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FG underfunding national archives, valuable records

By News Desk, with agency report

The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, has said that poor funding has continued affecting national archives where Nigerian vital records, history are being kept for couple of years, saying if needful is not been done, valuable assets may be lost as a result of underfunding.

while raising concerns over poor state of the country’s national archives, the minister noted that without urgent intervention, Nigeria may loose important information and historic artifacts to poor maintenance culture.

He explained that the alarm had become imperative to ensure necessary authorities know the true status of the national archives such that would spurred positive action that would lead to revamping and protecting important national assets and heritage kept in the nation’s information reservoir.

According to him, if care is not taken, Nigeria and Nigerians will be going to the United Kingdom in the future to get information pertaining to their country.

“Very soon we will be going to the U.K. to get information pertaining to us,’’ Mohammed argued on Monday in Abuja while defending the ministry’s 2022 budget before the House of Representatives Committee on Information, National Orientation, Ethics and Value.

He said that his fears stemmed from the fact that Nigeria was losing its national archives by the day because of the analogue preservation of its content.

Fielding questions on how far the ministry had gone on the digitisation project of the national archives, the minister said that budgeted fund for its execution was not made available.

A member of the committee and lawmaker representing Akwa Ibom, Rep. Anieka Umana, who raised the question, had underscored the importance of digitising the records from pre-independence in 1960 for future generation.

Responding, the minister said: “I can’t agree more. On Oct. 1, we had an exhibition and I had to take the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, to our office in Radio House to see the need for urgent digitisation of the records.

“The danger is that, if I need N1 million to digitise and you give me N200,000 what can I do? Year in year out, we roll it over. Meanwhile, we are losing these documents by the day.

“There are some pictures that we need to preserve for our grandchildren. If we are unlucky to have flood or rains or fire disaster or termites eat up some of these valuable records, it will not be good for us. If we get timely release of money that we need for the project, it will save us of all these,’’ he said.

The minister also reiterated his complaints on the yearly poor budgetary allocation to the ministry. He appealed to the committee to ensure that the meagre allocation due to the ministry was not slashed by the National Assembly.

The 2022 budget proposal for the ministry include, N3.9 billion for personnel cost and N900.5 million for overhead cost. Capital budget related to Information and Culture sectors is N1.6 billion and N778 million respectively, while capital common to both sectors is N645.7 million.

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