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Why we intervened in ANA crisis – Advisory Council

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Osofisan

The National Advisory Council of Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA) has given reasons for its intervention in the association’s crisis.

Recall that there was an unfortunate debacle at the end of the last ANA national convention in Enugu, as a result of which the elections that should have produced a new ANA Executive were aborted.

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In a report jointly signed by Prof. Femi Osofisan, Prof. Olu Obafemi, Odia Ofeimun, Dr. Wale Okediran, Prof. Akachi Ezeigbo, Prof. May Nwoye, and Prof. Remi Raji and presented by Osofisan, the council noted that the crisis was unprecedented in the association’s history.

The advisory council was contacted to resolve the crisis, which is in line with its constitutional role.

“I immediately set to action, and consulted all the available members of the Council, only to find out, sadly, that none of us was present at the Enugu meeting,” Osofisan said.

According to the dramatist and council chairman, this then obliged him to call for eyewitness accounts from some of those who were there. But these accounts were, perhaps not surprisingly, often contradictory and dilatory, always depending on the roles that each witness played in the confusion.

“I was told, for instance, that one of the reasons that the election failed was that the candidates themselves were the ones who chose the electoral panel; that several delegates who were not qualified to vote were admitted into the assembly; that surprisingly, shamefully, money was being used to induce voters; that some people decided to sabotage the procedure by having NEPA switch off the light at a critical moment; etc.

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“So many stories, so many allegations! The most unpalatable of them had to do, however, with purported shenanigans regarding the ANA land in Abuja, about which I heard numerous accusations and counter-accusations. There were also repeated, violent threats by some individuals about ‘breaking up the association’ if their wishes were not met.”

He added, “this went on for a week, or so, over the phone and through visits to my house by various concerned members, while I tried to decide on an appropriate course of action. In that interval, the chairperson of the five-man electoral committee set up at Enugu, followed by two other members, informed me that they had quit.”

Finally, therefore, “given these circumstances, and after much time-consuming discussion to and fro among ourselves, the Advisory Council decided that the best way forward was for us to organise a completely fresh referendum, in order to give everyone a fair chance.”

Prof. Osofisan said, “the first obstacle was to raise a panel for this exercise. Almost everyone of the people suggested was partisan, and those who were not declined to participate for certain personal reasons. (Prof Ezeigbo, for instance, who had been chosen at Enugu to chair the emergency electoral committee, and had resigned, flatly refused to chair this other one.)

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“As time was passing, and acrimony was increasing especially in the media by aggrieved contestants, we finally felt constrained to take action to stem the controversy and redeem the association. Hence we decided to quickly set up an election committee made up exclusively of former presidents of the association. Then, when we realised that there was only one female here, namely Prof May Nwoye, we had to appeal strongly to Prof Ezeigbo to join the committee since she was in Enugu and seemed to have been trusted by all parties there.

“I have to say here that it was no easy task putting the committee together. Each one was justifiably afraid to have his or her reputation soiled by disgruntled parties. But after much begging and appealing, the following panel finally agreed to serve, just to rescue the association, and as I said, totally at their own expense, without any compensation whatsoever. They are, as follows: Prof Jerry Agada- Chairman
Prof Olu Obafemi, Odia Ofeimun, Dr. Wale Okediran, Prof Akachi Ezeigbo, Prof May Nwoye, and Prof Remi Raji.”

They were given the mandate of setting out the modalities for a new election, and then organising an emergency general meeting to carry it out.

He said as soon as this decision was announced, pressures mounted from various parties. “Barrister Maiwada for instance gave me a very long call, ending with the threat not to cooperate with the Advisory Council unless some members of the Electoral Committee were removed, and some others included. Others also came in with their own pre-conditions. But, given the criteria used to set up the Committee, it was obvious that their wishes could not be entertained without our being accused one way or other of prejudice. It was best to leave the composition of the Committee as it was,” Osofisan said.

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Preparations were then begun in earnest for the EGM and the elections. Money as expected was the major problem, since the council had no funds whatsoever to carry out the assignment. “So, the committee was asked to use its good will to appeal to individuals and private bodies and any other sources it could find to assist in the assignment, while we others sent in whatever we could afford,” Osofisan said. “This of course delayed things considerably, and before we were ready, two unfortunate things happened—first, the Maiwada group began a massive campaign of calumny and abuse against us, jumped guns, and went ahead to organize an illegal election in Abuja, openly defying the injunctions of ANA’s Board Of Trustees.

“Secondly, a terrible epidemic, of unprecedented ferocity, descended on the world, spreading fear and panic everywhere, and disrupting our normal way of life. This Corid-19, as the pandemic has come to be known, shut down the entire country, and brought all activities to a halt.

“As a result, it took some time for the EGM/Elections to hold. Indeed, they held at last only because of the political weight and influence of the committee’s chairman, Prof Jerry Agada, former minister of education of the Federation.

“There are more stories to tell, most of them unsavoury, and you undoubtedly know most of them already. So there is little point setting them out again here. Suffice it to say that in spite of it all, our mission has been successfully completed.”

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Meanwhile, major decisions and resolutions reached at the EGM chaired by Prof Jerry Agada, a former President of the Association and a member of the National Advisory Council, include:
• That the Constitution of the Association of Nigerian Authors gives the Congress the power to discipline violators. Thus, the Congress out rightly declared the meeting held on March 7, 2020, in Abuja by a coterie of ANA chapters chairmen and the purported election of Mr. Ahmed Maiwada and his group at that meeting as illegal, null and void. As such, Maiwada and the members of his group have been expelled from the association alongside ANA State/Chapter Executive and member found wanting by aiding and abetting the fraudulent election held during the period in question. The persons so expelled for various listed counts of violation of the ANA constitution and other forms of gross misconduct that have brought the Association into disrepute and public opprobrium are: Ahmed Maiwada, Ngozi Chuma-Udeh, Akogun Tai Oguntayo, Patrick Oguejiofor, Owupele Francis, Usho Smith Adawa, Banma Baba Sulaiman, Dada Korede, Moses Joseph, Isa Ibrahim Dan Musa, Stanley Kavwam and Isaac Attah Ogezi

That the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA) and KMVL, concerning the Association’s property in Mpape Abuja, be suspended forthwith.

KMVL was there by requested to hand over the existing property to the ANA National Executive Council led by Mr. Camillus Ukah and to provide a comprehensive account of its stewardship on the said property.

• That the ANA National Executive Council, led by Ukah, has been mandated by congress to set up an independent probe panel on the use or abuse of the Association’s property in Mpape Abuja, and to employ every legal instrument to safeguard the said property.

That all ANA State/Chapter Executive Councils whose tenures have expired should conduct an election under the supervision of the National Executive Council led by Mr. Camillus Ukah (which is duly recognised by the Advisory Council and the BOT). That every elected EXCO at state level should take charge of the affairs of their chapters and revalidate membership across board in line with the dictates of the constitution. That any ANA State/Chapter Executive or member that aids and abets Ahmed Maiwada and his group to factionalise the association shall be expelled from the Association.

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