Nigeria needs revolution of pen, books, values now
Dayo Lomuwagun is a chartered accountant, author, poet, and public speaker. He has over 15 years of experience in financial advisory, financial reporting, treasury management, people management, strategy consulting, grant management and capacity building, among others. He holds Bachelor degree in Accounting from the University of Ado-Ekiti and an MSc in Financial Management from Edinburgh Business School, UK and began his career with Deloitte Nigeria. He is currently running an LLB Programme with the University of Law, UK. Lomuwagun is the President of Angulus Books Limited and has published over 25 books. In this interview with the Deputy Editor, Felix Kuye, he speaks on his passion for writing books, role of authors in nation building and how to boost reading culture in Nigeria.
What inspired you to writing books?
I wrote my first book when I was an undergraduate. It was titled The Rush for the Top. It was a motivational guide. After the launch of the book, one of my big brothers brought some copies to Lagos. It happened that a spoilt brat who had abandoned school while his rich parent looked on helplessly stumbled on the book. He read it, and without anybody talking to him again, he packed his books and returned to school. He eventually made it through the university. Tears of joy rolled down my cheeks when I heard the testimony. So, the book helped someone? I asked. That is how I started to write, hoping that my books will help at least somebody.
Sometimes last year, you launched seven different books at the same time, and this year, you also launched 15 books at a go. How are you able to write such number of books at about the same time?
Writing has become a fun to me, thank God for inspiration; everywhere I turned, I see something to write about in hope of a saner society. Our society has changed! There is a scary shift in our value system, so bad that many people are afraid that the society may be hasting towards its day of doom. So, there are many things to write about if somehow, we can salvage our civilization. Also, I like to break my own records – I launched one book, then two books, then seven books, and then 15 books.
A book is a medium of mass communication. What are you really communicating through your books and who are your target audience?
The decadence that has permeated our society has become a serious concern to all right-thinking people in the land; many fear that the future is extremely bleak. From homes to schools, from schools to religious institutions, from homes to the political space, the decadence stinks to the heavens. The results are evident in the violence, kidnapping, lawlessness, and all forms of wickedness that has engulfed society.
If the foundation is destroyed, what can the righteous do? Yes, we may not have been the cause of the monstrous challenges facing us now, however, if we fold our arms and do nothing to save this civilization, we shall be the real problem. The rot is unimaginable, so much that what we need is a complete revolution. We need among others, a revolution of pen and books; a revolution of values – honesty, diligence, good neighbourliness, justice, and patriotism; a revolution of those very valuable African traditions and culture that we have sacrificed in our quest to be westernized. We need this revolution now! That is what these books are set to achieve.
The semantic and the plot adopted in the books engendered them to both young and old, but more specifically, I intend that the books will find their way to all our schools and colleges in hope of remoulding the lives of the young people, to secure their lives and the future of the society.
Looking at some of the titles, The Bizarre Bazaar teaches that there is no perfect person among us; and everyone has one or more character defects. However, instead of hurting and fighting one another, if we are committed to getting better through personal development, there will be less friction among us, for a better society. Another of the books, The Sane Lunatic has the central theme that those who speak the truth should be consistent in speaking the truth even when it is neither safe, nor popular nor politic. Those who practice falsehood are insane; and although the society may consider a person who speaks the truth as a lunatic, he is surely the sane lunatic. The Community College is a clarion call to save our citadels of learning most of which have become the breeding ground for criminals instead of the crucible where young people are tutored and found worthy in learning and character. Parents, the government, religious sects and everyone are culprits for the unimaginable rot going on in our schools. The earlier we rise and confront the issues, the better.
It is obvious that positive socio-cultural, religious, and moral values are on the wane in Nigeria. How do you think authors can help in this regard?
Good writings are aimed, among others, at building, moulding, educating, correcting, encouraging, and motivating individuals and groups. Yes, there is no denying that there is a negative shift in our social-cultural, religious, and moral values, and that today, corruption, immorality, dishonesty, etc., have taken over. However, authors in Nigeria, as moral umpires should continue to write and direct the conscience of the people to what is right. Authors should not get trapped in the shameless worship of mammon but become more intentional about riding the society of the ill staring us in the face. We should write about the good old days, about the great men and women of great virtue that the current generation knows nothing about and about the great possibilities of today and tomorrow if we get our values and priorities right as a people. Incidentally and shamefully, children no longer study History in our schools.
With the poor reading culture in the country now, do you think books are still a potent medium of inculcating and enriching positive values in people?
There are diverse opinions on this issue. Some people have even gone overboard to say that we don’t need education. Without any prejudice, until we truly understand the powers of books, we will debate in futility. Good books are like the fountain of knowledge. One good book can compress the wisdom of a millennium and put it in your hands. In man’s 70 years of existence, he can operate in the wisdom of 700 years leveraging the wisdom of great books. The reality remains that those who conscientiously read good books cannot but be better than those who read nothing at all. Some young people will argue with you that you don’t need the books again – it is now the age of technology. How wrong? No wonder good morality is fast becoming archaic. Cicero said it all, “A room without books is like a body without a soul.” And Gary Paulsen, “I owe everything I am and everything I will ever be to books.” And finally, hear what Napoleon Bonaparte said, “Show me a family of readers, and I will show you the people who moved the world.”
How can we boost the reading culture in Nigeria today?
The saying is very relevant, “Physician, heal himself.” That’s the starting point. Individuals everywhere in this country should imbibe the habit of reading books. If you read a book and I read one, then we can encourage other people to read. All the stakeholders must be intentional about boosting the reading culture in our society; the ministries of education should develop curriculum that ensures that students read good books. Parents should stand up and save the future of their children – let them read good books. Let organisations rise and change the narratives. Is it not shameful that we can spend hundreds of million of Naira to promote immorality on our national TV shows, but cannot sponsor reading competitions? Who bewitch us as a people? Let us start from the schools? Away from making money alone, authors and well-meaning Nigerians should begin to think of what they can do for the country, especially improving the reading culture. I won’t preach what I don’t practice! Angulus Books (my brand name) is already partnering some states in Nigeria to establish books clubs in secondary schools. We shall be donating hundreds of books worth millions of Naira to the project and soliciting support from authors and publishers of like minds, men and women of goodwill and corporates. I strongly believe that instead of sitting idle and complaining, all of us in our little corners should rise and something that helps somebody, especially the younger generation, to read good books.