“It’s an election year,” people kept saying. “That’s how conventions turn out on election years,” some of them added as if it should justify every shortcoming that beset the recently held convention of the Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA) at Kaduna.
The convention offered opportunity for old friends to reunite and also for social media friends to finally get to meet in person, yet the social aspect of the program was obviously subdued by the politically charged atmosphere. Every group of two or more persons was most probably campaigning for their preferred candidates rather than discussing literature and the ways to advance it. Not a few attendees (especially first-timers, including yours truly) were disappointed by this turn-out. It was so bad that once the elections were conducted and the winners had emerged, the convention literally came to an end. For some reasons I cannot say, the winning entries for the various prizes were not announced. Imagine the disappointment of all the shortlisted authors who had hoped to be declared winners and get to pose for photographs with friends and well-wishers. Imagine the disappointment of millions of people who spent that entire night combing facebook and twitter for updates on the prize result. Bear in mind that this has nothing to do with the Local Organizing Committee which did everything they could to beat the odds and see that the convention actually held.
Now that the elections are over, the new administration must see to it that the next convention will not suffer such embarrassments as shortage of financial (and other) report copies. They must see to it that state chapters of the association are better supported both in cash and in kind to come up with and carry out projects that will help members’ career and also attract the thousands (if not millions) of writers outside the fold. At the last convention, the outgone president stated categorically that his administration would be bequeathing millions of Naira to her successor. I think that can get a lot of things moving.
Now that the elections are over, the new administration as one among her top priorities, the movement of the association’s land project from the drawing board to the ground. The past administration must be commended for the giant strides she took towards reclaiming portions of the land which had been lost to both human and natural forces.
Now that the elections are over, the current administration must do all it can to not betray the confidence of those that had trusted her with their votes. The administration must strive to do better than her predecessor in every way. Most of all, efforts must be made towards intellectualizing ANA more than politicizing it. Needless to say, the political aspect of the problem plagues the association down to the chapter level. You have people more concerned with occupying positions than actually moving the association forward.
Now that the elections are over, I expect ANA to start thinking of doing things differently from the past. It was obvious that a number of the shortlisted authors were not at the convention probably due to logistical reasons. One simple thing the association can do is decide henceforward to foot the transportation and boarding cost of shortlisted authors. I believe that the association is capable of doing that. If Saraba Magazine did that back in 2011, then I wonder what excuse ANA will want to put up in 2016. In addition, it wouldn’t be unreasonable if the winning prize money was increased to something above One Hundred Thousand Naira, and also if some provisions would be made for the first and second runners-up? We are talking about prizes organized by the largest association of writers in Nigeria and probably in the entire continent!