The Federal Government has spoken of ongoing plans to resuscitate state, national and unity schools library services across the federation.
Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, who disclosed this, said contracts had already been awarded for the renovation of Lagos, Benue, Nasarawa, Imo, Adamawa and Plateau branches of the National Library, while renovation of others would come on stream next year.
He also noted that approval had been granted for new branches of the library to be established in states such as Delta, Anambra, Ekiti, Kebbi, Kogi and Jigawa, even as the Minister noted that the permanent branch buildings in Gombe and Katsina States respectively had been completed.
The Minister added: “The National Library of Nigeria (NLN) is required by its enabling Act to have presence in all states of the federation, and to fulfill this mandate, the NLN has been expanding its branches across the country as well as rehabilitating existing ones.
“The renovation goes beyond replacing leaking roofs and painting walls. The project will involve providing reading spaces for children to promote sound reading culture among school pupils, as well as ensuring stable electricity supply, clean sanitary facilities and regular supply of water.
“We are in the process of providing free Internet access for our library users, beginning with Lagos, Abuja and Enugu branches. We have requested Galaxy Backbone to increase our Internet bandwidth in those branches and the process is ongoing. We are also expanding, completing and renovating e-libraries in all Unity Schools and each school will get qualified librarian to manage the learning resources. We are also working with state governments and other relevant stakeholders to develop a public library policy for the country.”
While explaining that the National Library Headquarters building project was abandoned due to paucity of funds, Adamu disclosed that external funds were being sought to complete the project, pending when the Bureau of Public Procurement and the Federal Executive Council would respond to the N78 billion needed to complete the project.
The Minister noted: “Efforts are ongoing to complete the National Library Headquarters. You may have been aware that the project was awarded in 2006 at a total cost of N8 billion. But, by 2013 the project cost was reviewed upward to N18 billion. Indeed, construction work, however, had to be stopped by the end of 2013 due to poor funding of the project.
“But, when this administration come assumed office in 2015, the contractor submitted a new bill of N78 billion to complete the project. We set up a committee to evaluate the project. This committee in its report submitted a bill of N50 billion, which we have already forwarded to the Bureau of Public Procurement for further appraisal.
The recommendation of the BPP will be forwarded to the Federal Executive Council (FEC) for consideration. “While we await these processes to be completed, we are pursuing alternative sources of funding especially from special intervention funding windows. It is important to state that the rising cost of the project is due largely to exchange rate fluctuations.