Why We Decided To Honour Obi—NLA

By Mazi Odera

The former Governor of Anambra State, Mr. Peter Obi has bagged the coveted Golden Merit Award by the Nigerian Library Association (NLS).

Presenting the award yesterday at the Golden Royale Hotel Enugu, the National President of the Association, Mr. Abdulsalami Rilwanu said they had not presented it to anyone over the years because nobody in authority had made conscious and laudable efforts to uplift library services in Nigeria, until Mr. Peter Obi became the Governor of Anambra State. He said that in appreciation of his efforts, that the association had wanted to honour him while he was still the Governor, but for his refusal and insistence that he preferred honour offered when one had left office.

His words: ' Obi was unanimously chosen for the honour because of his efforts as the former Governor of Anambra State to support the growth and development of public library services in the State. Before him, in both the old and new Anambra State, no Governor visited or built any library since 1966, when the then Col Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu built the Onitsha Library.'

On some of the things Obi did that made him worthy of the honour, Mr. Rilwanu said that he not only initiated and acquired land, but completed the Prof. Kenneth Dike Library at Awka and renovated the Onitsha Library and that the two were the only e libraries in the whole of the South-East. He also mentioned the tomes of books he attracted to libraries in the state, the over 1 Billion naira the former Governor disbursed to public and mission-owned secondary schools in the State for provision of libaray in the schools in the state as well as the construction of libraries at the Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu University, Igbariam campus.

Speaking further, Mr. Rilwanu said that Obi went beyond the provision of infrastructure and 'ensured that library workers enjoyed normal promotion like their counterparts in the service and he extended support and recognition to the Director of the State Library Board (provided him with an official car), as well as the State Chapter of the Association, a van and a bus for distribution of books and for staff use during his tenure as the Governor of Anambra State'

The association called on those in authority to emulate what Obi did for the restoration of reading culture among the people.

Speaking, Mr. Peter Obi said he was both delighted and humbled to receive the award. He called on leaders to contribute to the resurrection of library culture as part of the efforts to support book culture for the good of the country.

The Nigerian Library Association (NLA), an umbrella body for all library and information professionals in Nigeria was established in 1962.