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. The library was the first of its kind in 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 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 building flourished, proving 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 groups to withdraw from using the library, sending Ibom e-library to a debilitating state, lacking maintenance and going backward.
Is Ibom e-library Surviving? Yes, but barely. It is only a matter of time before the building complex becomes abandoned if drastic steps are not taken.
On a sunny Thursday afternoon on January 9, 2020, a friend and I paid for a survey visit to the Ibom e-library. Our route to the Ibom e-library was through the IBB lane; we drove on the part of the IBB lane that gets flooded during the rainy season.
Could you permit me to digress a bit? Just close to the Ibom e-library 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 the Ibom e-library.
We got to the Ibom e-library and 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 the 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. The tattered grasses only frustrated the beauty of the beautiful art in front of the Ibom e-library building complex.
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 a 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 were not officials as they had no ID, so we judged. Then some teenagers and a female adult came out from the corner. We saw bags on the shelf and counting; they weren’t up to 50.
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 not have been able to continue from where his predecessor stopped in so many areas of the state, with 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. Instead, they wait until 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, 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 on the brink of extinction. The Ibom e-library’s state needs urgent attention cause the Ibom e-library is of great significance beyond political parties.
Update: The e-library is no longer a government-owned property; it is now revitalized under a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) and managed by a private firm, HTG Limited. They enable Individuals or organizations to rent office and event spaces.