Text of Inauguration Address
On being elected as President of Association of Nigerian Authors – (2011-2013)
Dear Compatriots of the Pen:
On Saturday, December 3, 2011, you made history by voting in a new team of writers with a mandate to administer the affairs of the Association of Nigerian authors for the next two years. I am privileged to be the leader of this team. More than anything including experience, awards, degrees, age, and lachrymose strategy, it was Providence that offered this opportunity and challenge. For the next two years, I promise to dedicate all my breath and strength to all matters about and related to the development and sustenance of Nigerian Literatures at home and abroad. Indeed, I have the good luck of having some of the brightest and experienced minds among us as members of the new executive committee, individuals who are determined to make a difference, by dint of their own enthusiasm, commitment and a solidarity of purpose.
In the euphoria of my first statement after the election results were announced, I remembered saying that with other members of the executive committee, I would pursue the main points of my manifesto to the letter. I shall add here that this is a promise that I hold sacrosanct, by which I want to be judged by all in the months ahead because we have the confidence and optimism of this new team of writers as cultural workers. My manifesto, with those of the Secretary and the PRO (North), will be presented for further scrutiny, emendation, appropriation and action by the executive committee.
In my first message to appreciative friends on Facebook, I noted that “ANA has won”. I meant and still mean this. After thirty years of its existence, the last two years of which went without any memorable event, it becomes necessary to be sober enough to say that the collective heart of ANA needs mending, and in that night that the drastic surgery took place, it was only obvious to swallow our joy and say that, truly ANA has won, extricated from the grips of dirty politicking, sheer chicanery and crass corruption. ANA won, and the negative spell of silence is finally overcome. Over time, we have tried to cover the pregnancy of our inaction or commission with our bare hands; now, the bloating is too endemic and we can no longer pretend that a tumour is a mere pimple.
Here then is a clarion call, an open invitation to all those who know themselves as genuine writers to return to the fold. Truth be told, we found ourselves in the rut because we allowed mis-direction without question, because we left the baby suffocating in the ammonia flood of our indifference. This aloofness must end today. Fellow Nigerian writer, I call upon you to join me and others in the duty of reconstruction for this is a crucial task that is doable. We love to say that ours is the largest body of creative writers in Africa, yet we operate as a reluctant bird limping on a wing. No longer shall we allow schisms and unnecessary polarisation sprung on ethnicism, gerontocracy and homeland/exilic or migratory considerations. Our association must now be named properly, as “Association of Nigerian Authors, worldwide” because we know that a substantial fraction of Nigerian writing is alive abroad, and these compatriots outside of the country must not be sidetracked for any extraneous reason. All our voices must count. Henceforth, we shall depend on the contribution of every Nigerian writer, home or abroad, who is desirous of change and the real development and sustenance of our literary, cultural space.
As we expect the work of reconstruction to continue in earnest, I am obliged to inform you that the current executive committee has not been duly briefed on the assets and liabilities accrued to the association. Apparently, the announcement of a new crop of executive members forced a rift in the order of proceedings such that for the very first time in memory, at the 30th anniversary of the association, in Abuja FCT, we had an Annual Convention dinner night without awards ceremonies. Hours after the bungled occasion, we got our first baptism of fire by responding rapidly to the problem of unpaid bills for the accommodation of some of our stranded delegates. When the results of the winning entries were released eventually, we realised that there was no money to actualise some of these prizes. Over time, some of the listed prizes had been moribund. We hope to re-open or suspend or create new categories of awards in order to bring integrity and seriousness to one of the image-making programmes of the association.
Finally, I would like to thank all those genuine lovers of ANA who ignored the actionable campaign of calumny against my person and cast their votes for the future of ANA, believing in our capability. For those who doubted our resolve, I hope that our positive actions and achievements would convince you in time ahead. Every genuine member of ANA is welcome into the moving train of change.
I use this opportunity to encourage the full participation of all state branches of ANA in the order of programmes that will unfold in the coming months. Under specific projects and actions, we want to strengthen weak branches, just as we want to support virile branches further. We will work on local, national and international liaisons and depend on volunteer work a great deal. Surely, our association needs life-buoys! Let every light shine today for the life of tomorrow’s plant. I believe that we can make the difference between yesterday and tomorrow. Today.
Association of Nigerian Authors.