By: Chux Ohai
Two years after it publicly presented 10 new books published under the newly established Nigerian Writers Series, the Association of Nigerian Authors is about to commence the second phase of the book project.
But, ANA President, Mallam Denja Abdullahi, in an interview with our correspondent, complained that the association had not received any good returns on the books, which were handed over to four selected publishing companies at the onset of the Series.
Acknowledging that the books were already available in bookshops across the country, he said, “We spent close to N7m on that venture, yet we haven’t started generating returns on the investment. I have asked the publishers to give us a picture of what is happening. All of them have written to say that they sold negligible copies of the books, but they have not sent in any returns.”
The ANA president blamed the situation on failure on the part of the publishing companies to embark on an effective publicity and marketing drive for the books. He warned that if the books were not well publicised and aggressively pushed into places where they would be bought in bulk, the writers’ body might not get the kind of returns that would sustain the Nigerian Writers Series.
Also, speaking on the current status of the proposed Mamman Vatsa Writers’ Village at Mape, Abdullahi said the current national executive council of the association had recently constituted a Writers’ Village Development Committee under the leadership of a former President of the association, Dr. Wale Okediran.
The committee, he added, also held a meeting with the land developer in Abuja, visited the site of the Village and then came up with a report on how to go about the execution of the project.
He said, “There is a preliminary development effort on the land in terms of infrastructure, drainage and others. The developer is currently trying to get the original Certificate of Occupancy issued by the land authority in Abuja for the parcel of land. Ironically, the same document is still out of the reach of ANA.
“The Certificate of Occupancy is still not in our custody. It is being withheld by Home Securities Limited, the company that took ANA to court over the parcel of land. After the court ruled in favour of the association in its judgment, the owner of the company claimed that he had lost the document. When we tried to get the document from the land authority, we were told that it was not missing.”
Abdullahi noted that without the original Certificate of Occupancy, the company assigned with the task of developing the property might not be able to raise funds for the project.
The absence of the document appears to be stalling ANA’s overall drive for the development of the proposed Writers’ Village. And, contrary to the expectations of the members of ANA, the court that ruled in the favour of the association did not compel Home Securities to hand over the ‘missing’ Certificate of Occupancy because its lawyer did not plead for it.
While admitting that it was an error on the part of ANA and the lawyer, Abdullahi said that Home Securities had appealed the judgment that restored the ownership of the land to ANA four years ago. Before doing that, the owner had turned around to openly admit that the Certificate of Occupancy was in his possession and not missing as he previously claimed. He also boasted that he would never hand the document to ANA.
However, undeterred by the sudden twist in the matter, Abdullahi and his team have resolved to carry on with the plan to develop the parcel of land.
“Although the case is in the Court of Appeal, it does not stop us from commencing work on the Writers’ Village. We have already informed the developer that we want to hold ANA’s 35th anniversary convention in Abuja this year and we want some of the activities to take place on that land. We have asked him to ensure that some of the structures, such as the National Secretariat Complex and the Conference Centre, are ready before October,” the ANA President said.
ANA has also started working towards the 2016 Yusuf Ali Literary Awareness Campaign. This year, the focus will be on tertiary institutions of learning in the country. A number of programmes will be organised in selected institutions during the campaign. Most of the state chapters of ANA have submitted their proposals for the event.