From Jude Chinedu, Enugu
It was celebration galore on September 11, 2021, as media friends of the national president of the Nigerian Publishers Association (NPA), Chief Uche Anioke, held a reception in his honour in Enugu. The colourful event also afforded guests opportunity to unwind, with loads of comedy, old-school and highlife music.
The celebrant, dressed in Igbo attire, was all smiles throughout the programme. Along with his beautiful wife, they wowed guests with amazing dance steps when it was dancing time.
Former director-general of the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN), Kelvin Ejiofor, who chaired the event, described the celebrant as a man who deserved honour, having worked tirelessly to impact the South-East and the publishing industry in Nigeria.
He said, despite the apparent apathy of Africans, especially Nigerians, toward books, Anioke has led the way in redirecting the people towards study through his publications and leadership in the sector.
In his address, former Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, said he was convinced that the celebrant would succeed as president of NPA.
“As we celebrate your election as president of Nigerian Publishers Association, on behalf of the people of my senatorial district and the entire people of Enugu State, I assure Nigerians that you will take this association to another level.
“Our people don’t get opportunities like this every day. And that is why, each time we get it, we hold it dearly and we try to excel so that we will be able to recommend the next of our kin for such service,” the senator enthused.
Also speaking, director-general, Nigeria Copyrights Commission (NCC), Dr. John Asein, noted that the event was not just to celebrate Anioke but also an opportunity to establish a working relationship with NPA in the fight against piracy and other vices that have hindered book publishing in Nigeria.
The NCC DG said: “We are hoping that we’ll begin to work together to keep Nigeria alive and keep the book going. I can assure you that that’s something we will deliver on for the good of our nation.
“In fact, we have what I call a quartet – Nigerian Copyright Commission, Nigerian Publishers Association, Nigerian Booksellers Association and the Chartered Institute of Printers. So, with the four of us working together, we can begin to look at the problems of the book from the very beginning; that’s the authorship, to the very end which is the sale to the consumer out there”.
For the immediate past president of NPA, who is also an Executive Member of International Publishers Association, Gbadega Asedapo, the celebrant is a humble leader whose impact is already being felt in the association.
“This is homecoming for me. And what we are seeing here today is proving to us that what we know him for in our association is what people are seeing here as well. He is an epitome of humility.
“Apart from that, I remember what he said in December. After the election, he said he was going to continue all my left over and since he came on board, he has been doing that and why am I here today, we need to identify with him, we are happy to be here as well,” he said.
Thanking his media friends for putting together the event, Anioke said he was amazed with the level of attendance and its success: “We had an attendance we will call quality attendance. We had men of my profession, men of letters; the only people empowered to hold leaders to account in Nigeria, the gentlemen of the press.
“I had my former political friends. They were also here. My lecturers, my students, my family, my friends; importantly, my friends from the West and my friends from the North. You see, when you talk about the North, you talk about the West, you talk about the East, and Nigeria will be great. What else can I say, so, I give thanks to God.”
He revealed his vision for the publishing industry in Nigeria and cited examples of Japan, South Korea, China and other countries that had advanced in the sector. He said that Nigeria will continue to be held back if it failed to start using local languages in training students.
Anioke said: “Until Nigerians begin to write, begin to produce our best using our local languages, whether it is the universities in the East, let those courses be taught in Igbo language. If it is in the West let it be Yoruba, if it’s in the North let it be Hausa. That’s when we begin to hide our secrets.
“And who can drive it? Publishers. They can encourage authors. This is one thrust, this is one area, this is one revolution I want to carry beyond others. If I achieve this within my four years (tenure), I will be grateful to God.”