Makurdi 2017: All Delegates Must Register Before The Convention Date - ANA Nat. President

The 36th annual national convention of the Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA) is due for  next month (26th - 29th October)  in Makurdi, Benue state. While assuring delegates of a well-planned convention, the National President of ANA, Mr. Denja Abdullah in this interview with The Arts Muse Fair says the Association will no longer tolerate the attitude of  late registration to conventions by members.

TAMF: The annual convention of ANA is due for next month. What is the level of preparation?

Denja Abdullahi: We have set the ground norms in place to ensure a better-organised convention. That started with the publishing of the pre-registration procedure containing some salient features, which we are going to enforce. 

It is not going to be the usual business where you walk in casually to the convention and enjoy all facilities without satisfying the laid down procedures. So, potential delegates should go and re-read and comply with the pre-registration procedures or be ready to face the consequences of non-compliance at the convention. 

Beyond that, we have started planning for the production of the routine convention materials and working with the LOC on venues, programming and facilities. We are bound for Makurdi in a few days to finalise on the logistics of hosting. Chapters have started paying their convention dues and now individuals can even pay on-line, real time using their ATM cards through a portal on the ANA website that will capture all their details for adequate verification. We are on course even amidst the usual cash constraints as we still wait on sponsors to help out.

TAMF: Okay, have you received any support from the Benue state government or other external bodies for this forthcoming convention?

Denja Abdullahi: Benue State government is expected to support the LOC which will shoulder approximately 70 percent of the cost of the convention. The LOC has presented its budget to the Benue State government and the Benue State Government has given full support to the forthcoming convention in Makurdi even amidst the harsh economic climate pervading the country and the peculiar situation of the State.

From all indications, the Benue State governor holds writers and the intellectual class in high esteem. He has been an active supporter of ANA Benue, even before he became governor. He gave funds to the chapter to open a state secretariat and has attended to issues of the chapter with commitment. We were guests of the government in our last visit to the State to inspect facilities. The Governor has approved fund to support the hosting of the convention. Benue is ready to host.

Furthermore, we have received support that amounted to two million naira from an ICT company called Bold Scholar Research Limited in form of the total revamp of our website and other integrated ICT features. ANA Convention is no child's play in terms of hosting or organising and our members should realize this by conducting themselves appropriately and with the right kind of empathy. As it is now, we subsidize members’ participation at conventions to the tune of 70% of the actual cost for hosting each member.

TAMF: Sir, this is an election convention and, as always the case, it has always been more challenging especially with logistics. What should writers expect in Makurdi?

Denja Abdullahi: It is an election year, quite all right, but we will not allow any election- induced palpitations to overwhelm our logistics. Those who only await an election year to turn up for conventions should better do the right thing. The right thing is that they must pay the due for last year if they were not registered for last year's convention, alongside this year's total dues, before they can be considered bonafide delegates to the convention. 

We also know those who are qualified to be called FULL members of our Association and we have our records for verifications. We are instituting financially up-to-date membership to qualify even FULL to enjoy the full privileges of membership. First timers are welcome always but everyone knows the limitations to that in a normal ANA convention not to talk of an elective one. We will strictly follow the procedures we have set out and plan for those who give us the latitude to do such by pre-registering. 

Every other Association has introduced order into their affairs and ANA must follow suit.
Beyond strict adherence to procedures, delegates to the convention should expect the famous traditional hospitality of Benue and a well organised convention with thrilling moments and memories to take back home. The convention last year was very successful by all reckoning and we expect an even more successful convention in Benue. In Abuja last year, we had a very successful convention without government support and now with one in the offing, we expect something better.

TAMF: When is the deadline for the preregistration and is there going to be any grace for those who, as a result of financial hardship, couldn't meet the deadline?

Denja Abdullahi: The deadline for pre-registration is 13 October and we have graded payments according to the month within which you pay according to your preferred occupancy status. I am sorry to say that, we will not vary any provisions already made regarding Pre-registration. Grace has already been inserted in the staggered pre-registration procedures and members should just comply with them to save us all from logistic nightmare that are often caused by late payers, who in turn make the loudest noise about common logistic problems.

TAMF: What's the theme of this year's convention and what does it seek to achieve?

Denja Abdullahi: The theme of this year’s convention is “Canons, Prizes and Boundaries: African writers and African Writings in World literature”. It seeks to explore the process of canon formation, influence of prizes on our literature and the place of our writers and writings in world literature.

TAMF: You have announced to seek reelection for a second term. Why do you want to go for another term?

Denja Abdullahi: I have done well enough to be given another second and final term. ANA is purely a service organisation. In the history of ANA midstream elections, such as the one we will be having, it is hardly contested except the executive have done too badly. It is only in 2011 that we had a drastic change of executive and we all knew why that happened. In the last two years, I have performed credibly well and have recorded uncommon achievements, which are verifiable in the scorecard we have released so why should I not deserve to be re-elected?  

Most members of the Association whose opinion I have sampled have told me that the general thinking is that I should be re-re-elected to finish my good work for the Association. The onus is on anyone who feels I should not be re-elected to tell the congress why. The bad and mischievous politics of crass self-interest that hold sway in the larger polity where it does not matter whether you achieve or not has no place in ANA. 

Real ANA members are objective and enlightened enough to know what is good for the Association at a particular time and it is them who will determine my re-election or not. I am very confident of the service I have rendered and sure of being re-elected for a final term of another two years.

TAMF: There were complaints of irregularities at the Kaduna convention held two years ago, especially allegations of candidates bribing delegates to vote for them. What are your plans for preventing such incidence in Makurdi?

Denja Abdullahi: It is only candidates who are not sure of their standing before bonafide members that indulge in trying to subvert the will of the members of the Association by bribing electorates. I did not give a naira to anybody in Kaduna and I won. Kaduna elections were free, fair and transparent. Anyone saying otherwise must be mouthing mere allegations.

We will make sure proceedings in Makurdi are orderly and there will be watertight security. We will give no room for interlopers and subversion of the general will for order and progress.ANA has its way of eliminating base conducts from its affairs at important moments.