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Abuja’s ubiquitous CD sellers

Mr Anni operates from the Nyanya axis of the FCT up to Mararaba. He says the idea of selling CDs came in 2010 when all…

Mr Anni operates from the Nyanya axis of the FCT up to Mararaba. He says the idea of selling CDs came in 2010 when all efforts to rent a shop in the FCT proved futile. “The idea came as a result of high charges by shop owners in the FCT. I am not financially buoyant enough to own a shop for my CD business, hence I devised this strategy,” he explained, adding that welders constructed the cart and provided the tyres.

Ani said modernization has changed the lives of many Nigerians who take advantage of portability to carry along with them many CDs in order to listen to music, sermons, and also watch video films. Fred added that there are didactic films for teaching english language and mathematics while others are comedy which elicit laughter as well as children’s films. “I sell home videos, songs, tragi-comedy, tragedy, comedy, epics, religious films, Christian songs and other music,” he elaborated.

Commenting on the sale of pornographic films, Ani said he does not sell such films because they boost moral decadence in the society and corrupt the youths.  He said though some people like viewing such films, the scenes in them are not African. “Those who do so are only living in sin. There are couples who watch such films indoors. But it does not make any sense. If they do not watch such films, won’t they know how to play their game?”, he questioned.

Identifying his customers, Fred said the entire public patronize him for different types of CDs depending on their taste. However, Christian music sells like hot cakes noting that Muslims sometimes demand Christian music because they like the rhythm. “I feel excited whenever I see a muslim requesting for any Christian gospel song, and have come to understand that the world is undergoing a serious transformation towards a united globe where people are beginning to pay no attention to religious differences. Gospel songs sell faster than any other type of music. Parents play them constantly for their children,” Fred assured.

Disclosing his academic qualification and how he went into business, Fred said further that he completed his Senior Secondary School Education (SSCE) in 2005 and was expecting to enter higher institution but his parents died. He did not make attempts to pursue higher education or seek white-collar job but rather, used his initiatives to create an alternative to white-collar job. “The education I had gave me this idea. If I cannot get a white-collar job, this is very close to it because literacy is very important to CD business. I can perfectly sing about 200 tracks of different music verbatim. But I cannot point at a particular musician as my favourite.”

When Weekly Trust wanted to know the items needed to organize such a small-scale business, Fred said he bought a Digital Versatile Disc (DVD, player to play all kinds of CD, an amplifier for moderating sounds, a 250watt loudspeaker, a generator and a 14 inch television, saying, “I need a small generator to make movement easy for me. Anything bigger will be too heavy to lift with all the other items as I trek up and down the city.”

Speaking about his working hours, he says he starts work by 6am and close by 11pm limiting his movements to Nyanya bus stop where he is sure the task force will not disturb his business. He equally noted that when people buy CDs, they return them after some days complaining that they are not original. “Many people take advantage of my being stationary and return CDs after playing them for days.”

People who engage in this business in the suburbs of the FCT are not many, said Fred, adding that there are about four mobile CD shops and they ply Nyanya and Mararaba outside the FCT with the same structure and facilities.

Market booms for mobile CD shops on Nyanya market days when Mr Fred burns a little more than the usual four litres of petrol, maintaining his role in the market by avoiding activities that have to do with the highway. He said the constant trekking may look stressful but it is a normal exercise for him.  “I do not feel any pain. It is like a normal walk to me because I stop to attend to people from time to time.

The testing of video CDs to confirm good quality attracts attention of the public. Children always gather round mobile CD shops particularly when there is a new film or music. Though their presence often calls for public attention, however to save fuel, Fred never leaves on his generator and television set for long. The collapse of the cinema has made Video Compact Disc (VCD) an alternative means of entertainment in homes across the country. With higher qualifications in his mind, he says he has been doing this business for a long time but his earning is unfixed.

In a further interaction with Roland Okafie at Mararaba, he said he completed SSCE in 2000 and decided to own a mobile CD shop that he had been operating for the last three years. “My father died and I embraced the idea in Abuja when I realized the future was becoming bleak without education. In October, 2006, I joined the business of home video to sell Nigerian films, European films and musicals. But now, I have my own business and specialize in Nigerian music. I do not sell foreign films because people complain about them. They use them for some time and return them for lack of originality. That was how I put an end to the sale of foreign films to focus on Nigerian films, high-life, hi-pop and reggae. But the ones that sell most are Christian songs.”

Like Fred, Roland equally observed that many muslims enjoy gospel songs and Igbo music because of the beat.

Rowland disclosed how northerners who have mastered Igbo language or had long years of interaction in the east are patronising him for Igbo music.  On fuel consumption, Rowland said when fuel sold at N65, he spent N100 daily.  But he now spends N800. “Sales are not stable. But I sell CDs worth at least N4,000 daily trekking from Mararaba to Nyanya  and beyond. When I switch on my television in the night to test CDs, children often gather round my cart, thereby attracting people to my business. I feel weak after trekking the whole day. But I never fall sick because that is the nature of my work. The first day was stressful but now trekking with my cart means nothing to me!,” Rowland said with pleasure.

In his reaction to pirated items, Head of Enforcement, Nigeria Copyright Commission (NCC), Mr Augustine A. Amodu, said identifying pirated and original copies of items involve some technicalities as Source Identification Code (SIC) and application for clearance to ascertain originality. Amodu disclosed in an interview with Weekly Trust that the Commission followed applications by the public and seized items worth N10million at Alaba market in Lagos in February, 2000. But the situation in the FCT is quite different because the more you seize their items, the more they bring. “We did the same operation and had eight suspects in Mararaba, six in Garki, all of them under prosecution. Some people do it secretly in Area 8, But we have a way of getting them. Speaking on pirated books, Amodu added that when the Commission invites publishers for identification of their works from pirated copies, they do not respond. He said books bearing the logo of the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) are not to be sold. Therefore, school principals who sell them out are likely to face the NCC. In Kano, Amodu said the Commission carried out a raid and prosecuted the management of a big company that specializes in publishing aboriginal and original books in Kano and the Commission equally cleared Ahmadu Bello Way roundabout, Kaduna, of pirates and their items. “The old but original books that those people sell at Kaduna Leventis roundabout as ‘bend-down’ are not stolen items. We interviewed them after arrest and discovered they were old books sold to them by former scholars,” said Amodu.

The Head of Enforcement, NCC, noted that anti-piracy is a constant operation, as “they had only two convictions in the past but today, they have seven and have carried out operations in Zaria, Kano and other places,” he said.

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