Presidential aspirant of the Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA) Chike Ofili says if elected he will tackle the association’s biggest challenge how to make a living from their craft, through marketizing of the writing craft and ANA itself.
Speaking with art journalists in Abuja, the Publics Relations Master’s Degree holder and Advertising Postgraduate certificate has ideas gained from many years practice he aims to unleash on the literary arts and the publishing industry via ANA.
A trained marketer and brand communication consultant, Ofili says he is “the bridge between the art and business.”
“Brand communication understands the artist and the artform terrain, yet at the same time also understand the business terrain.”
His marketizing plans include the establishment of a Body of Marketers and Market Monitors, an eCommerce Website, and the execution of a number of MoUs with transport, technology logistics companies and the Nigerian Postal Service, (NIPOST).
The ‘Body of Marketers and Market Monitors’ to be partially outsourced and from within ANA will via modern marketing operations market the works of the association members in the marketplace. In particular create a market place for the works via an eCommerce website that contains not just eBookshops and an eLibrary but allows for ePurchases that assures writers earn in foreign currency, but uploads their details as profile, works and eBooks.
While the MoUs with concerned organizations aims for help in the delivery and distribution of books nationwide.
Prior to marketizing the craft, however, Ofili says there must be quality products (books) to market. A matter he aims to address via his Collective Publishing with what he calls ‘ANA Publishing’ as opposed to the self-publishing practice of member authors which has yielded no result.
On how to raise the funds to realize his ambitious mandate, Ofili declares is his ‘biggest migraine’ but one he would be stupid not to have contemplated. To fund/support the projects, Ofili relies on capitalizing on his personal relations with colleagues and friends in the advertising and literary circles, beside inhouse revenue sources from convention and registration payments which he says will provide for an ‘initial start’.
“Author Chimamanda Adichie has promised on principal, principal here underlined, to be of great assistance, both in human development and international connection.”
“We will also look beyond the corporate sponsors who are overwhelmed and saturated at the moment,” he continues, “to other companies of foreign representation. Imagine meeting with a pen-making company or a pen selling companies representing some big companies abroad in Nigeria to say, “We are writers. The pen is our symbols, and you sell it.” That’s a brand association. The money may not be huge but it is enough to pursue a direction.
Lack of funding and inadequate finances has been the bane of ANA conventions has impacted negatively the organization of this supposed international and largest congregation of writers in the country. It will be recalled in the last convention, lack of funding leading to poor organization kept members arriving Lagos room-less for hours a day on the convention arrival and into the opening days.
Ofili blames the leadership on this point. Despite its history of professorial leaders, professionals familiar with the running of conventions, conferences, workshops and seminar, the association he notes, is yet to benefit from their knowledge. Professor Remi Raji’s administration, he refers as the exception, if not a satisfactory application.
A greater problem he warns further afflicts the body. That is “the onslaught of writers parading as writers in ANA, who drive the process.”
“There is the practice of people who want to host conventions because they have access to government. ANA conventions survive on hosting chapters state governments support. At the end of the day, oftentimes, it isn’t about ANA. The convention becomes an excuse to do other things. Thus, attending to the needs of the people becomes secondary.”
He tasked the body’s National Executive to “play a more active role, and take a proper percentage share in the entire process, not only play supervisory role for what it didn’t seek funds for. It gives too much power to those who did the leg work seeking funds for the convention over the national executive, who comes in just as an interventionist.”
Ofili however, has been unable to find an answer to the successful funding of the association’s convention beyond its heavy reliance on governments of hosting state chapters.
“Corporate Nigeria often looks for stadium-size audiences, without any wish to understand the principle of the 20/80 leadership. They don’t understand the power of the pen. They prefer sponsoring music and football events, the 80 per cent. They forget literature belongs to the 20 per cent that governs the 80, owing to the level of depth, influence and capacity. So, if you don’t have a cooperative government and a corporate Nigeria, what do you have left?”
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