World Book Day: Importance of Written Materials

Of all human invention, book remains one of the most valuable which reveals the past, the present and peep into the future.

It is in recognition of the extra-ordinary importance of the book that the United Nations earmarked the twenty-third of April every year as the World Book Day.

This is to appraise the roles of books as well as proffer solution to the problems of the dearth of books.

Today, books can be classified into various forms, ranging from children books, professional, general interest as well as literacy books of fiction and non-fictions nature.

As useful as these various forms of books are, one problem associated with book is preservation.

The inability of many people especially in Africa and Nigeria in particular to properly preserve the book has badly affected the longevity of many valuable books.

A situation which often made it impossible for information seekers to easily obtain those required information without much stress.

Although, the new Universal Basic Education, UBE, is packaged with the provision of books for pupils at the primary and junior secondary schools, government must strive towards providing books to those in senior secondary school.

While the poor state of the economy cannot be totally divorced from the reasons for the fall in the reading habit of many Nigerians, scarcity of books could as well be regarded as another major factor.

As such, the prohibitive cost of books in the country can be traced to the fact that majority of components for the production of books are imported from either Europe or America.

Components such as ink, paper and even the printing equipment are all imported.

Apart from this, the invention of the compact disc, the e-mail and the internet has significantly reduced both the purchase of books and the reading culture especially among youths.

Perhaps, these aforementioned scenarios culminated in the reduction in book writing and publishing by local writers and publishers.

From whatever perspective one looks at the situation, the fact remains that we cannot do without books.

And this is why the Federal, States and Local governments must take the issue of availability of books at affordable prices seriously.

The National Assembly as a matter of urgent attention should promulgate a law which will mandate the executive to earmark funds annually for the production of books for all strata of the society.

This will encourage our local writers to be more active in the process of nation building through writing.

Above all, the documentation of our ways of life, culture and the components making Nigeria in book form will make us to know ourselves better.

This is the only everlasting legacy which we can leave for the incoming generation.

Niyi Odekunle

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