Owing to its passion and commitment to enhance literacy among young Nigerians particularly in the North, Book Buzz Foundation (BBF), has joined the European Union, Kaduna State Government and Africultures, as the implementing partner in the three million Euro 'Right to Write Project' for five states in Northern Nigeria.
The project co-funded by the EU Trust Fund for Africa, aimed at supporting the literary aspirations of talented youths, in the writing and production of quality books for schools in five states in the North, was signed- off at the opening ceremony of the just concluded Kaduna Book and Arts Festival (KABAFEST), held at the Arewa House, Kaduna. The five states include Kaduna, Katsina, Bauchi, Bornu and Adamawa.
The European Union Ambassador to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Mr. Michel Arrion signed on behalf of the European Union, Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Nasir el Rufai signed for his state, while Mr. Moise Gomez signed on behalf of Africultures- a French media organisation and lead partner in the project.
The festival was organised by the Book Buzz Foundation in partnership with the Kaduna State Government and the Gusau Institute, with sponsorship from Marine Platforms, Peugeot, First City Monument Bank, and Etisalat.
Speaking at the ground-breaking ceremony, EU Ambassador, Arrion, said over the next two years, 20 books would be taken from conception to publication with over 7, 000 of each book to be published and distributed to primary and secondary schools in the target states. He stated that to further support literacy in Northern Nigeria and encourage the use of these books to spur active reading, teachers would receive intensive training and guidance in delivering inspiring literary lessons.
The Ambassador noted that in addition to the foregoing plans, the Right to Write Project would support students from tertiary institutions in the creation and management of digital stories, which he said, would be shared frequently on the righttowriteng.org website.
Arrion said: "We have supported extensive skills acquisition and infrastructural development in Northern Nigeria. What is unique about the Right to Write project is that it reinvigorates the creation industry and focuses on the rebuilding of minds."
While acknowledging that some states were rising up to the challenge of educating boys and girls, Arrion said the process had been slow and fraught with many challenges, noting that the progress had been hampered by serious threat from insurgency, instability and misconceptions about education.
In his speech, Kaduna State governor, el Rufai gave special thanks to the EU Ambassador to Nigeria, Arrion, whom he described as a friend of Kaduna State and Nigeria, for choosing Kaduna as one of the beneficiaries of the literacy project. He assured that the government would ensure that young people in the state utilise the opportunity given to them by the benefactors.
El Rufai also welcomed all the visitors at the festival, promising that the festival would become an annual programme in the state, saying that the festival was one of the initiatives of the state government's 'Creative Arts Programmes' "devoted to nurturing, promoting and celebrating the creative potentials" of his people.
"It is a manifesto commitment of this government to support the arts, creative and our creatives themselves," El Rufai said. He, at the same time, announced that the state would be celebrating its centenary anniversary in nine days' time (Today).
The President of Africultures, Ms Voahiran Barnoud-Razakamanantsoa, represented at the occasion by Gomes, said they were delighted that the EU Trust Fund has committed nearly three million Euros to the project, noting that it would result in people from Northern Nigeria telling their own stories both in books and in digital form. "We intend to expand the scope of the project by raising the required funding that will help achieve this," Barnoud-Razakamanantsoa said.
KABAFEST Director and Founder, Book Buzz Foundation, Ms Lola Shoneyin, commenting on the project, said literacy and access to books was critical to development. "The Right to Write project is thinking about the future of millions of Nigerian children and we're very proud to be associated with it," she said.