The Akwa Ibom e-library is now open to users, officials said.
More than five months after a flamboyant launch, and after rigorous follow-throughs by PREMIUM TIMES, the Akwa Ibom State e-library has finally opened to the public, officials said.
But potential users of the facility, hyped as West Africa’s first, are to pay a minimum registration fee of N5, 000 before access to the facility is granted, users have told PREMIUM TIMES. Users will also access programming tutorials there for N40, 000.
A state-wide radio and television announcement two weeks back declared the multi-billion facility opened, urging prospective users to exploit its services, including a reported repertoire of textual and multimedia materials available for e-learning.
Ahead of a showy commissioning by President Goodluck Jonathan in June, the Akwa Ibom State Governor, Godswill Akpabio, said the library’s utilities were accessible from any location.
Highlighting the library’s readiness, Mr. Akpabio urged the president to convene a meeting of the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, at the library, as the structure, a sprawling unit along Ibrahim Babangida road in Uyo, was fitted with state-of-the-art 1000 person capacity conference centre, with language translators, apart from board rooms and offices.
A children multi-media resource centre, 1,260 educational games for children; 1,000 simulations and mathematics practice tools were also ready at the time of commissioning, as well as a large external playground, open and private reading areas and children reading areas with story-telling/play facilities as well as 80,000 question and answer series for tertiary examinations, the governor said.
Months on, the remarks turned out to be mere rhetoric after strings of PREMIUM TIMES’ follow-ups proved parts of the library remained unfinished months after the commissioning, resulting in repeated rescheduling of the library’s opening.
The report revealed that the project, reputed to have digital collections to avail users access to about 16.5 million e-documents, over two million electronic books and 14.5 million electronic research e-journals, did not have a functional website, a core component of electronic libraries the world over.
Within 24 hours of the story, the state government, in what appeared a face-saving step, rushed out three improvised sites –
http://akselibrary.org, http://ibomelibrary.org and http://akselib.org.
Late last month, another report revealed that the library was still under lock and key.
Our reporter, who was at the library last week, was told by an official that users would only be allowed full access to the library only after the completion of the mandatory registration processes, which include the payment of the N5, 000 for a year. A programming course is also on offer at the library at N40, 000.
A source close to the office of the state Commissioner for Education, Eunice Thomas, however, quoted her as saying that the library would be fully functional next year after it has been handed over to the government by the contractor.
“The library project has not been fully completed,” the commissioner was quoted as saying. “The Ministry hopes to fully take over the facility in the New Year when all the vital components must have been installed.”
The source, who requested anonymity, said of the opening: “Forget about that, it’s part of the propaganda. Take what I am telling you, nothing is going to happen till next year.”
The state Information commissioner, Aniekan Umanah, admitted that much last month when he told our reporter that the delay in the formal opening of the facility months after the inauguration was caused by “unresolved technical and management issues”, which could be resolved early next year.
A September deadline was earlier fixed as probable date for the facility to become fully operational.
Another source said the opening of the structure may not be unconnected with PREMIUM TIMES’ last report on the project, closely monitored by state officials.
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