I have heard so many times that travelling is part of education. I’ve also travelled to a few states but it was only on Saturday 5th May that I felt the import of the statement. The whole education thing gotten from travelling made sense because this exposure was an enlightening one.
The three-hour journey from FUTO to Akwa Ibom e-Library was the normal rough-smooth drive given the road connecting about three states was more of potholes and check points with men in different colours of uniform than smooth tarmac. Savy was the only one of the 19 persons (driver inclusive) who had an idea of what Akwa Ibom looked like; the rest of us were naive sojourners into the land of promise. The driver had informed Savy as he turned on the ignition that he will begin directing the journey as soon as we hit Ikot-Ekpene. He, however, warned him that he doesn’t need directions from Google Maps and further opined that experiential knowledge is more reliable based on his last journey to Port Harcourt.
This driver represents a typical Nigerian close to the average standard of living. He has an Android phone and even wants to purchase a new one based on his conversation with the passenger in the front seat. He also told us about his children whom needed to be trained in school and yet he can comfortably choose head knowledge over modern technology in 2018. An interesting debate surged in my head: “modern technologies versus traditional methods”. I tucked this thought away and resumed analyzing abstract questions with my course mate who was shaken back to life as we hit a huge pothole.
Immediately Uyo welcomed our wheels, there was a noticeable difference in the road. The driver exclaimed, “shee rochas no go see this kain road build”. Though I have always been indifferent to the Imo state governor – his moulding of statues, his appointment of commissioner for happiness and very recently, his N2 million gift to the winner of the just concluded BBNaija – the exclamation was a real food for thought. The road which was still under construction, was the kind you will see in Lagos and the ride was surely different. As we got closer to our destination, one could know without being told that Uyo was the capital city of Akwa Ibom; the Meridian hotel tower stood out, the bridges and the whole ambience screamed advancement and urbanisation.
From Ikot Ekpene to Uyo, Savy succeeded but due to the road construction, he got confused at a point of diversion and we finally had to rely on Google Maps. The driver was furious at the disappointment and his resorting to Google Maps was due to the fact that we had no other option. On arriving Ibom library, he exclaimed again: “shee Rochas no go see this kain thing build?” We rushed out of the bus given that those of us who were supposed to write our exams by 9am were forty minutes behind time. So I could not soak in the serene and naturally aesthetic environment.
We were properly searched and checked in by the security personnel and on entering the hall, I was dazzled. The last time I felt such coolness from an air-conditioner was at the airport in Lagos. The three different TV sets showing different movies, the beautiful paintings on the wall, the furniture, the lighting and so on were entirely jaw dropping for me. The TV set directly adjacent the biometric capturing queue was playing Baby’s Day Out and it was soothing relief for someone about to enter an examination hall. Once I was checked, I proceeded to the hallway leading to the stairs and I saw bookshelves neatly arranged side by side. I almost took the direction to the literature section and, worse, I couldn’t see whatever stairs I was asked to climb. I went back to security and inquired for the stairs and straight I went, eyes almost shut to the hall upstairs.
The 60 minute exam went well though I had a bout of sneezing. As I left the computer room, I noticed more shelves and a closed reading room for group reading, a lobby and a convenience section. Immediately, I remembered Queen’s piece about her FUTO library experience, telling dear future husband to propose in a library and I can beat my chest that its in certainly this kind of library she needs to be proposed to, because everything about this library will scream yes even before she does.
The free Wi-Fi was not of much interest to me as I had all the time to soak in such beautiful sight, the different sculptures of persons reading, the spacious walk-way, the car park and, of course, the flowers. I even saw a different species of ixora for the first time. We took snapshots, had refreshment and headed back home. It was truly a thrilling experience for me, not because I hadn’t been in such environment before, but because I didn’t expect such a significant and mind-blowing edifice to be just a library on this side of the Niger. The land must however hold a lot of promise; it also looked fertile for rapid growth of education and educational endeavours for any age.
The height of it all was when I noticed that this library was just beside the National Centre for Arts. I wished I could somehow freeze time, live in Uyo for a while and still return to school that day and prepare for my exams on Tuesday.
While coming back, the driver’s statements kept ringing in my head and for once I evaluated the worth of the multi-million naira hotels in the capital city of Imo state compared to a world class e-Library. The tertiary institutions in Imo state outnumber those in Akwa Ibom and I once heard that Imo state was top in rank in terms of the number of students that attend tertiary institution in the East. So an e-Library is fitting enough for such a state.
Juxtaposing the driver and the Imo state governor, I deduced that they share similarities. This driver who vehemently refused google maps because of past experience and was willing to either rely on Savy or ask persons on the road is not different from a governor who has valued statues and road decorations over an e-library. They are both myopic! And to even think that the billboards in Owerri tell us how The Rochas values education!
Well, 2019 is 7 months away!
Methinks its not too late for him to give Owerri an e-library, an assurance for the educational sector on behalf of his son-in-law, soon to be governor.
Theresa writes from the Federal University of Technology, Owerri, Imo state.
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