Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, a former Minister of Interior and also former Governor of Osun State, says there is need for academics to have greater interest in improving the literary industry.
Aregbesola spoke during a book presentation on Odia Ofeimun, titled: “In Search of Common Morality” in Lagos.
Odia Ofeimun, is a poet, polemicist and polymath.
He was born in Iruekpen-Ekuma, Edo, Nigeria, on March 16, 1950.
Ofeimun is the author of many volumes of poetry, books of political essays and on cultural politics, and the editor of significant two anthologies of Nigerian poetry.
Aregbesola said there should be more literary works by eminent Nigerians instead of importing works from outside the country.
“We should support and promote intellectuals as Ofeimun.
“ Ofeimun is a toast of love for some of us who have interest in the society on how to tweak it and he represents the best in all of us, ” he said.
Speaking, Femi Falana, a SAN and Human Rights Activist, commended writers who made contributions to the book and thanked the editors for the compilations and for honouring Ofeimun.
Falana described the poet as a man who deserved all the honour that could be given to him while alive for his commitment to the literary advancement of the country.
“ I am delighted to be here to celebrate our own wonderful brother, I thank the organisers and hope that we can have regular fora to discuss and celebrate our heroes,” he said.
According to Reuben Abati, the Book Reviewer, Ofeimun is a man known for taking everything he does seriously, it is this single minded devotion to his crafts that has been responsible for his Poetic Genius.
Abati described Ofeimun as one of the most impactful, productive, influential public intellectual that Nigeria had produced in the last four decades.
“ His contributions to poetry, journalism, literature and state presentation formed a formidable part of his multi- dimensional influence is actively engaged citizen of our time.
“ He is committed to virtually every facet of his personal as a poet, writer, journalist, dramatist, producer, essayist, publisher, literary critic and entrepreneur.
“ It is noteworthy that these publications are the amalgamation of the man himself, essentially, the book ‘ The Search of Common Morality’ is a product of conference in his honour in March 2020,” he said.
“ The editors have done a remarkable job by putting a fence around that year 2000 event.
“ I doubt if indeed this is the first effort of kind but what can be seen at first glance is the extensive scope of the contents, the depth of the analysis, the array of scholars and admirers taking Odia Ofeimun seriously,” he said.
The book reviewer, a seasoned journalist, said that the book divided into four parts with a total of fifteen chapters, adding that the “Common Morality” underlined the humanistic temper of Odia Ofeimun writings.
He noted that the critical essay in the book sustained further and drew attention to examining intervention with regards to issues to Nation Building, Federalism, National Conference and centrifugal tension.
Abati spoke on chapter three of the book with the topic “The Odia we know”, a collection of friendly appreciative tributes to the subject, such as Rauf Aregbesola, Yewande Omotosho, Uzoma Chimuzo-Atu, etc.
He said that Ofeimun, who had written no fewer than 40 books, Essays, Poetry and Critics, transformed the Association of Nigerian Authors, fought battles and had been involved in politics.
Earlier, Mr Olumide Fusika (SAN), Chairman of the event, described Ofeimun as someone who insisted on merit having served late Obafemi Awolowo who ensured best to national development.
“ We all know that the person he served, Chief Awolowo, was a man that will only go for merit. He will not allow anyone around him that will not contribute his/her best to his own agenda.
“ Baba Ofeimun is worth celebrating, because he has set agenda for many even without knowing it.
“The caliber of people from various religion, ethnic and even age-wise are gathered here to celebrate a man of merit,” he added.
In response, Ofeimun expressed appreciation to Friends of Odia, organisers of the event.
He was happy that they had put up the event and genuinely celebrated him.
“ I am glad to be in the midst of friends whom I do not get to meet on everyday basis but who even if I don’t see, I can always count on them.”
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The book “In Search of Common Morality”, was edited by Wumi Raji, Sylvester Akhaine and Akin Adesokan
Others included Prof. Kayode Soremekun, former Vice-Chancellor, Federal University, Oyo-Ekiti; Prof. Mike Ikhariale, former Dean, Faculty of Law, Lagos State University (LASU) among others.
Ofeimun, 74, is an Alma Mater of Oxford University.
The book “In Search of Common Morality”, was edited by Wumi Raji, Sylvester Akhaine and Akin Adesokan.