by saint mienpamo
Bayelsa State Governor, Hon Seriake Dickson has announced the endowment of a professorial chair in honour of Pa (Dr) Gabriel Okara in the state-owned
Niger Delta University(NDU) Wilberforce Island as he celebrates his ninety first birthday
Governor Dickson, who made the announcement in his address at the occasion held at the Gloryland Cultural centre, Yenagoa, noted that the sterling qualities of the literary Icon, Pa Okara was worthy of emulation.
According to him, the challenge for us is to improve the educational sub-sector in order to produce more Icons such as Pa (Dr) Gabriel Okara, Capt. Elechi Amadi and Professor John Pepper Clark-Bekederemo among others.
The Governor used the forum to remind people of the importance of hardwork noting that it was the only way to attain success in life He expressed joy for being at an occasion that is full of literary giants who have made their state and country proud. “they are the finest generation of African writers”, he declared.
Dickson commended the organizers of the celebration, the Association of Nigerian Authors(ANA), Bayelsa state chapter for honouring one of their own, an illustrious son of ijawland and the nation at large, stating that the reason for the celebration was also to show to the world that the celebrant is an essential ijaw man living and serving peacefully among his people.
He said government will soon name appropriate monument and street after the ninogenarian in recognition of his worthy contributions to society.
The Governor equally stated that government will in collaboration with ANA set aside a day to be celebrated as literary day annually in the state where the culture, language and history of the Ijaws will be discussed.
“Governor wants to promote literary Arts, Culture, Language and other spheres of the ijaws’. He therefore enjoined Bayelsans to support the literacy initiative
stressing that government will not rest until it secures the future of the people and the state for posterity
Dickson also announced that the state will soon launch major works in Izon language and charged academicians to devote more time to it as government
will render the necessary support.
He said, as part of the state´s policy, the Ijaw language will be made a compulsory subject in all primary and secondary schools in the state.
Earlier in his opening remarks, the chairman of the occasion, professor Steve Azaiki eulogized the celebrant, describing him as a well read African Author whose life style is worthy of emulation.
Azaiki commended the Governor and people for the show of love in his honour and also for the state chapter of ANA for organizing Pa Gabriel Okara’s ninety first birthday celebration.
In his address, the state chairman of ANA, Mr Ebinyo Ogbowei called on the state Government to accord Pa Okara a befitting honour in appreciation of his works as a poet, novelist, journalist and elder statesman.
Ogbowei noted that Pa Okara is not only the oldest living African Writer today, but also the most prominent of the pioneer poets, who has won many prizes in literature.
He thereby appealed to the state government to make good the promise of previous administrations in the state who promised to build a writers village as well as providing a bus and a parcel of land to build a secretariat.
In his response, Pa(Dr) Gabriel Okara expressed profound appreciation to the government and people of the state as well as ANA and other distinguished guests for the honour done on his ninety first birthday celebration.
He commended Governor Seriake Dickson for showing interest in the literature and culture of the Ijaws, stating that his actions will make the state and the nation a better place to live.