ANA – NCC PARTNERSHIP: A STEP IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION
Despite his gentle mien, Dr. Camillus Ukah effectively demonstrated yesterday that he may rank among great ANA leaders of all time. This came through his decision to pay a courtesy call to the Director General of the National Copyright Commission (NCC) as his first assignment after taking over as President of the Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA).
Camillus sees a partnership between NCC and ANA as very significant if the author and the book is to be protected in Nigeria.
Over the years, a union between ANA and NCC has been advocated from time to time. Many writers have occasionally offered such proposals, but such talks were entirely private and unofficial, even though there have been signs of a desire on the part of the NCC to work with Nigerian authors to protect the Nigerian book project. This desire has been demonstrated through invitations by NCC to seminars and conferences, culminating into the appearance made by the Director-General National Copyright Commission, Mr John Asein at the botched ANA Convention in Enugu last. Mr Asein’s swift response when crooks pirated Prof. Wole Soyinka’s books recently is also a testimony to the desire of NCC to work with authors.
This is the background from which, ANA president, Camillus Uka led some members of his National Executive Council to the office of the Commission at the Federal Secretariat in Abuja yesterday. Those with Mr. President on the visit included the Vice-President, Farida Mohammed, the General Secretary, Maik Ortserga, the Assistant General Secretary Freeman Okosun, the Legal Adviser Bentex Tor-Lafia and the PRO North, Umar Yogiza.
On the side of the NCC, top directors who were in the meeting with the Director-General included, the Director, Regulatory, Mr. Augustine Amodu, the Director Special Duties, Mr Jonnie Icheka, the Director NCI, Mr. Michael Akpan and the Director Public Affairs, Mr Vincent Oyefesan.
Former, ANA President, Mallam Denja Abdullahi kick started the discussion by introducing the new President, Camillus Ukah to the DG. The new President, in a brief speech thanked the NCC for the beautiful work they have been doing in the protection of Nigerian Authors, particularly the swift response of the NCC in blocking the crooks who were recently discovered to be pirating the Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka’s book.
In his speech, the Director-General, Mr Asein stated that the relationship between the Commission and ANA is significant since the first item on the list of the Commission’s terms of work is the protection of the “creative sector ‘’ where the Commission’s mandate include the protection of books and authors. He regretted that while authors spend sleepless nights to provide creative nourishment to the rest of us during this COVID-19 Pandemic period, others are busy taking advantage of them to pirate their books to make money.
Mr Asein expressed happiness that ANA has overcome its challenges and shown good example in putting in place a new National Executive Council that is genuinely interested in promoting the Nigerian book project. He reiterated that the Copyright Commission would, not just be more visible during ANA’s next convention, but also train authors to take advantage of the e-registration where authors deposit their work with NCC to protect the works, and to work with authors in exploring other relevant issues like the model contracts which authors should begin to sign with their publishers as well as the place of the author in Nollywood.
The DG also emphasized the need for ANA to have an anti-piracy whistle- blowing and intelligence- sharing platform. In the area of on-line sales of books, he vowed that NCC will hold online providers accountable for any pirated books on their platforms and ensure that E-libraries are not operated everywhere by rogues. He also expressed his determination to keep urging ANA to help in the area of enlightenments and that ANA should feel free to invite NCC to all her functions.
Mr Asein also advised Nigerian authors to bear in mind and find ways to get the books available to the blind just like the sighted. The DG also revealed the NCC’s plans to adopt Prof. Wole Soyinka as well as ANA past presidents as NCC champions.
In his response, ANA president, Camillus Ukah Presented two of his EXCO members, Maik Ortserga and Barrister Bentex Tor-Lafia to be the ANA officials that would liaise directly with NCC in all their activities.
ANA Legal Adviser Barrister Bentex Tor-Lafia, in a vote of thanks, expressed the commitment of ANA to work with NCC. He revealed that ANA would, henceforth, provide a link to NCC on their website to guide authors properly and finally thanked the NCC for coming to the defense of Wole Soyinka in his book piracy case.