Friday, April 16, 2021

NTA Benin versus Hotel De Jordan : Endless intrigues


Jaafar Jaafar
Jaafar Jaafar is a graduate of Mass Communication from Bayero University, Kano. He was a reporter at Daily Trust, an assistant editor at Premium Times and now the editor-in-chief of Daily Nigerian.
tiamin rice

That way it stand a chance of bringing back its golden years, when creatives like the late producers, David Orere and others enhanced its image right from start in the then Midwest Region as MTV (Midwest Television)

I don’t really know what hurdles Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) is facing that it cannot rebrand and make itself more popular amongst its viewers, with a programme that set it apart in the past. For instance, bringing back the sensational soap, Hotel De Jordan, to thousands of its viewers in Edo State would be a boon. That way, it can actually sustain the station’s age-old, self-praising slogan, ‘the award-winning station.’

That way it stand a chance of bringing back its golden years, when creatives like the late producers, David Orere and others enhanced its image right from start in the then Midwest Region as MTV (Midwest Television)

This spectacular soap was a creation of Mr.Jonathan Ihonde; he did it all on his own and the then Programmes Manager from the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), Mr. Peter Jarvis, solely recruited to Benin City by late Gen. Osaigbovo Ogbemudia, who established the station, helped to give it verve.

It is important to specifically go down memory lane to recall the birth of the station. This would avail those, who now call the shots at NTA to realise that they are killing the hen that laid the golden eggs. They should be told in clear terms that an ageless soap like Hotel De Jordan gave birth to the station’s chest-beating slogan of ‘the award-winning station.’

If one may ask, what would NTA Benin Production Centre miss if it devotes 30 minutes to air this soap? Must Hotel De Jordan die?
Marketing such a major soap would certainly make prospective advertisers fall over themselves to be given the chance to sponsor it. A good and popular product never stays on the shelf for long, as keen, prospective buyers usually rush to get it. A discerning corporate body intent on being popular so as to increase its market share would grab such a chance to show off on alongside such popular soap as Hotel De Jordan.

To date, no single soap enjoying sponsorship on NTA can stand the age-long popularity of Hotel De Jordan.The reasons for this are simple. The producer, Mr. Ihonde, is an erudite activist, a creative disciple, who knows Nigerian politicians, their dress code, attitudes and endless pranks in sucking the blood of the Nigerian masses and he tells the story bluntly through the soap and the masses are made witnesses as they suffer in the hands of the elite class: this is the plot and mission of the soap.

Good enough, the leading casts of the drama, who depicted its realistic and thought-provoking punch are still alive: Chief Ajax (Sam Osemede) is alive, but wasting away at a flower garden around Ugbowo; the houseboy and clown, Idemudia is around; Madam Brefa is also still around, so also Gbewan, the sarcastic village beauty and, of course, Bob Allan (now an academic man at the University of Benin); he certainly would gladly take a role, I am sure), while the professor of jaw-breaking grammar, Prof. Milo Moro, has
groomed his son to step into his shoes.

Perhaps, NTA Benin needs to be told that this soap draws fans much more than those foreign football league matches it now shows.Ihonde is ageing, but his creativity in assessing Nigerian society through his apt craft should be tapped now before he passes away; certainly, no one would be tickled with the usual official tributes only accorded the dead, who were neglected. I have, in the past, written about late creative disciples like Kokori (David Ariyo), Casino Manager (Ray O’ Slater) and Osiobafo (Emmanuel Oni).

Ihonde has even gone to the extent of recruiting a producer, Joseph Okhomina, to handle pre-production rehearsals; they are still on standby awaiting NTA’s decision to shoot. I can climb atop Kukuruku hills to sing the lyrics of Hotel De Jordan that NTA should revive the soap; it appears NTA does not know what it is missing in terms of top quality programming and content.

This writer is at a loss what the problem is between Ihonde and NTA? The two sides must speak out and let the fans of this soap know. Should the Federal Government that owns NTA call the parties for a resolution? Or are the operational executives of NTA playing games to protect their masters, which the unfolding plot of Hotel De Jordan, with its harmless deliverance, hits hard at the waywardness?

‘Poor man dey suffer, monkey dey work, babu dey chop’ is a line from the signature tune of the opening of the soap, as delivered by Segun Alile, another highly creative musician, who saw it all here in Benin City. He sojourned in Lagos for years, but he has relocated back to his roots in Benin City, with a full band.
This is the story of Hotel De Jordan, the story of an abandoned project!

* Usman Abudah, journalist and writer, is the founder of Afenmai Heritage & Cultural Studies; he wrote from Benin City, Edo State

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