On June 20, 2023, the news hit the national dailies that President Bola Ahmed Tinubu of Nigeria appointed the former Deputy Spokesperson of the All Progressives Congress Presidential Campaign Council, Hannatu Musa Musawa as Special Adviser on Culture and Entertainment Economy.
This announcement has since caused some unrest among stakeholders in the entertainment industry. That Hannatu Musawa is a lawyer, Newspaper Columnist and the Deputy Spokesperson of the All Progressives Congress APC Presidential Campaign Council PCC as well as holds a degree in law from the University of Buckingham, UK and took a Postgraduate Masters Degree in the Legal Aspects of Marine Affairs from the University of Cardiff, Wales did not assuage the concerns of the entertainment stakeholders. These stakeholders do not think that the appointment would improve the impact of the federal government on the entertainment industry.
Part of their concern was that Hannatu is a conservative Muslim woman and everyone knows how Islam and the entertainment world are at two ends of the pole. It also did not help matters that she has no experience in the entertainment industry nor any training in that respect.
A filmmaker and convener of the Abuja International Film Festival, Fidelis Duker was spot on about the issue in an interview he granted Punch Newspaper recently, where he mentioned that the entertainment industry considers it an insult that someone from the entertainment industry was not considered for that position.
In his words, “…people would have expected that he (Tinubu) looked within the industry for someone who understands how the sector runs. I don’t want to hold that against this woman (Musawa), because I don’t know that much about her background. However, from my research on her, I have not found anything relating to the industry. If someone like me is saying that I don’t know her, that says a lot.
“They (government) usually consider our sector to be unimportant when they are making appointments. When it comes to sectors such as health, oil and gas, and aviation, it is people who know about those fields that are appointed to represent them. But, when it gets to our sector (entertainment), they just pick anybody. Meanwhile, it is not so hard to find intellectuals in the industry.”
Talking about intellectuals in the industry, one cannot fail to mention a couple of them who stuck their necks out in support of Bola Ahmed Tinubu in the just concluded elections, but who were sidelined for a political party member, a Muslim conservative and a lawyer. The likes of Joke Silva, Jide Kosoko, Saheed Balogun, Yinka Quadri and Femi Adebayo comes to mind. And the list cannot be exhausted in this discourse.
The point remains that regardless of the attempts being made to sugar-coat Tinubu’s choice of a special adviser on entertainment and culture, it still goes without saying that the entertainment world believes that the choice was a goof on the part of the presidency and a clear demonstration that political parties have continued to scuttle the choice of who oversees the affairs of the nation at the expense of meritocracy.
This is why I was surprised to see Ben Murray Bruce’ tweet saying that he is thrilled at the appointment of Hannatu Musawa who he said has a “wealth of experience and knowledge”. Thank Goodness he did not shoot himself in the foot by saying that the wealth of experience and knowledge was in entertainment industry. He probably meant the wealth that Hannatu Musawa has to her name. Hannatu Musawa is said to be worth over 350 million Naira. She also comes from a politically inclined family with her father being the veteran politician, Alhaji Musa Musawa from Katsina State. Enough said. Let us all believe that Bruce was just trying to sound politically correct.
After all said and done, members of the entertainment industry may have to make do with what intermediary they have been provided with by the presidency. The hope of everybody would be that the newly appointed special adviser to the president on entertainment and culture would clear the doubts of those of us in the industry who are skeptical about her capacity. She can do this by building bridges with stakeholders in the industry. She needs to come closer to see and know what is obtainable in the industry and where the government can partner with the entertainment industry in enhancing the indispensable roles the industry plays in nation building. She needs to be intentional about advising the presidency aright on issues that concern the industry. A lot is expected of her.
By O’star Eze