Writers’ body to FG: Rethink natural disaster management, climate change issues

PHOTO:NAN

A-Book-A-Child Campaign Flags Off
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, non-governmental 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 support 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 flag-off 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 of God@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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