Mr. Dare Oluwatuyi has been elected president of the Booksellers Association of Nigeria (BAN). The MD of the popular CSS Bookshop Limited, Oluwatuyi was last Thursday, elected unopposed by members of the association in a very smooth election where no other member of the association indicated interest for the number one position.
The voting session took place on the sidelines of the 2019 edition of the Nigerian International Bookfair that was staged at the Jelili Adebisi Omotola Hall (formerly Multi-Purpose Hall) of the University of Lagos, Akoka, Yaba.
Oluwatuyi who was in a jubilant mood after his declaration as the new helmsman of the association promised to hit the ground running. Addressing the members, he said, “It is my greatest delight this afternoon to see the trust and faith you have bestowed in me as the incoming President of this Association. With all the opportunities and challenges that come with my acceptance to serve us all, I am of the belief that this journey will not be a smooth one if I am to walk it alone.
“However, we thank our former leaders for drafting a constitution that recognizes the importance of the offices of Vice President, General Secretary and Public Relations Officer among others, as it is through this synergy of efforts that we are going to make sure that our goal of working together as National Executive Officers of the Booksellers Association of Nigeria, as one people, in one Nigeria is going to be achieved.”
Getting on with the business right away, the new president immediately tasked members to make pledges that would help shore up the association’s finances. He pleaded with members to pledge any amount as a way of demonstrating their seriousness. He started by pledging N150, 000 on behalf of CSS and others followed suit. At the end of the day, over one million naira was pledged.
In a brief chat with Business Hallmark Oluwatuyi said, “I feel happy to be elected as president of the Booksellers Association of Nigeria (BAN). The journey started about a week ago and we started campaigning to make it a reality. To God be the glory I have been elected today.” When asked what he would do differently as the president of the association, he said “You can see the way we started. Membership drive is paramount and the revenue drive is equally important. That is what I have demonstrated just now. I know we should have more than 1000 booksellers across Nigeria. Though we may not succeed in bringing all of them in, but we will bring in the quality ones from all the states into the association so that we can have good rapport, take good decisions and thereby have a stronger voice among our sister organizations in the book trade.”
Speaking of some of the challenges on the way and how to overcome them, the new president revealed that “some of the challenges have been discussed for quite a while. This new executive will not do things the old way because we need different results. Booksellers are meant to purchase books from publishers and sell to the end users, the schools, sales outlets, the bookshops and corporate bodies. But over the years, and notably in the last 20 years or so, publishers started going to the end users to distribute their books. So the bookseller’s revenue began to dwindle.
That actually sent some of us out of the market. The market was bastardized with publishers of books going to sell directly to schools and giving the same volume of discounts they give to booksellers to the schools. Clearly, booksellers cannot sell to the same customer any more. We will make sure we sanitize the system. We are already discussing with the publishers and they see reason with us.
“In fact, some of the conferences at the bookfair addressed that issue. We are going to segment but be professional about it. The publishers should know that their job is to publish. Probably, we will have a company set up to distribute, not sell. They would receive stocks from publishers, warehouse them, and then sell to book sellers. They will have their own commission for that and book sellers would take stock and then take the products to the end users.”
Other newly elected executive members of the association are the Vice President, North: Moses Mc Daniel; Vice President, East: Wilson Moneme; General Secretary: Mr Ekom Henry Itauma; Assistant Secretary: Mr Mohammed Garuba; Financial Secretary: Mr Akinyanbi Rakeeb; Treasurer: Robert Lawson; and Public Relations Officer: Michael Adewoye.
Dr David Popoola, who is the immediate past president of BAN, and Mrs Dorothy Esinalo were elected as ex-officio members.