It is 2012, the country is Nigeria and between a very active militant group and an unpopular president, the most common word is an unlikely one: “SUBSIDY”. From three year olds in Warri to septuagenarians in Potiskum, lives have been affected and the word ‘subsidy’ has personified hardship, oppression and corruption at an exponential level.
The oil subsidy placed on petroleum products by the Nigerian government was meant to provide a much-needed relief on the cost of living in one of the most complicated countries in the world. However after a probe by the House of Representatives, it was revealed that about seven billion dollars was stolen from the Nigerian people in one year from the same program that was meant to provide relief for them. It is quite possibly one of the most daring frauds in history.
FUELLING POVERTY is a documentary that expresses and articulates this fraud. Its objectives are to:
- Educate Nigerians and the international community on the oil subsidy scam and the ensuing probe.
- Provide easy to understand information on the cost of the oil subsidy scam on Nigerians.
- Adequately ’embarrass’ to ensure that a process of house cleaning is started and an implementation of the subsidy report or policies that curb this level of corruption.
The documentary, made by award winning director, Ishaya Bako follows the fuel subsidy saga from the deliberations between government and civil society at the infamous “Lagos Townhall meeting” in 2011, through the unprecedented January 2012 protests (#OccupyNigeria) to the House of Representatives probe and the [Farouk Lawan vs Femi Otedola] scandal. It features commentary from renowned lawyer and activist, Femi Falana; musician and activist, Seun Kuti, social entrepreneur – Japheth Omojuwa, former minister to the FCT, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai and a host of others.
Nobel laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, gives an introduction to the documentary, which undermines the decadence that led to the fuel subsidy scam to acknowledge the next generation of young patriotic Nigerians.
With music from Femi Kuti and Asa, FUELLING POVERTY is another collaboration between the award-winning team of writer/ director, Ishaya Bako and producer, Oliver Aleogena; a joint production between The Allied Film Company and Amateur Heads Media. The film is funded by the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA).
The protests in Nigeria at the beginning of 2012 were huge. ‘#OccupyNigeria’ was trending world over and after the Arab Spring of 2011; there was a sense of belief in the power the people had, especially young people to demand for a better government. But this is Nigeria; it’s a little more complicated here. The protests were unprecedented, but there was a sense of foreboding that the outcome will remain the same- the labour unions will cut a less than satisfactory deal. And that’s what happened. Many were disappointed, including myself and I felt something needed to be said about this incessant disease that is corruption and it’s daunting repercussions on the state of the nation.
The opportunity came when I received a phone call from Adaora Ikenze, the country director for OSIWA who I have come to love and respect for her daring and intelligent character. “I have a proposition for you” was how our conversation started and that is where the seeds for the documentary, FUELLING POVERTY were planted. I met with the team from OSIWA and began drafting the structure of the documentary. The one thing we were clear about was the need to make a piercing and sentient piece that details the cost of government level corruption on its people and that formed the backdrop going into this project. The fuel subsidy scam encapsulated this idea perfectly.
It was a whirlwind journey researching and interviewing different people from different social classes and different walks of life. Halfway through the documentary, the bribery scandal between the chairman of the House committee investigating the fuel subsidy scam and a major oil marketer surfaced and placed a spanner in the works as some of our research was sourced from the house committee report. It however worked in our favour as it underlined the very point we sought out to make which was the cancer of corruption in our system, from private sector to government level.
On a personal note, it was a privilege working on this project and sharing ideas with the people that helped along the way who were incredibly supportive and to whom I owe a huge debt of gratitude. Special thanks to Prof Wole Soyinka who agreed to be a part of the project early on and who, in usual fashion was graceful and insightful. PRINCIPAL CREDITS
Written and Directed by Ishaya Bako
Produced by Oliver Aleogena
Narrated by Babatunde Oyateru
Editor: Dieudonne Nformi
Cinematography: Tokunbo “DJ Tee” Olubawo, Idowu Adedapo, Shalom Enabulele, Lekan Buari.
Sound: Standcity Victor
Title: Fuelling Poverty
Genre: Documentary Short Subject
Date of Completion: November 2012
Country of Production: Nigeria
Running Time: 28 minutes
Shooting Format: High Definition
Audio: Dolby Stereo
Aspect Ratio: 16:9
Languages: English, Pidgin, Hausa, Yoruba (with English Subtitles)
Screening Formats: BluRay, DV Cam and DVD
Production Companies: The Allied Film Company and Amateur Heads Media
Rights & Sales
The Open Society Initiative for West Africa,
#32 Amazon Street, Maitama, Abuja.
Amateur Heads Media
Seun Kuti, Femi Falana, Nasir El Rufai, Eze Onyekpere, Japheth Omojuwa, Azeenarh Mohammed, Mohammed Fawehinmi, Sani Mohammed, Augustine Chukwu, Onyekachi E. Ogbodo, Joy Ngozi Onu, Emmanuel Tom Ekin and the kind contribution of the Nigerian People.
Special Guest Appearance: Prof Wole Soyinka