Sadiq Abubakar Daba, famously known as Sadiq Daba, is a veteran actor, producer, and director who spent about 40 years of his life behind and in front of the camera. From news reading to acting, his sterling career was crowned with awards and recognition.
He acted as Bitrus in Cock Crow At Dawn, the popular soap opera that ruled the TV in the 1970s and 1980. The stage name has stuck so much that even at 68, most people don’t know Sadiq Daba’s real name as they choose to call him Bitrus. “That is the power of television,” According to Sadiq Daba
Originally from Kano, he grew up in Sierra Leone where he attended St. Edwards Secondary School, Freetown, Sierra Leone,
He enjoyed listening to the radio and mimicked the leading broadcasters then. His father bought him a tape recorder which he used in honing his skills.
He returned to Nigeria on June 28, 1968, he got his first job with Government Coastal Agency; towards the tail end of the war. He used to supply materials at the ordinance depot at Yaba. He left for Kano to join the Nigeria Customs. And later to Kaduna to visit his brother who was an army officer Major Mohammed Daba.
It was while on this trip to Kaduna that he encountered Khalifa, Baba Ahmed who was impressed by his voice at Hamdallah Hotel and introduced him to Radio Television Kaduna. He started there as a continuity announcer in 1973. He subsequently attended NTA/TV College, and Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, for higher education.
From Kaduna to Jos and more, he served at Nigeria Television Authority for 35 years.
He read the news, reported, acted, produced and directed. According to his son, “there was a time Mnet and AIT brought letters of appointment for him, but he rejected both. My father has policies and he is rigid. He is not lured by money. If anything does not suit his principles, he won’t accept the offer.”
Daba gained wide repute as ‘Bitrus’ in the early 1980’s soap opera and docudrama ‘’Cock Crow at Dawn’’. He is also known for his roles in ‘’Behind the Clouds’’, ‘’A Place like Home’’, ‘’Soweto’’, Ripples, Village Headmaster, and ‘’Moment of Truth’’. In 2014, he appeared in a starring role as ‘Inspector Danladi Waziri’ in ‘’October 1’’, which earned him the Best Actor Award at the 11th Africa Movie Academy Award in 2015.
In 2016, Daba featured in Michael Asuelime’s ‘’Entreat’’. In the same year, he was honored with an Industry Merit Award at the 4th Africa Magic Viewers Choice Awards. Daba is also known for his role as ‘Epa John’ in Africa Magic’s telenovela, ‘’Hotel Majestic’’ (2015-2016).
He is married to Bolaji Daba from the Oluwa family. She is from Lagos State, a royal family whom he met in Jos, he has six children and grandchildren. His first Son Abdukadiri Daba who is a graduate of Mass Communication from Ahmadu Bello University is a complete replica of his dad.
Abdulkadiri describes his father in a recent interview as a nice and easy-going, extremely jovial. “But when he is annoyed, he indirectly vents his anger on us. I used to feel bad but now I try to console him and make him relaxed. We then talk as men, not as father and son. Sometimes when we got out together, he introduces me as his friend and vice versa. He does not move with the crowd”
Sadiq Daba’s battles with leukemia, prostate cancer
Sadiq Daba battled with leukemia and prostate cancer. Many Nigerians supported him through this trying time. An oxygen machine was donated to him by Nigerian billionaire businessman, Femi Otedola, who also took it upon himself to settle his medical bills.
In an interview after his return from medical trip abroad, sadiq Daba described his condition;
“You can see machines all over the place. But then, I still give God the glory. God has been very faithful. All praise unto Him… I take each day as it comes (coughs). But I thank God for His mercy. My situation is such that the English say it does not just rain, it pours. I was first diagnosed with leukemia. Suddenly, prostate cancer followed..
..For those two, I was lucky to have been flown to the UK to come back early this year. I felt sick at some point again and thought it was malaria. I tried to treat that at home, but it didn’t work. The day after, it got worse. It was a Sunday and I called a doctor who had been treating me for my breathing problem. He said that I should be rushed to the hospital. Luckily, I was treated on time. Ten minutes late, according to the doctor, I would have died.
I did X-rays, CT scans, all sorts of tests, and I was rushed to the emergency consulting place. It was the beginning of my admission which lasted about three weeks. The doctors did a good job. I was all the time on oxygen and discharged on the basis that I have to have an oxygen machine at home”
Advice for young upcoming actors and entertainers
Believe in yourself and do not be a copy cat. Be proud that you are a Nigerian. You cannot be more American than the American. In American films, they do not glamorise their slums; they show you the better parts of America. Those who want to go into acting, drama, and broadcasting should know that they are going to be ambassadors of Nigeria.
They should project what is good about Nigeria. Always be there as your brother’s keeper. Forget that you are from a particular tribe. There are bad Yoruba, bad Ibo and bad Hausa people. But then for each bad person from another tribe, there are several good people, so why not look for the good people? If you do bad, no matter how long it takes, it will catch up with you.
Sadiq Daba is a Fellow of the distinguished and acclaimed Nigerian Theatre Arts Association.
Sadiq Abubakar Daba who was diagnosed with leukemia and prostate cancer about four years ago has finally lost the battle Wednesday evening, 3rd March 2021 at Ayinka General hospital in Ikeja, where he had been receiving treatment.