Presidential Debates: Shekarau on the Kano State Censorship Board and the Hausa-Language Film Industry

During yesterdays’ presidential debates Ibrahim Shekarau was asked about and commented on the Kano State Censorship Board and the effects of its policies on the Kano based film industry.

Video streaming by Ustream

Carmen transcribed the relevant bit (I did as well but she catches some phrases I didn’t).

[Time Code: 44:45]

Moderator: Now, you say that but in practical terms the impact of the hisbah in Kano has included killing a film industry that was providing employment, what is known in Nigeria as Kannywood. So there has been an exodus of filmmakers out of Kano, who get harassed when they are on shoots, who have been asked to submit their scripts for inspection, and a total disregard of the peoples rights to express themselves through art in that particular way.

Shekarau: No, I think that is totally wrong. The hisbah has nothing to do with the censorship. We have a full fledged censorship board, created by law through the legislation. And the censorship board has created rules and regulations that govern the conduct of any film industry. We have a right to decide what is right for the community. The government has the moral responsibility to protect the right, the interest, the instant transformation (?) of the society. (Clapping). So all we did, all we did, we said, if you want to register and run a film industry, you should comply with A,B, C, D, F, and we told anybody who feels any of these rules and regulations contradicts the provision of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria should challenge us in court, and nobody has done that anyhow.

Moderator: You seem to be very strong in terms of protecting the rights of the majority. What about the rights of the minority inside the state that you govern.

Shekarau: We are protecting. In fact it may interest you to know that Kano state today is the most peaceful state in Nigeria. If you ask any of the so-called minority or non-indigene, they are quite happy, they are quite peaceful. In fact, today, you will be surprised to find that those you call non-indigenes or even the non-Muslim prefer to go for settlement of disagreement within the community either to the hisbah court or to the censorship board. We dont have any problem at all. The rules are working. The society has accepted it. The film industry is thriving very well. All we say is abide by the rules and regulations. And there is no community that will live without guiding principles, without rules and regulations and will think that there will be discipline and order in that community.

I am not knowledgeable enough to comment on Shekarau’s claims here in any detail. Let’s just say that the news sources I follow do not quite bear out the picture of peaceful co-existence of the Kano State Censorship Board and film makers the governor paints in the debate. There have been court cases and there is talk of prominent film makers relocating to Kaduna. I leave it to Carmen to provide you with further detail on the disputes and legal battles. She is more familiar with the Hausa-language film industry and has been blogging about ongoing developments here. I am confident she will also link to the responses to Shekarau's comments by stakeholders in Kano's creative industries if and when they are published.


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