It was an unusual gathering of authors in Abuja last week, under the umbrella of the Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA), Abuja chapter.
Unlike previous gatherings, where the authors converged for their usual meeting and ended up with laughter, dance and drinks with each other, the recent gathering was to pay tribute to the late Ikeogu Oke, who died of an undisclosed ailment in an Abuja hospital last month.
The authors were obviously saddened by the sudden demise of Ikeogu Oke, whom they described as a warrior of poetry.
Led by the FCT ANA chairperson, Halima Usman, the authors turned out in attires that depicted the mournful moment.
ANA’s national president, Mallam Denja Abdullahi, led other national executives and members from outside Abuja to the night of tribute in honour of the 2017 winner of the Nigeria Literature Prize for Poetry.
Family, friends and well-wishers also turned out in mournful attire to join the authors in eulogising the Ohafia-born writer.
One after another, the authors took the podium to share their encounters and memorable moments with Ikeogu as well as knowledge they got from him.
Halima Usman, in her welcome remarks, said the gathering became necessary to pay tribute to Ikeogu, who contributed tremendously to the growth and development of poetry and other literary works in Nigeria.
She said: “He made us and Nigeria proud. He was an inspiration to several people who hitherto had no interest in poetry. He will be greatly missed by our association and Nigeria’s literary field in general.”
Denja Abdullahi, in his remarks, described Ikeogu as a great ambassador of ANA who used his works to popularise poetry.
He said: “Late Ikeogu lived and breathed poetry. He took up the battle to popularise poetry and generations unborn would celebrate him. The poetic incident that preceded his death and what happened thereafter was an indication that he triumphed over death.”
Denja, who spoke through the national legal adviser, Isaac Attah Ogezi, charged members to support and contribute generously to the family of their late colleague.
Meanwhile, the former national president of ANA, Wale Okediran, in his remarks said that Ikeogu was one of his closest friends and colleagues, hence the privileged information of what transpired in the last days of the late poet.
He recalled his encounters and memorable experiences with Ikeogu, especially during different programmes organised for authors, stressing that he would be greatly missed.
Okediran disclosed that Ikeogu died of cancer-related ailments and encouraged all ANA members to take issues of their health seriously and quit procrastination on issues of health.