The World Book and Copyright Day, celebrated April 23, is a yearly event in the calendar of the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to celebrate authors, books and the laws that protect them.
Director-General, NCC, Mr. Afam Ezekude who stated this at this year’s event organized by the Commission at the International Community School, Dakibiyu, Abuja, where schools all over Federal Capital Territory (FCT) gathered to perform literary works in commemoration of the day, noted that books and authors have made tremendous contributions to the nation’s economic and political development.
He said this year’s celebration is particularly significant for Nigeria, as UNESCO has designated Port Harcourt, the Capital City of River State as Book Capital of the World for the year 2014, adding that this is another international honour done to the our great Nation.
The DG represented by the Commission’s Legal Adviser and Director Jacob Fagbemi, used the occasion to appreciate Nigerian authors like Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, as well as commended global best selling literature by contemporary authors like the late Chinua Achebe, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie; Sefi Atta; Helon Habila; Uwem Akpan; E. C. Osundu and Chris Abami; among others, which clearly demonstrate Nigeria’s near inexhaustible potentials drawn from the nations rich cultural diversity.
He said the abundance of the nation’s literary talents has been demonstrated by Nigeria winning of the foremost prize for Literature in Africa for three consecutive years, 2011 to 2013.
He however lamented that it is “regrettable that beyond symbolic recognitions, most of these authors have not received fair recompense commensurate with the quantum of their contributions to socio-cultural development of our nation. This is inspite of the existence of a copyright law in Nigeria, which provides the basic framework for rewarding authors for their creative products.
“Under our current Copyright Act, the creators of these works enjoy the exclusive right to control a wide range of acts which may be done in relation to the work which gives them leverage to control the economic exploitation of their work. The realization of the underlying objective of the statutory protection of authors has become more challenging given the influence of new technologies…”
In view of this challenges the DG noted, the Commission has initiated a comprehensive review of the Copyright Act to address some of the issues. The review according to him, “will among others, bring the Act in line with International standards of Copyright protection in various international treaties to which Nigeria is signatory; and ensure that challenges of contemporary technologies are well taken care of. He cited several achievements of the Commission said “in the last three years, the Commission has stepped up the tempo of its anti-piracy operations, confiscated a total of 5,757,522 assorted pirated copyright works worth approximately N7 billion and arrested 371 suspects.
“The Commission also secured at various boarder ports, 18 containers of pirated copyright works most of which contained books of both local and foreign publishers. In addition, a total of 46 convictions arising from criminal prosecutions of copyright piracy were secured within the period under review” he added and noted that the Commission is committed to doing more.
The DG commended the host school, International Community School, Dakibiyu, Abuja for believing in the efforts of the Commission noting that the interest and support they showed will always be appreciated.
Speaking at the event Mr. Aderemi Adewusi, Deputy Director, Public Affairs Department of the Commission urged students to imbibe the habit of reading and writing, a habit that Nigeria has been known for since the 18th century, adding that several authors through their books are contributing to the shaping the globe. He also employed Government and other stakeholders to provide an enabling environment where the nation’s abundant talents can be better harnessed.
This year’s event was attended by several stakeholders and representatives from various works of life, including, representatives of the US Ambassador, members of the Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA) Abuja Chapter, the Press and students from schools within the FCT who thrilled the audience with diverse array of literary presentation.
Mary A. Adegbile