- To locate, assemble, rationalize the documentary, source material of the country and perserve them permanently for research.
- To enhance efficiency and economy in the running of government ministries and extra ministerial department by developing, advising on methods for the elimination of non-current records and for their eventual transfer to Federal Records Centres and the National Archives.
- To extend the interest of the department beyond that of non- current records and semi-current records in creating agencies through records management programmes.
- To serve as an information bank for government ministries, extra- ministerial department, parastatals as the public documentary source materials at large.
- To publish guide and historical materials for the benefit of the people and to educate the citizenry on the importance of their documentary heritage.
- Preservation and management of Records of individuals, private bodies, companies and business organisations.
- Encourage the establishment of State Archives by State Governments
- Microfilming and Digitalization of Records and Archives
- Training of Departmental Records Management staff in Federal Government Ministries and Agencies
- Repatriation of Migrated Archives
- Promotion of Archival Services both within and outside the country.
- Preservation of constitutional instruments and legal documents.
Responsibilities of the Department
By virtue of the existing Act i.e the National Archives Act 1992, the National Archives is primarily entrusted with the responsibility of permanent custody, care, acquisition and control of all archives of the Federal Government and of such other archives or historical records as may be required from time to time. It is to be noted that custody, care, control and preservation are not without their own demand as we shall see later herein under.
As enshrined in the Act, Acquisition, Preservation and Dissemination of Archives are central and are critical aspect of its core functions. To effectively deliver on these, funding is specifically necessary in the following areas:
- RECORDS SURVEY:
This aspect of archival practice worldwide is the very foundation leading to acquisition of records adjudged worthy of permanent preservation. It is an area that involved nationwide movements by the archivists. The purpose of undertaking records survey tours at intervals is to enable the archivist locate available archival materials, their state of being, and quantity at any given time. Acquisition for preservation follows after survey.
It is sad to note that this aspect of archival practice and administration has long been put on hold for lack of fund. At the moment, the department has only one vehicle recently provided by Education Trust Fund (ETF) domiciled in the Headquarters.
- ACQUISITION OF RECORDS AND PURCHASE OF ARCHIVES
Acquisition of records of archival value, as in the case of records survey, involves, in the main, movements of archivists to all records creating agencies. Acquisition tours are products of records surveys. Thus, where no survey has been undertaken, there can be no acquisition programme. This is for the simple reason that such programmes are drawn up based on records located during survey tours.
Due to dwindling budgetary allocation over the years, no acquisition of archival materials has been carried out nationwide.
By this we have simply gone back to the days of late Prof. Dike’s concern. This Department is aware of the fact that valuable records are wasting away in our public offices, records that deserve to be permanently preserved as our collective cultural and historical memory.
Thus, funding is required in addition to movement of staff and materials for the purchase of archives like Gazettes, Photographs, Publications and historical documents..
- RECORDS MANAGEMENT PROGRAMME IN PUBLIC OFFICES
National Archives by virtue of the Act establishing it has an added responsibility of ensuring that public officers handle official records that pass through them in such a manner that their longevity must be guaranteed. To archive this, it is expected that records officers in particular in all public offices are to be cautioned from time to time on the way to treat and handle their current and semi-current records.
This aspect is fundamental in archival practice because at the end of the day, it is these records that will find their way into the archive. Sadly enough, this is no longer carried out by the Department as expected for the same reason of non-funding.
- CONSERVATION OF ARCHIVES
Archives constitute the memory of any nation just as they are its cultural and historical heritage. Any piece of record adjudged worthy of permanent preservation is priceless. Consequently, all archives in an archival institution is treated and handled with utmost care. They are managed by professionals through the instrumentality of approved tools.
In this regard, it is necessary and most important to purchase chemicals and conservation equipment to meet this target. There is equally the need for the purchase of Archival Steel Shelves and Acid Free Cardboard Boxes.
The storage facilities are expected to be equipped with relevant machineries. The holdings are to be housed in purpose built accommodation to wade off external possible destructive agents or happenings.
As at today, the entire machinery in the Archives are obsolete. The Zonal offices located in Ibadan, Kaduna, and Enugu built in the 60s for want of maintenance are a shadow of their former selves. The branch offices that are meant to cater for the needs of surrounding States operates in buildings other then archival accommodation going by ICA’s recommendation. Land acquired for an archival building in Jos, Plateau State for some years now cannot be developed for lack of fund. The land allocated for the Headquarters has not been developed either.
- TRAINING OF DEPARTMENTAL RECORDS MANAGEMENT OFFICERS AS ENSHRINED IN THE ACT
By Section 10 of the enabling Act, the National Archives through the Director is expected to, at reasonable intervals; organize training programmes for Records Officers in both Public and Private Sectors in the area of Records Management and Archives Administration.
There is a training collaboration between University of Ibadan and the National Archives for the training of Archivists and Records officers in both public and private sectors. It is necessary to fund the programme. This training as stated includes serving officers of the National Archives Department. Reference here is for professional training of Archivists which is not the same with refresher courses for Departmental Records Officers.
- MONITORING TO ENSURE COMPLIANCE WITH THE PROVISIONS OF THE ACT
The concern of government about the need to keep and preserve our documentary historical heritage is all inclusive hence; the law equally makes it mandatory for all valuable records of private bodies and companies to be protected.
Thus, National Archives has the additional responsibility of monitoring not only Public Agencies but also Private bodies and companies. This is necessary to ascertain the level of compliance by these Agencies with the provisions of the law.
Specifically, all Agencies are expected to establish archival divisions to cater for their non-current records preparatory to their eventual transfer to the National Archives. They are prohibited from disposing their records in any manner or transferring same to other bodies without due consultation with the Director of National Archives.
The application of General Records Retention and Disposition Schedule and Classification Scheme is expected of all public and private bodies. These bodies are on the increase and in particular companies operating today in this country not to mention the very many Government
Agencies as at today. These are all records creating agencies.
(i) DIGITIZATION OF ARCHIVES
Digitization of Archives which is a modern Technology that guarantees the elongation of the lifespan of Archives is the practice world over. This is the transformation of records or Archives from analogue to digital format. This application captures paper or electronic documents and automatically provide the storage, retrieval, security and archiving of those documents.
The benefit of this to the National Archives in preserving its holdings is that, among other things, it limits the handling of original documents, eased access to records because records can be published on the website, safe storage space, etc.
Thus to digitize from time to time the equipment needed are: Digitization software, Scanners (Industrial and Departmental), Digital Camera, Storage Devices (WORM-Write Once Read Many, CDs, DVD, Hard Drives, Flash Drives, etc.), EDMS Software and Hardware.
From Archivist perspective, the digitization would among other things lead to:
- Preserving the content of the archives in digital format;
- Making the archives more accessible and available to researchers on the worldwide web (www);
- Protecting and safeguarding our cultural heritage for a longer period;
- Conforming with UNESCO standard on the operation of Archives; and
- Ensuring easy retrieval of information. The need to digitize archives can be viewed from the prism that the technology can sustain the preservation of our archival heritage for at least 500 years if properly migrated as at when due.
- MICROFILMING OF ARCHIVES
Microfilming is another means by which archives can be effectively preserve for a long period. It is a method in which film is used for storing written information in small size. The film so used are made available to search and access information therein by use of another device. Handling of original copies of the records is completely eliminated.
To benefit from this system the following items are required:
- Microfilm Cameras
- Microfilm Processors
- Developer chemical and
- Microfilm reader.
- ACQUISITION OF MIGRATED ARCHIVES
So much of our documentary heritage has found their ways across our borders. It is necessary that copies of these are recalled for our collective benefit. These can be found in places like the United Kingdom, Germany, etc. It is common knowledge that the Royal Niger Company with its base in the United Kingdom established its presence in this country during the colonial era. It is an established fact that so much of our documentary valuable past were carted away and are being kept in some countries of the world. These need to be repatriated.