Gyang Bere, Jos
Public Relations executive and Jos-based writer Florence Oketona has urged the Federal Government to take practical steps towards addressing girl child education and insecurity in the country.
She noted that the girl child is battling with several challenges ranging from education and insecurity, citing the case of Leah Sharibu and other Chiboks school girls who are yet to gain freedom from captivity.
Oketona made the remarks on Saturday at Jos’ Eliel Centre during the launch of her book titled ‘Ashes in the Times’.
“I am calling on Government at all levels to tackle the challenges of girl child in the country, ranging from education, insecurity and early marriage, among others,” she said.
“I was inspired to come up with this piece which captured the pains and agony of the girl child in the country, particularly in Northern Nigeria where girl child education has been a problem, coupled with the security challenges.”
Oketona applauded the Nigerian Army for the battle to secure the North East from the grip of the Boko Haram insurgency, and urged Federal Government to put more efforts to free Leah Sharibu and other girls still in the captivity of the terrorists.
The book, published by Transconventional Publishers, includes a foreword by Irene Agunloye, a Professor of African Drama, Gender, Women and Film Studies at the University of Jos.
It was reviewed by Bizuum Yadok, read to and adopted by the Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA) Plateau State chapter, among others, whose feedback have been channelled into making the book better.
In her praise for the book, Professor Agunloye said: “It is just unprecedented how Oketona carefully narrates the complex hurdles confronting girl child education in North Eastern Nigeria in her book, ‘Ashes in the Times’. This landmark book thus draws our attention to the damaging effects of the insurgency on girls generally and womanhood by extension.
“For sure, the writer has stimulated our thinking on the topical themes she has touched. Her theme and narrating style undoubtedly hold every reader bound to read this novel, and in the most thorough and thoughtful manner. Nonetheless, the story is vast in scope and amazing in its erudition. Still, never has any book with related theme(s) succinctly struck a vital cord as this book.
“Oketona has creatively and vividly opened up a new and distinctive approach to narrating challenges of girl child education, owing to insecurity and insurgency alike. She displays her mastery on her theme and brings in fresh languages, technique and sensitivity. That makes the story to be provocative, engaging, timely and finely honed. It will keep you turning the pages one after the other until the very end. And in our trending Nigerian parlance, ‘If you no read this book, na wetin you gain?'”