The literary community in Benue state has been agog in recent times following the visit of one of Africa’s foremost literary giants and Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka.
This is so because, wherever the Nobel Laureate goes, he moves there with the World’s attention and the strength of his speech generates positive orientation towards meaningful development.Soyinka whose visit was at the instance of Governor Samuel Ortom certainly met the Governor’s expectation to host the World acclaimed literary giant as they spent quality time together and held fruitful discussion.
On arrival on the fourth of November, the Nobel Laureate was treated to an ANA Benue night at the Lawn Tennis Court of the J.S Tarka Foundation, Makurdi which featured special poetry readings and speeches in his honour by professors David Ker, Moses Tsenongu and Jerry Agada as well as Dr. Maria Ajima.
ANA Benue members including Moses Tsenongu, Jerry Agada, Maria Ajima, Maik Ortserga, Fater Vanger and Edentu Oroso and Igba Ogbole read their literary works to the admiration of the Nobel Laureate.
On the second day, professor Soyinka paid a courtesy call on Governor Ortom at the conference hall of the Governor’s Lodge, Benue People’s House, Makurdi during which the literary Icon decried the take over of the North by Book Haram and Fulani herdsmen whose activities have deepened the security challenge in the region.He called for the arrest of anyone or group threatening the security of the nation and noted that it was criminal for any government to treat such anomaly with kid gloves.
Of paramount interest to members of the Benue state chapter of ANA was professor Soyinka’s appeal to the State Government to allocate a plot of land for the construction of a befitting Writer’s Village.
Responding to this request, Governor Ortom directed the Commissioner for Lands, Survey and Solid Minerals to immediately take appropriate action to that end, and promised that professor Soyinka would be invited to perform the foundation laying ceremony of the Writers’ Village when the land was allocated.
In his determination to ensure that ANA Benue members acquire residency, Professor Soyinka along with the state chairman ANA, Dr. Charles Iornumbe, former ANA president Dr. Wale Okediran and the immediate past ANA National Vice president Camilus Ukah toured areas with existing structures that were moribund to propose to the Governor for consideration.
Mr. Tahav Agerzua, the Principal Special Assistant to the Governor on Culture and Tourism and ANA Benue member who served as the Tour Guide led professor Soyinka along with others to some Dock Yards around the River Benue banks near Government Technical College, Makurdi.
The delegation also visited the zoological garden at the Benue State University, Makurdi where the winner of the Nobel prize for Literature, said such is another area that the Governor could consider for allocation and construction of Writers Residence.
According to the Professor, the proximity of the Writers Village to the State University would be an advantage because, it would also provide opportunity for students willing to access the Association’s books to do so with ease.
The importance of Professor Soyinka’s visits to the state therefore, cannot be over emphasised.
When he visited on May twenty three, two thousand and eighteen to attend the thirty fifth anniversary of Senator Suemo Chia’s indigenous classic novel “ Adan Wade Kohol Ga”, at the heat of insecurity in Benue, Professor Soyinka during a courtesy call on the Governor, called on the Federal Government to seek international help.
Soyinka’s call no doubt, reverberated across the nook and crannies of the international community sending strong signals to the federal government that gave deaf ears to the unprovoked killings in the state.
This time, the Nobel Laureate’s visit to the Abagena Internally Displaced Persons camp to identify with the school children and his call for the establishment of a makeshift library there, would greatly spur the younger ones and give them hope for a better tomorrow.The literary community which is the major beneficiary of Professor Soyinka’s visits would now be waiting for only a matter of time to have their Writers Village allocated and built among other benefits that could accrue to ANA Benue chapter as a formidable literary body.
With visits of the Nobel Laureate, Benue would continue to be on the spotlight for special attention just like the Benue state chapter of the Association of Nigerian Authors ANA would be seen as formidable in the comity of chapters.
At this point, it must be pointed out that ANA Benue ought to maintain the tempo of literary activities it had established for the past four years under its current leadership so that the confidence built in the public would be sustained.
It is also the belief that the partnership the Association of Nigerian Authors ANA Benue state chapter has entered into with the state government and other public spirited individuals would continue to blossom for mutual gains.
Benue state Governor, Samuel Ortom deserves commendation for always supporting ANA Benue to successfully host the Nobel Laureate and carry out other literary programmes for the growth of education in the state.
What is expected of all ANA members in the state in turn is to rally round the Association’s leadership to continue to initiate programmes that could uplift it for the good of Benue State.