By Ambrose Inusa Sule
In its statutory responsibility, the National Library, as the apex Library in Nigeria is the nation’s intellectual memory, databank of learning and remembering process, in line with her vision statement to build an informed and enlightened citizenry through the provision of information resources that are readily available and easily accessible.
With the man at its helm of affairs, it is obvious that the NLN seems to have realized its statutory responsibility for embarking on what it called its major flagship program, “Readership Promotion Campaign”.
The program in its aims and contents is to “bring together today’s leaders and tomorrow leaders for productive interaction”.
This is in realization that there is an alarming decline of reading culture in Nigeria. Today, NLN is charting a new course in order to carry out ‘Reading Habit Campaigns’ at grassroots levels nationwide with a view to reviving the culture of reading.
Recently, the Director/Chief Executive Officer National Library of Nigeria Mallam Habib Abba Jato, in a tone reminiscence of the onetime ‘crying’ governor of Imo State, the late Sir Ozumba Mbadiwe, has been lamenting the decline of reading culture in Nigeria.
It could be recalled that the late Sir Ozumba Mbadiwe, as the governor of Imo State during the second republic, was always quick to ‘cry’ to attract the attention of who cared to listen about the injustice he perceived was being done to the good people of the State by the Federal Government.
Today, a similar lamentation, like a lonely voice in the wilderness, by the man who knows better that Nigeria is becoming a home of illiterates and half-baked individuals, is crying to Nigerians to join him in the crusade to rejuvenate reading habits in Nigeria.
That man is Mallam Habib Abba Jato, who is the Director/Chief Executive Officer of the National Library of Nigeria, who is neither a politician nor one of those public officials who seek publicity for publicity sake.
At every forum, he has been taking it upon himself, as a duty, advising Nigerians to read more regularly for personal development, pleasure and long life learning.
He did not miss words when he said that, “As the world is moving towards the knowledge based economy; the National Library of Nigeria as the nation’s apex intellectual memory and databank of learning, would continue to promote reading culture in Nigeria, in continuation of the pet project “Bring Back the Book” by President Goodluck Jonathan.”
It is no gainsaying the fact that, since he assumed office as the Director/CEO of the NLN, Jato has brought with him a tempo of transformation to the National Library of Nigeria like a catalyst. It has been proved in chemistry that as soon as a catalyst enters a chemical process, the tempo of the reaction changes, quickening an outcome. Jato’s transformation at the NLN is akin to the effect of a catalyst.
Also, there’s a concept of educational psychology called reinforcement by virtue of which every teacher is supposed to respond positively or negatively to a pupil’s performance in class. This could be moral or academic. If the pupil does well, the teacher is expected to praise or reward him accordingly. If on the other hand, he performs badly, he supposed to be negatively reinforced through a rebuke or outright punishment.
This concept is not exclusive to pedagogy, both at home and at work, people are daily being reinforced according to how they perform in their callings.
Therefore, Mallam H.A. Jato deserves to be rewarded accordingly, considering his epic performance as Director/CEO of the National Library of Nigeria. It could be considered that he has taken the part most of his predecessors hesitated to take for want of time or caring.
It’s sufficed to say that under the leadership of Mallam Jato, NLN has witnessed an unprecedented transformation. He has embarked on a nationwide “Readership Promotion Campaign Programme”, in order to rejuvenate, inculcate and inspire Nigerians to read more regularly.
In line with its vision statement of building an informed and enlightenment citizenry through the provision of information resources that are readily available and easily accessible, NLN is focusing mainly on the Nigerian children that are the future leaders of tomorrow.
The author of “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” Robert Kiyosoki, once said that “If you want your intelligence to grow, go to a library, a bookshop or a school”.
Jato continued to drum support from Nigerians for his pet project of Reading Promotion Programme saying that, “To be effectively competing as part of the global economy, we must become an intelligent society and to become that, we must be a people that read.”
The NLN has identified the combined influence of television, social media and internet, lack of accessibility, treasures in reality shows and fashion parades and awards of honorary degrees to “illiterates” at lavishly organized ceremonies that has dampened the zeal for academic glory.
The aims and objectives of its campaign is to eliminate malpractices which are caused by lack of reading students in our schools and colleges, reducing the high percentage of drop outs in schools It has also identified that, “Childhood is the appropriate period to set the building blocks and ultimately give the road map on how to shape a better future.
Jato has continued to advise parents to encourage their wards to cultivate the culture of reading, adding that, “It is time to show children love as well as explore the potentials available considering the challenges”
Ambrose Inusa Sule is on linkedIn