By Damiete Braide
renowned scholar-poet, Folu Agoi, has been reelected as the President of PEN Nigeria Centre. Last week in Lagos, Pen Nigeria held its convention, and new executives were elected to coordinate its affairs for the next three years. The convention was co-sponsored by PEN Nigeria and Natnudo Foods.
The newly elected executive members include Toyin Adenubi (Treasurer), Samuel Adebayo (Vice President 2), Folu Agoi (President), Perpetual Ezeifule-Ohiri (Vice President 1), and AJ Dagga Tolar (Secretary). The re-elected President of the Nigerian Centre of PEN International, Folu Agoi, in his address of welcome, said the current executive council of PEN Nigeria, was the third in the history of the Centre.
Elected on October 7, 2017, he said the Exco hit the ground running: “The executive set several goals for themselves meant to etch PEN Nigeria into the consciousness of our immediate environment and put the Centre on the map. Three years down the line, the executive can confidently assert that most of those goals have been achieved. They have also been able to reactivate the association by effecting changes in spaces for literature, language, ideas, opinions, debate and dialogue.”
Agoi stressed that these and other achievements could not have been recorded without the cooperation and support of members of the Executive Board or Executive Council of PEN Nigeria, and, indeed, the entire membership of PEN Nigeria, besides PEN International that created the space in the first place and had been offering them massive support on all fronts.
He expressed his gratitude to members of the association and, in particular, members of the Executive Council of our Centre and PEN International for their invaluable contributions and moral, financial and other forms of assistance, without which our dream of transforming the association and putting it on the map would have remained just that – a dream.
The president added: “PEN Nigeria has achieved a great deal of visibility through participation in national and international dialogues, celebrating international days and events in schools, colleges and universities, drawing attention to the value of critical thinking and creative writing with the aid of workshops, panel discussions, thereby encouraging and creating opportunities for writers to express themselves.
“The Centre has also created space for conversation and debate through its website hosted by the Centre in 2018, and reconstructed in 2020, for online publications and other communicative functions. Members of the Centre constantly hold conversations on its Whatsapp platforms, at physical meetings, public lectures and panel discussions based on topical issues, such as immigration, literacy, press freedom, indigenous writing, mother tongue, feminism etc., encouraging constant interactions among members.
Agoi hinted The Centre had been able to draw attention to PEN and raise the level of awareness and enthusiasm of many citizens through its activities, which had reflected in the number of writers that responded when entries were made for publication in our anthologies.
He also affirmed that “PEN Nigeria has been able to build a diverse and engaged membership, as reflected in the volume of the entries in Silver Lining, the Centre’s anthology published in 2019, and Of Shadows and Rainbows, its online anthology published in January, 2021.”
Going memory lane, Agoi disclosed the Centre had established networks with various civil society organisations and components and units of the literary community, stressing, “These relationships have enabled the Centre to create lots of influence in the country and increase the association’s membership.”