‘…Why corporate organisations must partner NIBFT to enrich poor, challenged, orphaned children with books’
…Book Fair opens May 12
By Ozoro Opute
EXPERTS and laymen and women alike are agreed that Nigeria’s public educational sector is lagging behind largely because of bad leadership and poor governance factors. And because Nigeria’s leaders at the local, state and federal levels have found a way round the country’s poor education system that they wilfully refuse to nurture by sending their wards abroad to study. Only the poor now send their wards to Nigeria’s impoverished educational institutions. The country’s public universities have had their gates shut to students and learning for almost three months now, and there is no end in sight for the hapless students and their parents and guardians.
The Nigeria International Book Fair, now in its 21st edition, has suffered similar fate in the hands of the country’s leadership by their sheer neglect to perform shared roles at each year’s book fair whenever they are invited to participate. But that ugly trend may shift with the line up of heavyweight government functionaries already scheduled to actively participate in this year’s book fair at Harbour Point Event Centre, Off Ahmadu Bello Way, Victoria Island, Lagos. The book fair is billed to hold from Thursday, May 12 through Saturday, May 14, 2022. The opening conference for the book fair has as theme ‘Copyright and Sustainable Growth of the Book Ecosystem: Setting a New Agenda.’
Some of the expected guests at the conference include Minister of Education as special guest of honour, Mallam Adamu Adamu, and Director-General of Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC), who will serve as keynote speaker. Interestingly, Asein is a regular attendee of the book fair as the country’s copyright manager and regulator. Others are the CEO of National Library of Nigeria, Prof. Veronica Anunobi, who will chair the conference, chief host, His Excellency, Governor Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu, Lagos State Governor, His Excellency, Engr Oluseyi Makinde, Oyo State Governor and His Excellency, Prince Dapo Abiodun, Ogun State Governor who will be guests of honour.
Special guests for the book fair conference include the Executive Secretary of Universal Basic Education Commission, Dr. Hamid Boboyi, Executive Secretary, Tertiary Education Trust Fund, Prof. Suleiman Bogoro, Lagos State Commissioner for Education, Mrs. Adefisayo Folashade, Oyo State Commissioner for Education, Mr. Rahman Abdul-Raheem, Ogun State Commissioner for Education, Prof. Abayomi Aribagbu, and Chairman of Lagos State SUBEB, Dr. Wahab Alawiye-King.
One important area organisers of the book fair, the Nigeria International Book Fair Trust (NIBFT), is harping on is the need for Nigeria’s corporate entities to take ownership of the book fair and support it with their products and services, because the book fair has huge numbers that run into several thousands in terms of attendance by the general public. Chairman of NIBFT, Mr. Gbadega Adedapo said at a post-press conference announcing this year’s event that the book fair can be likened to a major concert that pulls a huge crowd to itself. He said the book will continue to remain a magnet attracting people to itself at all times in spite of what has happened to Nigeria’s education and the attitude of citizens to reading. He tasked corporate entities to visit the book fair at Harbour Point to see for themselves how Nigerians still flock around the book and patronise it.
Adedapo further noted that the book fair ground provides Nigerian companies immense opportunity to perform unique corporate social responsibility such as buying books for poor Nigerian children, those who are challenged physically and those in orphanage homes, so they also could experience the beauty inherent in books that could allow them to travel and roam wild with their imagination beyond whatever limitations they are currently facing.
“Permit me to also use this medium to call on corporate organisations in Nigeria to take advantage of the competitions for the promotion of their goods and services by sponsoring or donating their products and services to support the competitions,” he appealed.
After the Director-General of NCC, Mr. Asein, delivers his keynote address, Adedapo said a panel of discussants drawn from Nigerian Publishers Association, Booksellers Association of Nigeria, Nigerian Library Association, Association of Nigerian Authors, Chartered Institute of Professional Printers of Nigeria, and National Association of Proprietors of Private Schools, with moderation from a professor of Publishing and Copyright and Head of Department of Mass Communication, Dominican University, Ibadan, Oyo State, Prof. Andrew Okwilagwe. Spoken word poetry and other literary presentations will form part of the side attractions during the international conference.
A fully loaded package, according to him, the constituent bodies of the Nigerian Book Fair Trust will organize expository workshops and various programmes during the book fair.
“We encourage the actual and intending publishers, booksellers, authors, librarians, printers, etc. to attend the various seminars and workshops that the constituent bodies of the Trust will organize in the course of the book fair,” Adedapo said.
The unique book groups will also feature enlightenment programmes to spice up the book fair, Adedapo informed. They include a panel discussion by United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDG) Book Club African Chapter, workshop by Network of Book Club and Reading Promoters in Nigeria, and sensitization programme by National Library of Nigeria (NLN).
“I must categorically state that the Pan-African Writers Association (PAWA), Nigerian Association of the Blind, Reproduction Right Society of Nigeria (REPRONIG), African Publishers Network (APNET), National Association of Proprietors of Private Schools (NAPPS) will also feature their respective programmes during the 3-day event,” Adedapo said.
From last year’s edition, a school quiz competition was added to the book fair programming to make it inclusive of both the old and young, Adedapo noted, adding, “Arrangements to organize quiz and debate competitions for primary, junior secondary and senior secondary schools at the book fair are at advanced stage. We will build on the successes recorded last year and make the competitions this year more attractive and embracing for schools and students. There will be a lot of side attractions and gifts for the participants. We therefore encourage schools to enrol their pupils to take part in these competitions. The participating children will win various prices. However, selected schools will be given opportunity to make presentation in different programmes.”
Unlike last year due to Covid-19, more foreign organisations and individuals will be part of Nigeria International Book Fair 2022, Adedapo said. Organisations will be coming from India, Turkey, Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana to exhibit at the book fair. Also expect are trade visitors from the United Kingdom, Singapore, Malaysia, United Arab Emirate, India, South Africa, Kenya, Cameroon and Ghana.
A number of sponsors and supporters for the book fair have emerged and continue to emerge as the book fair draws near. Some of these sponsors and supporters for NIBF 2022 include Quarterfold Printabilities, India, Spring Time Software, India, Accessible Publishers Limited, Nigeria, Best in Print Consult, Nigeria, CSS Bookshops Limited, Nigeria, Showers Publishers Limited, Nigeria, Progressive Educational Services Limited, Nigeria, Digitalreality Print Limited, Nigeria, Consolidated Books Limited, Nigeria, Metropolitan Publishers Limited, Nigeria, and Constituent bodies of the Trust, among other individuals and companies too numerous to mention.
A carefully thought-out programming, Adedapo said the benefits to be derived from Nigeria International Book Fair 2022 are enormous, saying the book fair has been designed to accommodate even those who will not be able to make the event physically. The book fair activities, according to him, will be live on YouTube and other social media platforms, adding, “This will avail many people the opportunity to connect remotely for people with distance barriers by linking them up real-time with the book fair activities anywhere around the world, the international conference of the book fair would create opportunity to meet with the book industry leaders, break new market, network, and learn about the new innovations and strategies to promote your products and services, huge discount on books and other learning and teaching materials, facilitate sales opportunities, generate placement of orders, and negotiate contracts, NIBF 2022 event would enable all participants go through the array of new/recent publications on the global scale, while promoting inclusivity and setting a new agenda for the book industry in line with the recent copyright laws, the book fair will provide the platform and podium to network and legwork with foreign investors in book business, observance of Covid-19 protocols and certification of the safety of the book fair ground by Lagos State Safety Commission.”
Participation is open and registration is free by visiting www.nigeriabookfair.com to pre-register for the event.