Writ­ers’ Body To FG: Re­think Nat­u­ral Dis­as­ter Man­age­ment, Cli­mate Change Is­sues

A-book-a-child Cam­paign Flags Off

The Guardian (Nigeria) - - ARTFOLK - By Florence Utor

THE Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment has been urged to re­think nat­u­ral dis­as­ter man­age­ment strate­gies in the coun­try so as to mit­i­gate them and pre­vent need­less loss of lives and suf­fer­ing when they oc­cur. This was the po­si­tion of the As­so­ci­a­tion of Nige­rian Au­thors (ANA) in a state­ment it is­sued last week in re­ac­tion to the flood dis­as­ter in Benue State.

Signed by its Pres­i­dent and Gen­eral Sec­re­tary, Mal­lam Denja Ab­dul­lahi and Dr. Ofon­ime Inyang, the as­so­ci­a­tion said, We are deeply wor­ried by the re­cent nat­u­ral dis­as­ter that hap­pened in Benue State in the form of mas­sive flood­ing of large parts of Makurdi, the State cap­i­tal and other lo­ca­tions, that left in its wake the death of some per­sons, de­struc­tion of prop­erty, agri­cul­tural land and the gen­eral dis­lo­ca­tion of a cross section of the cit­i­zenry. The as­so­ci­a­tion deeply con­doles the di­rect vic­tims, the gov­ern­ment and the good peo­ple of Benue State over this un­for­tu­nate and un­fore­seen de­vel­op­ment.

“This de­vel­op­ment presents yet an­other pointer of threats to sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment and bet­ter liveli­hood, not only in this fore­most agrar­ian state, but in the en­tire coun­try, as Benue State, ac­knowl­edged, as “the food bas­ket of the nation,” strate­gi­cally stands as a ma­jor con­trib­u­tor to na­tional food se­cu­rity. This there­fore means that a threat of this kind presents dire con­se­quences for other parts of the coun­try that de­pends on it for the sup­ply of agri­cul­tural prod­ucts and food.”

It main­tained that while nat­u­ral dis­as­ters, in­clud­ing the one that hap­pened last week in Benue can­not be hin­dered, “as na­ture re­tains a crit­i­cal right of ex­pres­sion that of­ten out­wits the best of sci­en­tific knowl­edge and hu­man pre­dic­tion, the se­ri­ous­ness of this de­vel­op­ment and es­pe­cially com­ing at a time and sea­son of in­cre­men­tal nat­u­ral angst lo­cally and in other parts of the world, de­serves more at­ten­tion than is of­ten given in sce­nar­ios like this in the coun­try. ANA is of the view that the time is now ripe for a well thought out, di­rected and sus­tained at­ten­tion to nat­u­ral dis­as­ter and emer­gency man­age­ment in the coun­try be­yond ver­bal pal­lia­tives by celebri­ties and politi­cians and fur­ther politi­ci­sa­tion of the dis­as­ter to the ad­van­tage of po­lit­i­cal en­ti­ties within and out­side the site of dis­as­ter.”

The writ­ers’ body, which will hold its yearly in­ter­na­tional con­ven­tion in Makurdi, the Benue State cap­i­tal, there­fore, can­vassed for a new “frame­work and strat­egy for dis­as­ter man­age­ment in the coun­try should look be­yond the ex­ist­ing gov­ern­men­tal paras­tatals and in­te­grate ex­pert knowl­edge, ex­pe­ri­ence and tools from a wide spec­trum of stake­hold­ers in the pub­lic, pri­vate sec­tors, academia, non­govern­men­tal or­ga­ni­za­tions, pol­i­cy­mak­ers, mil­i­tary and para­mil­i­tary ser­vices, na­tion­ally and in­ter­na­tion­ally. ANA is also of the view that the fre­quency of sim­i­lar dis­as­ters in other parts of the coun­try, in­clud­ing the one in Ibadan, Oyo State, sev­eral states of the coastal South-south of Nige­ria and the de­bil­i­tat­ing ero­sion men­ace in the South East of Nige­ria, should have pro­vided am­ple data and model for fu­ture man­age­ment of dis­as­ters of this na­ture, had the op­por­tu­nity been seized ef­fec­tively. This there­fore ne­ces­si­tates the need to adopt mul­ti­dis­ci­plinary mea­sures and ex­per­tise to con­front nat­u­ral dis­as­ters as en­vi­ron­men­tal chal­lenges are now glob­ally trans­form­ing in scale and mag­ni­tudes and be­yond the com­pe­tence and ex­per­tise of a sin­gle knowl­edge field and per­spec­tive of tack­ling a prob­lem, as was er­ro­neously the sit­u­a­tion in the past.” Nige­rian cre­ative writ­ers, rep­re­sented by ANA, have also been di­rected by the Na­tional Exco to en­gage their skills, books and other cre­ative works to ar­tic­u­late is­sues of the en­vi­ron­ment and cli­mate change in or­der to aid the pub­lic aware­ness ef­fort of the gov­ern­ment. Also, gov­ern­ment and the or­gan­ised pri­vate sec­tor have been en­joined to sup- port ef­forts to rein­vig­o­rate and bring back lit­er­ary prizes on en­vi­ron­men­tal writ­ing, spon­sored pre­vi­ously by Chevron and NDDC, but which were later dis­con­tin­ued.

ANA, there­fore, con­doles with the gov­ern­ment and the peo­ple of Benue State and pledges to stand by them in this most dif­fi­cult of mo­ments, es­pe­cially when also con­sid­er­ing the crit­i­cal im­per­a­tive of the state’s stand­ing as host of the 36th In­ter­na­tional Con­ven­tion of the As­so­ci­a­tion of Nige­rian Au­thors (ANA) com­ing up be­tween Oc­to­ber 26 – 29, 2017, and called on its mem­bers na­tion­wide, well-mean­ing in­di­vid­u­als, lo­cal and in­ter­na­tional or­gan­i­sa­tions to as­sist vic­tims of the flood in Benue State to re­lieve them of their present an­guish and dis­place­ment.

THIS year, the writ­ers’ body is headed for flood-rav­aged Makurdi, Benue State, for its In­ter­na­tional Con­ven­tion. Ab­dul­lahi is up­beat about the writ­ers’ fi­esta, and reeled out some of the new of­fer­ings mem­bers and guests should ex­pect in Makurdi. Ac­cord­ing to him, there would be a flagoff of A-book-a-child cam­paign by the key fa­cil­i­ta­tor and wife of Imo State Gov­er­nor, Mrs. Nkechi Nneoma Rochas Oko­rocha, the pre­sen­ta­tion of a book aris­ing out of Ar­row

of­god@ 50 Cel­e­bra­tion, which took place in 2014, award of fel­low­ship to three dis­tin­guished mem­bers of the as­so­ci­a­tion – Profs. Sam Ukala, Akachi Ezeigbo and Idris Amali and an in­vesti­ture of two new pa­trons of the as­so­ci­a­tion – the host gov­er­nor, Dr. Sa­muel Or­tom and Hon. Jerry Alag­baoso of the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives. Be­yond th­ese, Ab­dul­lahi said the Makurdi Con­ven­tion is be­ing pack­aged to be cul­tur­ally thrilling and a show­case of new books and the as­so­ci­a­tion’s new projects for 2018.

On the theme, ‘Canons, Prizes and Bound­aries: African Writ­ers and Writ­ings in World Lit­er­a­ture’ to be de­liv­ered by Prof. Saleh Abdu Kwami, Ab­dul­lahi said, “We de­cided to go with the cur­rent re-ap­praisal of the is­sue of can­on­iza­tion of books and writ­ers in world lit­er­a­ture as it af­fects African writ­ers. We also want to ad­dress the politics of lit­er­ary prizes the world over and how that has af­fected, whether pos­i­tively or neg­a­tively, what African writ­ers write. To what pur­pose and for which au­di­ence do our writ­ers write to­day? Are there bound­aries yet to be crossed with lit­er­a­ture be­ing writ­ten to­day within the con­ti­nent of Africa and be­yond? All th­ese ques­tions are what we want to find pos­si­ble an­swers to with the choice of the theme.

“We have a com­pe­tent and highly com­mit­ted scholar from North­ern Nige­ria academia to lead the dis­course in the per­son of Prof. Saleh Abdu Kwami, who is the cur­rent Dean, School of Post­grad­u­ate Stud­ies, Gombe State Univer­sity, Tudun Wada, where he is on Sab­bat­i­cal Leave. Kwami was Head, Depart­ment of English and Lit­er­ary Stud­ies, Bayero Univer­sity, Kano. He has been de­liv­er­ing thought­ful pieces in the Nige­rian lit­er­ary con­fer­ence cir­cuit and we are sure he is go­ing to de­liver like Prof. Isi­dore Diala did last year.”



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