Book publishing in Nigeria is in dire straits. It shook me up like a charge of electricity that there is one Nigerian East of the Niger, largely unsung, devoting his entire life to the nobler details of book publishing and distribution. My knowledge or lack thereof of the publishing of books in Nigeria is largely restricted to the Lagos-Ibadan axis, that is, until a recent visit to Enugu during which my brother, Isidore Emeka, took me to 20 Edozien Street, Uwani, Enugu, the home of ABIC Books & Equipment Ltd, where the avuncular C.N.C. Asomugha presides.
Asomugha established ABIC Books back in 1987, and in the intervening years, the company has published authors such as Chinua Achebe, Esiaba Irobi, Emeka Nwabueze, GPI Oluka, Chimalum Nwankwo, Mekinzewi, Ngozi Omeje, EC Nwodo, Ebele Maduewesi, VV Levtchitch, Emmanuel Attamah, Osondu Odionu, Chibuzo Asomugha, Chuks Okolo, Okey Anyichie, Rina Okonkwo, CH Spurgeon, Roland Timi Kpakiama etc.
According to Asomugha, “Our vision has been to share with all human beings, aged between one and 100 years, the unique African experiences recorded in books and in other means of publication. Today, we publish and distribute books from and to all ends of the world and provide access to information and publications from Nigeria in a way that has not been done before. This is our mission.”
Sales outlets of ABIC Books almost span the entire Nigerian States, notably: Abia, Akwa Ibom, Anambra, Benue, Bornu, Cross River, Ebonyi, Edo, Enugu, Imo, Kaduna, Lagos, Niger, Osun, Oyo, Plateau, and Abuja FCT.
Asomugha takes pride of place as some of ABIC Books “have won the most coveted prizes in Nigeria.” For instance, the late Esiaba Irobi’s play, Cemetery Road, emerged winner of the 2010 Nigeria Prize for Literature endowed by the NLNG. Irobi’s Cemetery Road “is a play about living, loving and dying for the things we hold dear. It reveals the narrow purviews of the Nigerian nation, constructs deeper insights out of our social logjams, relates with the residual heritage of the nation and rises above the penchant for tragedy which the socio-economic situation in our country predispose every concerted consciousness. It is socially relevant in an ironically refreshing way. The dialogue crackles. Its theatricality is variegated.”
The office at 20 Edozien Street, Uwani, Enugu also houses a bookshop in which latest bestselling titles such as Chinua Achebe’s There Was a Country and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah are on display. Books published by ABIC share shelf space in healthy competition with offerings from other publishers, local and foreign.
The bookshop trade discount at ABIC Books stands at a competitive 20 percent, while institutional discount goes for 10 percent. The company’s publishing orbit spans Drama, Education, Engineering, Young Adult Fiction, Adult Fiction, Football, History, Languages, Library Science, Literary Studies, Management, Medicine, Motivational Books, Music, Nigeriana, Poetry, Reference, Research & Experimentation, English Storybooks, Igbo Storybooks etc.
At ABIC Books, there is the mantra: “This is not a Joke. You are Dead without Books.” This way, Asomugha champions the cause of books daring all the odds like poor power supply, atrocious transportation, printing woes, unreliable clients and sundry suchlike.
Its vision as “a unique African concept” stands ABIC Books in good stead toward reversing the odds against mother Africa in telling the total global story. Asomugha astutely leads the charge through committed publishing, books & journals distribution, educational equipment, and literary agency.
An interesting 26-page monograph published in 2006 by ABIC Books is Chinua Achebe’s The University and the Leadership Factor in Nigerian Politics, which is partly the late lionized author’s response to criticisms of his insightful classic The Trouble With Nigeria.
When the Arrow Rebounds: A Dramatized Recreation of Chinua Achebe’s Arrow of God by Emeka Nwabueze lends to the classic novel a new lease of life on the live stage.
Mr. Asomugha has, through his ABIC Books, given the literati of the country reason to believe. He deserves celebration.