Prof. Lanrie Aina, Chief Executive Officer, National Library of Nigeria, has said that funding and lack of political will were major setbacks to the full use of library services in Nigeria.
Aina said this while speaking to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Tuesday.
“Over the years, we have had problems mainly of funding and that has really affected us. The major problem is that our past leaders have not really devoted so much to the library as the colonialist.
“The best era of libraries in Nigeria was in the 1960s and 70s up to 80s; when leaders at that time felt libraries constituted important service agency and they were well funded.
“But in the last two decades; the 90s and new millennium things have gone very bad and that has affected the educational performance of our students.
“If you go to a standard library, they do not only have books, reports, and other things, they have slides, and they have all kinds of things that will make students to understand whatever they have learnt in class.
“But that had really changed mainly because of funding and the lack of interest on the parts of users.’’
He added that standard libraries kept up with the times and provided services such as internet access, viewing centres for people to watch football matches and elections among others.
Aina, however, said that the completion of the headquarters of the library in Abuja would show the commitment of the present administration in rekindling people’s interest in library services.
According to him, the new project would make the library one of the largest in Africa with state of the art facilities for learning and research.
“If we have our permanent headquarters, we want to have a Presidential section that will take care of all past presidents up to the present regime of his Excellency Muhammadu Buhari; because the national library is the memory of the country.
“People will want to come and do programmes on them; people will want to study them.
“We realise that people are not using the library anymore and we want to really bring them back, even bring the whole library system back. We want it to be part of the peoples system, so consciously we are working hard on them.
“All these things we are talking about rest on funding. For example, in 2016, the government budgeted over 60 million for us to promote readership but unfortunately, it has not been released.
“We have programmes on that trying to target primary school students, secondary school students, university lecturers and other strata of Nigerians on how they should make use of the library.’’