University Press Plc wants book publishing sector sanitized

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SAMUEL Kolawole, Managing Director, University Press Plc, has tasked regulatory bodies and state governments to ensure that only quality books are in circulation in Nigeria through adherence to standards and certification.

Kolawole, who gave the charge at the 42nd Annual General Meeting (AGM)  of his company in Ibadan on Thursday, noted that amateurs, who do not care about standards, had taken over the publication of books for educational institutions and they need to be checked in order to ensure quality.

“The rules are there, when you produce a book in Nigeria you’re supposed to get a certification from the Nigeria Educational, Research and Development Council (NERDC) but not many so called publishers would do it.

“It is the responsibility of the NERDC to monitor the books in circulation to ensure that books that have not gone into certification are not allowed in the market”, he said, but lamented that those he called amateurs saw them as competitors and with no legal right to challenge them in the market.

“So the Regulatory authorities have the responsibility to certify good quality books and should also be able to enforce the good quality books in schools so that books that have not gone through their process of certification and met the standards are not allowed to be sold in schools,” he said.

Kolawole noted that it was equally important for the State ministries of education to scrutinize the books properly and ensure they meet the required standards, before approving them to be on the State list.

He said that the Nigeria Publishers Association was making efforts to ensure that its members meet the minimum requirements for good quality books.

Kolawole, however, noted that because the barriers to entry into publishing are low, standards were not adhered to such that the system needs to be sanitized by the regulatory authorities so as to ensure that only good quality books are in circulation.

The Managing Director announced that the company had declared 15k per share as dividends  for its shareholders, while explaining that the sales of books for primary and secondary schools still accounted for the larger percentage of the company’s turnover.

He said that although the sales of primary and secondary schools dropped in the course of the year below what they were before, they were still higher than the books it sold for the tertiary level.

“This shows us that there is an opportunity in that area and we will continue to explore it, while we also improve on the primary and secondary schools segment which have been our major backbone in terms of turnover and performance,” he added.

Kolawole noted that the  future is in e-book publishing as shown by the COVID-19 pandemic, but the major challenge of infrastructure amongst other uncertainties in the future would remain.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has brought to the fore the need to diversify but challenges such as infrastructure, among other things, would remain into the post COVID era and also leveraging on technology so that the sector is better positioned whenever such occasions arise,” he said.

In his address, Mr Obafunso Ogunkeye, Chairman of the company, said he was delighted at the 2020 AGM, which was a hybrid of Virtual and Physical meeting, stressing that the company had delivered on its mandate to the shareholders.

“So the success of the AGM is one, one should be proud of and I have no reservation to say that the company has done really well in the year under review,” he said.

Ogunkeye noted the support of government as crucial to the success of publishers, even though it had faced several challenges, some of which were completely out of its control ranging from the faceoff with lecturers and the COVID-19 situation which necessitated the shutdown of schools.

“But those areas where the Government has control  such as funding education, providing the necessary guidance to regulatory bodies to ensure that the education system does not collapse are very dear to our hearts at University Press.

“Education is important and if the government can make education a preference, an objective, and focus on it, we will be delighted because publishers would benefit from the investment of government in education at all levels,” Ogunkeye said.

NAN reports that the dividends of 15k per ordinary share of 50k declared by the company for  2019/2020 financial year will translate into a cash payout of N64.7m.

NAN

Nov 6, 2020 @ 16:46 GMT

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