The Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola on Monday lamented the plights of Nigerian writers, urging all Nigerians to work out ways on how writers, poets and other intellectuals in the country can be remunerated.
The minister advocated for this while speaking at the conference and 70th birthday celebration of foremost Nigerian poet, journalist, dance-drama producer, critic, columnist and public intellectual, Odia Ofeimun, on Monday in Lagos.
The conference was held in collaboration with the Faculty of Arts, University of Lagos with the theme, “Taking Nigeria Seriously: A Conference in Honour of Odia Ofeimun.”
Aregbesola who chaired the occasion in his remark titled “The Poet and Writer in a Challenging Economy,” said that intellectuals, writers and poets at the best of times are not well materially endowed as a result of the economic dependent category they belong to, and as such the gathering cannot but stimulate cogitation on the plight of writers, poets and intellectuals in a challenging economy. ‘’
According to him, intellectual outputs are infrastructure of the mind for human development that will ultimately lead to production of goods and services if well channelled.
“But they are not exactly commodities that have immediate pecuniary value for gross national product on their own. Because of their economic dependency status, writers’ economic value and hence remuneration have not been well computed and their contribution to national wealth determined, even when their value to society is priceless.”
He noted that contrary to popular assumption, that Nigeria was not rich, although has huge untapped potential to be among the richest in the world, the poverty evidently has been the result of its burgeoning non-qualitative and non-productive population, which regrettably and ironically has impacted badly on writers who devote their lifetime chronicling the challenges of the nation and working hard on how to overcome them.
“If the writers did not fare well in good times, they are certainly now worse in these challenging times. They are the social capital of any society and should be well maintained in order to guarantee continued production in society,” Aregbesola added.
In his reaction of the poetry and poverty, the former Governor of Ondo state, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko said it shouldn’t ordinary be so, saying it was because the value system of the nation is upside down, as such the need to pray for a Nigeria of tomorrow where real values should be celebrated.
Also Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mr. Femi Falana challenged the celebrant, writers and intellectuals to collaborate with men, women and all revolutionaries of progressive ideas, in establishing a social justice that will wage a battle and dismantle the oppressive status quo in the interest of our people.
He added that those that have been at the helm of affairs have never taken Nigeria seriously, and as such there is need for collaboration, so that Nigeria can occupy a prominent place in the committee of nations.