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‘I practically grew up in a cinema house’

Peter Igho: I have been asked that question quite a number of times and it is usually difficult for me to know where to start…

Peter Igho: I have been asked that question quite a number of times and it is usually difficult for me to know where to start because my memory of the wonderful things that I have gone through start from when I was very young in my primary school days. I was born in Jos and my father was a tin miner so I grew up in various mines around the Jos plateau where my father went to work. Jos was a very cross metropolitan area so I grew up imbibing the cultures of many others. We lived in a compound where we were the only none Igbo’s for many years and so I grew up speaking Igbo. I went to a catholic school and most of the students and teachers were Igbo.

Of course in Jos, Hausa was the lingua franca so everybody spoke Hausa. So that is the background which I grew up in. From primary school in Jos, I went to St. Johns College in Kaduna and it is presently called Rimi College and those are very wonderful years again. I went up to high school and after high school, I taught in the school again before going to the University of Ibadan. I graduated from Ibadan in 1972 and while in Ibadan, I took part in many production, creative arts and English. I majored in English.

When I graduated in 72, I was employed by the Federal Public Service Commission posted to North West State which was one of the 12th states then. From Sokoto which was the capital of the North West state I was posted to Bida as an education officer to teach the Teachers College and was there for three years. While I was there as a young restless graduate, I needed things to do so I got the students together to produce plays for stage and among two of the plays I did, one of them was called Ogadasat and it became very successful, so successful that the principal asked us to perform for the entire town. All the students watched and all the teachers watched it. For two weeks we also performed for the entire town to come and watch.

After that, the word had gotten round the entire state and so the principal got vehicles for us and we had to go round the state. We went to Minna, from Minna we went to Kaduna. On our way to Gusau it was recorded on television on NTA Kaduna. We passed from there to Gusau and we got to Sokoto. By the time I came back the state wanted to start television in ministry of culture then and education wanted to retain me. It was a question of where I should go, in the end I chose to go to television and we were the pioneer members of NTA Sokoto of course the rest is history and from then on my life in broadcasting started.

WM: Do you have any particular childhood memory you want to share with us?

Igho: There are so many memories. We are not a very rich family. The mining business was such that today you strike a good mine then for months later there is nothing. So we swung from one pendulum of poverty to not having at all. There are memories that keep us on track. There are times you come back from school and you can tell from the look of your mothers face that there is nothing prepared to eat. Sometimes she walks out and you know she is taking some of her wrappers to go and sell. So that begins to keep you focused on knowing that life is not a bed of roses and you have to be serious with whatever you do.

That is why sometimes people say it as if it has become a fad but if you have gone through it, you will know that it is not a fad. We had to hawk to augment our mother because most times, my father was in the mines for a month or two months. My mother had to fend for herself physically. Some of those times and like other women, she got into everything; we sold groundnuts, we sold palm oil, we sold garri, we sold “puff-puff”, we sold whatever was in vogue to make ends meet.

We practically grew up in the cinema. When we go to sell eggs, we end up in the cinema and there were films in the morning, afternoon and evenings. Those moments when we went in to watch those films, we forgot about hunger, poverty and were in another world.

WM: As the brain behind Cock Crow at Dawn can you recount some memories?

Igho: Well like all great things, they say failure is an orphan and success has many fathers. Yes I have been associated with Cock Crow at Dawn because I was the producer. Before Cock Crow at Dawn, I was in NTA Sokoto like I said and from Sokoto, I produced a play which I both produced and directed called “moment of truth” and in a festival on competition among all the television stations that play came first and because of that I was selected  to produce what NTA wanted to be the first ever drama series on location to help support government endeavors in agriculture and that time the government of the day had come up with an agricultural programme and when NTA saw the success of that production we did where we won from Sokoto and so they thought we could produce a drama series to help support government endeavor in agricultuture; an agricultural series that will promote agriculture and so I was called to Lagos. The brief I got was to produce a drama series. And I said fine but I believe that if you are addressing the masses, then we should do what is available and believable in terms of the masses.

And I asked, how many poor people can walk to a bank and get a loan and go and buy mechanical instruments, not many but if a low income person can access it, it’s not believable therefore planted the story as someone who didn’t have much education as a low income earner and was working as a laborer in a factory. After a while, they decide to retrench some people and he is among those who was retrenched. Now at the end of the day, his children are also getting into all kinds of problems. Larai getting all kinds of bad company. Bitrus goes with his friend to smuggle things across the border. Part of the objective of government was also to encourage people to go back to the villages to take up agriculture. So this is the background.

WM: How did you meet your wife?

Igho: When I ran into her in a shop in Bida. Her uncle was the manager of the shop and she had come to spend the holiday. She was helping him in the shop. From there things took shape. And today we are happily married as husband and wife.

WM: How many kids do you have?

Igho: Usually we don’t count children in my culture. My father had so many children and many of them are still my children that I look after. I lost my immediate younger sister who had two children and they are part of my children. So I have lots of children.

WM: Has any of your kids taken after you media-wise?

Igho: Almost all of them are into broadcasting. They grew up in it and have imbibed it so they can speak the language and talk the talk. Some have trained in directing and production, some have trained in special effects and animation, some have trained in the sound and musical element of broadcasting and they are in various forms of broadcasting and I am happy for that because the tradition continues.

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