Nigeria ranks as one of the lowest reading culture countries of the world according to World Culture Statistics, the National Librarian and Chief Executive Officer of the National Library of Nigeria, NLN, Professor Lenrie Aina, has said.
Mr Aina made this known in Abuja when he led top officials of NLN to the headquarters of the Nigeria Correctional Service to donate books worth over N2 million to 37 custodial centres in the 36 states of the federation and Federal Capital Territory, FCT.
He said the report had propelled the NLN to intensify reading campaign across the country, including visits to nursing mothers and vulnerable group in the society.
The Controller-General of Nigeria Correctional Service, Ja’afaru Ahmed took delivery of the books for onward transmission to the various states of the federation.
He said: “In the last three years, we have been very active because there is what is called World Culture Statistics that tries to measure arts of reading all over the world.
“In the statistic, only two African countries were listed amongst countries that are reading. These countries are South Africa and Egypt; Nigeria was not among these countries.
“As a matter of fact, Nigeria was rated as one of the lowest reading culture in the world. This has prompted us to see that we try to make Nigerians to read.”
The National Librarian noted that his organisation had to embark on reading campaign to primary and secondary schools across the country as well as approaching nursing mothers and hospitals to read to their children.
According to him, research found out that reading actually starts from the unborn baby as when such a child is born, it will embrace reading culture.
He disclosed that he had also sought the permission of the Controller-General last year to visit correctional centres all over Nigeria as part of the initiative to promote reading culture among the vulnerable.
He said he was impressed when he found that they already had libraries, books, vocational skills training centres with the National Open University of Nigeria, NOUN, operating in many of these centres.
Mr Aina said he promised during the visits to the custodial centres that in the year 2020, “we shall be buying books worth at least N50, 000 for each of the correctional centre that we visited. We visited 37 correctional centres and we have come to fulfil that promise.”
He said the cartons containing the books donated were labelled according to each state because every beneficiary centre was allowed to determine the type of books they wanted.
Meanwhile, more than 489 inmates are undergoing degree programmes in various fields of study at NOUN, just as NOUN has now granted tuition-free to all inmates in custodial centres, who are interested and are qualified to pursue their degree programmes.
Mr Ahmed who disclosed this in his remarks, noted that the 489 inmates were in 10 correctional centres undergoing their first degree programmes, diplomas, and postgraduate degree programmes out of which 23 were doing their postgraduates with one of them doing his PhD.