The opening ceremony of the 56th edition of the Nigerian Library Association (NLA) National Conference/AGM was held on Tuesday, July 24, 2018 at the main Event Centre of the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library, Abeokuta, Ogun State. The ceremony was declared open by Governor Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun State, who was ably represented by Mrs. Modupe Muyota, the Honourable Commissioner for Education, Science and Technology, Ogun State.
In his welcome address, the NLA National President, Dr. Umunna Opara welcomed everyone to Abeokuta and specially thanked the various donors and supporters of NLA, who had contributed immensely to the successful hosting of this edition. He particularly mentioned the overwhelming support of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo (former President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria) in making the premises of the Presidential Library freely available for this national gathering of Librarians and Information Managers. He however lamented that the NLA in its over 57 years of existence was yet to move into its own building and has been a tenant of the National Library of Nigeria, Abuja.
The keynote address was presented by Professor. Peter A. Okebukola, former Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission (NUC) and the Chairman and Pro- Chancellor of the National Open University of Nigeria. Prof. Okebukola who went memory lane on how he served as a Library Prefect at both St. Malachy Secondary School, Sapele, Delta State and Remo Secondary School, lamented on the deplorable state and near non-existence of libraries in Nigerian Primary and Secondary Schools. He stated that the tertiary Institutions were a bit better in having respectable libraries because of the induced effects of accreditations and demands of regulatory bodies like the NUC, NBTE etc. The Professor of Science and Computer Education of the Lagos State University while highlighting some of the latest trends in the profession and societal expectations of today’s Librarians, urged the NLA Executives to take the capacity building of its members seriously by providing regular training and workshops as he volunteered to facilitate some of those training freely.
In her brief remarks before the formal declaration of the opening ceremony, Mrs. Modupe Muyota, the Honourable Commissioner for Education, Science and Technology, Ogun State also noted that there were no digital libraries in secondary schools in Nigeria. She was also concerned that with the continued advancing effects of ICT on libraries and reading behaviours today, librarians needed to be on top of their game in remaining relevant and must begin to explore other ways of bringing back readers to the Library.
The major highlight of the opening ceremony was the conferment of Honourary Fellow of the Nigerian Library Association on Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, who is also the grand Patron of the NLA. This was a historic award as the former military Head of State and civilian President was the first recipient of this distinguish award. Other highlights of the day were the rendition of NLA anthem for the very first time as written and composed by Dr. Chinemeren C. Ukangwa of Babcock University, cultural dance from the Theatre Arts Department of Federal College of Education, Osiele, Abeokuta, and live music from the Civil Defence Band.
The opening ceremony came to a close with the unveiling and cutting of tape of the Exhibition ground by Prince Bola Ajibola SAN, former Attorney General of the federation, Minister of Justice and retired Judge of the International Criminal Court, The Hague, Netherlands.
The occasion was chaired by the Vice Chancellor of Tai Solarin University of Education, Ijagun, Ogun State, Professor Abayomi Arigbabu, who was represented by Dr. Taofeek Salisu. The occasion was graced by some of the past Presidents of the NLA, the National Librarian of Nigeria, Professor Aina, the Registrar/CEO of the Librarians’ Registration Council of Nigeria (LRCN), Prof. Michael Afolabi, the President of the African Library and Information Associations and Institutions (AFLIA), Dr. Helena Asamoah-Hassan, the Head of Service, Ogun State, Mr. Abayomi Sobande, the Rector, Moshood Abiola Polytechnic, Abeokuta, Mr. Ayo Tella, the Special Adviser of the Executive Governor of Delta State (host of the 2019 NLA National Conference/AGM) on Library Maters, Hon. Okakwu, and a host of other notable dignitaries.
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