Corruption is perhaps the most popular spirit engraved in the hearts of Nigerians today. There is hardly any sector that is devoid of corruption. From the masses on the streets to the big men in a lavish apartment up to religious organizations. The religious bodies that ordinarily one would have expected the highest integrity going by the tenents they preach. But these religious bodies have proved to the Nigerian nation that they are fallible just like every one of us.
The Nigerian trajectory had made it look normal to be "corrupt and abnormal to be incorruptible." The tragedy of these actions is that our society has accepted those who engage in fraudulent activities such as "Yahoo-Yahoo as the real messiah while neglecting creative folks who toil daily and night to increase their productivity in a legal way.
Another unfortunate result of this mentality is the chieftaincy titles adorned to corrupt politicians who have milked the nation's coffers to the nearest minimum, leaving high consequences on the helpless masses. The Religious bodies have also devised a crooked method of celebrating these thieves cum politicians by giving them the front seat in the church and mosques across the country.
The Nigerian Library is also a victim of the endemic called "corruption." In fact, it has speedily become one of the leading branches of corruption in Nigeria. A visit to any publicly owned Library in Nigeria especially Lagos will leave a bitter taste on your lips. It will also change your preconceived notion of the library you ought to see in a sane and responsible environment.
The books are outdated with some of them torn or in shreds. It is an established fact there is no sign of I.C.T equipment in most if not all of these publicly owned libraries. In this 21st Century surrounded by technological discoveries and advancement, how can a library user function without Laptops and the Internet?
What about power supply?
In the Nigeria of today, the politicians in collaboration with corrupt government officials add their own figures to every budget they present to the legislature for reading, vetting and passing. To state the fact, there is hardly any public owned library in Nigeria today where there is constant supply of electricity. But it might interest you to know that officials of some of these libraries collect funds to fuel their generator which stands as a backup plan when the power holding takes their lights.
What these library officials do is to embezzle these funds meant for the running of the library.
Nigeria's foremost Lawyer, Barrister. Femi Falana (S.A.N) once said
"In Nigeria, we camouflage theft by giving them nice English names such as 'fraud' and 'Embezzlement'"
The actions of these corrupt officials are evident in the pain Nigerians go through in seeking and improving their knowledge.
The argument that Nigerians do not read does not hold water here against the backdrop of corrupt practices happening in the Nigerian public library institutions. How did corruption have a firm grip on the institutions saddled with the responsibilities of promoting the reading and writing culture in Nigeria?
For those who are addicted to reading and spend most of their time in the public library can attest to these facts. If there is anyone capable of writing on this issue, then I qualify as not just a user of the public library but a writer and a philosopher who takes things into consideration using the power of reasoning before taking a decision.
What baffles me most is the electricity issue, most of them have a backup generator but always complains of not having petrol to fuel the generator. It is true that the Lagos government sets aside some funds for use of the public library in the state. But these funds are chopped off by hungry officials whose only concern is the accumulation of illegal wealth.
The heat visited on a library user can be the worst thing to happen to him whenever he uses his discretion to read. The government also tries to camouflage that the libraries in the state are active and working with the use of propaganda. But the truth will always reveal itself no matter how we as humans try to cover it up.
For instance, a visit to a library in Ikeja, the state capital will leave you in shock. There is a nice looking generator that has been lying dormant there for the past three years. That generator, although working has never been fuelled because there was no petrol.
One can understand how hard it is for a typical Nigerian to read a book, especially when you are done with your degrees. It is assumed that what you need is to start working and forget about books. Those who try to conquer that believe are discouraged by the moribund libraries.
The Nigerian masses are active when it comes to mobbing a pocket picker but suddenly becomes dormant and daft when they encounter high-class fraudsters dressed in the robes of leaders and politicians. These corrupt leaders and politicians are accorded much respects and showered with gifts by the traditional rulers. They are ultimately rewarded with the front seat by the institutions which ought to be sacred - Churches and Mosque.
To the average Nigerian, if you are making money, you are a super-hero. It does not matter how you got it. What matters is that you have money. You are praised in celebration of taking your own share of the National cake.
Just Yesterday, the 23rd of April, the Nigerian cyberspace was set ablaze by the duo of Tunde Ednut (Blogger) and Zlatan Ibile (Musician.) While the former came with full force and landed a heavy blow on Yahoo-Yahoo boys, the latter came to their rescue by saying If the former knew what happened during slave trade, then he would not condemn Yahoo Yahoo boys. Zlatan got the support of his fellow disillusioned musicians who argued that "nobody holy." It is important to know that there are millions of Nigerians who hold this view that Yahoo Yahoo is not a bad venture so far they are making money.
The above scenario calls into question our collective will, ethics and morality as a people. It has also ignited the debate if Yahoo Yahoo is right or wrong.
A deep but cursory look at the corruption in Nigeria's library will tell tales of how it is a clear representation of the Nigerian society. The orientation that has lived for years without anyone to stop it.
To salvage the present situation, all hands must be on the ground not just on the deck. The Nigerian masses must start to attack and dissociate themselves from corruption. The agencies responsible for the orientation of Nigerians must take it not just as a duty to re-orientate Nigerians on the need to have a corrupt free society that will ultimately improve the standard of the Nigerian library.
Secondly, the E.F.C.C should also expand its reach into the Education sector especially the public library operated by the Ministry of Education.
Finally, the leaders must show themselves capable by leading by example by demonstrating qualities of thoughtful and impactful leadership in their actions and not just on paper.