By Bashir Liman

As the 2019 general elections draw near and politicking is gathering momentum, is the presidential candidate of the ruling APC, Muhammadu Buhari, and his main challenger Atiku Abubakar of the PDP tearing Kannywood apart?
Kannywood, the Hausa film industry in Northern Nigeria, played a vital role in bringing President Muhammadu Buhari into office in 2015.

Filmmakers used jingles, composed songs and went to the nooks and crannies of the country to campaign for Buhari.
With politics in full swing, a Kannywood faction has emerged, declaring support for Atiku Abubakar.

Grouping and re-grouping is now the order of the day in Kannywood as filmmakers have begun to identify with either Buhari, or Atiku.

The filmmakers supporting and campaigning for Buhari have pitched tent under the All Progressives Congress (APC) Northern Musicians Forum (ANMFO), while those supporting Atiku have created a group under the aegis of Kannywood Initiative Door-2-Door for Atiku 2019.

Members of the ANMFO under the delegation of its Acting President, Haruna Yusuf (Baban Chinedu), have in recent times met with President Buhari and First Lady Aisha Buhari in Aso Rock pledging that they are ready to sacrifice their lives for Buhari’s return as president in 2019.

This is as team Initiative Door-2-Door for Atiku 2019 countered their counterparts by releasing a video jingle campaigning for Atiku on Instagram and Facebook.

The actions of both groups have shown that there are different voices in the industry as far as the 2019 presidential election is concerned.

Daily Trust Saturday gathered that some of the filmmakers campaigning for Atiku include actors Mikail Bin Hassan (Gidigo), Sani Danja, Isah Feroz Khan, Bashir Nayaya, Maryam Booth, Fati Muhammad, Zaharaddeen Sani and Ummi Zee-Zee.
Others are producers, Usman Mu’azu, Salisu Mu’azu, director, Hafizu Bello, comedian Mustapha Naburuska and musician Abubakar Sani, among others.

Some of the movie stars supporting Buhari are Adam A. Zango, Nura Hussaini, Yusuf Haruna (Baban Chinedu), Jamila Nagudu, Halima Atete, Ruqayya Dawayya and Bello Muhammad Bello (BMB).

Musicians campaigning for Buhari include Dauda Kahutu Rarara, Nazifi Asnanic, El-Mu’az Birniwa, Fati Nijar, Aminu Ladan Abubakar (ALA) and Hussaini Danko among others.

Actors such as Ali Nuhu, Sadiq Sani Sadiq, Hadiza Gabon, Rahama Sadau and Nafisa Abdullahi, among others, are yet to throw their weight behind any presidential candidate.

Members of Kannywood Initiative Door-2-Door for Atiku 2019 took the decision to support Atiku because according to them, Buhari has failed in providing good governance, security and Atiku has what it takes to take Nigeria out of its economic quagmire.

The National Coordinator of the group, Mikail Isah Bin Hassan explained that another reason his group wouldn’t support Buhari was his inability to assist filmmakers despite playing a vital role in bringing him to presidency in 2015.

“We established our group to make Nigerians understand the qualities of Atiku and because Buhari has neglected filmmakers despite what they did for him in 2015,” he said.

Hassan boasted that Atiku has policies and programmes that if elected president would improve Nigeria’s economy and provide jobs for the teeming youths.

He said, “So far we have state coordinators in the 19 northern states and each coordinator has eight people that would assist him in taking decisions in his state.

We also have coordinators in each local government area of the 19 northern states. Averagely so far, we have about 300, 000 members that would go to the nooks and crannies of the north to campaign for Atiku.”

Producer Usman Mu’azu who was supporting Atiku said Nigerians are hungry, there is poverty in the country and President Buhari isn’t doing anything to salvage the situation.

“We took it upon ourselves that we would market Atiku,” he said. Adding that, “We will market him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and we would also do door-to-door campaign for him.”

The Acting National President of All Progressives Congress (APC) Northern Musicians Forum (ANMFO), Haruna Yusuf (Baban Chinedu) said that members of his group are so far satisfied with Buhari’s style of leadership and would continue to campaign for him until he returns as president in 2019.

Baban Chinedu, who is also a musician, explained that economically and security-wise, Nigeria was on the verge of collapse when Buhari was elected president.

But now it isn’t the case because he has stabilized the nation where states can now pay salaries and people can go to markets, mosques and churches among other places without fear of being attacked.

He said his group would work round the clock to educate Nigerians on where the administration of Buhari is heading in order to enable them understand that he has rescued Nigeria and is doing more to take the nation to a promised land.

Famous Kannywood actor, Adam Zango said he is campaigning for Buhari not because of money, as everyone knows the president doesn’t have money.

“I am supporting Buhari not because of money,” he said, “But because of what he has accomplished in a short time. If it was because of money I wouldn’t be campaigning for Buhari.”

Another Kannywood actor, Nura Hussaini said some of the filmmakers are ready to sacrifice their lives for Buhari.

“Buhari has accomplished so much in the fight against corruption, and in completing abandoned projects. We have counted 360 abandoned projects that Buhari is working hard to complete.”

Muhsin Ibrahim, a lecturer in University of Cologne, Germany, said that the alignment of filmmakers behind Buhari and Atiku was a fantastic development.

“Kannywood folks have at least twice met President Buhari within a couple of months. I have also watched a campaign clip for Atiku Abubakar by a faction of the film industry. This is a fantastic development as previously only a very few of them had access to the Presidency. I can, in fact, mention a single person – Sani Danja. But this is not enough,” he said.

Muhsin who has been commenting on Kannywood affairs for over a decade opined that Buhari and Atiku reaching out to the filmmakers would affect voting.

He said, “Celebrities are powerful individuals when it comes to shaping public opinion. Today, Nigerian actors and musicians have, by far, had a higher number of followers on social media than the country’s leaders. Some may just be following them, others ‘worship’ them.

Therefore, they would do anything to please them. In other words, they would vote for their endorsed candidates.”

The lecturer advised Kannywood to seize easy access to the presidency to lobby for something tangible for their embattled industry.

“I know it’s near-to-impossible to bring back the Film Village project. However, there are other ways to save the struggling industry. Ironically, it’s highly unlikely if anyone of them thinks this way,” he said.

The question remains as to whom – Buhari or Atiku would have an upper hand in this case. Time, as they say, will tell.

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