BusinessDay

Hijack 93: The Mad Men & The Aircraft

...A Nigeria-UK co-production that tells true-life story of 1993 plane hijack sets for production

“Ladies and Gentlemen, this plane has been taken over by MAD Men; Movement for the Actualization of Democracy… MAD…. Remain calm, we will not harm you. You will be told where the plane will land” (Hijack 93)

Once upon a time in 1993, four self-proclaimed MAD Men, Nigerian teenagers championing a Movement for the Actualization of Democracy, found themselves on board an aircraft heading to Abuja from Lagos. Midway into the trip, the MAD Men overpowered both crew and passengers, and hijacked the plane. After several attempts to coerce the pilot to reroute the flight to Frankfurt, Germany, in a protest showing their dissatisfaction for the series of events that followed the June 12 elections that democratically elected Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola, MKO Abiola, as the Nigerian president-elect, they explored the option of landing the plane at Niamey, Niger Republic, where they held the plane hostage for seventy hours with demands to enthrone democracy in Nigeria.

Fast forward to 2019, Charles Okpaleke, a multiple award-winning filmmaker and CEO of Play Network Studios, announced his initiative to create a movie based on this true-life story. As seen on his social media, Okpaleke announced, “I have just approved the final draft of this exciting thriller, and my team and I are set to commence principal photography”. His comments were met with responses filled with excitement and encouragement from friends, acquaintances and well-wishers, far and wide, locally and internationally.

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The movie; “The Hijack 93” is an unequalled creative mission by two of the most prolific film production companies in Nigeria, Play Network Studios and Native Media TV, in collaboration with UK-based filmmaker, Femi Oyeniran. The co-production, largely supported by the UK Government Department of International Trade (DIT), which has been actively seeking and facilitating UK-Nigeria co-productions in the film and TV space, and the British Film Institute (BFI), aims to tell the legendary African story through the prism of motion pictures. The co-collaborators find the project most expedient for encouragement because they acknowledge that what happens to us is our story, and the stories we tell become our history. The story of the African person must be told and defined by Africans.

The co-production will be a work of marvel between three Nigerian critically acclaimed producers, and one of the finest UK producers and filmmakers. The first is Rogers Ofime, a multi award-winning filmmaker, who needs no introduction. His movies Voiceless, Olobiri and many more that are not only well-made, but tell stories that resonate in a didactic manner, speak for his experience and exposure in the industry. Charles Okpaleke, the man behind the initiative, with award-winning movies including but not limited to Living in Bondage, Rattlesnake: The Ahanna Story and Glamour Girls, brings to the partnership his innovation, audacity and dedication to excellence. Thirdly, Agozie Ugwu, a highly cerebral film director and producer, who produced the recently released Aki and Pawpaw for Play Network Studios, an erudite film scholar with a host of academic feathers to his portfolio. The last, but not the least is Femi Oyeniran, one of the finest British producers and directors with an avalanche of experience in filmmaking including writing an episode on the Netflix Original series Turn Up Charlie by Idris Elba. Femi has been a major player in productions such as; Sky Atlantic Series: Tin Star, Comedy Central’s Drunk History: Black Stories, as well as The Culture Capsule, which is BET’s first UK-originated programme.

Ladies and gentlemen, the time has now come to fasten your seatbelts as the plane gears for take-off; the making of history is upon us and the frontiers are opening up.

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