Newly appointed Acting Director, Orientation and Cultural Affairs Department, National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO), Mr. Alex Omijie, has charged staffers of the department to brace up for the task of tackling the enormous challenges of cultural re-orientation before them, because the department happens to be the face of the Institute.
Mr. Omijie, who gave this charge at his inaugural meeting with staffers of the department on Friday, 3rd May, 2013, at the premises of the Institute’s head office, No. 23, Kigoma Street, Wuse Zone 7, Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, informed that he was back to a familiar terrain, having once headed it, saying, “there is nothing you do here that I am not conversant with.”
The acting director noted that, the department had grown significantly in size since then, an indication that the Institute had grown and that government had come to acknowledge the relevance of what NICO was doing as regard cultural re-orientation for the Nigerian citizenry.
He said, looking at the enormity of cultural disintegration in the society today, resulting in the breakdown of law and order, insecurity and other vices, the Institute is very relevant because it is key to tackling these menaces through its mandate of harnessing Nigeria’s cultural practices, realities and philosophies, which are essential for national integration, peace, unity and development in a multi-ethnic nation.
According to him, there is cultural deregulation in our society at present, there is no regulation, everybody does what he or she likes, others commit crimes such as kidnapping, armed robbery, rape and corruption, with impunity, and regretted that the country seemed to be going back to primitive age, an era where there was no law or norms and all these, were due to lack of adherence to our cultural values and norms.
He noted that cultural norms regulate society but in a situation where people abandon these cultural norms, the society is likely to degenerate into a jungle and that was exactly where the country is headed, and called on staffers of the department, saying, “if you appreciate what we are going through as a nation today, you will know that NICO has an enormous task before it and the bulk of the work is here in this department.”
The newly appointed acting director therefore charged them that for NICO to make any meaningful impact in the campaign of sensitizing Nigerians to live culture-oriented lifestyles, the era of just coming to work and lazing about were over, stressing that they must ask themselves, what they were here for, what they had come to do, and what they can offer the department and the Institute in its quest to bring sanity back to the Nigerian society?
Speaking further, he challenged them: “You must all know the mission of the Institute, the vision of the present management in the overall mandate of NICO, and ask yourselves, what is my role in the scheme of things, in fulfilling this mandate?” adding that all hands must be on deck because the Institute was like a team, with the management as the captain of the team and all staffers as players in the team; and that it was the responsibility of every member of the team to work towards achieving the set goals of the Institute.
Furthermore, the new Acting Director, Orientation and Cultural Affairs, observed that, they should appreciate their past, but more importantly, look forward to achieving more in future, noting that human capacity building, though a daunting task, was achievable, therefore, the department’s core programmes like NICO Cultural Clubs in Schools would be reviewed and repackaged, just as more of these cultural clubs in schools would be established in collaboration with the Institute’s zonal offices.
He reiterated that if we do not ‘catch them young’ the youths, who are the future of this country, to give them the right cultural values and instill in them the ideals of patriotism, then our country would be lost, adding that other programmes to be reviewed, repackaged and projected further include, the Nigerian Indigenous Language Programme (NILP), as one of the core programmes of the Institute which is very dear to the heart of the present management, because indigenous languages are the vehicles that drive our culture, he noted.
Concluding his address, Mr. Omijie challenged staffers to add value to the Institute, just as he will embark on some restructuring, urging that their zeal should be, “I am going to impact this place positively and leave it better than I met it;” and that to attain that zeal, they should always ask: “What do I do to make NICO a better institute?” adding that to achieve this desired goal of making the Institute a better place, their attitude to work and contribution to the development of the mandate of NICO should be improved upon, assuring that with their support, assistance and cooperation, they are going to move this department forward.
Responding, Mrs. Francesca Okoro, Chief Cultural Officer and Head, Orientation Unit, welcomed the acting director, on behalf of the entire staff of the department, stating that they were glad to receive him, and had no doubt that he will take the department to the next level.
“Be rest assured that we are going to give you our best support, work as we have never done before because in this department, we call ourselves, ‘success,’ and we will not relent in our efforts to always merit that name,” she said.
Mrs. Okoro also appreciated the director’s comments on restructuring the department into sub-units and the emphasis on respect for hierarchy, noting that it will check idleness and bring about order in the department, as well as give staff the opportunity to prove their worth.
Mr. Segun Adegbaju, a Chief Cultural Officer, also reiterated his commitment and support to the newly appointed acting director, noting that others should come to terms with the fact that, the only constant thing in life was “change,” and change brings development; and without change, there would be no meaningful development, and prayed that God should give the acting director the wisdom and grace to succeed in his new office.
It would be recalled that the former Director, Orientation and Cultural Affairs, Chief Festus Ndukwe Ihenetu, has proceeded on his pre-retirement leave, after attaining the mandatory 60years retirement age, as prescribed in the civil service rules.
Jonathan N. Nicodemus