The multibillion Ibom E-Library project has been abandoned by the present state government. The facilities are rotting. The central Air conditioner and the lift have not been turned on for more than five years. Over 300 computer sets are idle and abandoned to rust. PAULINUS NTA writes from Uyo.
The project stood physically and institutionally tall among the signature projects of the Godswill Akpabio's eight-years administration. When it was introduced, the Ibom E -Library received a deafening applause as a flight that would launch the state into the electronic and information technology space. But today, a visit to the E-library will not only upset the visitor, but will testify to the state government's banal hypocrisy towards education.
Tall, dancing grasses greeted our correspondent as he stepped into the premises and at the reception, it was noticed that thickly coated dust had changed the colour of the tables and chairs. Inside the first library, empty bookshelf stares desperately at the visitor.
On enquiry, it was gathered that the central air-conditioner and the lift had not been turned on for about five years now. It was also observed that the doors to the toilets on the first floor were mercilessly battered by termites, making it difficult to access the supposed toilets, suggesting that the inside would not be eye-friendly.
Checks around the dusty rooms revealed that the e-library is not computerized and that there is no computer networking of the over 300 computer sets and laptops in the abandoned project.
There is no electric supply, save for small generating sets that are used to power the hall for rented events. Petty business centres like photocopying and typing litter the complex and a young man in his early 30s told our correspondent that the businesses were run by the state ministry of science and technology.
A walk to the canteen location showed an equally sorry picture as the building got almost lost in the middle of bold, elephant grasses and the lobby and the offices were decorated with peeled tiles. It was also gathered from a reliable source that the complex has been leased out to churches and even nursery schools operators and that the complex too had been hired and contracted to Halliburton, a multi-national company, to use as their office outlet for training and a reference point to the company.
When contacted to comment on the abysmal state of decay of the estimated N18bn state project, Dr. Essien Udoaka, an information and communication technology expert, said the state was suffering from a vicious invasion of visionless and clueless leadership.
Udoaka noted that the E- library was an excellent project, but was conceived and executed poorly by “those who have no idea and sincere interest in developing the information and communication technology. It was a credible subhead a conduit pipe to drain the state treasury into the private accounts of those in power then.
“Akpabio did not involve indigenous experts in the project and when the present governor, Udom Emmanuel came on board, instead of continuing in the projects of his predecessor, he embarked on his personal projects”.
It is so terrible my brother that we still have leaders who behave like the ostrich, by hiding their head inside their feathers and exposing the remaining parts of the body to public glare. How can you expect right –thinking people in the 21st century to believe a government who says it has interest in development and education, allow such a project to rot away, simply because it did not initiate the project?
Udom's administration has completely abandoned the project. Even the Akpabio that initiated the project did not do a thorough work in terms of facilities and economics of the project.”
Another information and communication technology expert, Mr. Emmanuel Ekop, described the development as a colossal misfortune for the state. He said the state was suffering from acute lack of maintenance culture “There's no maintenance culture and the government is not sincere about education. They keep playing politics with development.
“The problem of the e-library is dual dimensional. One, the management of the complex is grossly incompetent and the state government has no genuine interest in developing education and the ICT in the state.”
According to him, those who were employed to work in the E-library complex were forced into the state civil service and those managing the complex have no idea about the facilities and the management of an electronic library.
Even the commissioner of Science and Technology, Dr. Nse Essien is not professionally fit to run the complex. According to him, the commissioner is a geologist who knows little or nothing about technology, let alone information technology”.
Effort to reach the commissioner was unsuccessful at press time as he was not responding to repeated telephone calls.