National Librarian Decries Menace of Poor Reading Culture in Nigeria
By Agnes Igwe
The National Librarian, Professor Lenrie Aina has identified poor reading culture in Nigeria as a great challenge to national development and urged all stakeholders to put up measures to revive the moribund culture.
Prof. Aina made the assertion at Ebonyi State Library Board headquarters in Abakaliki during 2019 readership promotion campaign organized by the National Library of Nigeria with a theme ‘Reviving moribund culture of reading in Nigeria for sustainable national development’.
He stated that objectives of the campaign are to encourage reading among Nigerians by way of promoting the availability of good reading materials and to collect with other stakeholders seek solutions to address identified obstacles to reading culture in Nigeria.
According to Prof. Aina, “Over the years, the National Library has continued to embark on readership promotion campaigns with a focus on children and youths in primary and secondary schools by way of sensitizing, informing and educating them on reading culture, all geared towards enhancing their knowledge and creativity via various literary activities, hence this year’s campaign extends to pregnant women, Corps members, travelers at the parks and drivers.”
Prof Aina expressed optimism that through daily reading as a nation, we could acquire and use the information to better the ways of doing things economically, politically and socially to sustain our national development.
“Historically, we can observe that in the 60s and 70s there was a good reading culture in Nigeria, but it is conspicuous now that the culture due to total disregard to social norms and values coupled with economic and social factors have gradually died with time since 80s.
Thus, this year’s theme is ‘Apt to revive that good reading culture to ensure that knowledge is acquired and allied for a sustained national development’.”
“Knowledge, which can only be acquired through reading, is the force that drives national development. Citizens of many advanced nations of the world such as Britain, France, America and today China have acquired knowledge and turned it into effective productivity for national development.
Such nations are today referred to as knowledge-based societies. Nigeria cannot afford to be out of this trend, especially on the African continent if not the world. Thus, the poor reading culture in and out of the learning and teaching environment in Nigeria must be revived by the efforts of all the stakeholders.”
On her part, the Head, National Library of Nigeria Enugu branch, Mrs. Rachael Ify Neboh opined that with the state of technology in the world today, a nation that doesn’t place education at top of its priority list cannot sustain national development goals nor compete in the global setting.
She expressed regret that high failure rate recorded in recent years in Nigeria during WAEC and NECO examinations is no doubt a reflection of poor reading culture as the youths now do not show pleasure in reading generally but prefer browsing the internet and watching films. She stressed that it is not possible to be knowledgeable without imbibing the good reading culture and advised all to cultivate a sustained reading culture irrespective of the formats either soft copy (electronic) or and hardcopy.
Mrs. Neboh who congratulated Governor David Umahi for his reelection and developmental strides in the state appealed for a temporal accommodation and a parcel of land for the establishment of National library branch in the state.
Speaking at the occasion, the state Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education, Mrs. Blessing Ezeokeh appreciated organizers for their laudable initiatives, zeal to revive the moribund culture and urged the students and pupils to make good use of the opportunity.
In a bid to catch them young, six secondary schools and five primary schools participated in the literary activities of the day which included reading competition, spelling bee, welcome song, playlet, recitations among others geared towards encouraging academic excellence.
The overall winners of the competition, students and pupils from Ebonyi State University Staff primary and secondary schools Abakaliki smiled home with the star prize of a desktop computer, beautiful bookshelf, assorted textbooks, and many more rewards.
There were goodwill messages for Ebonyi state chairman of Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA), Mr. Richard Inya, Chairman of the occasion, Barr John Onwe, Barr Mrs. Adolawam Tonia board member national library board among other dignitaries.
There was also an in-depth lecture delivered by the College librarian of Ebonyi state college of Education Ikwo, Dr. Mrs. Flora Okogwu hinged on the need to revive reading culture in Nigeria for sustainable national development.
In an interview with one of the participating students, Miss. Pascaline Igwe, she complained that most Nigerian libraries are filled with outdated books and called on government at all levels to invest at least 20% of their annual budgetary allocation in education because according to her, the level of success of any nation is determined by success recorded in the educational sector.