It could not be anything less than such a symbolic event when the top guns of the national literary establishment – the Association of Nigerian Authors, (ANA) – in a country like Nigeria left their comfort zone to stage a ‘Welcome Session’ for a global literary voice such as Professor Chimalum Nwankwo. The literary giant who is at what may be called the Veritas University, Abuja phase of his relocation from the United States of America back to Nigeria won the ANA prestigious awards in 1988 and 2002.
The ‘Welcome Session’ on March 4th, 2021 at Veritas University, Abuja where the literary mind is currently based at the Department of English and Literary Studies, (DELS) got the university community stirring as the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Hyacinth Ichoku was there himself along with other top officials of the university. Among them were the university’s Director of Development, Rev Fr Dr, Martin Onukwuba, Rev, Fr. Prof. Michael Udoekpo, Dean, Faculty of Humanities, Prof. Anthony Olaoye, Head, Department of English and Literary Studies and his immediate predecessor, Dr. Emmanuel Egar.
It was a literary fiesta, what with Professor Nwankwo and Dr. Egar’s reading performances. Both excited the VC no end. Intervention understands that so impressed that Professor Ichoku declared at a point that no one would be allowed to take Professor Nwankwo away from Veritas University, Abuja, a clear warning to those who might be out for a big name in the discipline that Chimalum is for keep by his university. He was, understandably, happy with the Executive Council of ANA for the visit to the university.
The VC also described reading and writing as the oil that stimulates good scholarship, hence they cannot be toyed with by any school worth its salt. Professor Nwankwo is, among others, spear-heading the university’s project of catching the writers young. He is equally coordinating the Veritas writers community inaugurated at the same event.
According to Dr. Cyril Oleh of the Department of Mass Communications at Veritas University who witnessed the inauguration, the reading and writing club is for bludgeoning campus writers. The inauguration was part of the activities that marked the 40th anniversary celebration of the Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA) which took place at the serene environment.
The newly inaugurated writers community got a charge from the VC to stimulate the interest of staff and students in the university into purposeful reading and writing. He lamented the obvious lack of interests among the youths in reading and writing good books.
Barrister Ahmed Maiwada, the National President of ANA, enjoined the newly inaugurated writers to take advantage of the serene environment of Veritas University Abuja to become creative writers. Barrister Maiwada joked that if William Shakespeare had lived and worked in Veritas University Abuja, he would have produced more literary works than he did considering the inherently enabling environment which is currently far away from any noisy or chaotic Nigerian urban centre. How far it would remain so rests in speculation!
The Chairperson of ANA, Abuja chapter, Mrs. Halima Usman informed the audience made up of ANA members, staff and students of Veritas University Abuja that Abuja chapter of ANA would adopt the newly inaugurated writers community as their ‘baby’ to ensure proper mentoring, a pronouncement that elicited applause from the university community.
About sixteen members of the club represented the writer’s community during the inauguration which saw Rev. Fr. Augustine Emeka Ugwumgbo emerging as the Editor-in-Chief of the Veritas writers community.