The sorry state of the first National Archive at the University of Ibadan established in 1954 by the founding father of modern African history has been a major concern to some stakeholders. 

In order to brainstorm on how to revive the archive for national development, a roundtable was organised by Marina Roundtable Limited at the University of Ibadan in which both the town and the gown were in attendance. 

The archived established by the first Nigerian Vice Chancellor of University of Ibadan, Professor Dike housed valuable historical records that dates back to the 1914 Nigeria’s amalgamation which he discovered during one of his researches on Nigerian History. 

However, the greater number of the records were exposed to decay and consequently damaged by insects and water.

According to Professor Bolanle Wahab of the department of Urban and Regional Planning, University of Ibadan, there is the need for government to adequately fund national archives because their present state is appalling. 

“Archive is a place where historical records about individuals, groups of people, places are preserved for incoming generations to learn about what happened in the past so that they can build on that to have a sustainable national development”. 

“People don’t take records to national archives for safe keeping again. The few documents in the archives like books, newspapers of the past, treaties, and agreements are not properly stored. Funding is very important and governments at all levels must recognize the significance of archives. Money should be available to make archives be conducive for storage.  Cockroaches have destroyed many documents in some archives due to poor funding. Even, where they have generators, there is no money to fuel it”. 

Professor Wahab noted that archives should also be established in all States and local governments for safe keeping of records pertaining to their locations.

“Archives must be established in all States of the Federation. 

Even in all local governments. Every local government should have an archive where information pertaining to that area would be deposited”.

President of Records and Archive Professional Association of Nigeria. Dr Ade Akinfolurin believed that digitization of national archives is long overdue noting that the planned digital transformation of the Federal Government should be done in batches. 

“Digitization of the archive is long overdue. Government has to invest in this and this will change a lot of narratives about the national archives. The recent pronouncement of the Federal Government that they must go into digital economy, I see it as a political statement.

There should have been efforts in place to achieve that.

Nigeria government does not have the resources to face the whole ministries at a time to digitize their records.

They have to take it stage by stage”.

 Dr Akinfolurin explained that Nigerians need re-orientation on what record management is all about so that they will not see an archivist or record managers as a threat.

“There is need for change of orientation. The psyche of people must change. In this country today, if you go to some places, and you tell them you are a record manager or an archivist and you want to digitize their records, some institutions will not give you their records, some will give but will tell you not to touch finance and account.

Some will say you work for EFCC. People need re-orientation on what record management is all about.”

Similarly, CEO of MZ Consuting Limited, a Document Management Company in Lagos, Mr. Musa Zubairu emphasized on the need to take record keeping seriously in the country as no nation could make progress without adequate record keeping.

“We need to keep records of Nigerian’s, We need to use records to manage both current and future affairs of the country. You can’t do anything without records.

Every organisation has records over and above human beings.

 After staff of an organisation, the most important are the records.

 Records must be maintained and without that people of the organisation will not make progress.

 We should go away from the idea of losing records when offices get burnt.

There is a technology that enhances safe keeping of records.”

He called on the National Assembly to review the existing law and make the archive to be an agency rather than being under a ministry for effective purposes. 

“We need better regulations that will strengthen archives in Nigeria.

Archive should be extracted from the Ministry of Information and should be an agency on its own, with its own budget, mission and target that will enhance its activities.

Appropriate legislation is needed to have control over both public and private records to ensure that we actually keep proper records”. 

Director, Lagos Records and Archive Bureau, Dr Kola Hussein shared the same opinion that it was high time archive stayed as an agency as this would give it more recognition other than being subsumed in a Ministry. 

“We need an advocacy to take away archive from Ministry to an agency.

 It was first under Education Ministry before now attached to the Ministry of Information. 

It should be an agency on its own. “

He also hammered on the need for adequate training of personnel in national archives while more institutions should be encouraged to offer relevant courses in Information management. 

“There is need for capacity building.

Archive is a professional operation and it’s different from any other business and there is need for better training. There is dearth of training schools except in U.I which runs Masters programme in Records and Information Management.

We need to have more institutions that can train people and build people”.

Dr Hussein said sensitisation of people on the essence of patronizing archives and in particular depositing landmark records was highly necessary while interested stakeholders should also be patronised for improving the state of archives. 

“We also need to identify our stakeholders that are passionate about this business and who will be able to support the vision because achieve is a vision. Archive is a memory of a country and there is nothing we can achieve without preserving our archives.

Right from the creation to preservation and making the Information accessible for people.

Archive is like a bank, it is what you deposit with us that you can come and take. I want to encourage people to deposit information and documents in archives so that upcoming generations will have access to them”.

An archivist and a lecturer at the University of Ibadan,  Dr Godwin Ikwuyatum also believed the need for sensitization of people on the essence of record keeping as the habit  was no longer there.

“Our habit of keeping records is apparently eroding so there is the need to sensitize people on the benefits of keeping records.

It’s also important to develop policies and put in place various strategies to sustain and maintain the quality of archival materials”.

He explained that if proper attention is placed on archive, it could serve as a source of revenue for the country. 

“There is need for investment in archives.

Archive also has a space that can generate resources through tourism. Like what happens in developed countries, they have structures that stay thousands of years and become a source of revenue to them.

But in this country, we don’t appreciate what we have. “

Earlier, the convener of the roundtable, Mr. ‘Layi Raheem who equally harped on the importance of archive noted that it’s essential in national development.

“Proposed to serve as a primary collective institutional memory of government and its component parts, the archives are an essential tool for archiving administrative efficiency and economic development as they provide ready access to past experiences. 

They furnish precedents when problems/challenges that are similar to those faced earlier arise.

Particularly in developing countries archives can also significantly contribute to socio-economic development, from the point of view of earlier initiatives on local, regional or national scale”.

He emphasized that due to abandonment over the years and poor budgetary allocation, the national archive in the University of Ibadan which was once a monument has become moribund.

“Due to dwindling budgetary allocations over the decades, no acquisition of archival materials has been carried out nationwide.

The state of the Ibadan National Archives is, to say the least, appalling. A quick look from its exterior reveals a monumental display of disrepair, non-conformity with its expected role and absolute lack of maintenance”.

Mr. Raheem added that efforts would be coordinated for digitization of the National Archive at the University of Ibadan. 

Ridwan Fasasi


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