President Muhammadu Buhari has expressed sadness over the passing on of one of Nigeria’s renowned poets and winner of the 2017 Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas Company Limited sponsored Prize for Literature, Ikeogu Oke.
The presidential candidate of the PDP, Atiku Abubakar also twitted his sadness at Oke’s death.
He wrote ‘’I received with sadness, news of the passing away of Ikeogu Oke @Okesisi, poet, writer, journalist and winner of 2017 @nigeriaLNG Prize for Literature. I’ll forever cherish one of his poems dedicated to me in his 2012 collections, ‘In The Wings Of Waiting’. May he rest in peace’’.
Buhari’s condolence message is contained in a statement issued by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina in Abuja on Monday.
President Buhari also extended heartfelt condolences to Oke’s family, the literary and creative community on the painful demise of the award-winning poet.
He affirmed that as an author, journalist and poet, Oke exuded vibrancy, intelligence and innovation in his works.
According to him, Oke as a social commentator was constantly in search of plausible answers and solutions to contemporary issues bedevilling his society.
The president believed that Oke through his poetry had enriched Nigeria’s literary genre and his legacy would live on in his works.
He noted that Oke was incredibly proud of and committed to his work as he wrote in his epic Epitaph: ‘‘Here lies a man who loved virtue and art, And gave to both his fortunes and his heart…’’
The president encouraged all Nigerians, the literary community and lovers of art to honour Ikeogu Oke’s memory by imbibing the didactic message of his works.
Oke, the author of the poetry volume, Heresiad, and winner of the 2017 Nigeria Prize for Literature, sponsored by NLNG, died Saturday, aged 51, at the National Hospital, Abuja, after a protracted illness.
Denja Abdullahi, the National President of the Association of Nigerian Author (ANA), said the late poet had been ill for four months now. Oke hailed from Ohafia, Abia State and was married with children.
Abdullahi, while commiserating with the family and the Nigerian literary community, said, “He was a gentleman and a writer whose commitment to literature was second to none. We were together at the second edition of the Return to Mother Idoto in honour of Chris Okigbo in Awka recently. He will be missed sorely.”
Ikeogu, who had a Bachelor of Art in English and Literary Studies from the University of Calabar and an MA in Literature from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, was also author of ‘Salutes without Guns.’
In 2010, Nobel laureate Nadine Gordimer selected ‘Salutes without Guns’ as Book of the Year for The Times Literary Supplement, while, in 2017, ‘The Heresiad’ won the Nigeria Prize for Literature, Africa’s biggest literary prize at $100,000.
Diyego Okenyedo of the The Splendors of Dawn Poetry Foundation and the World Poetry Movement, commiserated with the Nigerian literary community on the sudden passing of Ikeogu Oke, the award-winning poet.
The group, in a statement says, “Ikeogu was a dedicated poet and a supporter of the Splendors of Dawn and WPM activities. This year, despite his busy schedule, Ikeogu was a guest performer at the World Poetry Day 2018 celebration organised in Abuja. Ikoegu was one of the few Nigerian writers who lives on in his literary works.”