Hamisu Lamido Iyantama is an insurance broker, film producer, script writer, textile merchant, social commentator, politician and proprietor of a film academy probably. He tells ALIYU ASKIRA in this interview that it was one Danazumi Babachedi that introduced him into acting.
Where had Hamisu Iyantama been?
Well, actually I was introduced into film acting by Danazumi Babachede because according to him I fit the type of a guy he has been dreaming of to feature in his films and his film I appeared in was Bakandamiyan Ricikinduniya; it was a novel. He approached me with the proposal and we even went to my mother and she blessed the idea; that is why today I have remained blessed.
In 1997, I set up my own company, Iyantama Multi-Media, and I went to Dubai and Alaba Market in Lagos and acquired the latest equipments for production. I was in USA in 2008 to attend the world’s biggest film market, my films, was premiered in Canada and Croatia. I was in India twice; I was in Hollywood and my film, Tsintsiya (the broom), won an award in the Zuma Film Festival. I also produced award-winning films like Badakalla, Gariyawaye Watarana, Nagari, and Kurkuku. Honestly, I am still very much around. Now, I am building a film academy to train youth under my NGO programme. It will train people in film production, acting, editing, vision mixer, and all that it takes in the entertainment world. I am into politics, merchandise and script-writing; simply put, I am a multiple award- winning film maker.
Why did you break away from Danazumi Babachedi?
During film production, I saw how actors and other people involved in the film were disrespecting him, so I set up my company in 1997 and I am proud to say my company has produced the best award-winning films so far in Kannywood. These are Buri, Gashinkuma, Tsintsiya, Gari Yawaye, Nagari. Since 2012, I have been less active in film production because of piracy. When I released the film, Kurkuru, on that same day pirates flooded the market with pirated copies. Remember, I also once contested for the governorship of Kano state on the platform of the defunct New Democrats (ND) Party.
Now that one of you, Ismail Na’Abba Afakallah, is the head of Kano Censorship Board, how would you advise him to check piracy?
First, let me tell you that for Afakallah to succeed, he needs to consult widely; he needs consultants because if he fails, it means that all of us have failed. This is because this is our chance to sanitize the place with one of us at the head Afakallah was appointed by God. Allah used Governor Ganduje to appoint him and as such we have to cooperate fully with him to enable him to succeed. As for me, I have built a film academy under my NGO, to train film practitioners in several areas of film production. I intend to also send youth from my community there to train in different skills.
Any regrets so far?
Well, in all businesses, one either wins or loses. The day my mother blessed me to go into film acting and production was my happiest day. I have fans all over the world, ladies and even the elderly including politicians. I have one wife and five children and any time people see me in traffic or whenever I travel they ask me why I am no longer acting. Anyway, my company is active, we produce radio jingles, print calendars, audio productions and I have built an academy for film production just like the Kano Film Academy, built by the former Governor Kwankwaso administration. I was the first chairman of Arewa Film Makers Association of Nigeria for six years; I was into textile business where I used to travel from Kano, Onitsha, Abuja and Lagos dealing with textile materials. But the Customs people called this contraband, so I am now into several businesses and NGO. I am consolidating, but I am still young, I will return to active and full-time film production soon. You talked about my going to prison; well, since I later won the case I have put the case behind me, it’s part of human challenges.
Why did you later venture into politics? Do you have the resources succeed in politics?
Well, I was the chairman of New Democratic Party in Kano; then the symbol of our party was 36 starts, and later I became the spokesperson for the Conference of Nigerian Political Parties (CNPP) and I became its secretary-general. I am popular, comfortable, and I have travelled widely and gained tremendous experience about life.
How rich are you?
I am very rich in the sense that I am a Muslim, I am healthy, and I am loved all over the place. My people like me; I have a lovely wife with five children. Well, if cases of piracy are reduced I will be into full film production, but so far we are happy because one of us is the executive secretary of the film and censorship board.
Are you happy with some of the films being produced in Kannywood today?
People should go for good products and avoid bad ones; if film producers put their money into film projects, they will want to reap a profit and if you, the buyer, or consumer, are not happy then avoid the product. But, honestly, we need to check ourselves again; some of our films lack quality and decency.
Despite your exposure and the respect you get from people, you said you are among those who didn’t benefit from the $200 million scheme set aside by the previous government for film makers. Tell us more.
They came here, look at my office, I have everything in place; I have a film academy, I am one of the best producers in the Hausa film industry and I am an entrepreneur. But apart from the training workshops they sent a few of us to India last year, and nothing has come to us. I have featured in more than 50 successful films. Anyway, I learnt that some of our members later got N8 million, N7 million and some as low as N4 million. I think this is what our colleague Afakallah should pursue; film business has exposed me to the world including being part of the federal government delegation to represent Nigeria in the USA in 2008, where I interacted with many stakeholders. I am an authority in the film industry.