NBFT Vows to Encourage Reading, Despite Harsh Economy

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Uchechukwu Nnaike

In spite of the harsh economic situation in the country, which has adversely affected companies involved in importation of raw materials and end-products within the book industry, the Nigerian Book Fair Trust (NBFT) has said it will not relent in its crusade to get Nigerians back on track of reading.

The non-governmental and non-profit making organization, which has consistently organized book fairs in the country for 14 years, said despite the challenges, it still garnered the resources at its disposal to organise this year’s book fair because “it is always the mission of the trust to get Nigerians encouraged and engaged with reading even in the face of economic challenges and this can only be achieved when books are made available and affordable to Nigerians. This is the cardinal focus of the trust.”

In his remarks the Chairman of the Trust, Rilwanu Abdulsalami, said this year’s fair which would hold from May 9 to 14, 2016 at the Multi-purpose Halls of the University of Lagos, is open to publishers, booksellers, printers and other stakeholders in the book industry from across Europe, Asia, African countries and Nigeria.

He said some of the countries expected to participate in the fair are United Kingdom, Singapore, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, India, Pakistan, South Africa, Ghana and Kenya.

Abdulsalami, who was represented by the Vice-Chairman, Mr. Babs Fashanu, said as part of the programmes for the fair, an international conference with the theme ‘Book- The Untapped Entertainment Treasure in Africa’, adding that the keynote paper would be delivered by a professor of English Language at the University of Lagos, Hope Eghagha.

He said some of the unique features of this year’s fair include: restructuring of exhibition stands; plan to create a cyber café for the exhibitors; arrangements with some private transport companies in Lagos to make executive taxis available to participants; discounted hotel accommodation for those coming from outside Lagos; as well as the participation of more government officials.

He said the book fair would afford the participants the opportunities to buy books and other instructional materials at a discounted rate; access to updates on new developments in the book industry at national and global levels; access to the latest local and foreign titles and unlimited business opportunities resulting from increased contacts.

Other benefits are opportunity to buy and sell publishing or distribution rights from prominent authors or publishers; opportunity to meet prominent authors, publishers and other major stakeholders in the book industry; as well as an avenue to bring together all the stakeholders in the book chain in Nigeria.

Abdulsalami regretted that the current government monetary and fiscal policies, as well as the shortage of US dollars and high exchange rate have negatively affected trade relationship between business organisations within the book industry and their counterparts in other countries like UK, India, UAE, among others; as a result, he said some regular foreign exhibitors that featured at the last book fair may not be part of this year’s edition.