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NIGER DELTA DEVELOPMENT COMMISSION EDUCATIONAL FOUNDATION (LIBRARY & RESEARCH CENTRES).

If you think a year ahead till a field. Ten years ahead plant a tree. One hundred years ahead raise a child

BACKGROUND: An intellectual revolution based on the material existence of a particular society, when properly harnessed will most times usher in an economic/material revolution. This can be clearly gleaned from the writings of Karl Marx and the theory of dialectical materialism which is still very relevant till today in analysing material development throughout the world. Marx s theory s was to a large extent a critique of Hegel s philosophical postulations. The fundamental notion of Hegel s dialectic is that things or ideas have internal contradictions, that is, the development of thesis into its antithesis. Karl Marx departed from Hegel s thoughts in his philosophical assertions of the primacy of the material world. For him, matter precedes thought. He was thus opposed to Hegel s idealism and it has been stated in many writings that Marx turned Hegel s dialectics upside down . According to Marx, The ideal is nothing else than the material world reflected by the human mind, and translated into forms of thought ( Das capital, Vol. 1) It is very germane to point out here that the philosophical writings of Marx and a lot of his acolytes chiefly among whom are Freidrich Engels, Vladmir Lenin and Georg Lukacs changed Europe in particular and the rest of the world in general in very positive terms in the last century. From the Soviet Bolshevik revolution to the different arms struggles in many parts of the world, to the cold war era and the attendant competitions for political and economic hegemony, and to

the expansion of capitalism, the world has advanced in leaps and bounds. Hegel s Spirit of an age could be equated to the social consciousness prevalent in an era. This is in itself a function of the social realities of that era as entrenched in the material realities of that time. If one stretches this argument further, then Marx s discussion s of the relations of production become very relevant. For us at the Centre of Promotion of Nigerian Local Content (CPNLC), we believe that the long term approach to the Niger delta problems must be holistic in order to be sustained. We also believe that as a socio-economic problem, the best approach to solving it is to get to its roots and resolve it from there. Of course, a clear understanding and articulation of the problems will also entail a proactive forecasting of the emerging challenges of the time. We are therefore of the view that changing the people s orientation is a key to the solution. Re-orientation is a gradual process; socialisation is also a gradual process, albeit easier than the former. In each of these processes, education, whether at the formal or informal level, or at the micro or macro level, is a very critical or the very critical element, the pivot in any of these. We note however, with concern, many of the challenges faced by the education sector in Nigeria. The conventional discussions have mostly stemmed from the perspective of falling standard of education. We prefer however to view the problem from the perspective of the mis-education of the people. It is such a system of education that has churned out a lot of educated people that are unemployable; that has educated many who still need further education and training to be relevant. There is thus a whole lot of disconnect between the people s material realities and their assumptions which border more on a utopian society devoid of a strong material base to support it.

An educational foundation to discuss these issues a myriad of others is of essence now. This educational project can be approached from different facets. Major areas of focus can be in any one of the following: y y y y y y y Curriculum redesign New teaching methods/aids Publications Documentaries Movies Research/surveys A new reading culture/habit

Following from the premises we have established earlier we can thus conclude without equivocation that for development of society to be complete or meaningful, the development of the human element must take centre stage. The Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) has taken up major projects in the Niger Delta Area (NDA) that impact on, and will continue to impact on the citizens of this area mainly, and channel such persons to self development and actualization. The cumulative efforts of individuals will ultimately manifest in the general societal development strides. The empowerment processes initiated by the, NDDC through various interventionist programmes, are commendable. Also, strides in the area of infrastructural development in the area are also noteworthy. We note however that one sure way that the NDDC can encourage and sustain these human development strides will be through sustained educational programmes, some of which we had listed above. One major strand of the educational endowment is the entrenchment of a new reading culture through the establishment of libraries. At this point in the development of the world, information holds the key to a lot of opportunities. Many people perish because they lack knowledge. The reading culture in Nigeria is gradually becoming moribund. The decline had been very rapid in the past two

decades. This can be attributed to some reasons chiefly among which are: High cost of books and other reading materials. Lack of the motivation to read. Limited access to the internet. Lack of electric power supply at homes and in the offices thereby making such places non conducive for reading. Declining fortunes of the educational sector . General economic recession. With the infrastructural developments being embarked upon by the NDDC and the various state governments in the area, it is hoped that the general wellbeing of the citizenry will improve tremendously. What is more, the new administration of President Goodluck Jonathan, that will commence on the 29th of May, 2011, it is being expected, by a large section of Nigerians, to usher in a new dawn in the country s development quest. Whether this new thinking is based on a correct articulation of the nation s development indices, or a new movement that is associated with the personality of the president, is yet to be determined, however, suffice it to say that to improve on the reading culture of Nigerians, more needs to be done. The culture of reading, like any other end product of socialization, is the result of a process that is gradually learned over a reasonable length of time. And where such a process is distorted over a particular timeline, it takes even a greater quantum of effort to correct it. The reading culture of Nigerians is intricately tied to our educational sector. It is an understatement to say that our educational sector has been bastardized over the past few decades, and our educational values gradually but steadily being eroded. Lots of factors account for this. We do note however that these problems are not beyond redemption. It is also a truism that any major developmental surge must be preceded by some measure of enlightenment.

Recently, the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria emphasised this need to improve on the reading culture of Nigerians at a public launch. We have also noticed the administrations concern with our dwindling educational fortunes and the serious attempts to tackle it. We recognise these as part of a major policy thrust of this administration that must be vigorously pursued. The Niger Delta Development Commission is well positioned to play a very major role in improving the reading culture of the people in particular and in the overall improvement of the educational sector in general. The good news is that the Commission had almost since the outset tried to balance human capital development with infrastructural development in the Niger Delta Area. The commission must however not rest on her oars since the challenges facing the area are very dynamic and must be contained with much vigour. There is no gainsaying that this is a golden period for the Commission. The Commission can help in bridging the gap in the people s reading culture by establishing public libraries in each of the Niger Delta States. These libraries shall be part of the educational and planning functions of the Commission.

FEATURES OF THE PROPOSED LIBRARIES: I. The libraries shall be established by the Commission exclusively, or it is outsourced to private firms, or is established in collaboration with partners. Funding of the libraries shall be by the Commission, while assistance is sought from major oil companies and other establishments. International donor agencies can partner with the Commission on this project.

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The libraries will be designed as both hard book and internet based libraries. The libraries can grow to become centres for research in development studies, oil and gas, the people s culture and tradition, as well as being good centres for recreation and enlightenment. In addition to other materials, the libraries must have a pool of all major Nigerian books, journals, magazines and publications.

OUR RESPONSIBILITIES: Our desire is to act as consultants to the Commission on this project. Our work scope shall include the following: a. The design of the libraries, both structurally and administratively. b. Source for and recommend workers, partners, donor agencies and other affiliates. c. Manage the libraries for the Commission for any period of time if so permitted.

BENEFITS OF THIS PROJECT: Any project that has the capacity of improving the quality of the human personality will ultimately be beneficial to the larger society, both in the short run and in the long run. We had earlier noted that in order for any major developmental leap to be achieved, enlightenment must precede it. In Nigeria, it is an incontestable fact that the south western part is ahead of other zones in academic development over the years. They appreciate better the values and benefits of education and have never relented in fashioning out programmes and policies that will

always keep them ahead of the pack. It is not by coincidence that towards the end of his tenure as the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, chief Olusegun Obasanjo , GCFR, built a world class library and research centre in Ogun State. He had served this nation longest as both the Head of State and civilian president. He perfectly understands the political and economic dynamics of this nation, and he knows that education is a key factor. The library is a lasting legacy he is bequeathing to his people. The then president could have invested in a whole lot of other sectors, nevertheless he chose educational development through library and research. We cannot therefore overemphasise the need for this type of investment in the Niger Delta Area that had suffered various types of deprivations and underdevelopment. The Niger Delta Area had in the past few years witnessed the worst form of militancy recorded in this country. This was occasioned by the obvious marginalization of the area and the apparent underdevelopment that was a corollary. It is good that the Federal Government of Nigeria is addressing some of the development related issues either directly or through some government parastatals and agencies. These efforts have to be sustained on long term basis. Education holds the key to that.