Lagos - Mr Victor Maranzu, the Chief Executive Officer, Naijacommunity Network - a communications outfit- on Monday lamented the declining reading culture in the country.
Maranzu, a public analyst, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos that all hands must be on deck for the reading culture in the country to improve.
He said that this should include the family, schools, the media, religious bodies, non-governmental organisations and governments at all tiers.
"The fact remains that unless a solution is found to the dwindling reading habit of Nigerians, the country will continue to battle with underdevelopment.
"Nigeria needs to improve on its literacy level because literacy is the forerunner of development," he said.
Maranzu emphasise that parents had a vital role to play in the development of the reading habit of their children.
"Parents and guardians should always monitor what their children and wards do.
"Children spend more time these days watching television and playing games than reading.
"To many, watching movies has become an addiction, to the extent that they now consider reading an ordeal," he added.
Maranzu suggested that parents should establish private libraries at home to improve the reading habits of their children.
"It is indeed shocking that the literacy rate in Nigeria dropped from 62 per cent in 1992 to 52 per cent in 2006.
"This implies that the illiteracy rate in the country as at 2006 dropped by 48 per cent.
"It is also an indicator that Nigeria's literacy level is decreasing at a fast pace,” he said.
According to Maranzu, an example is electricity installations' vandalism, where it is glaring that anyone who is knowledgeable can understand that in cutting electricity wire, he will also suffer the consequences of lack of power supply.
In her contribution, Mrs Fransesca Emanuel, the Vice Chairman, Macmillan Nigeria Publishers Ltd., said that sustaining and maintaining the reading culture should be taken seriously.
"Social networks have taken over youths' mental ability that they refuse to read.
"Youths cannot spell words correctly anymore because of technology," she said.
Emanuel said that youths no longer had respect for Nigeria's culture and value system.
She expressed concern that adults also refused to update their knowledge and read for at least an hour a day.
She said that all these had impacted negatively on the country's development efforts.
"We need to redirect our reading culture, so as to promote our socio-cultural consciousness," she said.
Also, Mr Dagga Tolar, the President, Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA), said that it was disappointing that the nation did not have modern libraries in all tiers of schools.
"How many of our communities have public libraries? None whatsoever," he said.
Tolar said that no local government had a functional library in its locality.
Prof. Chinyere Okafor, a Lecturer in the Department of Women Studies and Religion, Wichita State University, Kansas USA, also noted that education and reading were very important.
She said that America had changed from what it used to be by embarking on intensive and massive education of its citizens.