Aidoghie Paulinus, Abuja
Wife of the Vice President, Mrs. Dolapo Osinbajo, has emphasised the need for a good and strong reading culture amongst Nigerians, especially students.
Mrs. Osinbajo made the call while speaking during the World Book and Copyright Day celebration organised by the United States of America Embassy, in Abuja.
She said the message of books and what they represented could be over-emphasised, adding that in the pages of a book, “We can travel to distant lands, meet people of different cultures, and experience other environments.”
She further said that we discover our history, where we came from and what we are made of as we read about those who went before us.
Mrs. Osinbajo added that words in a book informed us and ensured that we stood on the shoulders of those who went before as we walk through our journeys of life.
She recalled the works of great Nigerian writers such as Nana Asma’u (1793-1864) and Flora Nwapa (1931-1993) whose lives are laid bare in their works which have lived beyond them.
The wife of the vice president also recalled icons such as the first female Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mrs. Folake Solanke and the first female Chartered Accountant in Nigeria and Africa, Mrs. Toyin Olakunri, whom she said, though many may not be able to reach, but can do so by reading about them.
“Mrs Bolanle Awe’s book, ‘Nigerian Women: Pioneers and Icons,’ as well as Ed Emeka Keazor’s book: ‘The 120 Greatest Nigerians We Never Knew,’ among others, will lead us to a place where we realise who we are: Nigerians, strong, bold, courageous and full of ideas. I love books,” Osinbajo said.
Speaking further, Osinbajo said without a passport or a visa, in a book, we can walk the streets of other nations, meet the people that lived there and walk through their reality with them as we read their worlds.
According to Osinbajo, by reading books, “We can reveal the lives of those who went before us, meeting them though they died long before we were born.”
On her grandfather, the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Mrs. Osinbajo said it was a strange experience for her to read for the first time in her early life, the book he (Awolowo) authored titled ‘My Early Life.’
Within the pages of the book, Mrs. Osinbajo added that she met her grandfather as a little girl, saying that she walked alongside him through the text as he grew talking about his dotting father, his gentle mother and his beloved grandmother.
“It was fascinating to me to find out how from his village, they travelled to Lagos, but not in a car. What a wonder this was to me! Though it all happened long before the days I held this book in my hands, and walked, of course, through the text where he walked, I was transported to a time I couldn’t imagine as he travelled in a ship to further his education and could not come home for holidays as we did, but had to remain there till his studies were over.
“His words in his book revealed the sorrow of the loss of a father and the new reality of one that is fatherless. I met my grandfather then as a boy, as a young man, as a fighter and not as papa.
“I could see then how he passed through his own challenges and emerged the man that he became: the one we knew then,” Osinbajo revealed.
She further said besides the excitements and adventures in a book, “We also learnt through reading”, noting that education delivered to us through the written, as well as the spoken word of instruction.
Also speaking, the Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, said on April 10, 2018, the Federal Ministry of Education, through one of its parastatals, the National Library of Nigeria, flagged-off the annual readership promotion campaign.
Adamu, who was represented by the Director, Education Support Services, Mrs. Justina Ibe, said the campaign indicated the importance and recognition given to reading of books all over Nigeria and the world at large.
Adamu said from books, knowledge, wisdom and understanding to live, develop and interact with others were derived.
“Great men and women from the world today became great in one area or the other through the books they read. All professions are developed and sustained by books.
“All the breakthroughs in the world today in science, technology, communication, engineering, medicine, systems of administration, name them, are developed and sustained by books,” Adamu said.
Speaking earlier, the United States Ambassador to Nigeria, Stuart Symington, said a book is a doorway to the mind of another person.
Symington also said a book is a doorway to places where one might have never gone, even as he said a book is a doorway to the past and the future.
“All you have to do is turn the cover of the book and look inside. Someday, you all will write books. You are already writing your story, but someday, we will be able to read it,” the United States envoy said.