Nigeria has been categorised as one of the countries of the developing world that has no respect for archives, record keeping and the preservation of important documents of the past.
Prof. Olutayo Adesina, President, Society of Nigerian Archivists (SNA), made the submission in a message to mark the 2017 International Archives Day (IAD), commemorated on June 9 every year.
Prof. Adesina said it was a monumental tragedy that a country that boasts of treasure troves of records and documents in the past had confined its archives to the dustbin of history, citing the deplorable state of the National Archives as a result of poor funding.
The SNA president, while commending the governments of Lagos, Sokoto and Bayelsa States for instituting efficient archives, however, called on Federal and other State governments to pay more attention to the collection and preservation of archives through requisite funding, recognition and proper remuneration of archivists and record managers.
The eminent archivist also challenged NGOs and private individuals to support the campaign by the SNA to revive the nation’s decaying archives.
“We must now begin to think of our archives as tools of community and national empowerment rather than irrelevant custodians of the relics of the past. More than ever, we now need to think critically and imaginatively about how to handle the archives in the 21st century. The long term sustenance of the archives should therefore be a collective responsibility,” he said.
Prof. Adesina noted the SNA is ready to partner with governments and other organizations and stakeholders to rescue and preserve perishing and vulnerable archives through digitization.
He added that the association would also encourage private collectors to turn their archival materials over to the official archives where they can be accessed by scholars and other interested persons.
“Preserving the archives demands diligence, tenacity, time and financial resources. Any investment in it is always worthwhile. Future generations will not forgive us for not leaving behind copious and well-kept records of the past,” Prof. Adesina noted.
The theme of this year’s IAD celebration is ”Archives, Citizenship and Interculturalism”.