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Will Buhari Promote Reading Culture Like Jonathan?

Adjekpagbon Blessed Mudiaga writes on the huge influence the number one citizen plays in the promotion of reading culture by personal example and the long term effect for the development of the country

Reading is the action or skill of reading or an occasion at which pieces of literature are read to an audience. It is a very important activity in the learning process from kindergarten to tertiary level of education. The ability to read and understand clearly is not as easy as many people thought it is until they face an audience, only to discover that reading is not just only reading to yourself but the public and the confidence it deserves.

Over the years, even the act of reading to oneself has dwindled among many Nigerians; hence the outgoing President of Nigeria, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan had in 2011 made a clarion call for the rejuvenation of reading culture among Nigerians generally. Reading can only become part and parcel of anybody if the person has been imbibed in the act from childhood. The clarion call by President Jonathan in the past four years can be seen in the improved zeal of some students to improve their academic performances though many are still not that serious about it.

It would be recalled that Mr. President invited Nigerians to start reading seriously in the aforementioned year when he posited that “In pursuance of my desire to encourage a reading culture in Nigeria which I have been committed to from my days as an active academic, I, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, will be presenting a book of my facebook interactions with Nigerians to the public.

“A few Nigerians who have also distinguished themselves in the literary field will also be on hand to perform public readings. My guest and I will also take and answer a limited number of questions. I want Nigerians reading again because when they read they know and it is not possible to mislead a people who know. So if you are in Lagos, Kaduna, Enugu or Port Harcourt and are free to spend a few hours talking about books and the social media, please join me and my guests on the 20th of December for the book presentation and reading.

“Seats are limited, so only friends who write in then RSVP can be accommodated. I will be on ground at the event in Lagos and will be connected to the designated venues in Kaduna, Enugu and Port Harcourt via dedicated viewing centers.”

With the above declaration, personalities like Prof. Wole Soyinka and a host of others were involved in the reading programme. But as the President’s tenure would elapse on May 29, some Nigerian are wondering whether the incoming administration of General Muhammadu Buhari, would also encourage reading as part of their instrument of change especially among many Northern youths who are said to be uninterested in going to school, which made them easy prey for terrorists to brainwash to use to for their nefarious activities.

If, David Risher, the Chief Executive Officer and Co-founder of Worldreader’s statement is anything to go by, one would expect the incoming administration of the All Progressives Congress led by the President-elect, Buhari to emulate the good policy of reading orchestrated and practicalised by Jonathan from 2011 to date among Nigerians.

In a comment about the importance of reading, Risher posited that “Why does reading matter? We have known the science for a long time: the earlier you start reading (and the more words you hear as a young child), the better you chances for success at school, with a career, in life. It’s why so many of us who consider ourselves lucky in life had parents who read to us, and why we read to our own children. That, and it is just plain fun.

“And when you think of it, how else can you learn on your own? Or know how many pills to take and when to take them? But now consider how much more important reading has become in the last five years. Did you use Google today, or receive a text message?

“Reading has always meant the world to me. My Mom read to my brother and me. I’m not sure what book it was— maybe Mike Mulligan and the Steam Shovel? or Busy, Busy World? or The Little Engine That Could? Books like these were my way of understanding the world. They helped me form my values, and they helped me determine my future.

“Technology means that more people can do the same. And because technology gets cheaper every day, contributions from small to large make a real difference. Your support of Worldreader really does change the world.

“So thank you parents for reading to your children, and thank you for sharing the joy of reading and learning with those who are less privileged in this world. You are changing the world one e-book and one reader at a time.”

On this note, Mr. Olufemi Ojolo, Principal of Larafem International School, Lagos, said “It would be very good if the incoming administration of APC, can also emulate the policy of promoting reading among Nigerian students and parents alike, or the citizenry as a whole, it will help to really make many people busy and disabuse their thoughts from negative things.

“I usually read to my students after school hours and make sure they complete their assignments and submit to their teachers as early as possible. The notion that the White people have about us, Africans, that if you want to hide a secret from an Africa, put it in a book, should be changed too by our interest to read.

“More change should come in our desire to read by promoting reading competition every term among students from local government level to state and federal level. I think it would help to generate more interest among students to improve their intellect and prestige of reading to important personalities like the incoming President-elect.”

Also, Pastor Felix Okeleke, General Overseer of Action Project Ministry, Ketu, Lagos said “I made it a duty to read to my children every Saturday which I usually stay at home to spend time and play with my family. If the President-elect makes reading a kind of competition among roaming kids in the North and other places nationwide, it would be a very laudable development.

“Why does reading matter? We have known the science for a long time: the earlier you start reading (and the more words you hear as a young child), the better you chances for success at school, with a career, in life. It’s why so many of us who consider ourselves lucky in life had parents who read to us, and why we read to our own children. That, and it is just plain fun.

“Prizes won by good readers would ginger other students to also want to read and win, and that would improve their intelligence too in the process. I hope reading culture campaign would not die in Nigeria with the exit of President Goodluck Jonathan from Aso Rock. May God help us to emulate good things from each other irrespective of religious, cultural and regional differences and what have you.”

The world would be looking forward to see whether the good legacy of reading championed by the outgoing regime would be promoted by Buhari’s administration despite the threat of Boko Haram’s hatred for Western education.

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