The simultaneous commissioning of the library in Kirikiri Maximum Security, Medium Security and Badagry prisons in Lagos took place in Kirikiri Maximum Security prison and was performed by the Controller General (CG) of Prisons, Dr. Peter Ekpendu on the 17th of April 2016, and organized by Zaccheus Onumba Dibiaezue Memorial Libraries, ZODML, an NGO and donors of the libraries.
ZODML opened the first prison library in Ikoyi correctional centre in March 2013 and greatly encouraged by the immediate impact on the inmates, went on to do the same in the three more of the prisons in Lagos state.
The libraries as envisaged will assist the educational intervention that is vital to former inmates to enable them to fully reintegrate into society as education increases the opportunity for employment, reduction in recidivism and a better quality of life. They provide those reading for external exams and studying in the National Open University with learning tools and resources, from textbooks to reference books. For those not studying, there are non-academic books to keep their minds occupied. Quoting Carl Rogers ‘The only person who is educated is the one who has learned how to learn and change.’ The Chief Executive Officer (CEO), ZODML drew attention to how the libraries are open doors that may lead the inmate to seek new possibilities. With more than half of prison inmates awaiting trial for more than four years, they have enough time and with the library, the facility, to acquire some educational qualification, their stay would not have been a complete waste of time if not convicted.
In his address the CG agreed with ZODML that one of the functions of the prisons is to reform the inmates, which they do by engaging them in vocational and educational programmes; some inmates have passed WASC,NECO and open university of Nigeria. He said that the libraries will go a long way to enhance the inmates’ pursuit and thanked ZODML for providing the libraries which will be used by both staff and inmates. He also recalled that a similar project by ZODML was commissioned in Ikoyi prison in 2013, which included a Digital Learning Centre(DCL) which focuses attention on the seminal role of information and communication technology.
There was a visible sign of excitement on the faces of the staff and inmates as the library was revealed during the opening ceremony which was performed by the CG. He commended the CEO and the Board of Trustees of ZODML for keeping the memory of Zaccheus Onumba Dibiezue alive and for giving hope to the hopeless. That the choice of prisons as part of ZODML’s projects is a demonstration of its commitment to the betterment of the less privileged. As the CEO said, ZODML is an NGO established in 1999 with a vision of a Nigeria where everyone has the ability to educate themselves and aims to achieve this by providing free channels through which Nigerians can access information and learning tools to acquire knowledge. The focal point of these channels has been libraries and to date, one community library has been established and maintained, four prison libraries, fifteen in-school libraries and literacy and reading programmes for public schools and secondary schools.
The inmates lightened the event with an entertaining drama performance and an exhibition of their vocational products.