Reps promises to fast track completion National Library in 12 months
The Federal House of Representatives has promised to fast track the completion of the Permanent site of the National Library of Nigeria (NLN) in 12 months.
Hon. Zakari Mohammed, House Committee on Basic Education and Services made the promise in Abuja on Tuesday at an oversight visit of the house to the National Library of Nigeria.
Mohammed said the state of the national library was a national embarrassment adding that it needed urgent facelift.
He said that a national library which was supposed to be a national monument had been turned into an environment where people buy and sell foods.
He added that the totality of a person’s intellect must be judged by the exposure of the person to reading, saying that the library which makes this happen was below standard.
“As it exists now, Nigeria is at an embarrassing state as far as the national library is concerned. Visiting the library corporate headquarters is an eye saw.
“And they also are of the opinion that the environment is not conducive enough for habitation as a library because food and books don’t go together and of course country like Nigeria, the giant of Africa don’t have a library.
“Library is supposed to be a national monument and a people do not read are build for destrusction because reading will keep you in toe with development elsewhere and make you very focused.
“ This project has become too embarrassing to us as a committee and definitely from 2018 we are going to take quick measures to save the face of this country.
“The house will invite the contractor for a budget defence so as to sit and find a solution to it because our dream is that in the next 12 months, the library should become habitable.
Mohammed said the change the citizens voted for could only come if we do adequate appropriations, adding that the N1.8billion appropriated for the NLN in the budget was not sufficient for tangible development.
He also said that the contractor was not doing well as regards the building project as they have been inflating contact cost from N8billion to N17billion, later to N48billion.
He said the cost was later reduced to N38billion and now brought to N78 billion which shows that they are only playing games with the country’s monument.
He however said that the house would act on the project even if it would mean taking it to the floor of the house of assembly to give it quick attention.
Responding, the National Librarian, Prof. Lenrie Aina said the organisation had been faced with a lot of challenges ranging from inability to pay the rent, International Standard Serial Number (ISSN) and the International Standard Book Number (ISBN fees, among others.
Aina said that the organisation was unable to pay its rent in the last six years saying the Ministry of Education had also risen to its plight but this was not enough due to paucity of fund.
“When I was appointed to head the organisation, I had so many ideas that I wanted to put in the organisation but there was a lot of bureaucratic bottleneck I met on ground.
“I am hopeful that Nigerians will soon have a national library of their dream at the end of the visit.’’
He also said that the overhead cost of the organisation which was supposed to be released every months don’t get to them until after two months which was one of the major problem hindering their progress.
He said that the actual amount of overheads of the organisation was N40 million but they get only N15 million at the end of every two months.
He added that it was also very difficult for the organisation to draw funds from the Treasury Single Account (TSA) to finance its projects, while pleading with the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation to assist in this area.
He commended the house committee members for listening to the plight of the organisation and the willingness to help some of these challenges.