The Nigerian International Book Fair (NIBF), may experience low turnout of exhibitors this year in view of the prevailing economic hardships.
Its Executive Secretary, Abiodun Omotubi made this known during a briefing at the NIBF office in Ogba Lagos.
Unlike previous editions, Omotubi said the organisation found it difficult convincing potential exhibitors to partner with them this year.
“Unlike our experiences in the past, we have been having some issues in encouraging prospective exhibitors to be registered with us this year. They have been complaining about the economic situation of Nigeria. It has affected a lot of things in the book industry most especially since the (President Muhammed) Buhari administration started.
“This year is different for Nigerian books sellers. A lot of them who normally register early are yet to be registered. Some have decided not to be part of this year’s book fair. Our regular international exhibitors are complaining that Nigeria is not investment-friendly so they cannot come.
“Last year we had about 70 but this year, we have so far gotten only 40 interested exhibitors. This is to show that the response is low. This has made us reduce the number of halls that we are going to use for this year so as not to incur losses in the end”.
However, Omotubi is hopeful that before the commencement of the fair from 8th through 13th May, more booksellers will indicate interest.
Former JAMB Registrar, Prof Dibu Ojerinde, will deliver the keynote address at the fair’s international conference themed “Book chain, government policies and promotion of reading culture in Africa”. Eminent personalities like the Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Muhammed, Senator Shehu Sani, Chairman, Senate Committee on Local and Foreign Debts and the Vice-Chancellor, University of Lagos, Prof Rahaman Bello will grace the occasion. The fair will also feature teachers’ seminars and children programmes.
Omotubi called on the government to intervene in the growth of the book industry. He said the industry has not been getting support from authorities, coupled with government policies that have not favoured the industry.
Expressing his dismay, he noted that the exchange rate has discouraged books sellers across the globe adding that many Nigerian printers experience unfavourable environment to produce. He, therefore, urged the government to set policies that will be beneficial to the growth of the book industry.