The Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA) on Friday commenced the building process of its “Writers’ Village,” after 32 years of acquiring the land in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
Malam Abdullahi Denja, the president of ANA in his address at the foundation laying ceremony in Mpape, Maitama Extension of the FCT said that the land was given to ANA in 1985 by late Major-Gen Mamman Vatsa , then Minister of the FCT.
Denja said that Vatsa donated 61.20 hectares of land members of the association which he was a proud member.
“Since then it has been a story of lack of capacity, failed promises, betrayal and trespasses; what we have left today of the original 61.20 hectares is about 36.9 hectares.
“On Jan. 24, 2013, after surviving a long battle over this same land with a supposed developer, ANA did a ground-breaking ceremony.
“We also did a turning of sod, under the auspices of the current developer, Korlie Mobs Venture Limited (KMVL).
“But we are here today to do the foundation laying Ceremony and to announce to the world that the period of actual development of the land towards realising the dream of Vatsa and that of all Nigerian writers has come,” Denja said.
According to the ANA president, when eventually completed, the edifice will house the national headquarters of ANA, 50 room hotel, residency chalets, 500-seater auditorium, archives and depositories.
He explained that the association’s strategic plan for 2017-2022 already had the development of the land as a priority.
He commended the efforts of previous leadership of the association who kept the dream alive in spite of the challenges.
“I therefore call on the Federal and State governments, corporate institutions, national and international donor agencies, individuals and groups to join hands with us as we build a place for literature culture in Abuja.
Also, Senator Shehu Sani, Chairman Senate Committee on Foreign Debt said the commencement of the writers’ village was a sign of good thing to happen to Nigerian writers.
Sani, a profound writer, said the structure would be relevant in many years to come adding that generations would come to know about it and use it for the development of Nigerian writers and literature.
He however admonished the association to take the process gradually.
“The development of The United States and even the United Arab Emirate did not start in one day; there were completed through a gradual process.
“I know that writers had to wait for proceed from books before they could earn some money, but I believe we will get there.
“My strong adviser is that we should be gradual; our target should be to fence this area and build an office that would help to actualise this.
“The Chinese said that the journey of one thousand mile start with a step; that should be our focus,” Shehu said.
Also speaking, Dr Wale Okediran, the Chairman, ANA Land Development Committee said that ANA Congress had in 2016 resolved that some form of development must take place at the village before 2017 convention.
“A meeting of the ANA Land Committee with the developer, KMVL took place in February in Abuja.
“One major decisions taken at the meeting was the urgent need for a foundation laying ceremony to take place as soon as possible.
“It is my hope that with today’s ceremony, a concerted effort will be made by the developers for an appreciable development of the writers’ village before the next ANA convention,” Okediran said.
The Land Committee Chairman appreciated patrons of ANA and team of lawyers and developers who had struggled tirelessly over the past years “to make today’s dream a reality.”
He also solicited for more financial and moral support from Nigerians towards the completion of the project.
High point of the occasion was laying of the foundation block by Sani, Denja, Okediran, Shaw and others dignitaries at the event.
Side attractions include recitation of a poem written by Miss Halima Muhammed, entitled:’ The Mask’’ and another by Mrs Joan Orji, entitled “Mpape’’ written by Denja.