By Charles Edet
Dr Haruna Penni, a retired staff of the Budget Office of the Federation has been admitted into the prestigious College of Fellows of the Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA) for meritorious service in the promotion and development of Nigerian literatures and the empowerment of authors.
He was the Federal Capital Territory Chapter Founder in 1996 and one-time Chairman of the Chapter, worked tirelessly towards vigorous membership recruitment, public enlightenment that led to the establishment of an enduring organizational structure that sustained the nascent (ANA) Chapter.
The investiture ceremony which took at the Mamman Vatsa Writers Village, Mpape, Abuja, at the 41st Association’s International Writers Convention on the 26th of October, 2022.
A press release from his consultancy company stated that “Dr Penni’s Citation showed he has several text books and creative published works namely Abuja Acolytes: Anthology of Poems; The Rapprochement & Other Stories and No Going Back, and a Zuru Novel.”
The statement further revealed that Dr Penni was in the forefront of reconciling ANA with the FGN from the frosty relationship which hitherto existed in the late 80s and early 90s after the killings of two of its key members namely Major General Mamman Vatsa, Mr Ken Saro Wiwa and the incarceration of others.
Accordingly, “this effort resulted to the Association’s first convention in Abuja in 1996 that elected Alh. Abubakar Gimba and motivated the drafting and submission of an official letter to FCT Minster by the Office of the SGF to release the Mamman Vatsa Writers Village to the Association.”
As a committed ANA member, his citation also revealed that he also assisted the Association to discover the lost site of the land to ANA, “when he spear-headed a search party in 2004 which included Mr Audu Ogbe, Odia Ofeimun and others to the Mamman Vatsa Writers Village, Abuja which is now developed and is hosting the Association’s secretariat with the construction of an office, conference hall, library and hotel and he had also before then provided office space to ANA National and FCT in Abuja.”
The statement added that, “ during his tenure he was the first chairman to introduce the conferment of individual and corporate fellowship awards to popularize, recruit members, cultivate friendship, seek assistance and reward individuals and corporate bodies in FCT.”
It added that he organised series of public lectures designed to sensitize members of the public and the authors on some emerging issues. He was also said to be the first to assist authors in presenting their books to the general public in order to bring literature to the street, explaining that it enables the authors recoup printing costs.
On account of these efforts, the Citation pointed out that the Chapter was granted the status of publishers’ accredited representatives.
The Association said Dr. Haruna, promoted Nigerian literature through showcasing works by budding creative and academic authors to the FCT literary communities in secondary and primary schools, public occasions and in organized public reading sessions. It added that he also ensured the documentation of Nigerian literatures by researching, collecting, editing and publishing over one hundred poets in an anthology titled Abuja Acolytes in 2002.
“Dduring his reign in FCT ANA he assisted in the development of a humane and egalitarian society by galvanizing Nigerian authors towards the promotion of democratic ethos, transparent ideals and civil liberties, as reflected in their integration of Nigerian cultural values in their writing and through various collaborations with the National Orientation Agency and the National Councils for Arts and Culture. “
The FCT Chapter under him was also said to promote cross-sector partnerships when it planned and executed World Book Day World Copyright Day celebrations with the British Council in 1998 and 1999 and empowered authors to meet renowned world authors such as Benjamin O. Zephanieh, Romesh Gunnesekera, Biyi Bamidele, Ms Jay Kaye, Prof. Ishmael Reed and the World Bank Resident Representative.
It Citation further revealed that his tenure “as Chairman FCT ANA promoted literary education and entertainment through various programmes his team developed and spotlighted like the “Writer World” of ASO Radio Station in Abuja from October –December, 2001.”
The releaseIt disclosed further that the Chapter under him also organized a workshop on travel writing at the Nigerian Village at Zuma Rock which attracted writers, authors, arts reporters, literature students and university lecturers, and also won the German Heinrich BollFoundation Cash Award in 1998 to promote literary excellence in selected FCT Secondary Schools where he donated over 500 novels, plays and poetry books to GSS Nyanya, GSS Kwali, GSS Wuse, GGSS Dutse, GSS Karshi and GSS Garki which was followed with another collaboration with the National council for Arts and Culture to organize the FCT Secondary School Poetry competition in 2002.
Added to his achievements, Haruna was a member Of Copy Right Commission’s Central Working Committee in charge of enlightenment and enforcement of anti-thesis/dissertation syndication as well as piracy/plagiarism infringement in higher institutions in Nigeria. Again, according to the information on the Citation, he edited and passed editorial evaluation on the publishebility of several manuscripts of unknown Nigerian Authors which assisted them in improving the quality of their works.
The former chairman’s Citation said he promoted members’ welfare by ameliorating the hardship and deprivation faced by the authors by operating a loan revolving Scheme and also carried out other interventions such as mediating with authors’ step-parent, stranded members and the provision of introductory letters, job placements and intervention during trade disputes with their employers.
Dr Penni described the “award as a pleasant not taking account of only literature teachers, award winning authors, conference speakers as it was extended to the pioneering developers of Nigerian literature and ANA who belong to other professional fields and yet are writers. He dedicated the award “to my pioneering tribesmen and conspirators in FCT-ANA with whom we started the journey together”, adding however that the warriors were Dr (Deac.) Charles Edet, Dr (Sir) Chief Law Mefor and Malam Denja Abdullahi, while others included Late Dr Davidson Aniakor, Late Ibrahim Aliyu, Late Dr (Sir) Chief Frank Ogbeche, Mallam Salisu Na’inna, Professor Mabel Evwierhoma, Dr Adewunmi Oluwadiya, Mr Sonnie Nwosu aka Santa Done, Persec Dr Anthonia Ekpa, Mrs Gladys Williams Russel, Mallam Shuib Yushau, Mr John Asein, Dr Suleiman Haruna, Dr Emmam Shehu, Dr Gordian Oranika, Late Dr S.O Williams,
Miss Zulaikha Abdullahi, Late Mike Ameh; as well as former ANA national leaders in persons of Mr Odia Ofeimun, Late Malam Abubakar Gimba, Hon. Dr Wole Okediran, Late Prof Jerry Agada, Malam Ibrahim Sheme, Mr Ruben Idakweji, Mallam Yahaya Dangana, Prince John Asiedu Sarpong and most importantly Mr Ezekiel Babatunde Fajenyo who as Features Writer with the Newsline Newspaper, Minna interviewed and introduced him to Niger State ANA which was under Baba Dzukogi secretaryship.”
He also expressed appreciation to his office bosses for enablement to serve ANA. They were Chief (Prince) MAO Oyelude, Ms Dupe Ajayi-Gbadebo, Mr Eric Teniola, Permsec B. A. Adebiyi, Prince Samuel Oloowokere, Miss Charity Gordon and Mr Samuel Osanyinpeju. He then thanked the current EXCO led by Dr Camills Ukah and its immediate past president Mallam Denja Abdullahi. He finally wished ANA a long life of literary endeavoring.