B.M. Dzukogi is a creative and non-fiction writer based in Minna, Niger State. The founder of the Mua’zu Babangida Aliyu Literary Colloquium, among other literary initiatives in northern Nigeria, is the brain behind NIFESTENA, a festival for Nigerian teen artistes, which started last year. He told HENRY AKUBUIRO, in this interview, the imperative of mentoring young Nigerian writers to hit stardom in a competitive literary world.
I understand that the NIFESTEENA, your Foundation inaugurated in Minna last year, has moved to Kaduna this year. Why leave Minna after investing so much in literary fortune of Niger state?
Well, as artists, we are not limited in operation. Wherever attracts us, we go. It is true that Niger State, at some point in the recent past came to assume a destination for Nigerian writers. This was due to the numerous activities we pioneered which had taken the profile of national and international scale. This was possible, because of the unending support the government of Dr. Babangida Aliyu gave in several fronts. Niger became a subject of envy for many states. Only Port Harcourt and Ake Book Festivals stood up to us. Meanwhile, Porthacourt and Ake were the only flourishing book festivals in Rivers and Ogun states while Niger had what appeared to be uncountable literary activities. So, we were on top of all the states in the country. Even the apex literary organisation in the country, ANA national, almost relocated to Niger. Today, Niger is no longer on top. It not because we have exhausted our artistic ideas, but the current government is not interested in our affairs. The only man that cares is the chief of staff to the governor. He did a few things for us. But to hit Talba scale would require the attention of Mr. Governor. So, in the absence of the tremendous goodwill of the past administration, we had to move to Kaduna to ensure that NIFESTEENA, which is a new product from us, survives. Kaduna became imminent, because the Governor of Kaduna sounded a note of accommodation by introducing something similar to Aka tagged KABAFEST which writers attended and enjoyed. Art does not know Niger or Kaduna State. It is a universal phenomenon. So, we have brought NIFESTEENA which is universal to the Nigerian teen artists to meet a universal character, the governor of Kaduna state. Simple.