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Ex-NICO boss advocates improved reading culture

Bayode Olawunmi: sets a Guinness Record in ‘Longest Marathon Reading Aloud”

By Sam Eyoboka
The immediate past Executive Secretary of National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO) and present co-coordinator, Post Graduate Programme, Department of Theatre and Cultural Studies, Nasarawa State University, Professor Barclays Foubiri Ayakoroma, has advocated for an improved reading culture in Nigeria.

Books on display in one of the I-READ mobile libraries on January 30, 2018. The Jazz Hole is an independent record and book store in Lagos. AFP
The ‘mobile library’ project was launched, in 2013, by Funmi Ilori. Today, she has thirteen employees, 1,900 books and four vans. She visits four to six schools each day, and organizes reading workshops with volunteers on evenings and weekends in the slums for out-of-school children. / AFP PHOTO / STEFAN HEUNIS

Prof. Ayakoroma made this call in a keynote lecture he presented during a special event, “The Sit Out with Literary Minds”, a programme packaged by 1402BookLounge, which took place at Trendy Event Centre, Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, last Thursday.

Speaking on the theme: “The Power In the Book… The Power of the Book”, Prof. Ayakoroma, an accomplished theatre director, playwright, film and cultural management scholar, as well as author of several books, decried the fact that our society is presently experiencing an alarming decline in reading culture.

He noted that a man that has the right information holds the power and the right information that gives a man power is in the book, pointing out that the answers to all human problems, challenges and quests are in books; and therefore charged Nigerians to improve their reading culture for them to be well-informed because a man who is not well-informed is mentally and socially deformed.

The professor also warned on the dangers of unwholesome usage of the social media especially by youths, which has affected their writing skills, stating that people prefer jokes and other immoral contents to intellectual issues; and that the internet and other social media platforms are not bad but the way we use them determines whether they are salutary to our daily lives or not.

Prof. Ayakoroma, who has three of his plays in the approved Bayelsa State Secondary School Syllabus currently, urged Nigerians to not only improve on their reading habits but also write books because of the power in the book which is the ingredients (knowledge) that can be harvested from books and the power of the book which is the benefits (dividends) of reading and writing books.

The 1402BookLounge is a distinctive book resort that offers refreshing fun, exciting and pleasurable book reading activities and experience in a beautiful serene and comfortable atmosphere; it is not just a library but a premium relaxation spot for book lovers.

Earlier in her welcome address, the founder of 1402BookLounge, Annette Ekineta David-West, explained that the resort is something different from present day libraries, as it, in addition, offers what will make people relax while reading and following a story with tea, coffee, snacks, soft drinks and playing Chess or Scrabble.

Dignitaries at the event included celebrated award-winning poet, Chijioke Amu-Nnadi; Prof. Onyanye Kunle Olowu of the College of Medicine, Niger Delta University, Amassoma; former Commissioner for Information, Bayelsa State, Barrister Iniruo Wills; celebrated poet, novelist and former Speech Writer to Gov. DSP Alamieyeseigha, Mr. Nengi Josef-Ilagha (Pope Pen I); Barrister Esueme Dan Kikile of Nigerian Content Monitoring and Development Board (NCMDB); and Timi Ama Willis of Niger Delta University, among other guests from all walks of life.

There was a dance performance by Bayelsa State Cultural Troupe, several poetry renditions featuring Chijioke Amu-Nnadi, Nengi Josef-Ilagha and other budding poets, and a special performance of a nine year old saxophonist, Samuel Tokoni Okoya, to spice the event.

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