‘Instead of Textbooks, Nigerian Varsities Now Focus On Publication of Obituaries, Almanacs’

By Felix Kassim

The Chairman of the newly inaugurated Technical Advisory Group (TAG) on Book Development Fund, Prof. Charles Awo, has described the present state of universities’ publishing houses in the country as worrisome.

The highly respected don said a visit to some of the publishing houses in the universities will reveal that most of them now concentrate on the production of obituaries, invitation cards, almanacs and at best, inaugural lectures, instead of their primary mandate of churning out quality textbooks.

“Top universities in the world made their names through book publications, Yale, Oxford, Havard,…., just name them,” he said, adding that Nigeria should not be an exception.

Prof. Awo, who made this known in Abuja on Thursday during the inauguration of the newly constituted TAG by the Executive Secretary of the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund), Prof. Suleiman Bogoro, said Nigeria must do everything possible to reverse the trend.

Inaugurating the TAG, whose membership cut across seasoned academics from the six geo-political zones in the country, Prof. Bogoro said TETFund increased its seed grant for book development intervention from N2.9billion to N4.9 billion to ensure massive development of manuscripts into quality academic publications in the country

“The quality of book publication has been terribly low in Nigeria. You go around the city or even at the federal secretariat, vendors sell anything and call it book. We have the responsibility to stop it and change the narrative.

“A seed grant of N2billion was approved by the Board of Trustees for Book Development Fund, which is being utilized centrally for the development of manuscripts into textbooks. Subsequently, an additional sum of N2.95billion was added to the seed grant, making a total of N4.95billion, out of which N2.58billion has been utilized for the intended purpose,” Prof. Bogoro said.

He called on the TAG members to ensure that only quality books are produced in the nation’s higher education sub-sector.

“It is expected that nurturing the culture of quality authorship and the production of indigenous books will not only ensure the availability of relevant books in diverse subject areas that take cognizance of our local environment and sensitivities, it would safeguard national pride,” he said.

Speaking further, Bogoro said TETFund through the Book Development Fund has completed the construction of four Academic Publishing Centres (APCs) in four universities in the country while three others will soon be completed.

He listed the terms of reference of Technical Advisory Group to include; harvest doctorate theses and masters dissertation from across beneficiary institutions for possible conversion to books; screen proposals on manuscripts, theses and dissertations for development into textbooks; advise TETFund on submissions of professional associations to support production of learned journals, among others.

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