Posted by Mayowa Okekale, Ibadan | 9 October 2013 | 4,237 times
A university don, Professor Remi Raji Oyelade, has identified book reading as being crucial to national development.
He made his submission while delivering the keynote speech at the Ibadan Book Fair Conference 2013 held recently at the Trenchard Hall of the University of Ibadan, Oyo State.
Prof. Oyelade, who spoke on the theme, ‘Book and the challenges of knowledge gap in Nigeria’, emphasised the need for citizens of the country to embrace book reading as it is important in the journey of a man’s life, and serves as a crucial agent of change.
According to him, “Book, next to our dog at home, is the most faithful inanimate friend of man which is always ready to reveal its secret to whoever cultivates its intimacy of presence. Also, through books, you can know about the cultures and traditions of other countries without going there. It is the bridge and elixir of knowledge, the aromatic antidote against minor and chronic agent of illiteracy.”
Bemoaning the flippant attitude of Nigerians towards book reading, Prof. Raji said it is without argument that the book is challenged in our country. “What is the worth of a book that lays supine, unread, uncultivated by the potential leaders?” he asked. “Is the book still powerful in our age”? It is sad to know that we are appropriating the latest material things but not embracing knowledge in the life of a book.”
Dean of UI Post-Graduate School, Prof. Abel Olorunisoola, who represented the Vice Chancellor of the University of Ibadan, Prof. Isaac Folorunsho, submitted that books mean many things to many people. “To some people, it serves as a teacher, whilst it serves as a roadmap to some other people. And in the broader perspective, it is a veritable tool for national development,” he said.
Continuing, Prof. Olorunisoola stated: “One of the challenges we are going through in the aspect of knowledge is, Nigerians don’t read or probably don’t know how to read, and that is why you can hide something in a book for Nigerians, because they would not read it. Even, the publishers only publish books that are meant for only the primary and secondary school students. They don’t focus their attention on other aspects because people may not buy them, and might lead to loss for them.”
He, however, advised parents to encourage their wards to engage in book reading activities because a good leader should be a good reader. He advised the government to encourage the establishment of town libraries to replicate what is going on in other advanced countries of the world.
In his address, the Chairman Local Organising Committee, Mr Olusoji Popoola, pointed out that there seems to be a knowledge gap in what democracy stands for, and the way and manner in which the political class goes about it. In His words: “truth is, there cannot be meaningful learning in the education without books. Our people are now perishing for lack of knowledge. The kind of the educational system we are running does not seem to address our societal needs. So, to achieve our goals and aspirations, we must unlearn and re-learn with books. We have to ask questions so that we can have sufficient knowledge of the problems we have in the country.”
In his closing remarks, former Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA) Chairman, Dr. Wale Okediran, who was the chairman of the occasion, advised participants not to leave the responsibility to the government alone but to contribute their quota towards the development of literature and book fair activities in the country.
•Photo shows Prof. Oyelade.
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