Sanni Mu’azu is a leading light in the movie industry especially in the Hausa sector. The actor, film producer and director has been a denomination factor in the movie industry he helped to build for over two decades. He spoke with SAMUEL ABULUDE in this interview on his thoughts on the movie industry and the potential of women leaders among other issues.
You have contributed so much to the industry over the decades. Do you feel that the industry has evolved?
The Nigerian film industry is still in a transformation phase. It is far from where it should be but with the level of investments coming in and the creative and technical skills evolving, we are definitely moving in the right direction.
What has been the milestones for MOPPAN that you have been involved in?
I am fulfilled as a former president of MOPPAN because I have raised the bar. I organised nothing less than 13 training programmes in partnership with credit worthy organisations such as the British Council, Goethe Institute, American Embassy and the Audio Visual department of the French Embassy. Hundreds of people gained skills in acting, cinematography, sound engineering and design, editing and scriptwriting. I was also successful in exposing filmmakers from the northern part of Nigeria to integrate with the larger industry by participating in festivals and awards. I was responsible for getting MOPPAN registered with the CAC. Before then and as a member of its board of trustees, I am really glad that there is continuity from where we stopped.
What are your dreams for the movie industry and how can we overcome our challenges?
African stories are gradually taking centre stage as we have seen with Black Panther. The world wants to see and appreciate the hidden stories that are untold but nobody can capture and give the authentic African narrative other than the African storyteller. I see the Nigerian movie industry playing a leading role in this. I see it as a viable industry that will attract serious investments based on its viability. I see the rise and rise of African pride and confidence from the stories being told in our movies.
There are lots of challenges alright, such as funding, standards and piracy. But, for once, let us not dwell on these but be optimistic. The government has a great role to play for an enabling environment and I pray that the President will live up to his words and commitment to the development of the industry. He recently gave the Central Bank of Nigeria matching orders to assist with single digit facilities but it remains to be seen if this directive is not merely politicking.
How was your experience playing the role of the villain in 4th Republic?
It was fun working in the production team of professionals most of whom I had worked with or I had admired their works in the past. It was a reunion of some sort with friends like Bimbo Manuel, Kate Henshaw, Linda Ejiofor, Enyinna and my kid brother, Yakubu Mohammed.
It was also an opportunity to get to know Ishaya, the director, a little closer and his work methods. I met new people too, like Ummi the executive producer.
How was it like playing the villain in this movie?
It is always fun when I play the role of the bad guy. I enjoyed it because it is diametrically opposite my real self. I am a peace and development worker playing the role of a reckless politician who can go to any length to hang on to power.
Looking at the role you played, do you think that Nigeria is ready for a female governor or president?
My role may be fictitious but Nigeria is real. It is a fast changing nation with a lot of people coming to terms with the abilities of women. There are cultures in Nigeria that look down on women okay, but it is also a nation where great women like Dora Akunyili, Okonjo Iweala, Aisha Alhassan, Kemi Adeosun and Hadiza Bala are lately making a statement and a lot of difference. Women and several civil society and NGOs are enshrining gender balance in public spaces now. It is just a matter of time before women take the lead at state and national levels.
As a man, do you feel a woman’s role is limited to some certain places and not in places like politics?
No! I believe intrinsically in the abilities of women. I have met a couple of women that impacted in me deeply. I respect them and my wife, who is my best friend, plays a role beyond my imagination. She has capabilities and she is an equal partner in running our home.
Part of playing the villain is that people would keep comparing your character with reality, what would you say that is different from your character and your reality?
In reality, I don’t act with people. You can easily read me even from my facial countenance and you can say if I like something or if I don’t. I am easy going, simple and not too forward, but I can be very blunt on issues. On the other hand, the role I played is that of a double faced politician who will be responsible for killing some people and yet appear on TV condemning the act and paying condolences to the victim’s family. That is far from me as a person.
Would you encourage a little girl to have an ambition to become the next president in Nigeria?
Of course I would encourage a competent young girl to become the next president of Nigeria. I am a proponent of the not- too-young-to-rule movement. Young people are taking over as leaders in so many countries around the world and they are doing a great job at it. It is a job so the keyword is competence and capability, not just sentiment.
Do you feel Nigeria is ready for it? I mean for a female president?
It is a process and I believe that Nigeria is coming to terms with change. Moving to the next level is not just a mantra, it is our new reality. Sooner than we thought.
What will prevent a woman to become a president in this country?
Culture and traditions. Nigeria is made up of several cultures that relegates the position of women far below that of men but these beliefs are giving way fast.
Back to the movie, how well do you think the movie will do in the market?
I don’t know how the market will receive it but from my judgment, ‘4th Republic’ is bound to do well because it has high production values. It’s a good story that’s well told creatively. It is also based on a theme that is timely. It is an idea whose time has come.
What other projects are you involved in?
I am always busy, working. Apart from ‘4th Republic,’ there are a number of movies such as ‘Make Room’ and TV series such as ‘Kwana Casa’in and Bilkisu’ that are about to debut. I am also a media consultant with high level organisations such as WHO which makes me travel a lot to produce documentary films. I am also trying to expand my frontiers beyond production to exhibition. When the rains come, I also do a little bit of farming.
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