Despite all the potentialities that libraries and allied information infrastructures can offer, it is sad to note that the largest state in Nigeria in terms of landmass (Niger state) is experiencing a gross dearth of public library infrastructure. The gory state of situation could best be described as appalling especially to those that adore the plight of education. From Niger South through Niger North to Niger East, the tale of decaying library infrastructure remains same as the public libraries in the State are completely in shambles. In fact, even the State Library Board with her Headquarters at Minna that is supposed to co-ordinate activities for branch libraries across the state is in a state of comatose.
Of course, the heart of anyone that values knowledge would certainly bleed if he/she takes a glimpse at the almost abandoned huge library edifice in Minna. The structure remains unappealing to the public as the painting has become so faint, the ambience very bushy and looking deserted, the available books being obsolete, some of the collections being destroyed due to a spoilt rooftop, the conveniences therein unusable as a result of lack of water, inadequate and outdated reading carrels and chairs, no power supply and no available generating set, etc. More so, I was reliably informed that the library is grossly underfunded as her monthly subvention from the state government cannot even cater for stationeries let alone other germane demands of the library. Even more baffling to one’s understanding is the fact that the State Library Board has not made any book purchase for about twenty-five years now. With these one begins to imagine how Nigerlites can grow intellectually with the bunch of these problems.
Nonetheless, Niger State was one that used to boast of a flurry of intellectuals. Sadly, the state could best be described at present as one that is experiencing a dwindling fortune of intellectuals. I just hope that the indifference of the state government would not lead the state to becoming a backward state in all ramifications. Of course! What best can anyone expect when most state governments in the country have been providing funds for the acquisition of sufficient, current and relevant information materials that are of great quality across their territorial shores and that of Niger have decided not to take a hoot at the advancement of their knowledge and information infrastructure for her human capital advancement? If this is not addressed at the least possible, I remain skeptical about the plight of her future citizens.
K.I. El-Kalash, Kontagora, Niger State