Traditional Rulers from the South-East zone have requested technical and professional support from the National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO) towards repackaging the Iri Ji Ndi Igbo National New Yam Festival to meet international standards.
The traditional rulers under the auspices of Mbido Igbo (Origin of Igbo) Associations, who were recently at the NICO headquarters in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, to pay a courtesy call on the Executive Secretary, Assoc. Prof. Barclays Foubiri Ayakoroma, as well as invite him as Guest of Honour to the event, said the festival, scheduled for 22nd-26th August, 2017 at the National Yam House, Igboukwu, Aguata LGA of Anambra State, is designed as the hub of tourism and cultural development of the South-East geo-political zone.
According to them, the active role played by NICO in past editions of the festival informed their request for the Institute’s continued support towards ensuring the festival meets current global standards that will help showcase the festival as well as project its tourism potentials to the world.
Speaking on their behalf, His Royal Highness, Dr. (Barr.) Martin Nwafor Ezeh, the Idu II of Igboukwu, who said their decision to identify with NICO is further informed by the recognition of NICO’s responsibility of promoting, uniting and showcasing the living cultural potentials in the country, stressed that the Institute holds the peace, stability and base of the nation and any government that will not give it priority attention will be playing with the growth and unity of Nigeria.
While congratulating the Ayakoroma-led management of NICO on the numerous achievements recorded since his assumption of office, especially the presence of officers of the Institute in many states of the federation, Ezeh stated that their presence at the grassroots has contributed in no small measure to unite, galvanise and put life into the numerous untapped living cultural potentials in the states.
His words: “Things must work in this country because we have no other one or spare country to go to. That is why our states resonate in a harmonious melody of tourism as our only hope of survival in these hard times where oil has failed us. It is our onerous responsibility to make it work and we have set our hands on it”.
Responding, the Special Assistant to the Executive Secretary, Mr. Law Ikay Ezeh, who received the traditional rulers on behalf of the ES, noted that the Institute has always been supportive of the Iri Ji Ndi Igbo National New Yam Festival, and that he attended the 2016 edition at the National Yam House, Igboukwu, with the ES, Assoc. Prof. Barclays Foubiri Ayakoroma and some officers of the Institute from its Owerri Zonal Office and Enugu State Office.
Law Ezeh said the Iri Ji Ndi Igbo National New Yam Festival has the great prospects and potentials of contributing to sustainable tourism development of Anambra State and Nigeria, in general, especially as eleven (11) states are participating this year, which means diverse cultural dances and masquerade performances will be showcased.
He said the invitation was coming at a time the ES, Prof. Barclays Foubiri Ayakoroma, had other equally important scheduled official engagements, and that he will eventually confirm his attendance, after briefing him accordingly.
It is worth noting that, events for the festival include unveiling of the biggest yam, traditional wrestling competition, traditional folklore rendition, display of innovations in technology, great palm wine tappers’ competitions, national arts and crafts exhibition, museums tour and conferences on the unity of Nigeria, among others.
Media Assistant to ES
NICO HQ, Abuja-FCT