PART 1

The Enugu State Library Board between 2016 – 2018, budgeted a total sum of N134,903,152 for the renovation, rehabilitation, reconstruction and procurement purposes for the libraries. But these projects, which have since received various monetary allocations of N43,033,152 in 2016, N54,370,000 in 2017 and N37,500,000 in 2018 respectively, still remain decrepit with leaky roofs and empty shelves. Their worn-out structures and a shortage of staff depict a glaring betrayal of the huge amounts so far expended by the Board within a three-year period. 

PATRICK EGWU, who visited the five libraries, reports.

DISGUISED as a student who needs to use the library, gaining entrance to the Enugu State Central Library only cost this reporter a modest annual registration fee of N1,000. Once in, the reporter began to do a swift observation of the poor state of the library, taking in every little detail.

It is located at a place called “Holy Ghost” in one of the busiest markets in the state. Thousands of motorists ply the road opposite the library, daily. Next to the library are scores of transportation companies, tooting their horns and using mega speakers as they bellow to woo commuters.

Added to the boisterous scenario close to the library, are hawkers, in their large numbers, who also litter the vicinity. The general menace inflicted on the teeming library users daily is appalling. A much needed but notably deprived essential of the library, silence, was not given any consideration.

Back in time

In 1958, the Enugu Central Library (ECL) was established by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), as part of a viable pilot scheme for public library models in Nigeria. Not long after, it became the first public library in West Africa and was handed over to the then Eastern government. Then adjudged the best in West Africa, it attracted users from different parts of the country who visited it for studies and research purposes. But today, the story has changed – for the worse.

ECL – Legacy in ruins

Current realities at the ECL are worrisome. Sited at the heart of the state, the library exhibits a very big building with large reading halls and offices. But despite its size, everything from the structure to the shelves, archives and expected 1,000 users’ sitting capacity, are in ruins. The roofs and ceiling boards are leaky and already falling off – posing a potential source of harm to unsuspecting users. The ceiling fans are very old and rusty giving a clear proof that no new procurement was made in any recent past.

Books and journals displayed on the shelves are outdated, dating back to over 30-years. A closer scrutiny by this reporter shows most of the books with 1960 – 1970 imprints. Worse still, there are no current journals at the library at the periodicals section.

As this reporter expressed shock, a user close-by volunteered: “You must be new here. I usually come with my own books as I haven’t ever found the books I want. As you can see, those in the shelves are very old.”

The user, who gave his name as Okike Chike, a Financial Studies’ student at the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN), Enugu, added: “If you check the shelves further, you will discover the seriousness of what I’m talking about. I just wish something fast can be done about it soon.”

He said he has never seen the ceiling fans work since he started using the library over a year ago. “It is always hot in here and there is no electricity to start with,” he said.

The leather covering the outer surface of the reading seats are rusty, old and wearing-off. The desks are not any better. Some parts of the windows are in bad shape, looking unkempt with dirt and cob-webs and some parts broken.

Enugu’s five libraries

WHILE Enugu State has five public libraries, only six librarians inter-changeably handle the day-to-day activities in all the libraries as discovered from interactions with the library Board. Explaining the reasons for it, Mr. Jude Offor, acting director, Enugu Library Board (ELB); who is also in-charge of all the public libraries in the state, said: “We don’t have librarians in the other libraries apart from this one,” referring to the main library.

Continuing, he adds: “What we have at other places are clerical staff because there is no money to employ more hands. We have only six librarians in the whole library and they are all here at the main library.

“On the need for government’s intervention, we have written many letters to them detailing our needs in addition to seeking increase in the subvention we currently get, from N3.7 to N6 million to boost the day-to-day running of the five libraries. The state governor has visited twice. He told us to write and we wrote. Once, he directed the Commissioner for Education to go round the libraries and verify the state of things to give him a first-hand report. The Commissioner did as he was directed but we have not seen or heard anything thereafter.”

ECL official – Insufficient money given

APPARENTLY, for lack of any alternative, knowledge-seekers still throng the library. “That’s why I continued from where others stopped,” said Offor.

Speaking on the situation of the library, he said: “Our first problem here is that the N3.7 million subvention we receive every month is not enough to carry out the works to be done. For instance, we owe a lot of people running into millions. What my predecessors saw is what I am seeing except that now, government is giving us money but it is not enough to carry out our responsibilities.”

Offor said pensioners who had worked at the library instead of receiving their complete payments every month, are paid once in four months because of paucity of funds. “For example, we have 64 pensioners helping out and instead of paying them monthly, we pay them once in four months. We also owe staff leave allowances of up to eight years since 2009. And it increases as the years run by. We expend the money on keeping vehicles running, fueling and other incidentals for all the five public libraries in the state. It hardly goes by.”

Offor also made efforts to justify his administration’s prudence in the judicious disbursement of the N3.7million monthly allocations to the library. He said, “But despite the poor state of the libraries across the state, no embezzlement charges can be laid on our laps because we use the funds given to us judiciously. Nobody can say that a dime, as in, one kobo, has entered my pocket. We use the money exactly the way it should be – for salaries, electricity bills, vehicle charges and monthly rents for staff under the payroll of the Board.”

Funds budgeted for libraries never released

INVESTIGATIONS show that though funds were allocated to the library Board in the budgets under review, they were never released. When asked about the monies budgeted for the Board in the state budgets, Offor responded: “The problem is that these monies are not usually released. And this happens, not only in Enugu state, but also elsewhere. In fact, from the beginning of the library, funds budgeted for it have never been released. Others who were here before me have done everything to collect the money, but they were unsuccessful.”

Stressing further on the library Board’s budgetary allocation, the acting director said: “If these monies were ever released to us, we would have renovated the libraries. In fact, special consideration would have been accorded the Enugu Central Library in particular. Remember, it was the first public library built by UNESCO in the whole of Africa before other libraries followed.

“The only money that gets released to us is the recurrent expenditure whilst the capital overheads are not usually released because it seems difficult. And when you complain, they will tell you to go and work it out,” he intones, “whatever that means.”

When this reporter contacted the commissioner for education in the state, professor Pat Uche Eze, to ask why funds budgeted for the Board are not released as the director had claimed, Eze said “I am not a budget expert so I cannot discuss the budget. So, let’s not talk about what happened in the past. Budgets are based on identified challenges. We have done a study. When we reported it to let the governor know the extent of the challenges, that will help him know how much will be allocated.”

Still, the commissioner was prodded further. He said “when you have your budget, you implement it. I’m sure that the acting director must have accessed the budget. Did he show you the memo he wrote? As I was saying, for you to access a budget, for instance, if it is capital, you have to do a memo. You have to apply in order to get it and you have to justify that there is a need for it. And when you do all these things, it will still be discussed before action can be taken in that regard.”

When told that the Library Board acting director said he had written letters; Eze sidetracked the conversation, saying “I want to tell you that government is quite aware of the issues relating to public libraries in the state. Some months ago, it was an issue discussed at the State Executive Council meeting. There-and-then, I was directed to do a status report on the libraries because the governor is determined to give them a facelift. In fact, provisions have already been made for complete renovation of the state library.”

The education commissioner was also asked about the need for an increase in the N3.7 million Library Board monthly subventions, he sharply responded: “I don’t have to comment on that because the director has to convince the government that this is what he has done with the one he was given and this is why he needs another increase. For me, he has not been able to make that case.”

However, the director insisted: “The issue in focus is not about writing letters. The main concern is about releasing monies for the needful as far as the libraries are concerned after receiving the letters we wrote. And this has not been done since I started as the director.”

Nsukka Library – Lifeless despite budgets

IT was a rainy morning when this reporter visited the Nsukka library. On the inside, ten users were seen reading some printed texts. Others walked around the shelves, scanning through available but mostly outdated books lined up on the shelves dating back to 20-30 years ago without any recent literature or journals. This library has about 300 sitting capacity. The children section lies practically fallow.

Established in 1989, the Nsukka Zonal Library serves the Nsukka town which hosts Nigeria’s first indigenous tertiary institution – the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. It was discovered, that students throng the library to research or study in preparation for their examinations.

The roof and windows of the library are falling off with every wind storm

Despite the very important purposes it serves its essential users within Nsukka and beyond, the library is currently in shambles. Its structure and infrastructure are dilapidated, a situation that has been declared a major challenge to library users.

This reporter was told that the number of users dropped drastically as they now seek for other better reading places. Some even resort to online researches to fulfill their desires for updated knowledge. However, a few users still defy the odds to visit the library.

“This place used to be very lively with students all over the place. Sadly, this has changed because of the current state of the library, said Angela Ezema, the library assistant. “And it is getting worse every year.”

In the 2016 budget for the Library Board, the sum of N5,600,000 million was appropriated for the overhauling of the Nsukka Zonal Library. It was to include the re-roofing for an undisclosed amount.

Also, N12,580,152 million was allotted for the stocking of books and journals annually for the libraries. But investigations showed that this was not the case as library officials say they never received journals aside only two copies of newspapers, daily.

Another sum of N1,500,000 million was budgeted for the construction of one block of four toilets. Whereas now, the library has no convenience rooms for both staff and users. This reporter only saw three uncompleted structures with no doors, windows or water cistern designated as latrines for users. Its floors are not merely concretized with cements.

Shaking her head in sadness, Ezema, said the shanty toilets have actually been under construction for more than five years. “That is the way it has been for over five years. We don’t even use it to avoid contracting lavatory diseases that never get healed.”

Four toilet blocks for the library has been under construction for the past five years without completion despite budgetary allocations

Others library officials also chipped in that there are no desktops or laptops provided for them to work with even though the money for these items were provided in the 2016 budget.

In the 2017 budget, N54,370,000 million was budgeted for the state libraries. Sums of N5,000,000 and N2,500,000 were respectively slated for rehabilitation and re-roofing of the Nsukka library. But none of this has reflected in the library’s exterior or interior amenities.

Ezema hinted that heavy downpour in recent months also destroyed most parts of the library’s roof causing other major damages. “The rains came with heavy winds and blew off the roof, opening up everywhere. As you can see, we now use bucket and plastic bowls to scoop water whenever it is raining,” she said as she showed this reporter a bucket positioned directly under the leaking spots.

She said appeals for the repairs of the fallen structure have not been answered and the damage is getting worse. “We took pictures and called Enugu State government to inform them so they can help us with resources to fix the damages but nothing has been done.

“On June 1, 2018, the Commissioner for Education, accompanied by some state officials came to the library for on-the-spot inspection and assessment in the hope of major interventions. He took notes while assessing the level of damage and promised to send engineers to embark on repairs and equipping the library to standard. But neither the commissioner nor the team of engineers were ever seen again.”

While this reporter was still at the library, another torrent of rain began to fall which enabled him to witness the library staff as they scampered to get buckets and position at the leaky holes to prevent water from flooding the reading halls.

Then, towards procuring printing and laminating machines with 15 sets of ceiling fans for the bindery section of the library, the sum of N1,790,000 was allotted. That was a shortfall of the N1,848,000 budgeted in 2016.

However, nothing in the bindery section of the library could attest to any new equipment being procured. Rather, the librarian showed the reporter a computer room with 10 desktop processors and printers which were procured and donated by the local government area chairman since 2008.

Almost ten years after the procurement, the procured desktops have never, for once, been used since they were brought to the library. Reason is there has been no electricity supply to power the computers. Cobwebs and dust have covered the items packed in a water-logged room since about a decade ago.

Set of desktops donated to the library have not been used for the past ten years because of lack of power supply

“We have 10 desktop computers but none of them is working because there is no power supply. They promised they will bring a big generator for us but we are yet to see it. So, we don’t know if the computers have expired or not,” Ezema said.

 

Budget of Enugu State Library

MOST of the items in the 2016 and 2017 budgets of N37,500,000 million for the Library Board were repeated in the 2018 budget.

Items such as procurement of printer, laminating machine and ceiling fans for the bindery section of the library; budgeted below N2 million in the previous budget, was listed at N2,500,000 million in the budget 2018.

Renovation of the library in the 2018 budget, however, got a downward review of N2 million as against the N5 million it received in the previous years. Construction of one block of four library toilets was repeated in the 2017 and 2018 budgets at N1,000,000 respectively. Still, the library has no readily available toilets. Users resort to nearby bushes and open spaces when they need to relief themselves. Some make use of public toilets where they pay token fees to access the facility.

Promise Asogwa, who started using the library five months ago said: “I step out to pee whenever I want to because there is no toilet inside. And though I see all the books I need here, the library is not up to standard. I have never seen power supply here. It’s bad.”

Despite the yearly recurring budgetary allocations, there was no sign of procurement of ceiling fans which was listed in the three budgets. A two-year library user, Ebubechukwu Agboeze, told the reporter she has never seen power supply to enable the ceiling fans to work. “I have not even seen light for once,” said Agboeze, who is preparing to study medicine in the university. “Everywhere is just dusty. But we are managing it like that as there is no other one around where we can go.”

Agboeze’s expression corroborates the librarian’s submission who said they have not seen light for a very long time and neither is there provision for a stand-by generating set to supply power as promised.

“We need perimeter fencing here for security reasons,” said Christiana Egbo, the library’s data processor. “This is a state library and not private. It is in a mess compared to other libraries. But the state seems to be doing nothing about it. Nothing here is new or modernized or working. The building, seats, tables and books are all outdated. Anambra State Library is far better than ours.”

This investigation is supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and the International Centre for Investigative Reporting, ICIR.

 

 

PART 2

In this concluding part of the series on the budgeted for, but not funded Enugu State libraries; the searchlight is beamed on Awgu, Amufie and Ibagwa-Aka. Libraries here remain in sorry states due to lack of funding. Many questions remain unanswered as our reporter, PATRICK EGWU, continues his exploratory quest to unearth reasons for the poor state of the three remaining public libraries in Enugu state despite huge budgetary allocations.


JUST as the previous libraries featured in the part one of this investigative report; Awgu LGA library is at its final stage of total collapse. Its walls are cracked. Its roofs are falling apart. As for its ceilings, they are drippy.

The library located in the state where the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, hails from, regrettably is in a shambles. Needless to repeat, it’s In a poor infrastructural state coupled with lack of reading materials and basic necessities to make it a library indeed. As for the shelves, they are almost empty while exhibiting a few outdated books.

Established in the 1980s, Agwu library’s poor state provides an attraction for miscreants and hoodlums who have turned it to their operational base and hiding place largely due to its bad state.

The library’s principal officer, Georgina Udeh, bemoaned,“Our library is crumbling. We lack basic facilities – the windows and doors are all damaged and we even have no toilets. The worst are the big cracks on the walls. Look at the grounds like it’s going to cave in like an earthquake someday soon. We are daily in fear of our stay here as it seems a looming danger for staff, students and other library users.

“Here, dreaming of new books acquisition is like expecting ‘Alice in wonderland’. Just take a look at our shelves to grasp the full extent of what I am talking about. We can only call on the deputy senate president and other government officials to come and rehabilitate this library,” Udeh pleaded.

In a circumstance similar to the experience of other previous library officials, Udeh said: “We have written letters to the library Board for intervention. But since then, no help has come our way.” Showing copies of the letters as proofs, she adds: “Nothing has happened after these letters were delivered to them. Nothing, like I told you before.”

An immediate past councillor

Georgina Udeh showing one of the copies of letter sent to the state government for intervention in the library

, Agwu LGA, and currently a user of the library, Michael Kelle, took this reporter down memory lane of its history. His narration: “This building was established by the Second Republic government of the late former President, Shehu Shagari since the 1980s. Then later, they decided to equip it as a library. But the building was not fully put into any meaningful use until around 1997. Then, the State Education Commission decided to establish the Awgu-zone of the Post-Primary School Management Board (PPSMB). So they used this place as the takeoff point.

“By the time the then government was ready to establish a library in the area, they considered this place a better choice. That’s when they transmuted the structure from the PPSMB and converted it to a full-time library. And that’s rightly so because it was originally built for the library. Also, it was much easier for the State Library Board to locate their zonal library office here since this is an existing structure meant for that purpose. The gloomiest part of the whole story is that, since then, about thirty-eight years ago, this building has not been given any form of makeover or refurbishment, but rather left fallow and almost roofless as every portion of it leaks. In addition, children and miscreants now use it as their playground and hideouts. But where else can we go to use? That’s why you see that the staff and users still use the place,” he recounted.

Kelle added that despite the poor situation of the library, “users, especially students, still throng the facility as there is no other better one to go. It’s just kind of empty now because schools are on vacation. All the same, this should not be an ideal excursion library for school children. It has nothing to show them in terms of knowing what a library should look like. And that’s why we are calling on the government to fix this place and upgrade it to what a standard library should be,” Kelle said, as he flipped through a file in front of him.

“In fact, every library official here has tried their best beckoning on the government to come to their aid. Some months ago, the education commissioner visited to assess the situation of things. He claimed not to be happy and promised that the government will look into it. He also advised us to ensure that the local government partakes in making the library wear a new look. But, that’s all to it. All barks but no bites! We’ve not seen anything till date. It could be they are still doing the paper works. Mind you, we’re talking about the only library that serves a wide range of communities users come from. It’s so unfortunate.”

Kelle further noted that due to security concerns, “some types of equipment and infrastructure cannot be fixed in the library because the building lacks perimeter fencing. Until the building is rehabilitated and fortified to ensure security, high quality books and equipment cannot be brought in yet. But when everything is in its proper shape, indigenes can be persuaded to donate to the library. For now, nobody would be willing to contribute anything.”

Tracking the monies

In the 2016 budget, where N43,033,152 was budgeted for the library at Agwu, N1,500,000 was slated for the construction of 1 block of 4 toilets and another N6,500,000 allotted for the rehabilitation of the zonal library. Up till the filing of this report, nothing close to renovation or infrastructural upgrade has been done on the library.

Likewise, in the state’s 2017 overall budget of N54,370,000 to the library Board; N5 million was recurrently planned for the same Agwu zonal library rehabilitation. Another N1 million budgeted for the construction of the same 1 block of 4 toilets as done in the previous year still featured again. However, despite these monies, none of the projects mentioned saw the light of the day as this reporter went round to scrutinize the entire library surrounding.

Again, in the 2018 budget of N37,500,000, N2 million was slated for the exact rehabilitation of Awgu library, with another N1 million again, earmarked for construction of toilets as was the case in the previous years’ budgets. Yet as before, the toilet, government has failed to release funds for these allocations. Users resort to doing easing themselves in nearby bushes.

A refuse dump site few meters away from the Awgu library

As if the poor state of the Agwu library is not bad enough, in a scenario akin to adding pepper to injuries, this reporter saw a huge refuse dump site oozing out stench that poses a potential health hazard to library officials, users and even close-by residents.

Ibagwa-Aka and Amufie libraries – not faring better

THE reporter’s visits to these last two libraries reveal similar tales of woes. Nothing impressive was seen about any of them. They are all ramshackle buildings with fallen roofs and empty shelves amid bushy environments. As for the staff, their countenance conveyed disappointment and hopelessness.

A narration about the divisional library revealed that it was established in 2005 and located in Ibagwa-Aka in Igboeze South LGA of the state. It was started as a monthly fixed-rate rented apartment by the library board. And just as others before, this library boasts of a total absence of library needs for its teeming users of students and visitors. And, it is located in a remote area with poor road networks, no electricity and toilet facilities.

The library, which has a 24-seat capacity, is not only ancient in looks, it is very poorly ventilated with no ceiling fans or electricity. It has no sections like bindery, children and reference expected of a typical library. In addition, with the absence of electricity, installation of computers and desktops to access online materials and databases becomes needless.

Divisional library Ibagwa-Aka is housed in a three-bedroom apartment with a fixed rent. Like others, the library is poorly equipped

Lamenting, Livinus Eke, the library assistant, told the reporter: “Users barely come here because of our remote location. The only time we see them are close to, or during their exam periods. Then, those from neighbouring villages also come sometimes to use the library. Other times, we stay here without having anybody to come around.”

Fate of Amufie library

“LIBRARIES in Enugu are in a financial mess. All library management have approached the state government severally at different states, but nothing positive has been received on our outcries. Without mincing words, urgent assistance is needed to revamp them. We need you to communicate our plights to the government for speedy intervention,” Eze pleaded.

A clerical officer, Patience Ugwu, who has been working at the library since 2006, also added her voice to the pleas. She said: “The abject lack of essential library necessities discourage users from coming all the time as they never get their quest for deeper knowledge met.”

Their lamentations tally with the similar realities seen at the Amufie library located in Igboeze North LGA, as it has no basic supplies. The building was once a community-owned town hall. It was later donated to the government to use as the library. Worse still is that the inside is so oven-hot that users who visit for one academic purpose or the other, run for their lives.

It is merely a hall without sections, wooden seats and reading desks which are not only old, but in a bad shape and surrounded by bushes. On its shelves, few old books were displayed. With about 25-30 sitting capacity, there was no user at the time of visit. The security man, who simply gave his name as Samson, ushering in this reporter, said users and students in the area hardly patronize the library.

No ceiling and electricity thereby making it hot and unconducive for users

When asked the whereabouts of the librarian-in-charge, Samson said she had gone to the bank for some transactions and would soon return. But after about 2-hours of waiting for her, this reporter took his leave.

This reporter spoke with a Professor of Library and Information Science at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Professor Charles Omekwu, who said regrettably that the society does not cherish education.

“We are living in a culture in which the value and importance of information and knowledge are yet to be treasured. But the painful aspect is that you cannot be more powerful than the information and knowledge you possess. Every library is an institution, a place people visit to access information, acquire knowledge and improve themselves. So when a nation, state or university has poorly equipped library infrastructure and facility, it is most likely going to translate to a citizenry that is not well informed and knowledgeable,” he stated.

Omekwu said the result of this unfortunate scenario is that “information-rich countries will continue to dominate information poor countries. We must accept that the world is currently running on a knowledge-based economy and a library is the storehouse of basic gen and understanding for our people to match up.”

And until funds meant for the revamping and stocking of Enugu State public libraries are judiciously utilized or those responsible held to account, the conditions of these libraries will continue to remain poor and in a bad shape, rundown and inoperable for needful users.

No louvres on the window, big crack on the wall and a fallen roof

But the cheery news here is that, the library security personnel told this reporter that a new structure is currently under construction by the library board to replace this old one.

Trailing the Money – 2016-2018

WHILE the back-and-forth persists regarding where the monies for Enugu libraries are; the reporter went to the State Ministry of Finance with the intent to trail the cash in the government coffers. Sadly, he met the absence of Finance and Economic Development Commissioner, Mrs. Eucharia Uche-Offor. He then made an attempt to speak with the Ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Dr Benedeth Ezema. But he too, was reportedly absent.

The reporter then commenced a thorough inquiry into how library funds have been allotted in the last two years.

In the 2016 budget, the sum of N43,033,152 was earmarked for the Enugu State Library Board. It was intended for the total overhauling of the five libraries including rehabilitation, renovation and construction of toilets, procurement of different ICT facilities, e-books and journals for the libraries. Out of the total sum, N7,500,000 was budgeted for the renovation of the ECL and N5 million for its ICT centre.

However, as the library currently stands, even the blind could visibly tell that there’s no sign of an ICT centre. Indeed, not even a single mouse or computer can be sighted also as this reporter closely observed. The overall state of the library shows no sign of renovation with its fallen roofs, ceilings, broken windows and bad toilets. Offor maintained: “We don’t have an ICT section and money has never been released to us from the budget as I affirmed.”

Aside that, another N1,848,000 was allocated for the procurement of one printing machine for the bindery section and 15 ceiling fans and one laminating machine. Thorough scrutiny also revealed that none of these items were procured for the library when the reporter visited. Also in the budget was the sum of N750,000 earmarked for the purchase of 30 sets of staff seats and tables with a separate N5 million repeated for the same purpose in 2017. Investigations sadly revealed that till date, available seats in the library remain rickety, termite-infested and in pitiable conditions.

Whenever it is raining, the library staff use old buckets scoop water and prevent it from flooding the reading hall

The tales didn’t fare any better in the 2017 budget in which N10 million was budgeted for the rehabilitation of the Enugu Library. A repeat of N5 million still features for the construction of an ICT centre earlier budgeted for in the 2016 fiscal document.

However, in the 2018 budget, from the reporter’s studies of the financial plan, it was discovered that nothing was budgeted for the Enugu Central Library. The only mention of library money was the N2,500,000 meant for the purchase of office equipment such as printers, laminating machines and an unspecified number of ceiling fans for the bindery section across the libraries.

Asked, however, if there was any money the library board got for the current year, Offor retorted: “Nothing! And I tell you that even the N15 million and N25 million earmarked for a library bus in 2017 and 2018 budgets respectively, never got to us. As we speak, we don’t have an operational vehicle here as our own. The one bought twelve years ago has broken down and to repair it is a big problem.”

Also speaking on these findings, deputy director, library Board, Ms. Angela Aroh, said: “Serious lack of funds remain a basic challenge affecting library staff and services as there is equally no single amount of money for the purchase of books. Previously, government used to give book grants. But that is no more. The little money they give cannot even pay salaries and we are running short of staff. That’s aside the fact that many have retired and there is no money to hire new ones. In fact, the retirees are being owed.”

Aroh further corroborated Offor’s submissions that letters had been written to the government for intervention, “but nothing has happened till date. The library is really backward in Enugu while some other libraries in the South East are doing well. You can see our reading rooms are in a bad shape,” she said pointing to a broken down reading desk. She went on: “There is no light and we cannot pay our bills. We have a big generator given to us by a former governor, but it is bad now and we cannot fix it. And even if it is fine, we cannot buy the diesel to run it. We tried to have an e-library here but we couldn’t pay the network providers.”

Puzzled at the untraceable huge sums of monies mentioned much as the reporter endeavoured to unravel the knotted riddles, his probing mind still yearns for answers. In the light of denials and counter-denials, his main question remains: Where are these monies held or kept and with whom, since clear claims are that they are not demanded for and/or released?

All eyes and ears are continuously on the authorities concerned and mentioned in the report in hope that they can proffer needed responses.

…This investigation was supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and the International Centre for Investigative Reporting, ICIR.

 

SOURCE: www.icirnigeria.org