Presidential Support Committee on the order of the office of the Senior Special Adviser to the President on Political Matters, and also a member of the Arts and Culture Presidential Support Committee (PSC) for Buhari 2019.
As you can see, I was very busy politicking, but I have never left the industry. By and large, I was working for the industry in a different capacity for positive development of the industry.
WM: How do you see the current misunderstanding between practitioners and the Kano State Censorship Board?
Abdullahi: The development I can say is unfortunate because what the Kano State Censorship Board is doing, is something that will not augur well for the State and the industry as a business entity. The situation has degenerated to an extent that many marketers have been chased out of the industry, and everyone has seen the effect of this on an industry which is the second largest employment provider in the region.
We do not need anyone to tell us that the industry is dying slowly, because the practitioners have no capital, and the atmosphere has been made so harsh by the activities of the regulatory body.
WM: Don’t you think piracy is killing the industry and not the Censorship Board?
Abdullahi: Now that you brought the issue of piracy, it is the exact point that the Censorship Board concentrates on saving the industry. But it is as if the Board is now doing what the piracy couldn’t do in a haste. You see, the whole issue is somehow complicated to reason.
WM: There is this new rule by the Board which says uploading songs, films and movie trailers on social media shouldn’t be done without the Board first censoring it. What is your take on this?
Abdullahi: To the best of my knowledge I have not heard any law in Nigeria that regulates what goes on, on the social media. It has never happened at least to my knowledge. If the Board wants to exercise its powers let it not go beyond what the laws that established it has stated. Regulating what goes to the social media is something that has never been done elsewhere in the country.
I don’t see it as a way of ironing things I believe that every practitioner ought to respect all the laws that regulates their businesses as filmmakers or artistes. There are various ways through which issues can be addressed, not necessarily through introducing what would contradict the mandate of a particular regulatory body. Prosecuting and jailing artistes is not necessary when a positive reform attempt is intended. This is my own view.
Politicizing the industry at this point in time will never yield a good result for the industry. Because what is happening now is more or less an act of reprisal on individuals from the industry, who have actually participated in politicking but, on the other side.
WM: It was rumoured that you are making a move to go to Nollywood. Is that true?
Abdullahi: I acted in a couple of Nollywood movies though I was very selective with the roles I played. I took into consideration the region, tradition and my religious background, but that does not translate to my living Kannywood. I am an actor from Kannywood and I believe I have a role to play in protecting where I come from, that’s all.
WM: What do you have to say on the public confession you once made of having a crush on actress Fati Washa?
Abdullahi: I didn’t make any confession of such. The story was made out of a simple answer I gave to a question which says should I marry an actress, which among the actresses would I chose? My innocent answer was that, I respect Fati Washa a lot and she is among the few actresses in the industry whom I believed I have a mutual understanding with, and if I should go for an actress, I would go for her. That was how that story came up, and it wasn’t a public confession.
WM: What movie gave you your breakthrough in the industry?
Abdullahi: I believe the movie ‘As’habul-Kahfi’ gave me my breakthrough in the Hausa movie industry as an actor. It is vividly clear that it was after the movie that I started getting offers upon offers for roles in different movies.
WM: How do you views on criticism in the industry?
Abdullahi: I believe criticism is a positive way of tasking us to put more efforts but that is if it is done objectively. However, I personally believe that if you were engaged in something that you believe is worth doing and you find out that no one cares to even look at what you were doing; I guess to abandon that thing would probably be a nicest idea. Therefore, as an artist I know when I am objectively being criticized and when I am subjectively criticized.