The library, named after former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s wife, the late Stella Obasanjo and located at the Murtala Muhammed Way, Lokoja, is in a bad state in terms of service delivery. It comprises of a gallery section for newspaper readers, a general reading hall, reference section, e-library and offices.
Our reporter, who visited the library, gathered that the building does not have electricity, official and utility vehicles. It also lacks security personnel to man the place during conferences.
Sunday Trust also gathered that tables and chairs are not adequate for users at newspapers and textbook sections, as well as the reference section. It was further gathered that the library was last stocked with books in 2006, after the London Booked International and Education Tax Fund stopped book supply to the library.
Investigation by Sunday Trust reveals that the only reading tables at the newspaper section and the reading hall were provided by former members of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), who did their primary assignment in the library. The service year and batch of the donor corps members are boldly written on the tables.
But the Information Communication Technology (ICT) centre or the e-library is well equipped with computers. But there is no electricity to power them for use. The reading hall of the library only has five tables and chairs while the three book shelves are stocked with old books.
Some of the users who spoke to our reporter lamented that after many years of its existence, the library still lacks the basic facilities that make a library functional.
One of the users, John Abutu, who was studying at the library when Sunday Trust visited, said he could not find useful books as there were no current books.
Speaking with our reporter, the director chief/executive officer of the Kogi State Library Board, Mr. Adaidu Tijani, said the library, which was established in 1991, upon the creation of the state from the old Kwara and Benue states, had been moving from one building to another. According to him, this continued until 2004 when they moved to the current building. “We came with the old furniture, and till today, nothing has been added to the library,” he said
He explained that there were no adequate furniture in the reading area because most of the reading chairs and tables are in bad shape and there are no tangible efforts to replace them. He further confirmed that the only reading seats and tables in the library were provided by corps members that served in the organisation.
“The tables and chairs you see at the gallery are products of youth corps members who had the urge to assist in equipping the library. All the successive administrations have only paid lip service to the library. None of them deemed it fit to visit the library and see the condition of things. So we are just managing the ones we have and pleading with the government to come to the aid of the library.
He further revealed that the library had gotten assistance in terms of donation of books from Booked International London and Education Tax Fund, adding, “They were also giving us money to buy library materials; but since 2006 when they stopped the donation of books, we have not stocked the library with books. Most of the books in the library are no longer current.
“Generally, the situation of public libraries in Nigeria has been very bad; that was why the assistance from Booked International and ETF was a welcome development. They stopped the donation because they believed that with the assistance they had given to us so far, state governments should be able to take over the maintenance and equipping of libraries across the country. In Kogi State, we are still hoping that government would come to our aid, especially the current governor.
“We have enough books that can cover all academic disciplines, including research purposes, but the fact remains that many of the books are no longer current. And many readers would want to use current books and other materials, especially in the area of science. However, I believe that with the present government, our situation would change for the better,” he said.
Speaking on the area of ICT, Tijani said the e-library centre was equipped with 60 computers and internet services from the universal service provision fund (UPS) under the Nigeria Communications Commission. He, however, regretted the lack of electricity to power them as the library is not connected to electricity while the generator they have could not provide electricity to all parts of the building. It can only serve the ground floor.“We can only use the e-library if we are able to fuel the generator, but it is costly to fuel a diesel generator.’’
He added that the library needs a standby transformer to be able to connect electricity. “The transformer is expected to be provided by the state government, but unfortunately, it has always been promises upon promises. We believe that the current governor would come to our aid,’’ he said.
He further revealed that the office does not have official and utility vehicles for official activities, hence, their activities, which should have spread to all the local government areas are limited. He said the only three branches in Oguma, Dekina and Idah, which were inherited from Benue after the creation of the state, are in terrible shape.
Speaking further he said, “We have an impress of N80, 000 monthly. We have a shortage of staff as some of them have retired while new ones are not employed. We don’t have security guards and cleaners. We have appealed to Governor Idris Wada to help us with a transformer, official and utility vehicles so that we can function properly.” He, however, said that despite the challenge, patronage to the library is still high, adding that more readers will come when the e-section becomes fully operational.
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