By Chukwuma Ajakah
Stakeholders in the book industry will converge both virtually and physically for the 20th edition of the annual Nigeria International Book Fair (NIBF) scheduled to hold at Habour Point Event Centre, Victoria Island, Lagos, Nigeria, from July 27- 29, 2021.
Briefing newsmen in a Press Conference held at Protea Hotels, Ikeja, Lagos, to herald the event, the Chairman of the Nigerian Book Fair Trust (NBFT), Gbadega Adedapo, said that the 2021 book fair tagged “Awakening the Giant in Women for the Growth of the Book Ecosystem” will feature the physical showcasing of books at the event venue and hosting of book lovers across the globe, including those who will choose to use the online platform to interact virtually.
Adedapo revealed that subsequent editions would be expanded to include special awards, saying: “I must state that by next year, we will be introducing series of awards for the members of constituent bodies under categories such as the Best Author, Best Book Seller, Best Literary Work, Best Printer, Best Librarian and Best Publisher. This we believe will drive more participation…The selection criteria and the Award Committee would be unfolded soonest.”
Also speaking at the Conference, the Executive General Secretary, Abiodun Omotubi assured prospective visitors that “As it is to be a hybrid event, people all over the world will have the opportunity to participate as the event has much to offer all participants.”
The President of the International Publishers Association (IPA), Geneva, Switzerland, Sheikha Bodour Al-Qasimi is expected to be the keynote speaker at the international conference which will also feature dignitaries such as the Speaker of the Federal House of Representatives, Rt. Hon Femi Gbajabiamila as the Special Guest of Honour, the Executive Governor of Lagos State, His Excellency Mr. Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu as Chief Host, First Lady of Ekiti State, Her Excellency, Erelu Bisi Fayemi and her Lagos counterpart, Dr. Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu.
Special features of the 2021 book fair include book exhibitions and launches, authors’ grove, presentations, trainings and workshops as well as Spelling Bee and Mathematics Competition for primary and secondary schools.
The NIBF reputed to be the second-largest international book fair in Africa is organized by 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), Nigerian Library Association (NLA), Chartered Institute of Professional Printers of Nigeria (CIPPON), Reproduction Right Society of Nigeria (REPRONIG) and National Association of Proprietors of Private Schools (NAPPS). According to the Chairman, the main objective of the fair is to promote the reading culture of Nigerians as well as other Africans.
Those who attended the Press Conference include the pioneer Chairman of the board, Mr. Dayo Alabi, the Executive Secretary of the Trust, Mr. Abiodun Omotubi, Vice Chairman, Mr. Fashanu Joseph Babatunde, Trustee, Mrs. Ronke Orimalade, President of the Nigerian Publishers Association, Hon. Chief Uchenna Cyril Anioke, President of the Booksellers Association of Nigeria, Mr. Dare Oluwatuyi, President of Chartered Institute of Professional Printers of Nigeria Mr. Olugbemi Malomo and President of the Association of Nigerian Authors, Mr. C. C. Ukah.
Explaining the rationale behind the integration of the virtual platform, Adedapo said: “In spite of the ups and downs that the world has been witnessing over a year now due to the COVID-19, all is now set to organize the 20th edition of Nigeria International Book Fair. The last one year has made us realize that any enterprise without online presence will die naturally. As a trust, we are embracing the new norm as this year’s book fair will be hybrid in nature; a hybrid experience- physical and virtual participation.”
Mrs. Ronke Orimalade, a trustee of the board justified the theme of the book fair, saying: “Women have been in the forefront of bookselling over the years. Even in those days, many women did a lot to promote the sales of educational books. Those who were not educated knew the colours of the prescribed books for the various classes and used that knowledge to get the books to the market place.”
Speaking on the programmes mapped out by the organizers, the Chairman revealed that “The programmes for the book fair have been carefully put together to harmonize the interest of women, discuss the strategies to empower women in the book value-chain for the benefits of all and sundry.” He expressed the hope that Africa would take a cue from facts, opinions and working strategies that would be at the event, saying: “The Nigerian Educational Research and Development Council as well as the Nigerian Copyright Commission will organize 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.”
The latest directory of constituent members of the NIBF by the Booksellers Association of Nigeria and the Secretary General of Pan African Writers Association (PAWA), Dr. Wale Okediran’s newest book are among the books that will be launched at the event. As part of the activities for this year’s fair, the organizers also plan to feature the Spelling Bee and Mathematics Competitions which will be powered by the Centre for Law and Business. Imploring schools to participate actively in the competitions, the Chairman said: “We encourage schools to enroll their pupils to take part in these competitions. The participating children will win various prices and selected schools will be given the opportunity to make presentations. There will also be a cultural presentation to showcase the rich and exciting African arts and culture for the pleasure of the international participants.”
The benefits of the 2021 NIBF hybrid event as revealed by the organizers include the fact that it will provide all exhibitors the platform to showcase their products and connect with visitors both virtually and on-site for brand visibility and improved sales. Besides, literary materials are to be available, accessible and affordable to book lovers and information seekers. In addition to the provision of recent publications, promoting inclusiveness and celebrating the impact of women in the industry, there will also be huge discount on books and other teaching/ learning materials. Moreover, the event will avail local participants the opportunity to link up with foreign book industry players and share ideas on innovations in the industry.
According to the organizers, participation at the fair is open to the general public and registration is free. The organizers also revealed that the book fair had been certified by the Lagos State Safety Commission and Event Safety Marshals will be on ground to enforce strict compliance with COVID-19 safety protocols.
The corporate sponsors of the three-day event include the United Bank for Africa, Fidelity Bank, Quarterfold Printabilities, Evans Brothers Nigeria Publishers Limited, University Press Plc, Rasmed Publications Limited, Learn Africa Plc, Cambridge University Press Ltd., CSS Bookshop and Laterna Bookshop.