OOPL: Africa’s first Presidential Library

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By Daud Olatunji

History was made last Saturday in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital following the commissioning of Africa’s first Presidential Library, the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library, OOPL, situated in Nigeria.

The multi-billion naira Library complex was facilitated and owned by former President Olusegun Obasanjo .

The commissioning was part of activities to mark the 80th birthday of Obasanjo who was Nigeria’s President between 1999 and 2007.

The Library which was launched on May 14, 2005, is modelled after the first American Presidential Library established by 32nd  American President, Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

National Leader of APC,Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo,Ogun State Governor,and Senator Ibikunle Amosu,during the Grand Opening of the Olusegun Obasanjo President Library,in Abeokuta Ogun State

The library is a historic, tourist and academic centre established as a national archive for preservation of documents and materials used by Obasanjo during his tenure as Nigeria’s President.

According to Chief Obasanjo, the idea was conceived in 1988 and remained just an idea until 10 years later when he was released from incarceration over what turned out to be a phantom coup.

It was gathered that when Obasanjo was elected Nigeira’s second executive president, he established the Office of Presidential Libraries (Libraries, Research and Documentation) whose mission was in part to see the OOPL idea translated into reality.

According to the Co-Chairman of the Library’s Board of Trustees, Dr Christopher Kolade , the Library has preserved over 4,000 artifacts, two million materials in books and 15 million documents to cater for the needs of students from all over the world.

The Presidential library apart from being the first of its kind outside the United States, is also a museum with monuments and memorabilia that document the life and career of the former President, his Prison experience, along with other intellectual and tourist elements all representing the ideals of its promoter.

 Things in the library

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The Presidential library which aims at ‘preserving the past, capturing the present and inspiring the future’ is a historic, tourist, recreational and academic centre, which is regarded as a national archive and a place for the preservation of presidential documents and historical items associated with the office and person of President Olusegun Obasanjo.

 Green Legacy Resort

The resort is said to have over 100 rooms with facilities such as elevated swimming pools (Main & Children’s pool), a tennis court, a modern well-designed gym, amusement park, sauna among other facilities.

The Museum

The museum is the major hub around which the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library revolves. It is the custodian of OOPL collection. It ensures the acquiring, preserving, exhibiting and communication of the material evidences of President Olusegun Obasanjo to the public for the purposes of study, education and enjoyment.

 The OOPL archives

The OOPL Archives served as a rich archival base for collection/holdings of archives records, and other information resources for stimulating democratic ideals and good leadership in Nigeria and the world at large.

In the repository of OOPL are records and rich information on the following subjects:

Nigerian civil war

Records of the Obasanjo Presidency

Photographs

Private collections

The library also has a number of sections and attractions among which are:

The Youth Development Centre

The centre is designed as a spatial arrangement to facilitate the release of the creative energy of African youth for leadership and transformation.

The Wildlife Park

The park which covers approximately 11 hectares, is being developed as a series of enclosures in the form of pens, and open but protected zones for the shelter and management of selected animal and plant species for conservation, research, education and recreational purposes.

Adire and African fabrics centre

The centre was set up for the global promotion of Adire and other African Fabrics. Here, our traditional African heritage is celebrated through the colourfully designed local fabrics the production of which borrows from the ancient dyeing art of the Egba people of Ogun state, South West of Nigeria. The centre also engages in sustainable commercial operations, meaning that those colourful fabrics are available in commercial quantities.

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Rounda-fun-spot

Designed as a family entertainment centre for a wholesome family fun experience, Rounda-fun-spot is open to visitors every day of the week, and offers a variety of games to suit all ages

Rock of inspiration

The Rock of Inspiration usually attracts over 1000 visitors especially the youth every month. Right between the base building of the Presidential Library and the Wildlife Park stands the Rock of Inspiration, 20 meters from the OOPL ground surface, providing an excellent and near aerial view of the ancient town of Abeokuta with its low and high hills, mountains, ricks and greenery forming a relaxing pattern.

The coin-operated telescope allows a more detailed view of the beautiful town of Abeokuta.

Senior Citizens centre

Concerned about the challenges faced by retired people and citizens above 65 years of age, President Olusegun Obasanjo has incorporated a centre where senior citizens can congregate as peers in mutual understanding.

Currently nearing completion, the senior citizens centre is proposed to be an advocacy unit for elderly citizens to age gracefully and learn about how to tackle, manage and delay the onset of age related ailments.

It is President Olusegun Obasanjo’s firm belief that experience sharing will help senior citizens achieve measurable improvements in their physical, social, spiritual, emotional, mental and economic wellbeing. They will also have games and social and religious fellowships.

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