Indices of Access to Information in Nigerian Public Libraries and Citizens’ Political Participation

OBASI, Nene Favour K. (2015) Indices of Access to Information in Nigerian Public Libraries and Citizens’ Political Participation. Paper presented at: IFLA WLIC 2015 - Cape Town, South Africa in Session 88 - Library Theory and Research with Statistics and Evaluation.

Bookmark or cite this item: http://library.ifla.org/id/eprint/1235
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Language: English (Original)
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Abstract

Indices of Access to Information in Nigerian Public Libraries and Citizens’ Political Participation

Political participation spices up democratic societies. It encompasses a wide range of political activities which include voting at elections, contesting elective posts, belonging to a political party, and many more. In Nigeria, after frequent military incursions in politics, democracy has been successfully sustained for about sixteen consecutive years under four general elections. Despite the recorded achievements of this uninterrupted democracy, much is however left to be desired in the actual implementation of the tenets of liberal democracy in relation to citizens’ participation. In a democratic context, voting is crucial for a credible outcome of political engagements. It is the means through which the citizens agree to delegate their authority to those who govern them. The experience with citizens’ participation in electoral politics in Nigeria has not been encouraging. There has been persistent low voter turnout. Previous studies have linked certain political and socio-cultural constraints to low voter turnout but few studies have been done on its information and library dimension. This study therefore investigates possible relationship between access to information and citizens’ participation in politics particularly voter turnout in Nigeria. It used documentary sources to x-ray voter turnout in the 1999, 2003. 2007, and 2011 parliamentary and presidential elections, as well as fourteen (14) out of the thirty six (36) state public libraries in the states/zones/regions in Nigeria focusing on those key indicators of access to information such as outreach programmes services (the number of library branches, availability of information and communications technologies, mobile library services, rural information network, literacy and community information network, and other special services in these libraries. Other variables in the access factor which the work looked into are the human and information resources as well as library/ information policy and legislation. Findings revealed low voter turnout with only 36% of the voting age population who voted in 2011 and the highest being 55% in 2003.The findings were correlated with that of the public libraries and results revealed the same low developmental trend. It can therefore be true to say that poor state of public libraries in Nigeria has contributed to citizens’ low political participation. Recommendations were therefore made (among others) to the effect that the Nigeria government must ensure that the minimum standard required for public libraries to provide effective and efficient services as recommended by IFLA/UNESCO, is adhered to. The recommendation cuts across staff, nature of collection, services, structure, equipments, policy and management.

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