Speech delivered by the Chairman, Board of Directors, Otunba A. Ojora CON, OFR, JP @ the 50th Anniversary programme on December 6, 2016 at Premier Hotel, Ibadan
It gives me great pleasure to welcome all our guests to the Golden Jubilee Anniversary of Evans Brothers (Nigeria Publishers) Limited. The company started from a modest operation after its incorporation in December 1966. It has since built an enduring legacy to become one of the top leading publishing companies today.
We have invited you here today, our friends, partners, and customers to celebrate with us, as we mark the occasion with a measure of optimism for the future.
I wish to pay tribute to other past members of the Board who had, at one time or the other, contributed to the evolvement of what Evans is today and they deserve to be remembered and celebrated.
We also cherish the memory of two of our past Managing Directors, Late Venerable ‘Layi Bolodeoku who was the first indigenous Managing Director of the company and Late Mr. Wale Olaniawo who have since passed on to glory.
Of particular importance is the recognition of the support and constructive advices of our distinguished shareholders over the years. We cherish you as collectively navigate the stormy economic challenges facing the industry.
The Board a presently constituted under my Chairmanship continue to provide exemplary leadership and direction to the company. To the management team led by the Managing Director, Mr. Lukman Dauda, I extend my deep appreciation for their hard work and loyalty. Today, we are honouring some of them and hope that they would continue to serve with unalloyed and unwavering dedication.
Nigeria has an estimated population of about 180 million people; 60 million of these are within the age bracket of 0-24 years which largely make up the group requiring educational books. Even with this large customer base, the publishing industry is struggling to remain profitable in the face of overwhelming challenges. One of these challenges is Piracy.
Piracy continues to be the scourge of the Nigerian publishing industry. The unauthorized use of copyrighted works is costing publishers billions of naira annually and creates significant harmful effects throughout the book chain, hurting distributors, retailers, authors and readers.
The Nigerian Copyright Commission is September, 2016 published a compendium of the enforcement and antipiracy activities it carried out within the 1st Quarter (January-March) of the year 2016. Thirty five suspected pirates were arrested and 48,207 units of suspected pirated items including Literary work estimated at N39,020,300 were confiscated. The impounded items represent income that was diverted from legitimate owners and loss of revenue to the Federal Government.
Another challenge facing the industry is the rising cost of book production. The current downturn in the economy and the scarcity of foreign exchange has seriously affected the production of books.
The Central Bank of Nigeria in May this year, announced a flexible exchange rate regime aimed at making foreign exchange more accessible, invariably nullifying the official exchange rate regime of N197/$. The interbank rate/ official CBN rate as at now, hovers around N306. Applications for foreign exchalnterbank months to process and even at that, there is no guarantee that you would get the allocation.
The explosion of the internet in recent years’ may have sounded like a death knell to the traditional paperback book. The internet has changed the way the publishing industry does business. We are caught up in the Ebook revolution whether we like it or not!
Evans is making great strides in all areas and has positioned itself to key into this emerging market. Recently, we collaborated with the Osun State Government by providing the ebook content in the ‘Opon Imo’ Tablet, distributed to its secondary schools as alternative platforms for paper back books. The ‘Opon Imo’ was installed with software of lesson notes textbooks on 17 subjects offered by students of secondary schools as well as past questions and answers of major examination boards.
In May 2016, we launched our own ebook store which allows the downloading of our textbooks using different devices.
In commemoration of the 50th Anniversary, we organised an essay competition for Secondary Schools in the South west region of the country. Twenty six (26) schools from Kwara, Lagos, Ogun, Ondo, Osun and Ekiti States participated in the competition. The schools with the best three results will be presented with their prizes in the course of this programme.
Also, Evans textbooks worth thousands of Naira were donated to three (3) public secondary schools located in Ibadan, for their libraries. The beneficiaries are: Anwar- Islam Secondary School, Eleyele, Jericho High School, Apampa, Jericho, Saint Louis Girls Secondary School, Mokola. We also made donation of food items to the Juvenile Correctional Institution and Child Care Unit, Ijokodo, Ibadan as contribution to the upkeep of the children in their care.
To contribute to the survival of our nation, we need an environment that not only promotes a reading culture but one with legislation that supports and ensures that the publishing sector thrives. We, as Publishers, have a great responsibility to guide the current and future generations by producing quality books.
At Evans, we are fully prepared for the challenges of the coming years and aim to surpass the achievements of the past 50years in the near future.
Once again, thank you all for honouring our invitation.
OTUNBA A. OJORA CON, OFR, JP
Chairman, Evans Board of Directors