By Damiete Braide


For 22 years, the Nigerian International Book Fair (NIBF) has made available to Nigeria, Africa and the world works of fiction, poetry, non-fiction, history, Christian, Muslim and other religious and educational books to bibliophiles.

Book publishers have always displayed their books at stands, luring participants to buy. This year’s book fair, with the theme, “The Role of a Functional National Book Policy in The African Book Ecosystem” followed in the same vein.

It was held at Yard 158 Event Area, opposite The Citadel, Plot 34, Kudirat Abiola Way, Oregun, Ikeja, instead of the regular venue on Lagos Island. 

Oluwadare Oluwatuyi, Chairman, Nigerian Book Fair Trust (NIFT), in his address of welcome, said the major goal of the NIBF was to use it as a special vehicle to encourage and improve the reading culture in the country. 

The chairman disclosed at the opening ceremony: “We are collaborating with relevant government agencies, including the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC), Tertiary Education Trust Fund, TETFUND National Library of Nigeria and the Nigerian Copyright Commission, along this line.”

Stressing the need for intervention, he said: We need the government’s favourable policies to thrive, as the book industry is presently suffocating and in dire need of a saviour.

“We are working with schools, the network of book clubs and reading promoters in Nigeria and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals in Africa to continue to arouse the interest of our children and youths in reading and education generally. 

“We appeal to all relevant agencies and corporate organisations to join us in this arduous crusade to rescue our nation.”

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Appealing to organisations, individuals to partner with NIBF in this worthwhile venture, he said: “I call upon our government at various levels to fully identify with NIBF to demonstrate its commitment to the knowledge industry. A country cannot rise beyond its intellectual development.” 

Prof. Ismail Junaidu, Executive Secretary, Nigerian Educational Research and Development Council (NERDC), in his keynote address, commended the Nigerian Book Fair Trust for their efforts in sustaining the organisation and hosting of the annual Nigeria international book fair in Lagos and regional book fairs in Abuja, Enugu and Ibadan.

“This is particularly commendable, given the critical role of books and book publishing in national development. Book publishing has been noted to be one of the most effective vehicles for development and positive change in the behavioural attitude of the people. It is the nerve centre of education, and it helps people to gain full control of their environment. Thus, effort must be sustained to ensure that the book industry is protected, promoted and supported,” he said.

Highlighting on “The Role of a Functional National Book Policy (NBP) in the African Book Ecosystem,” Prof Junaidu said it was an apt topic and timely, given the proliferation of substandard books in our educational space and society, generally. 

Continuing, he said: “Nigeria has continued to be confronted by the existence of books that do not meet the quality standards put in place for book production and distribution. Furthermore, the present scenario in Nigeria reflects the problems of scarcity of locally sourced books, the burden of importation of books, the rising cost of production, short supply of materials and inadequate infrastructural facilities for book production, supply, distribution, and use. 

“The combined effect of these constraints is the present low level of literacy and readership in general and inadequate support for effective learning in schools at all levels. Let us proceed by first developing a common understanding of the book ecosystem.”

A well-functioning book ecosystem, he said, required the collaboration of stakeholders to address the challenges faced by the book industry, adding, “This can be achieved through the development of policies and initiatives that promote literacy development, support the production and distribution of quality books, and encourage the development of local content. 

“A thriving book ecosystem requires the participation and support of all actors involved. Publishers and authors play a crucial role in creating quality content that meets the needs and interests of readers. Editors and illustrators help to refine and enhance the quality of the content. Printers and distributors ensure that books are produced and delivered in a timely and efficient manner.

In line with the statutory mandate of the Nigerian Educational Research and Development Council (NERDC), it has, in concert with other core stakeholders, developed the National Book Policy. 

“That Policy also makes provisions for regulation, growth and development of the books industry. The Book Policy is a national guideline on the provision and effective management of books and other relevant resources geared towards the implementation of education at all levels in Nigeria. It is therefore, a statement of intents and purposes, as well as prescriptions, requirements and indeed a benchmark for quality education in Nigeria through the provision of adequate and relevant books and other educational resources.

“The National Book Policy seeks, among other things, to: Promote and reward local authorship of educational books, supplementary and general reading materials both in foreign and Nigerian languages, create an enabling environment for publishing as well as provide support services needed for manuscript generation.”