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NBPR unveils Uyo as Nigeria’s first National Book Clubs City

The Network of Book Clubs and Reading Promoters in Nigeria (NBPR) has unveiled Uyo, the capital city of Akwa-Ibom State, as the country’s first National Book Clubs City.

The announcement was made by Richard Mammah, NBPR’s interim president, in a Zoom meeting of stakeholders on Friday, April 23, 2021. This automatically accords Uyo the hosting right for the first ever National Conference of Book Clubs in Nigeria, which comes up in September 2021.

Taking its inspiration from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) World Book Capital initiative, which adopts one city in the world annually to serve as hub and anchor for reading promotions activities across the given year, Mammah said NBPR thought it appropriate to introduce a variant of this into the Nigerian environment.

In his address, Mammah said the choice of Uyo had come after NBPR members deliberated and considered the merits of consolidating book activities in one location for a whole year so as to achieve greater traction.

“As we make history today, 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,” Mammah said.

“In cities, towns and communities across the country, bands of book enthusiasts have always gathered to read and share experiences on the books they treasure,” he said.

Most of the times, however, these reading activities have not been harmonised, he said.

As a result of this, the idea of the NBPR, he disclosed, is to bunch these isolated energies together for greater effect.

“It is in the course of doing this over the past 14 months that we came to the conclusion that we needed to add National Book Clubs City to the coordination of books clubs and reading promotion in Nigeria,” Mammah said.

A National Book Clubs City is decided after NBPR members have received bids from active book cities and have voted. He said the Book Clubs City will serve as focus hub and anchor for the composite reading promotions activities of the group between April 23 of the awarding year and April 22 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,” Mammah said.

Udeme Nana, founder and president, Uyo Book Club, in his acceptance speech expressed gratitude to the network for the honour 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 serve as the Book Clubs City and to host the first ever National Conference of Book Clubs in Nigeria. This is historic and 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,” Nana said.

He also mentioned that a book, Village Boy, written by a member of Uyo Book Club and launched by the 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 the 2021 World Book and Copyright Day.

“Uyo Book Club will sustain its collaboration with the NBPR and all relevant stakeholders in their resolve to mobilise and motivate people to embrace the culture of reading; we will also work to revive the waning culture of reading among our people and we will take this drive to all the nooks and crannies of Akwa Ibom State, setting up more book clubs and focusing on a campaign to inculcate the habit of reading among our people,” he said.

Nana said the 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.

Dare Oluwatuyi, president, Booksellers Association of Nigeria, wished NBPR well in the task of driving aggregated reading promotions in Nigeria amongst book clubs and through investing one city annually as a National Book Clubs City.

Oluwatuyi noted that the choice of the announcement date coincided with the notable World Book and Copyright Day and tasked the organisation to be conscious of challenges that could show up in the execution of this project which, he said, would be surmounted with the right resolve.

“As president of the Booksellers Association of Nigeria, and one who was privy to the birth of NBPR only a little over a year ago, I will say with all confidence that having seen all that 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, and so on – need each other, it is only appropriate that we continue to support the initiatives of NBPR, amidst those of other stakeholders in the book trade, for a greater and better culture of reading and books environment in Nigeria,” he said.

Uwemedimo Udo, chairman, Uyo Local Government Area, and Uchenna Cyril Anioke, president, Nigerian Publishers Association, pledged their commitment to work with the NBPR and the Uyo Book Club in delivering on the set mandates.

While Anioke saluted the strides recorded by the NBPR till date, Udo, who came to the session with a full complement of the council’s leaders, gave 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.

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