Former Head of State, Gen. Yakubu Gowon, has expressed his doubted on Prof. Chinua Achebe’s chances of making money from his new book, There was a Country. The elder statesman’s concern is not as a result of the controversy which the book has generated. Rather, it is as a result of the activities of pirates in the country – or so he wanted to paint it.
Gowon was speaking in Abuja on Thursday at the presentation of the Reform of the Copyright System in Nigeria organised by the Nigerian Copyright Commission. He said he wondered if the renowned novelist would make money from his intellectual property, saying it had been pirated.
The 78-year-old said he saw hawkers selling copies of the book in Abuja recently. In his words: “When I was coming to the hotel yesterday (Wednesday) I saw people selling copies of Achebe’s book, you know the one I am talking about… I don’t know if the chap knew I was the one inside the car – he wanted to get my attention… I said to myself, ‘so this book has already been pirated and is being sold in the streets?’… I don’t know if Achebe will be getting any penny from that book.”
Achebe in the book, containing his civil war memoir, accused the Federal Government under Gowon and the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo, then Minister of Finance, of using hunger as a weapon of war against the Igbo. He had earlier described Achebe’s civil war memoir as the most controversial publication on the war.