When an ultramodern abattoir began operation in 1982 in Challawa, Kano, some Kano clerics started preaching against eating the products, because, they believed, were not halal.
Started by the first military governor of Kano State, Audu Bako and completed by the first civilian governor, Abubakar Rimi, the N10 million abattoir was fitted with a product plant with the capacity to process 100 cattle, dozens of camels, hundreds of sheep, goats and thousands of chicken at a time.
Apart from cold storage facility to store over 3,000 processed animals, large powerhouse equipped with generators, the production plant was fully integrated to process blood, offal waste, bone marrow, bone, horns and hooves for local animal feed production and export.
But Kano clerics were unhappy with this. They switched on their microphones, mounted the pulpit and started ranting. They preached that the cows were stunned and become unconscious at the slaughter slab before killing. The abattoir management debunked the rumor and argued that cows and other animals were processed according to ‘halal’ process.
Already that created low patronage and aversion to the products. The abattoir closed a couple of years after. As I write, the machines have rotted away, the premises taken over by grass, reptiles and rodents.
What had the puritans benefited from the closure of this mega industry with a capacity to supply processed products to many parts of the country and boost the economy of the state?
During the send forth dinner of a managing director of First Bank, Jacobs Mojo-Ajekigbe, in 2008 in Kano, he told the gathering that when he started his banking career in 1978 in Kano, the city was better than Dubai in terms of infrastructure and economic potentials. He expressed dismay that the city was retrogressing rather than progressing.
With our anathema to modernity such as establishment of film village, how do we progress? A multi-billion naira project capable of putting Kano on a global silver screen map, is now shelved — no thanks to the nattering puritans. They are not happy that a 20-hectare film village, modeled after Indian and Chinese film centres and equipped with a cinematography centre, a 400-capacity auditorium for training, hostel, sound stage, eatery block, three-star hotel, shopping mall, stadium, clinic, etc, would be built in Kano.
They seem unhappy thousands of people will be employed and Nigeria’s advertising industry will record exponential growth through production of first-rate commercials. Most of the high quality TV commercials you see Dangote, Glo and Nigerian banks placing on international TVs are either produced in Europe or South Africa. With a standard film village in Kano, we can tap this draining revenue.
I recall on July 30, 2009, the day Boko Haram leader, Mohammed Yusuf, was killed, Daily Trust asked me to interview certain Juma’at mosque Imam to hear his views. The Imam, who is today one of the frontline clerics issuing fatwa against film village and besmirching the art, expressed his anger to me (over killing of a man who killed at least 1,000 people at the time!).
Realising the implication of sympathising with terrorists, the Imam called around 9pm and pleaded with me to drop the story. I said I was helpless as I had already sent the story to Abuja. I could not exactly say what he told the editors to drop the story.
In the whole drama apropos of building film village in Kano, what baffles me most is the fact that the clerics, the Imams and their social media copycats never rose against Boko Haram terrorists the way they rose against film village. I’ve never heard a single Juma’t mosque sermon boldly criticising Boko Haram in Kano, but last Friday I was told almost all the Imams in Kano condemned building film village in the state.
To the clerics, film industry is more dangerous than Boko Haram, while forgetting that Boko Haram drew inspiration from their hyper Salafi-Qutb teachings. Take it or leave it, these extremist preachers created for us Boko Haram, a monster that so far killed nearly 20,000 people, bombed mosques, churches, markets and schools.
Sad that the president only got listening ears on cries against film village, while cries against inflation, hardship, high electricity tariff and fuel price increase fell into his deaf ears.