The Arts

November 18, 2019

ANA CRISIS: Denja Abdulahi, last President reveals cause of crisis @ ANA’s convention

ANA CRISIS: Denja Abdulahi, last President reveals cause of crisis @ ANA’s convention

A cross section of attendants of the 2019 Enugu ANA Convention held in Enugu. (inset) Denja Abdulahi, immediate past President of ANA

A cross section of attendants of the 2019 Enugu ANA Convention held in Enugu. (inset) Denja Abdulahi, immediate past President of ANA

…says one of the presidential aspirants, Maiwada, imported thugs into Enugu, came to AGM, and disrupted proceedings

…They introduced vote-buying, thuggery and literary-gangsterism into ANA

By Osa Amadi, Arts Editor

The 38th ANA International Convention was held from October 31 to November 3 at the Institute of Management Technology (IMT), Enugu.

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The convention titled “Literature, Nationalism and the Poetics of Integration” turned sour and was disrupted.

As one of the ANA Trustees and Editor of African Literature Today, Prof. Ernest Emenyonu observed; “What transpired at the ANA convention was the mistake of some people who tried to see ANA as an organisation akin to a contemporary Nigerian political forum with all its mannerisms and antics”. In this exclusive with Vanguard, the immediate past President of the highly respected writers’ body explains what happened at the convention:

T he inside story

The crisis at the ANA Convention elections was premeditated and planned by Ahmed Maiwada, one of the presidential aspirants in league with some shadowy figures of a regional writers’ group whose sole agenda was to seize the governance of the Association of Nigerian Authors at all cost and by any means necessary  or destroy it if they cannot get elected.

Ahmed Maiwada started his campaign by trying to smear the reputation of the erstwhile ANA executive which I headed and made all sorts of unfounded allegations to discredit past ANA leaders.

He also displayed unusual obsession on the issue of the ANA land in Abuja to which he had been part of the land committee as ANA legal adviser in the past and member of the ANA land development committee until the recent time. He had also been a counsel to the ANA on the land case in the past with Home Securities Ltd in which I was the sole defense witness between 2008 and 2012.

Maiwada started his campaign on a plank of calumny and displayed arrogance and insensitivity to the convention of leadership renewal in ANA. He went on politicising every issue in the Association including the award of hosting right to Enugu after Edo State withdrew its bid by alleging that the ANA executive influenced the award to Enugu to assist Camillus Ukah, another aspirant to the Presidency who was my Vice President, get undue advantage to win. He furthered his campaign by saying that I wanted to foist or impose Camillus as my stooge on ANA to perpetuate my presidency.

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At a point I got reports that he swore to make sure that the convention will be disrupted. He also introduced vote buying into ANA and did it on such a large scale never known before in the Association. He virtually paid for the registration of all delegates from Northern Nigeria and reached out to other chapters from other parts of the country with monetary inducements. He paid for transportation of delegates and booked hotels for them in Enugu.

I have evidence of this when I interrogated chapter chairmen after I noticed unusual payments of money into the ANA account by some chapters before the convention. You may ask what is there in ANA Presidency for a contestant to show such asinine desperation. He imported thugs into Enugu and they came into our AGM and disrupted proceedings.

At the convention AGM, Ahmed objected to the convention of ANA of selecting electoral committee members from the council of past Presidents of ANA and other ANA elders. He proclaimed a vote of no confidence in them and insisted that presidential aspirants must have their nominees in the electoral committee. Imagine the political parties having their nominees in INEC to preside in the conduct of elections involving the same parties?

How they tried to resolve it

The matter was put to vote and the house rejected it, but Ahmed’s imported thugs started trying to disrupt proceedings which forced the house to accept the queer procedure. The four candidates made their nominees and the executive nominated the chairman in the person of Prof. Akachi Ezeigbo.

My executive was then dissolved and the electoral committee took over. The accreditation was going well but when it was remaining about two more states to be accredited before voting could commence, Ahmed Maiwada’s group saw that they might not win the election. They engineered its disruption using the Akwa Ibom delegates who were working in league with them. It was at that point they started saying they did not agree with the electoral list, after nearly all the chapters have accepted the process and have complied.

Akwa Ibom Insisted that all their 17 delegates must be accredited to vote, even with those not qualified (first timers to the convention and students). Akwa Ibom, led by my erstwhile General Secretary, Ofonime Inyang, forcefully entered into the hall with other persons not accredited and contaminated the seated qualified potential voters. The power had gone off, so there was no light at that point in the hall and security was non-existent.

Security breach at the convention

We later learnt that Maiwada group had compromised the security and had even earlier on phoned a top general to chase away the soldiers we brought to provide security. The electoral committee relocated the delegates to another hall in town later that night but while two other candidates (Camilus Ukah and Chike ofili) agreed that the electoral process could start all over again, Ahmed Maiwada and Ofonime Inyang insisted that the election must be cancelled.

Botched election – Maiwada and group’s script

The botched election was a script thoroughly planned and executed by Ahmed Maiwada and his group and you could see they achieved their sinister and insidious objective from the way they jubilated on the social media afterwards.

They introduced vote-buying, thuggery and literary-gansterism into the Association of Nigerian Authors and decent writers were shocked at how low they could go. There was nothing in the electoral process adopted in Enugu that was different from what ANA has been using in its 38 years history to change leadership at elections periods. I submitted myself to that same process when I was elected as ANA President in Kaduna in 2015 and re-elected in Makurdi in 2017.

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The list of all the paid attendees to the Enugu convention was available and verifiable. The electoral list drawn from that main list and used by the electoral committee is also verifiable to be that of only those who have at least attended a previous convention of the Association within a given period of 4 year circle (2015-2018). All these requirements were known to all ANA members and made known to them before the convention.

Ahmed Maiwada and his group were just not ready to submit themselves to any electoral process in Enugu. They came determined to abort the process which they succeeded in doing. They fractured the sense of community in the Association and trampled on the spirit of ‘writerly’ comradeship long-built in ANA, all in the worship of one man’s ego and strange claim to be the best of the packs of contestants. They also violated a space they should not have dared to violate.

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They were insensitive to the fact that writers from eastern Nigerian have attended several elective ANA conventions in northern Nigeria where they never put forward any contest but conducted themselves in very honourable and dignified manner.

ANA’s line of action now

ANA was, in a way, ripe for this recent blowout and this will give it an opportunity to rid itself of the indecency that has crept into its fold. The constitution should be followed and the aborted election must be concluded as soon as possible and ANA members should ensure they do not allow gangsters and thugs to take over its leadership. The congress must be allowed to decide who should lead them without anyone forcing their hands by resorting to desperate tactics such as the ones we witnessed in Enugu.