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Uyo becomes Nigeria’s first National Book Clubs City



Uyo becomes Nigeria’s first National Book Clubs City


By Ada Anioji



The city of Uyo, capital of the South South State of Akwa Ibom has been named as Nigeria’s first National Book Clubs City, The Difference has learnt.


In an address by Mr Richard Mammah, Interim President, Network of Book Clubs and Reading Promoters in Nigeria, he revealed that the choice had come after members of the reading promotions body sat down to consider the merits of consolidating their book activities in one location so as to achieve greater traction.


The text of his address reads:


‘Today we make history. For very many years, many advocates who have gone before us on this track have longed and worked towards a time when Nigeria would be a massive field of book clubs that are contributing their quota to the educational enrichment of the citizenry and the well-being of the nation.


In towns and communities across the country bands of book enthusiasts have gathered together to read and share experiences on the book treasures that they hold dear. But for much of the time, these have been in isolated streams.


The idea of the Network of Book Clubs and Reading Promoters in Nigeria therefore is to bunch these isolated energies together for greater effect. And it is in the course of doing just this across the past 14 months that we came to the conclusion that we needed to add something else to the package.


Taking our inspiration from the UNESCO World Book Capital initiative which annually decides on one city in the world to serve as hub and anchor for reading promotions activities across the given year, we thought it appropriate to introduce a variant of this into our own environment.


What we have then put together is a National Book Clubs City Package which at the moment involves members of the Network of Book Clubs and Reading Promoters voting from among bids presented by different contending member book clubs on behalf of their cities for the opportunity to serve as focus hub and anchor for the composite reading promotions activities of the group between April 23rd of one year and April 22nd of the following year. Through this focus, our desire and hope is that the chosen city, its friends, residents, governments, businesses and publics would rally round our anchor Book Club in the city to organise and drive a year-long carnival of books and reading, more books and reading, and even more books and reading!


What remains to be done now is to announce the pioneer and flagship city that has been chosen and honoured with this mandate. Ladies and gentlemen, readers and guests, it is none other than the capital of Akwa Ibom State, the City of Uyo and the package is to be directly administered under the leadership of the Uyo Book Club!’


Mammah thereafter invited the Founder and President of the Uyo Book Club, Dr Udeme Nana to give his acceptance speech.


In his acceptance speech, Nana thanked the network for the honour done the Uyo Book Club, the city of Uyo and Akwa Ibom State and pledged that the club would do all within its power to justify its choice.


‘Uyo Book Club gladly accepts the honour accorded it to  host  the First ever National Conference of Book Clubs in Nigeria in September this year. We are also very excited about the unanimous decision to choose Uyo, our State capital, as the National Book Clubs City for this year. It is also gratifying that a book,” VILLAGE BOY” , written by one of our Members and  launched by Uyo Book Club recently in Uyo has been selected as one of the books for the UN SDG’s Book Clubs Reading list as announced on the occasion of  this year’s World Book and Copyright Day. This is historic and let me say that all of our Members,  indigenes and residents of Uyo are elated by this momentous development.  When Uyo reads, Akwa Ibom reads; Nigerians will read again.’
‘Uyo Book Club will sustain its collaboration with the Network of Book Clubs and Reading promoters in Nigeria and  all relevant stakeholders in their resolve to mobilize and motivate people to embrace the culture of reading. We will work  to revive  the waning culture of reading among our people. We will take this drive to all the nooks and crannies of Akwa Ibom State, set up more Book Clubs and focus on a campaign to inculcate the habit of reading among our people. Our ultimate objective is to refine the sensibilities of people in the belief that people whose sensibilities are refined make for better citizens and a better society,’ Nana pledged.
In a goodwill message he presented at the event, Mr Dare Oluwatuyi, President Booksellers Association of Nigeria wished the Network of Book Clubs and Reading Promoters in Nigeria well in the task of driving aggregated reading promotions in Nigeria amongst book Clubs through investing one city annually as a National Book Clubs City.
Noting that the choice of the announcement date was quite auspicious giving that it was coinciding with the quite notable World Book and Copyright Day, he tasked the organisation to note that in executing projects of this nature, challenges could show up, but added that with the right resolve, they also could be quite seamlessly addressed.
‘As President of the Booksellers Association of Nigeria, and one who was privy to the birth of the Network only a little over a year ago, I will say with all confidence that having seen that which has been done in this period and given the simple imperative that all of us in the book chain – libraries, authors, readers, Booksellers, publishers, illustrators, etc – need each other, it is only appropriate that we continue to support the initiatives of the Network, amidst those of other stakeholders in the book trade, for a greater and better, reading and books environment in Nigeria.
Along this line and in this spirit of synergy and collaboration, permit me also to note that some members’ of the Network are already signed up ambassadors for the UN SDGS Book Clubs African Chapter which the entire industry is championing at the moment and for which we had an impressive launch occasion earlier today. We encourage other network members who have not done so to also sign up.’
He was not done:
‘Let me congratulate the Uyo Book Club and the good people of Uyo and Akwa Ibom on your choice. While it is within your rights to celebrate this stride, also note that you must do everything within your power to have and ensure that indeed much of Nigeria has, a great reading year on account of the power of your example and the strength of your influence, impact and motivation as it has to do with the books and reading promotions activities you will be undertaking this year. This would be the most fitting way to honourably pass on the baton at the end of your tenure to the next city and state, which I hope will be my own Ekiti State.’

Other goodwill messages came from the Chairman of Uyo Local Government, Dr. Uwemedimo Udo and the President of the Nigerian Publishers Association, Chief Uchenna Cyril Anioke. They both pledged their commitment to work with the Network and the Uyo Book Club in delivering on their set mandates. While Anioke saluted the strides recorded by the Network till date, noting that it was further reflective ‘of the awakening that was taking place in our national books and reading space’ at the moment, Udo, who came to the session with a full complement of the council’s leaders affirmed that he was giving his word that all would be done by the City of Uyo to ensure a very befitting National Convention and AGM for the Network in the Akwa Ibom State capital in September.




Akwa Ibom State Governor, Mr. Udom Emmanuel


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