Women Take Centre Stage At Nigeria’s 20th International Book Fair With Hybrid Experience

From left-right:-
Consultant to the Nigerian Book Fair Trust(NBFT), Mr. Remi Adesokan; pioneer chair of NBFT, Mr. Dayo Alabi; Vice chairman of NBFT, Mr. Babatunde Fashanu; Chairman or NBFT, Mr. Gbadega Adedapo; President of Nigerian Publishers Association, Chief Uchenna Cyril Anioke; Trustee of NBFT, Chief (Mrs.) Oluronke Orimalade; president of Booksellers Association of Nigeria, Mr. Dare Oluwatuyi, and Executive Secretary of Nigerian Book Fair Trust, Mr. Abiodun Omotubi

By Anote Ajeluorou

Preparations for the 20th edition of Nigeria International Book Fair scheduled for July 27-29, 2021, are at advanced level in what promises a hybrid experience, with women also taking centre stage.

While the book fair last year was held virtually only, there is progress this year that it will be a combination of virtual fair with physical one at Harbour Point Event Centre, Ahmadu Bello Way, Victoria Island, Lagos.

With the apt theme ‘Awakening the Giant in Women for the Growth of the Book Ecosystem’, the book fair will highlight the place of women in the book chain and deservedly pay tribute to them and thus map out more roles for going forward.

At a press briefing last week in Lagos, the Chairman of the Nigerian Book Fair Trust (NBFT) and Executive Committee Member of International Publishers Association (IPA), Mr. Gbadega Adedapo, said in spite of threats of a third wave of Covid-19, all was “set for the 20th edition of the Nigeria International Book Fair.”

“The last one year has made us to realize that any enterprise without online presence will die naturally. As a trust, we are embracing the new normal as this year’s book fair will be hybrid in nature. This year’s is a unique event which is expected to converge publishers, authors, booksellers, printers, librarians, schools, research institutes, government agencies, all book lovers and stakeholders from different parts of the world.”

“This year’s event is going to be an hybrid experience (physical and virtual participation), scheduled to hold between Tuesday, 27thJuly to Thursday 29th of July, 2021 at the Harbour Point event Centre, Victoria Island, Lagos State. The theme of this year’s Book Fair is, “Awakening the Giant in Women for the Growth of the Book Ecosystem. Participants can walk in at no cost at Harbour Point Event Centre to see different books physically showcased, buy books, and network.”

Adedapo also stated that some high profile personalities will participate at the book fair, notably women in consonance with the women-centred theme of the fair.

“The keynote speaker for the international conference to hold on Tuesday, July 27 is Sheikha Bodour Al-Qasimi, the President of the International Publishers Association, Geneva Switzerland. Bodour is a woman with global influence and impact in the industry, who is very passionate about women’s involvement in the global book ecosystem. It would be a great delight to physically welcome the number one publishing figure in the world to Lagos, Nigeria.

“We are also glad to announce that the Speaker of the Federal House of Representatives, Rt. Hon Femi Gbajabiamila will grace the conference as the Special Guest of Honour. It is our sincere hope that this high-powered government presence will give a boost to our activities and refocus government’s attention and commitment to books and education in our dear country.

“The First lady of Ekiti State, Her Excellency, Erelu Bisi Fayemi, who has consistently been a strong voice for policy advocacy for women and child development particularly in Africa and beyond, in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 5, through her various grassroots initiatives, policy engagements and movement in building social justice, shall be the conference chairperson.

Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, the Executive Governor of Lagos State, will be the Chief Host for this year’s conference and event. The official opening of NIBF 2021 and an official tour of exhibition stands will be conducted by the First Lady of Lagos State, Her Excellency, Dr. Ibironke Sanwo-Olu, alongside notable personalities and dignitaries.”

Adedapo also announced an important introduction to Africa’s second largest book fair, when he said, “An exciting feature of the book fair from next year shall be the introduction of awards for members of constituent bodies. These shall include categories such as Best Author, Best Bookseller, Best Literary Work, Best Printer, Best Librarian, Best Publisher, and so on. This, we believe, will drive more participation in subsequent editions. The selection criteria and the award committee shall be unfolded soonest.”

The book fair trust chairman also listed some important members of the book ecosystem that will actively participate in the 3-day event, saying their contributions over the years have enriched the book fair vision of making reading culture among Nigerians.

According to him; “The programmes for the book fair have been carefully put together to harmonise the interest of women, discuss the strategies to empower women in the book value-chain for the benefits of all and sundry and it is believed that Africa would take a cue from facts, opinions and working strategies that would be shared at the event. The Nigerian Educational Research and Development Council (NERDC), as well as the Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC) will organise expository workshops during the fair.

“Furthermore, there will be concurrent seminars by major associations in the Nigerian book sector, Nigerian Publishers Association, The Booksellers Association of Nigeria, Nigerian Library Association, Association of Nigerian Authors and Chartered Institute of Professional Printers of Nigeria, for their members in the course of the book fair. Members of the public are hereby invited to join the programmes.

“I must categorically state that the Pan African Writers Association (PAWA), Nigerian Association of the Blind, Reproduction Right Society of Nigeria (REPRONIG), UN SDG African Book Club, African Publishers Network (APNET), Knowledge Beyond Limited, Centre for Law and Business and Network of Book Clubs and Reading Promoters in Nigeria would also feature their respective programmes during the 3-day hybrid event.”

A major new offering in this year’s book fair is competition for primary and secondary school pupils and students.

“As part of activities for this year’s book fair, Spelling Bee and Mathematics competitions for participating schools have been put in place,” Adedapo stated. “This competition will be powered by Centre for Law and Business. We therefore encourage schools to enrol their pupils to take part in these competitions. The participating children will win various prices. However, selected schools will be given opportunity to make presentation in different programmes. There will also be a cultural presentation to showcase the rich and exciting African Arts and dance for the pleasure of our international participants. This, we believe, will add glamour to the event.”

The chairman also commended the Nigerian Copyright Commission for the copyright bill currently before the National Assembly, saying, “I congratulate the Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC) as the federal government has transmitted the new Copyright Bill to the National Assembly for passage into law. At the Nigerian Book Fair Trust, we are using this medium to plead with the National Assembly to expedite action in passing the bill into law in no distant time. This would send a great warning to book pirates and copyright violators through effective sanctions and stiffer penalties as appropriate.”

The Nigeria International Book Fair (NIBF) is jointly organized by all stakeholders in the book ecosystem, such as the Nigerian Educational Research and Development Council (NERDC), Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC), Nigerian Publishers Association (NPA), Booksellers Association of Nigeria (BAN), Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA), Nigeria Library Association (NLA), Chartered Institute of Professional Printers of Nigeria (CIPPON), and Reproduction Right Society of Nigeria (REPRONIG).

” At the Nigerian Book Fair Trust (NBFT), we work towards promoting and improving the reading culture among Nigerians and Africans by bringing together all players (exhibitors, publishers, authors, illustrators, booksellers, readers, etc.) in the book industry.”

Some of those in attendance were the first Chairman of the board, Mr. Dayo Alabi, Chief (Mrs.) Oloronke Orimolade, Board of Trustee, President of the Nigerian Publishers Association, Hon. Chief Uchenna Cyril Anioke, President of Booksellers Association of Nigeria, Mr. Dare Oluwatuyi, President, Chartered Institute of Professional Printers of Nigeria, Mr. Olugbemi Malomo, and the Executive Secretary of the Trust, Mr. Biodun Omotubi.

Written by: Frank Oshanugor

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