The Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA) had successfully conducted its 34th international convention in Kaduna from 12th – 15th November, 2015. The opening ceremony was held at Arewa House, the residence of the Premier of northern Nigeria, Sir Ahmadu Bello.
The Convention hosted Professor Harry Garuba of the Centre of African Studies, University of Cape Town as a guest speaker who discussed intensively on Nigerian writing in home and abroad.
As I earlier mentioned in my previous write-up that the venue of the convention would serve as a source of inspiration to the teeming writers, of course it went the way I had anticipated it. Many young writers were taken round the house and the museum of Sir Ahmadu Bello, which made them mesmerized and yearns for having united Nigeria, full of peace and unity. From various conversations and Facebook posts I followed, the objective of the convention is achieved.
At the opening ceremony, a minute silence was observed in honour of members of the association that lost their lives, especially its former President Ken Saro Wiwa who was killed twenty years ago.
The afternoon session began with a public presentation of an anthology of new Nigerian short stories entitled, ‘Telling Our Stories’ by Zaharaddeen Ibrahim Kallah who is one of the editors of the anthology. The book is a collection of thirty five short stories written by Nigerian writers who tell stories about their country, their problems, their fears and their dreams. According to Zaharaddeen, the association achieved its goal of publishing the anthology with the support of the Central Bank of Nigeria in their effort to promote literature.
The next interesting activity was interaction with Senator Shehu Sani of Kaduna Central, who is also a prolific writer and activist. The Comrade attended the event to share the joy of writing with his colleagues; the writers. I first met the Comrade at the ANA Convention hosted by Imo State in 2007. I commend him for connecting with his colleagues by sparing time to attend the convention even though he has tight schedules. That is what many people lack, because we have known many writers who have exceled in life but neglected their comrades in arms.
The Comrade spoke well on Nigerian literature and his plan to push a bill for Arts endowment. The new EXCO are expected to send nominees to represent the association in a meeting invited by Senator Shehu Sani to strategies the proposal.
In the interaction, the Comrade recounted his experience when he was jailed and his encountered with late Ken Saro wiwa at the prison. He later answered questions on the creative writing endowment and the nature of Nigerian politics. The Comrade revealed his intention of hosting next ANA International Convention in Abuja, which is quite commendable. I am sure if Nigerian writers would have people like Shehu Sani, they can drive literature to its highest level.
In the evening, reading presentations were held at Hamdala Hotel where writers read their creative works. The programme was interesting as it gave room for emerging and prolific writers to meet with one another and share ideas on creative writing
The last day of the event was Annual General Meeting (AGM). It was a business for the bona fide members of the association. At the event, the national executive council presented various reports to the congress. It gave room for members to review and checkmate their EXCO and activities conducted by the association.
What had drawn my attention most was the issue of ANA land, which is always a topic of discussion at every convention. The legal adviser of the association, Barrister Ahmad Maiwada briefed the congress about the court case they won and the sabotages encountered after the case. Earlier before, Odia Ofeimun briefed members on his stand regarding the land. Ofeimun was of the opinion that the ANA land should be preserved for the next generation. He debunked the idea of selling some portions of the land in order to develop the other part.
In his response, Maiwada, explained the in ability of Ofeimun to provide alternative way to maintain the land despite his condemnation of selling some portions. According to him, it requires about five million naira every year to maintain the land. He said when 17 hectares are sold; the association can be able to build a fifty-room hotel, an international conference hall and offices for all the branches across the states. If that is the case, I see no reason of keeping the land given to the association for decades by late Mamman Jiya Vatsa dreaming for government to build it for writers.
The next event after the AGM was electing new executive council. It was the longest elections I partook in my entire stay in the association. The electoral committee was not able to announce result until around 3:00a.m. This made the association’s dinner not to hold in its regular way where winners of literary prizes are announced.
The electoral committee announced Denja Abdullahi as the new President of the association after defeating his opponent B.M Dzukogi. One can say the consensus meeting led by Dr Wale Okediran before the elections was fruitful. Few hours after the announcement of the result, B.M Dzukogi through his Facebook account congratulated his opponent Denja Abdullahi. This is an indication that the friendship developed over the years may continue to progress without allowing the politicking to endanger their old friendship. It is known by all that in an election there must always be a loser.
It is now a time for the new President, Denja Abdullahi to put his words into practice. In his manifesto, he promised to take the association to a greater height by running an all-inclusive administration, returning ANA into its fundamental objectives of being a writers’ craft, ensuring that the Mamman Jiya Vatsa Writers’ Resort is built and many more.
I hope he will begin with the 8 years strategic plan for the association (2016-2023) outlined in his manifesto, which could be a roadmap to achieving goals and objectives he intends to achieve. That is the starting point by putting into cognizance, the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of the association.