doubted Prof. Chinua Achebe’s chances of making money from his new book, There
was a country.
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 former Chief of Army Staff spoke in Abuja at the presentation of the Reform
of the Copyright System in Nigeria organised by the Nigerian Copyright
the 78-year-old said he saw hawkers selling copies of the book in Abuja
Gowon said, “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
“I said to myself, ‘so this book has already been pirated and is being sold in
“I don’t know if Achebe will be getting any penny from that book.”
The remark drew laughter from the gathering.
He had earlier described Achebe’s civil war memoir as the most controversial
publication on the war.
Gowon, who was the chairman of the event, stressed that no one should be
allowed to steal another person’s work, or unduly exploit another person’s
He said, “The underlying philosophy of copyright protection, as I have come to
understand, is the need to adhere to the fundamental rule of natural justice
that every person be guaranteed the fruit of his or her labours. The corollary
to this axiom is that no one should be allowed to steal another’s work or
unduly exploit the sweat of another’s hard labour.”
The former Head of State recounted how his administration masterminded a review
of the old copyright law the country inherited from the British colonial
masters after independence.
Director General of the NCC, Mr. Afam Ezekude, in said the commission decided
to reform Nigeria’s copyright system in order to address identified flaws which
have inhibited the contribution of the creative industry to national economic