|Nigeria's most popular political Author, Olusegun Adeniyi|
Nothing has animated the nation so intensely in recent memory as Segun Adeniyi's new book, "Against the run of play". Even days before its presentation last Friday in Lagos, the national circuits were already saturated with teasers excerpted by the media.
Coming when more and more Nigerians appear to be getting disillusioned over the ability of the ruling party to redeem the promise of 2015, Segun's offering could not be better timed.(Well, I got my own auto-graphed copy a day before the presentation, just before I could finally yield to temptation to "blow the whistle" against Segun for possibly plotting to scheme his "old countryman" out of his expected jackpot.)
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Critically examined, what makes the book refreshing is the depth Segun brings to the narrative, lending some of the key actors ample space to be part of the story-telling. The old reporter not only offers an informed commentary, but also gives his subjects enough voice.
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Ultimately, the influence of a book will be measured not just by its seismic impact on public thought but also the number of counter narratives it inspires. Here, Segun again scores the bull's eye. At the last count, two of the key gladiators in the 2015 saga (ex President Goodluck Jonathan and Asiwaju Bola Tinubu) had "threatened" to write their own accounts.
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Speaking at the event, Jonathan's spokesman, Dr. Reuben Abati, also "threatened" to write his own memoir, with reference to what transpired during those giddy moments between 2014 and 2015.
Ironically, both Jonathan and Tinubu are quoted copiously by Segun in the book.
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But after what could only be a moment of epiphany, both the chief protagonist and chief antagonist appear resolved to open up further and leave the verdict to the public.
Of course, it would have been impossible to view and appreciate the monumentality of an elephant from a single aperture. Well, as often said in literary circles, anyone uncomfortable with Segun's account is free to write his/her own. It is from the maze of tales - some seemingly contradictory - that we are able to distill the truth.
Ultimately, public knowledge is enriched.
For instance, beside OBJ and
Shagari, how many of our former
leaders have bothered to commit their unique experiences to writing?
|Olusegun Obasanjo wrote books|
The result is that, often, key actors in the Nigeria's narrative ended up taking all the secrets to their graves, thus robbing posterity the chance to learn from their insights and experiences.
|Shehu Shagari wrote a book...|
But while the illumination Segun brings is undoubtedly desirable, the bitter part is the financial deprivation the author is now left to endure. The book's unveiling had barely ended last Friday when news broke that hackers had compromised the encryption to the online copy, virtually shredding whatever expectation Segun and his publishers might have to reap from their sweat and investment.
No blow could be more cruel. The kind of work Segun undertook is mentally taxing in terms of research and travel, to say nothing about time spent chasing after and waiting endlessly on respondents for interviews. featured in the book.
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I think the print media started it. Long before the book's presentation last Friday, most newspapers Segun was generous enough to provide "complimentary copy" had already cannibalized the work by generating front-page stories from it almost on a daily basis, smiling to the bank. So much that one began to wonder what meat was left for any potential buyer of the book.
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It reminds me of the ambushing of Baba Sala (Moses Olaiya) at the completion of his epic Yoruba comic movie, Orun Mooru (Heaven is Hot), in the 80s. He had barely started taking the movie around the cinemas when pirated copies in VHS flooded the market. If the old comic with trademark oversize goggle ever imagined only "Heaven is Hot", it soon dawned on him that "Earth is Hell" when bankers who gave him overdrafts started knocking at the door.
Moved to pity, some well-wishers few days ago launched an online appeal for donations from members of the public to support Segun and his publisher to mitigate their loss. That may not be a bad idea - though the Segun I know writes more out of passion than the love of money.
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Against this backdrop, it then becomes easier to see why no one is sufficiently incentivized in today's Nigeria to engage in any serious literary enterprise, except for those drawn to pay-as-go writing. Serious writing is a solitary venture, excessively absorbing, occluding you from the existential pleasures others take for granted. The readers would wish they don't have to pay a kobo. Yet, the writer is hardly ever exempted from paying bills or putting food on the table for their family, like everybody.
In the final analysis, this should serve as another wake-up call to relevant authorities to do more by plugging the legal vacuum. Also plagued is the music sub-sector and Nollywood. Existing copyright laws need total overhaul and the enforcing agencies more power to hack down pirates so that writers, singers and artistes could survive.