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Inside Suleja’s ‘horrific’ library

The Suleja Library, built in the fifties initially as a Local Education Office during the colonial era, no longer serves the needs of its literate community. The building has become dilapidated with two of its four rooms shut because of their pathetic condition.

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Situated at Unguwar Iya, a neighbourhood off Suleja Emir’s palace, the facility has since become a shadow of itself and receives almost zero patronage.

Daily Trust  discovered that one of the shut rooms was formerly used as a reading room, while the other was office of the Chief Librarian, as well as reference room, where reading materials such as newspapers and magazines were kept for the general public. 

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The staff strength of the library has also been cut down to only four people. About 10 staff used to man the facility.  Presently, there are only a few seats for library staff and none for visitors. The Chief Librarian, Elizabeth Ibrahim said the library used to  have fifty seats.

A resource person with knowledge about library operations and who didn’t want his name in print said that a library needs the services of about 10 persons comprising a Chief Librarian as head, a circulation staff who attends to new materials for classification, and acquisition staff, for regular placement of materials on appropriate shelves. There is also the reference staff, who are considered as senior staff in a library. They usually work under the service of the state government.

Others, he added, are library cleaners and security guards, whose services are usually being complemented by the local government council where the library is situated. 

Alhaji Muhammad Rabiu Ishaq was the second Chief Librarian of the Suleja Library. He worked at the library in 1962 when it was situated in a different building and the present facility was used as the Local Education Office.

Responding to Daily Trust inquiries about the history of the Suleja library, the octogenarian, who is the Galadima of Zazzau Suleja, and had served as a board member of the National Library for four years during the former president Obasanjo’s administration, attributed the condition of the Suleja Library and others of its kind, to the lack of willingness by most state governments to give libraries their proper status.

He explained that the library, which is supposed to serve as backbone for knowledge enhancement, is regrettably neglected by the politicians who always engage in other things than what would enhance human development and capacity building. 

He therefore tasked various tiers of government to revolutionalize the status of the nation’s libraries by doing things that would restore reading culture among the students and even the working class, and make them less addicted to social media. 

Alhaji Rabi’u  also disclosed that a former member representing Suleja federal constituency, Eng Muktar Ahmad, had built a library in the town as part of his constituency project, but lamented that the facility was yet to be commissioned when the politician was defeated by the present representative, Abubakar Lado, who did not show interest in concluding the work by supplying reading materials.

He said the member rather attempted to convert the facility to a health center, insisting that Suleja people need a health center more than a library. “But when the emirate in which the facility is under its trust, heard about the plan, the member was advised to complete the library as was planned by his predecessor or look for another location to build his planned clinic, but that was the end of the matter,” Galadima said.

Corroborating the story, the chief Librarian of the Suleja Library Mrs. Elizabeth Ibrahim, said Honorable Lado had visited the dilapidated library about two years ago and disclosed his interest to demolish it and build a new one, but nothing has been heard from him ever since. 

But Lado denied the allegations and said he never planned to convert the library into a clinic, neither did he pledge to rebuild the existed one, as that is the responsibility of the state government who own the building. 

The chairman of Suleja Local Government Council, Abdullahi Nuhu Maje said there is an ongoing plan to renovate and equip the library by a commercial bank as part of their corporate social service. He also pointed out that an understanding was entered with the Federal University of Technology, Minna to look after the facility, which would also serve as an Information Technology Centre.

The chairman of Suleja Local Government Council, Abdullahi Nuhu Maje said there is an ongoing plan to renovate and equip the library by a commercial bank as part of their corporate social service. He also pointed out that an understanding was entered with the Federal University of Technology, Minna to look after the facility, which would also serve as an Information Technology Centre.

Mrs. Ibrahim, who began work there in the year 2000 following her redeployment from a library at the state’s College of Agriculture Mokwa, said the delight of librarians is always to receive visitors, either for research or any kind of learning, but lamented that such practices are rare in the place, due to its present condition.

Speaking about previous efforts to call the attention of the Suleja Local Government council to the state of the library, she explained that various letters have been written to the council as well as visits without any positive response so far. 

She therefore enjoined prominent people from the area to rescue the future of their community in the area of education. She said the facility either needs to be rebuilt or relocated to another befitting place, adding that such gesture was done by a single individual for the Bida people, while another good Samaritan took the responsibility of supplying the library with three newspapers daily up to date.     

 

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