* ‘Reading Champions’ specially recognised with awards
By Tosin Akeredolu and Olufemi Ogunyejo
THE Network of Book Clubs and Reading Culture Promoters in Nigeria (NBRP) rose from its 2023 National Conference on Reading and AGM on Thursday, September 2023 with an affirmation that its pioneering executive be returned to office for one more term of two years. According to the text of a statement from the organization, the motion to return the executive in office was moved by Uyo Book Club founder, Dr. Udeme Nana and seconded by Professor Oyinkan Chukuka Tasie of Tolulope Book Club, Ibadan.
The returned officers are Richard Mammah – President, Prof. Felicia Etim – Vice President, Emmanuel Okoro – Secretary, Irene Okon – Assistant Secretary, Funmi Ilori – Treasurer, Farida Ladipo-Ajayi – Financial Secretary, Ekineta Annette David-West – Internal Auditor, Anote Ajeluorou – Publicity Secretary, and Adekunle Smith – Legal Compliance Officer.
Also at the AGM, Yenagoa was reconfirmed as the NBRP National Book Clubs City 2024 while the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja was also endorsed to serve as the National Book Clubs City 2025. The National Book Clubs City scheme, which began in 2021 with Uyo as pioneer city, is designed to concentrate the reading promotions initiatives of NBRP within a given area for one calendar year. As Book Club city for 2021 and 2022, Uyo set itself the goal of engendering the coming into place of many book clubs within the state. In the current year, Lagos had opened it’s range of activities with the mega-advocacy Lagos Book Walk event in April. Every Book Clubs City also has a mandatory obligation to host the AGM and National Conference of NBRP within it’s book year.
Some of the newly re-elected officials of NBRP:- Legal Compliance Officer, Adekunle Smith (left); Financial Secretary, Farida Ladipo-Ajayi; Vice President, Prof. Felicia Etim; President, Richard Mammah; Treasurer, Funmi Ilori and Internal Auditor, Akinetta Annette David-West
Accepting the outcome of the bid process, NBRP’s FCT coordinator, Chief Loye Oloowokere pledged the readiness of his team to ensure that the 2025 Book Year would be one of the best yet in the annals of the organisation. On her part, the representative of the 2024 host, Bayelsa, David-West affirmed that extensive work was already underway to deliver a grand outing in the state next year. The full details of the final package for Yenagoa as NBRP Book Clubs City 2024, she outlined, would be revealed later in the year.
The 2023 NBRP National Conference on Reading and AGM which was held at the Julius Berger Hall, University of Lagos, Akoka, Lagos, had Dr. Paige Pullen, Chief Academic Officer at the Lastinger Center for Learning, University of Florida as keynote speaker.
There were also panel sessions on book distribution, managing book clubs and an examination of several notable reading promotions boosters such as the Pacesetters books series, the Nigeria Prize for Literature and the Guinness World Record read-aloud bids by Bayode Treasures Olawumi and John Obot on the overall Nigerian reading and book ecosystem.
In recognition of their invaluable contributions to the socio-economic development of literacy education and the promotion of reading culture in Nigeria, the Network of Book Clubs and Reading Culture Promoters in Nigeria (NBRP) presented ‘Champion of Reading Award’ to the Vice Chairman of Senate Committee on Education, Dr. Ekong Sampson, Chairman, Nigerian Book Fair Trust, Mr. Dare Oluwatuyi, MD/CEO, Accessible Publishers, Mr. Adedapo Gbadega, and President, Nigerian Publishers Association, Dr. Uchenna Cyril Anioke. Others are the Founder, Uyo Book Club, Dr. Udeme Nana and Patron, Raffia City Book Club, Ikot Ekpene, Abom Tony Esu. The award ceremony was part of activities of the third National Conference and Annual General Meeting of the non-governmental organization.
Earlier, president of the organisation, Mr. Richard Mamman, while welcoming his guests, highlighted major breakthrough the body has recorded since its inception three years ago. According to him, the body, through advocacy, is vigorously working towards the establishment of at least one reading club in each of the 774 local government areas in Nigeria, aggressive campaign and promotion of reading campaigns and awareness across the nooks and crannies of the country among schools in Nigeria (private and publics) and host of other activities.
Awardees and representatives displaying their award plaques: Emmanuel Abimbola represented Chief Uchenna Cyril Anioke (left); Mr. Tosin Akeredolu represented his boss, Mr. Adedapo Gbadega; Dr. Udeme Nana; Mr. Dare Oluwatuyi; Mr. John Obot represented Senator Ekong Sampson and Emediong Esu represented Abom Tony Esu
He acknowledged the support and assistance from notable individuals and corporate bodies who have made the vision possible and for whom the awardees were being recognized and appreciated.
Speaking on the event theme ‘The Science of Reading and Early Literacy Development: The Role of Parents, Educators, Libraries and Book Clubs,’ the keynote speaker, Pullen, enjoined stakeholders in the book sector to continuing advocating for book literacy across the length and breadth of the country. She identified and suggested a number of strategies to the body through which book reading culture can be more enhanced and strengthened.
Other activities to spice up the event was a panel discussion which centred on Practical Tips for Cultivating Early Literacy in Nigeria.
The event was well attended by dignitaries in the reading and book ecosystem, among whom were Book Clubs Coordinator, National Library of Nigeria, Dr. Jumoke Ajibola, President, National Library Association (NLA) Pastor Dominic Omokaro, Programme Chair, Committee for Relevant Art (CORA), Mr. Jahman Anikulapo, Chairman, Nigeria Book Fair Trust (NBFT) and Chairman, Nigeria Booksellers Association (NBA), Mr. Dare Oluwatuyi, Prof. Felicia Etim, Prof. Oyinkan Tasie, Mr. Ola Opesan, Mrs. Temitope Oladeji, Mr. Emmanuel Abimbola and Executive Secretary, NBFT, Mr. Biodun Omotubi respectively) and host of others.
* Akeredolu and Ogunyejo are book enthusiasts based in Ibadan