From: Laide Raheem, Abeokuta
The Federal Government has been tasked to revive the paper mills in the country in order to reduce the exorbitant cost of paper and save book publishing sector.
Managing Director of Learn Africa Plc, Alhaji Bala Hassan, stated this, on Wednesday, while fielding questions from newsmen shortly after the opening activities of the 2017 annual sales conference of the company, held in Ijebu Ode, Ogun state.
He observed that except the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration intervene and revive major paper mills such as Iwopin, Jebba and Oku-Ibokwu paper mills, publishing industry, particularly educational books publishing, would plunge into serious crisis.
Hassan, who equally identified piracy as another major challenge of book publishing in Nigeria, however, tasked the FG to strengthen the copyright council with a view of stemming the tide of piracy in Nigeria.
He further pointed out that the current economic recession in Nigeria has worsened the dwindling situation saying that a tonne of paper that cost N200, 000 in 2015 has been increased to N570,000 per tonne in 2017 noting urgent step must be taken by the government to address the ailing sector.
The MD, noted that though majority of the people have moved to e-books, production of hard books needed to survive for the use of pupils and students of primary and secondary schools respectively.
Earlier in his remark, the chairman of the company, Chief Emeke Iwerebon, implored states and then Federal Government to increase their patronage of what he described as ‘bulk purchase’ of educational books, particularly states with free education policies.
The chairman, who said the conference, among other objectives, was meant to fashion out how the company would recover about N250million debt as soon as possible, however, lamented that “despite that Nigeria has over two million pupils in public schools, the company recorded less than 20 percent sales in 2016.
“As a company, we should be selling about five to eight million copies of books in a year, but right now we only have a tiny fraction of that. We also believe that piracy is partially responsibly, but we cannot continue to blame piracy, because when you go to the public schools, you will see that the students don’t have text books. So if we are blaming piracy, then that should make the books available to the students. But, the fact is that we have total inadequacy of books. We strongly hold that only the government can save this situation”.