The Chairman, Board of Directors of the University Press Plc, Dr ‘Lekan Are, on Wednesday called on the Federal Government and all other tiers of government to make concrete efforts towards supporting the country’s publishing industry.
Delivering his welcome address at the 70th anniversary of the University Press Plc, at Kakanfo Inn, Ibadan, Oyo State, Are described as unfortunate the lip service being paid to the invaluable contributions of the UP Plc and other publishing outfits by successive governments in the preservation of the cultures of the Nigerian people.
He said, “It is rather unfortunate that we have had and continue to have many people at the helm of affairs of our country who either do not recognise these noble contributions or have unbelievably low impression of these contributions.
“Many of them fail to appreciate this important contribution of writers to societal development. Many do not even appreciate the value of the book to the progress of the nation. The effect has been the failure of governments to support the industry, protect it to encourage the continuous flow of intellectual and developmental ideas from the minds of intellectuals that abound in this country.”
While calling on leaders of governments to make room for appropriate legal framework, especially in the area of copyright protection, Are argued that if the menace of piracy and copyright infringements was not addressed, it would be difficult for publishing companies to survive.
He appealed to the Federal Government to give necessary financial backing to the Nigerian Communications Commission and demonstrate openly the political will to tackle piracy and promote reading culture.
He commended the Federal Government for the billions of naira spent on book purchase through the Universal Basic Education Commission over the years.
Are also urged the government to include books in indigenous languages and cultures to compliment the relatively few literary books being purchased for school libraries in the country.
The chairman of Kakanfo Inn and Conference Centre also pleaded with state governments to desist from the age-long practice of not distributing books purchased for schools in their states because “they do not want to promote the party at the centre.”
As UP Plc marked its 70th anniversary, Are recalled the historical metamorphosis of the company from 1949 till date.
He lauded the contributions of the late directors, staff, former staff, authors, customers and shareholders of the company.
He specifically lauded its first Managing Director, Chief M. O. Akinleye; the first Nigerian General Manager of the Oxford University Press Nigeria, Bishop T. T. Solaru; past chairmen, late Prof. Hezekiah Oluwasanmi and Alhaji Hamza Zayyad, for their contributions to the growth of the company and the publishing industry in Nigeria.
The keynote speaker, Prof. Niyi Osundare, who spoke on ‘African Diaspora, Brain Flight and Our Republic of Letters,’ lamented the rate at which Nigerian writers flood foreign lands for ‘greener pastures’ because of bad economy, lack of motivation and low reading culture among Nigerians.
He advised African leaders to get it right and restore the lost glory of the continent.
Dignitaries at the occasion were Eze Chukwuemeka Ike, emeritus Prof., Ayo Bamgbose, Prof. Oladipo Yemiitan, Chief Joop Berkhout, Sir Sunny Nwosu, Prof. Festus Adesanoye, Prof. Kola Owolabi, Mrs Olapeju Kolawole, Alhaji Musa Najimdeen, Mrs Jumai Agwai, Mr Yinka Lawal and Mr Ebika Anthony.
Others included Mallam Adamu Sufi, Mr Ayo Olorunda, Innocent Okorie, Yomi Adewusi, Obafunso Ogunkeye, Samuel Kolawole, Ganiyu Adebayo and Mrs Folakemi Bademosi.