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Rural libraries in Plateau rots away as state government fail to disburse budgetary allocation

 

 

Johnstone Kpilaakaa

27th Nov 2020

Photos: https://drive.google.com/folderview?id=1T9VES7F5MSoygaVI8zBkL0S75FEEap6b

 

 

The roofing sheets are giving way. Doors and windows are broken. The walls are cracked, chairs are broken while dust from wooden panels and bookshelves is a telltale sign of insect infestation.

 

The above description is the state of libraries in Plateau State’s Shendam and Pankshin local government areas. The libraries are in such deplorable states despite the allocation of N12 million in the 2018 budget of the state for their renovation.

 

Pankshin Library

 

Established in April 1977 as an outreach library of the Plateau State Library Board. The Pankshin Library was meant to be the information hub of Plateau Central District. When the Udeme visited the library, it bears signs of years of disrepair. When this reporter visited the facility, only three readers were seen studying in the shabby library. A section of the roof of the building has caved-in fallen roofs, the furniture was broken as well as the windows and doors. The walls of the facility were cracked, while termites are feasting on the books and bookshelves

 

The last form of maintenance job done in the library was done 18 years ago when some members of the National Youth Service Corps repainted the building as part of their community assignment.

 

“This place has so many challenges, you’ve gone round by yourself and you can see how obvious the challenges are, some of the books were destroyed due to rainwater coming in through the leaking roofs, and the broken windowpanes,” said an employee, Mr Chibby (he refused to give his second name).

 

“The children section is not in use, it’s now a home to stagnant water and spirogyra, all as a result of the poor infrastructural maintenance,” he added.

 

“The books in the library are obsolete, most people can’t come here if they won’t find what they need, the place is completely dilapidated and needs urgent attention,” said Danjuma Goma, a postgraduate student who was studying in the library.

 

 

 

Shendam Libraries

 

The state of the Shendam Library is not different from that of the Pankshin Library. Fallen roofs, broken furniture with old books lying unarranged on tables and chairs. Some of the offices at the library are completely out of use due to the level of damage.

 

At Shendam, Udeme was told that the Chief Librarian traveled out of the local government for an unofficial purpose. A staff member at the library who pleaded anonymity said, “no renovation has been carried out on this facility. We are not even aware if a budgetary allocation was made for that purpose.”

 

“It’s obvious we need help from the government to bring the library back to a better state,” she said.

 

“The structure needs to be renovated, many of my friends don’t come here to read because of how bad the place is, even the books are out-dated. It will be very good if the government renovates the library. That action will encourage more readers to make use of the Library,” said John Lugudnan, a resident of Shendam, who was studying for the Senior Secondary School Certificate Examination (SSCE – NECO) at the library when Udeme visited said

 

“Funds were not released”

 

At the Plateau State Library Board headquarters in Jos, the Director, Simon Mwanti declined to make official comments, “I can’t give you access to any official information, the Government will ask me who permitted me if they see the story in the media,” he said.

 

After further persuasion, Mr Mwanti disclosed that “the government has been making efforts. Each year we write our budget proposal, the Governor (Simon Lalong) approves of it but funding is the major challenge.”

 

“We are going to revamp the libraries in no distance time, funds were not released for the project due to the advent of the Coronavirus.”

 

Mr Mwanti further revealed that he is working towards partnering with local and foreign organizations to access funds that will help revamp the libraries.

 

 

 

 

Public library advocates react

 

Ritmwa Bewarang, the Coordinator of 50 Pages Library, Jos told this reporter that “these libraries have been running for a very long time and it’s obvious that the government can’t maintain it. The government can partner with community service organizations that are passionate about literacy to ensure efficient delivery”

Younglan Talyoung, the Coordinator, Tudun Wada Community Library Initiative said “to ensure a good reading culture and proper infrastructure state of libraries, the government must prioritize education by giving adequate funding to the sector.”

 

“Education is supposed to be a foremost national priority, but the government at different levels have only succeeded in doing lip service to education but the funding is very poor, Mr Talyoung said.”

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