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Renonwed Poet J.P. Clark Dies at 86

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Prof JP Clark

By Adedapo Adesanya

One of Nigeria’s golden generation poets, Prof John Pepper Clark-Bekederemo, is dead. The renowned writer breathed his last on Tuesday, October 13, 2020, at the age of 86.

This was disclosed in a statement signed by Mr C. C. Clark and Mr Ilaye Clark on behalf of the family today.

“The Clark-Fuludu Bekederemo family of Kiagbodo Town, Delta State, wishes to announce that Emeritus Professor of Literature and Renowned Writer, Prof. John Pepper Clark, has finally dropped his pen in the early hours of today, Tuesday, 13 October 2020.

“Prof. J. P. Clark has paddled on to the great beyond in comfort of his wife, children and siblings, around him.

“The family appreciates your prayers at this time,” the statement said.

He was born on December 6, 1933, in Kiagbodo to an Ijaw father and Urhobo mother in present-day Delta State.

Prof Clark received his early education at the Native Authority School, Okrika (Ofinibenya-Ama), in Burutu LGA (then Western Ijaw) and the prestigious Government College in Ughelli, and his BA degree in English at the University of Ibadan, where he edited various magazines, including the Beacon and The Horn.

Upon graduation from Ibadan in 1960, he worked as an information officer in the Ministry of Information, in the old Western Region of Nigeria, as features editor of the Daily Express, and as a research fellow at the Institute of African Studies, University of Ibadan.

He served for several years as a professor of English at the University of Lagos, a position from which he retired in 1980. While at the University of Lagos he was co-editor of the literary magazine Black Orpheus.

In 1982, along with his wife Ebun Odutola (a professor and former director of the Centre for Cultural Studies at the University of Lagos), he founded the PEC Repertory Theatre in Lagos.

A widely travelled man, Prof Clark held visiting professorial appointments at several institutions of higher learning, including Yale and Wesleyan University in the United States.

He was most noted for his poetry, including Poems (Mbari, 1961), a group of 40 lyrics that treat heterogeneous themes; A Reed in the Tide (Longmans, 1965), occasional poems that focus on Clark’s indigenous African background and his travel experience in America and other places; Casualties: Poems 1966–68 (USA: Africana Publishing Corporation, 1970), which illustrate the horrendous events of the Nigeria-Biafra war and A Decade of Tongues (Longmans, Drumbeat series, 1981), a collection of 74 poems, all of which apart from “Epilogue to Casualties” (dedicated to Michael Echeruo) were previously published in earlier volumes;

Others are State of the Union (1981), which highlights Clark’s apprehension concerning the socio-political events in Nigeria as a developing nation and Mandela and Other Poems (1988), which dealt with the perennial problem of ageing and death.

His dramatic work included Song of a Goat – premiered at the Mbari Club in 1961, a tragedy cast in the Greek classical mode in which the impotence of Zifa, the protagonist, causes his wife Ebiere and his brother Tonye to indulge in an illicit love relationship that resulted in suicide. This play was followed by a sequel, The Masquerade (1964), in which Dibiri’s rage culminates in the death of his suitor Tufa.

Other works include The Raft (1964), in which four men drifted helplessly down the Niger aboard a log raft; Ozidi (1966), a transcription of a performance of an epic drama of the Ijaw people and The Boat (1981), a prose drama that documents Ngbilebiri history.

Other details concerning his burial rites will be announced in due course.

Adedapo Adesanya is a journalist, polymath, and connoisseur of everything art. When he is not writing, he has his nose buried in one of the many books or articles he has bookmarked or simply listening to good music with a bottle of beer or wine. He supports the greatest club in the world, Manchester United F.C.

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We Cater for Over 17.5 Million Nigerian Orphans—SOS Children’s Villages

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SOS Children's Villages

By Ashemiriogwa Emmanuel

Over 17.5 million orphans in Nigeria are being catered for under the watch of the SOS Children’s Villages in Nigeria.

The independent, non-governmental, non-profit international development organization, in addition, runs family strengthening programs, where children and families in need benefit from vocational training, care, medical and food assistance.

The National Director of the SOS Children’s Villages in Nigeria, Mr Eghosa Erhumwunse, recently disclosed this in Isolo, Lagos, while receiving food items donated by Crown Flour Mill (CFM) Limited, producers of the popular Mama Gold flour and semolina brands and Crown Pasta food products.

Thanking the firm for the humanitarian gesture, he said, “By making this food donation to bring relief to the children at the Villages, Crown Flour Mill Limited has demonstrated that it is a business that values the wellbeing of its host communities.

“We cater for over 17.5 million orphans in Nigeria. Our in-country strategic partners have been instrumental in ensuring the vulnerable segments are able to survive the various shocks of the ongoing global crises and local challenges.”

Some of the food items donated included Crown Premium Spaghetti bags of Mama Gold Semolina and Crown Supreme Semolina and a range of sanitary products and toiletries.

In addition to these, a cookout for over 480 students of Biyamusu Primary School, Ajingi, Kano was also organized by the firm along with the donation of food products and toiletries to the wards of Nasarawa Children’s Home an orphanage also in Kano state.

These contributions supported by the flour milling firm were in line with its series of activities lined up to commemorate the 2021 World Food Day (WFD) tagged: Our actions are our future – Better production, better nutrition, a better environment, and a better life.

Speaking during the visit, the Managing Director of Crown Flour Mill Limited, Mr Ashish Pande, lamented the gap that exists between many children and their access to a healthy future.

He reiterated the firm’s determination in providing consumers, the underprivileged, and people affected by food shortage with access to affordable and nutritious food options.

On her part, the Corporate Affairs Manager at Olam Nigeria, Ms Damilola Adeniyi, said, “No one, most of all children, deserves to suffer hunger or lack access to good food.

“Therefore, we are taking actions that align with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of achieving zero hunger in the world in our business operations, which lay emphasis on food safety, fortification, security, and Corporate Social Investments (CSI) such as this.”

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200 Retirees in Jigawa to Share N331.7m

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Invest Jigawa Roundtable

By Adedapo Adesanya

No fewer than 200 retirees in Jigawa State will share N331.7 million, the Executive Secretary of the Jigawa State and Local Government Contributory Pension Scheme, Mr Kamilu Aliyu, has disclosed.

Speaking on Wednesday in Dutse, Mr Aliyu stated that the beneficiaries were retired from the service in the state, local government and Local Education Authorities (LEAs).

He said that the payment comprises retirement benefits, death benefits, death pension balance and refund of eight per cent contribution.

Breaking down the figures, Mr Aliyu said that 83 of the beneficiaries were from state service, 72 from local government service and 45 from LEAs.

He said that a total of N331.698 million would be paid to 200 retirees in the disbursement exercise.

“Forty-seven beneficiaries from the state service will be paid N99.709 million as retirement benefit, and 52 retirees of the local governments will receive the sum of N72.653 million, while N26.753 million will be paid to 22 beneficiaries from LEAs.

“For the death benefits, 15 retirees from the state will be paid N38.721 million and 14 retirees from the local government will be paid N27.270 million while 18 others from LEAs will get N47.645 million,” he said.

Mr Aliyu said that under the death pension balance, nine beneficiaries from the state would be paid N9.2 million, six retirees from the local government will receive N1.613 million while five others from LEAs will get N6.9 million.

According to him, 12 beneficiaries will receive N1.25 million as a refund of the eight per cent contribution.

The executive scribe reiterated the commitment of the state government to ensure prompt payment of pension and other entitlements to improve the wellbeing of pensioners.

To achieve this, he said, the board had adopted proactive modalities to hasten payment processes of the retirees whenever their number reached about 200.

“We no longer have to wait until we have a large number of retirees.

“This will enable the retirees not wait for long or suffer before they start enjoying their benefits after disengagement from the service,” he stated.

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Oyo to Implement Social Protection Programme

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Social Protection Programme

By Aduragbemi Omiyale

All is now set for the implementation of the social protection programme aimed to address the issues of lack of access to education and healthcare for children in Oyo State.

This Oyo State Social Protection and Implementation Plan is being put in place in collaboration with the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF).

According to the Commissioner for Budget and Economic Planning in Oyo State, Professor Musibau Babatunde, the idea of this scheme is to strengthen social protection among the vulnerable people in the state.

Speaking during a four-day stakeholders’ meeting in Oyo town, the Commissioner said the state, through constant engagements with relevant stakeholders, has finalised the production of a Medium-Term Sector Strategy (MTSS).

Mr Babatunde explained that the partnership with UNICEF would provide a unique opportunity for the most vulnerable people in the state to access development and intervention programmes.

“The essence of the partnership on social protection is to make a difference in the lives of the most vulnerable people in the state. Through this, we will make them an integral part of the development and intervention programmes in the state,” he said.

The meeting, organised by the state’s Ministry of Budget and Economic Planning and UNICEF, was attended by representatives of civil society organisations, media, development partners among others.

Speaking earlier, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Budget and Economic Planning, Mrs Mofoluke Adebiyi, said the workshop was aimed at articulating and mapping social protection programmes in the state for proper domestication of the National Social Protection Policy.

She recalled that a three-day technical working session held in Oyo between August 30 and September 1, resulted in the production of a clean and updated revised policy document that culminated as the working tool for the workshop.

In another development, the Oyo State government has reiterated its total commitment to the wellbeing of the less privileged, saying it will leave no stone unturned in catering especially for the Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVC).

The wife of the Oyo State Governor, Mrs Tamunominini Makinde, gave this assurance on Tuesday at the 10th anniversary of Winnie’s Castle Orphanage, Ibadan.

She said the administration of her husband, Mr Seyi Makinde, would provide basic needs and protect every child’s right to survival, development, protection and participation as enshrined in the State Child Rights Law (2006).

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