Ibom e-library was an ultra-modern library with extensive internet facilities to aid study, research and foster development in Akwa Ibom State and Nigeria at large. The library was first of its kind in the whole of West-Africa. It was built in Uyo, on September 25, 2007, during the governorship administration of Former Gov. Godswill Akpabio.
During the Ibom e-library’s conception, it boasted of top-notch research resources and facilities. Students, professionals and even the ordinary Nigerian had access to boundless materials both in softcopy and hardcopy. The modern designed building flourished as it proved that the Akpabio-led administration made significant intellectual impartation in Akwa-Ibom.
Ibom e-library was a huge success but a drain in the pockets of the masses. To enjoy the cutting-edge library features, as of 2014, one had to cough out N20,000 per annum for membership. This caused the masses to withdraw from using the library, sending Ibom e-library to a debilitating state, lacking maintenance and backward.
Is Ibom e-library Surviving? Yes but barely. It is only a matter of time before the building complex becomes an abandonment if drastic steps are not taken.
During a sunny Thursday afternoon on 9th January 2020, I and a friend paid a survey-visit to Ibom e-library. Our route to Ibom e-library was through IBB lane, we drove on the part of IBB lane that gets flooded during the raining season.
Permit me to digress a bit. Just close to Ibom e-library which is on IBB Road is the epic yet-to-be-flooded part of IBB road. During the dry seasons, it is motorable but once the rain comes, no one drives by that part of IBB road. The deplorable state in which the Akwa-Ibom government has left that part of IBB road is deterring the masses from accessing Ibom e-library.
We got to Ibom e-library and we could liken it to a cemetery. The only person we saw from the gate was an Ice-cream man who came to make sales on his bicycle as he drove away. A closer look at the Building complex shows that Ibom e-library is treated like a dirty cloth abandoned by its owner to rot. The one time beautiful Ibom e-library doesn’t have her nicely mowed lawns any longer. The tattered grasses only frustrated the beauty of the wonderful art in front of the Ibom e-library building complex.
Apparently the Ibom e-library is open we concluded and made it to the front doors. Where is the receptionist, we wondered. The Ibom e-library logo is partially glowing and we can’t see any other part of the reception hall with power supply cause the standing fan there was not working. We turned left to see a group of young men by the corner handling the registration. Two out of four of them were not officials as they had no ID on them, so we judged. Then some teenagers and a female adult came out from the corner. We actually saw bags on the shelf and counting, they weren’t up to 50 bags.
Hello, good afternoon, we exchanged greetings. Already the guy is giving me that repulsive attitude when I asked if the Ibom e-library was “functional”. He hesitated to answer. The question was a bit offensive, but I wanted to come straight. Another guy by the left picked up the question. He said yes the Ibom e-library is functional, then that was when I mentioned the empty front desk sit which no one replied until my friend cut in and asked about registration processes and benefits.
When Ibom e-library was newly launched, the registration fee was 20,000 per annum with all e-services included. But as people began to withdraw from the Ibom e-library due to price the library had to reduce it to N2,000 giving access to only limited hardcopy resources. Currently with N2,000 you get acces to the library for a year but not access to the full functionality of an e-library.
– A guy replied
Could the price alone make people withdraw from the library owning to the fact that the library is actually resourceful to all level of knowledge? I asked.
Yes, you know the facilities in the library need to be maintained and when the financial sources are not there, some facilities will be withdrawn.
-Same guy replied
But can’t the government fund the library giving a subsidized price to the registration. The importance of such a library cannot be overemphasized, I thought in my mind.
You know the Nigerian style of government, the government comes and go but government house remains.
-Same guy replies as if to have read my mind.
We exchanged greetings and made our way for the exit, taking some pictures to mark the visit.
The current Udom Emmanuel led administration in Akwa-Ibom may have not been able to continue from where his predecessor stopped in so many areas of the state, no rating intended. However, the issue of lack of continuity has only frustrated development in Akwa-Ibom state and other states in Nigeria. Some roads in Akwa-Ibom are wearing out and nothing is being done to curb it. They rather wait till when it becomes a big ditch and the contract worth millions before attention is given to such roads. The same lack of continuity can be said of other Nigerian states, especially when the predecessor is from a different political party. Forgetting that political offices are meant to serve the people and not political parties, the other way round has only left us in a loop.
The one time Ibom e-library is now nothing but a regular library at the brink of extinction. The state of the Ibom e-library is one that needs urgent attention cause the Ibom e-library is of great significance beyond political parties.