Renowned poet, novelist, Ahmed Maiwada is one of the presidential candidates in the forthcoming election of the Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA). In this interview, Mr Maiwada speaks on his manifesto among other issues.
You instituted the Teen Authors Prize, what informed this?
I was privileged to have great number of literary materials at the house in Zaria City, where I grew up, and I had such amazing mentors as my mother and elder brothers. I have imagined that, without those facilities to help sustain my interest in writing, I might not have become a writer myself. Therefore, it was my hope that Prizes will inspire teen authors to not only writes, but to compete with each other, might just serve as an interest-sustaining and skill-sharpening motivation for them. I remember that our own Saddiq M. Dzukogi, a very promising poet already back then, won the maiden prize. After that, the prize was awarded a second time, before it ceased. Reasons such as poor quality of entries had been adduced by ANA.
So, programmes do you have for teen author?
I think, with a change of leadership in ANA to one that inspires confidence, we would look into areas of inspiring the younger ones. However, ANA will look into its resources and see the possibility of making grants to writers’ initiatives such as HillTop Art initiative, Anti Talatu, Khalid Imam, and many others. The needs are diverse, all aimed towards developing younger human capitals. ANA will no longer distance itself writer groups, but draw them closer as partners and even provide national platforms for the celebration of what these groups have produced.
If elected as ANA president, how would you bring together literary platforms and stakeholders in the country to pursue a national agenda for the creative writing industry?
If I am given the opportunity to serve as president, ANA would lead any literary platforms or stakeholders in the country that subscribe to ANA’s constitution. We don’t powers nor right to conscript such stakeholders that do not wish to align with us towards working together. Nevertheless, together with all the ones that wish to partner with us, I have already stated that ANA would be ready to work with them. We would recognise their existence, attend their events whenever invited and participate in their programmes, with a view to opening up the channels of understanding to such point that we might agree to foster common advocacies and lobbies for the advancement of literature at the institutions such as CBN.
However, we, as ANA, would have our own team, not mere individuals, who would study the various laws establishing relevant government agencies in order to advice the National Executive Council on how to canvass for support or partnerships from those agencies. I have always wished that ANA could even influence some amendments in our existing acts, such as Copyright Act, so that, for instance, refusal by a bookseller to pay an author any agreed royalty when his books have been sold should be a crime punishable by imprisonment.
Opening ANA to the teeming writers in Nigeria looking for direction will start from registering at the chapters nearest to those writers. My national executive is membership biased, and once such has been crossed, our visions are very clear on what benefits might accrue to such teeming writers.
How do you intend to ensure that writers across the country write better, write more, and make more impact on the socio-economic life of Nigerians?
I think anybody who promises to make another person write better must be lying. As a writer, I have understood that we don’t have the same skills for writing at the same levels with others. Some of us must naturally write better than others. And I have also understood that writing better isn’t a function of the education that one has acquired, else the best writers amongst us should be the Professors.
That said, I have mentioned in my manifesto that opportunities would be given for residencies, workshops among others, especially to younger Nigerian writers who have shown some level of commitment and loyalty to the causes of ANA. By this, it is clear that I would not focus on writers across the country except they are members of ANA. However, by working together or partnering with sister organisations or groups, our shared resources should be able to impact on those other writers that belong to those sister groups/organisations.
On the whole, I believe that prizes automatically institute the atmosphere of competition among writers, and we are promising exciting prizes for our members.