ANA is Behaving like a Political Party, says Osundare, Nigerian Poet

> ANA is behaving like a political party, says
> Osundare
>
>
>
> By Anote Ajeluorou
>
>
>
> The Guardian, March 8, 2010
>
> http://odili.
> net/news/ source/2010/ mar/8/4.html
>
>
>
> After taking a critical look at the current state of
> affairs of the once vibrant Association of Nigerian Authors
> (ANA), its former secretary Prof. Niyi Osundare has come up
> with a damning verdict for the association’ s seeming
> lack of direction and ideas. Prof. Osundare told The
> Guardian recently that ANA was behaving like a political
> party for its seeming lack of focus and unusual reticence in
> national issues.
>
>
>
> He noted that the association had failed totally in
> pursuing the ideals of writers and as conscience of the
> society. ANA, usually noted for its concern for the state of
> the nation, has hardly uttered a word in the recent past to
> make a position statement on issues plaguing the nation.
> Such silence, Osundare said, was not fitting for an
> association usually known for its robustness of ideas.
>
>
>
> Also of concern to the acclaimed poet is the
> association’ s closeness to the powers that-be and the
> monies the association receives from such sources in the
> name of organising convention jamborees. “I don’t
> know when last ANA issued a position paper or a communiquŽ
> on the national situation,” he charged. “And, if
> there’s anytime this kind of stand is necessary, it is
> now! This is extremely important. The political situation in
> our country is dire.
>
>
>
> As I keep on saying, without the political kingdom, there
> will be no place for us to stand and stare. “Our people
> should also know that the reason we are not writing enough,
> the reason we’re not reading enough, then reason we
> don’t have enough books to read is because our politics
> has been badly organised, and our economy is in the
> doldrums.
>
>
>
> “How much of this money is accounted for after each
> annual convention? We used to do this. We had an auditor,
> who would audit and submit reports. ANA is behaving like a
> political party and this is not the original idea of ANA.
> ANA should be a kind of workhouse or factory and repository
> and fountain of ideas. I don’t see many ideas coming out
> apart from the jamboree at the end of every year in Kaduna,
> Owerri, Ibadan, Minna and getting the governors to give the
> keynote address.
>
>
>
> “Whatever is convenient for the governor is convenient
> for us. Even when we lay down a programme and it doesn’t
> suit the governor, we alter it to fit his political agenda.
> This is shameful; this is really not how a writers’
> association should be run.”
>
>
>
> Prof. Osundare repeated the parable, which legendary writer
> Prof. Chinua Achebe gave at the inception of the association
> in the 1980s regarding the role the political class should
> play in the fortunes of the association.
>
>
>
> “I was there since ANA’s inception in the 1980S as
> national secretary, and as Oyo State chapter president.
> I’m not just a writer but I’m a passionate believer
> in ANA just as I’m passionate about ASUU. These are the
> two professional groups in Nigeria that I’m passionate
> about; therefore I should be able to voice my own opinion
> about it.
>
>
>
> “ANA has deviated from many of the ideals that saw it
> into existence in the 1980s. Among its problems is political
> corruption. I’m disturbed at the way governors have
> taken over ANA annual conventions. I remember we discussed
> this kind of thing at length in 1981 and 1983 – what should
> be the relationship of Nigerian writers, through ANA, and
> those in power. Achebe gave the parable of the poet and the
> emperor.
>
>
>
> “He said that the poet should be close enough to the
> emperor to hear his whispers; but he should be far away from
> the emperor so as to escape the claws of power. When ANA
> held its convention at the then University of Ife, we argued
> back and forth whether the governor should be invited. And
> the governor of Oyo State then was Chief Bola Ige, himself
> an excellent writer. But we argued back and forth. In the
> end, we reached a compromise that first as a writer, let him
> come, and he gave the lecture.
>
>
>
> “We used to argue before inviting politicians. We did
> not want politicians to takeover our association. At the end
> of each convention, there were communiquŽs about the state
> of the union, about the state of the country. I used to take
> part in the communiquŽs; in fact there were two
> organisations I was always involved in writing the
> communiquŽs – ASUU and ANA.
>
>
>
> “We would do an analysis of the political and economic
> situation of the country and how it all pertained to
> culture, and criticise and offer suggestions. I don’t
> see such things happening these days. When Chief Olusegun
> Obasanjo was corrupting the political system of this country
> into working for his third term, it took the prodding of
> people from different areas for ANA to offer some kind of
> statement.
>
>
>
> “I did not hear say anything about the rigged
> elections of 2007. I didn’t heard ANA say anything about
> how the election tribunals have been going on. I haven’t
> heard ANA say anything about the situation in Anambra; no!
>
>
>
> (the above is an excerpt)

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