Members of the House Committee on Culture and Tourism have declared their intention to support the National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO), in its Promoting Dress Nigerian Culture programme, through the necessary legislation, noting that this is a laudable programme that could enhance the process of national integration.

Stating this during its Oversight function visit at the Institute’s Headquarters in Abuja, on Monday, 30th January, 2012, the leader of the team, Hon. Muniru Abiodun Hakeem, representing Oshodi-Isolo Federal Constituency of Lagos State, said the Committee will also lend its weight on the Nigerian Indigenous Language Programme (NILP), which encourages the learning and teaching of Nigerian indigenous languages.

Hon. Hakeem, who said these programmes are meant to bring proper orientation on Nigerian culture, noted that dressing in Nigerian attires project Nigerian identity just as learning Nigerian indigenous languages compulsorily at the primary school level will help children in their basic education.

Affirming that the House Committee on Culture & Tourism will join hands with NICO on these noble cultural programmes, Hon. Hakeem said a bill could be sponsored to give both programmes legal backing.

He stated: “We are here to pursue the provisions of the Nigerian Constitution of seeing what is done with appropriated funds. It is a way to know how government fund is being spent. This is to ensure that we all arrive at the goal of developing Nigeria. It is a way to give our best at this moment all of us are in service…. There are areas we can help and work together with NICO. This aspect of Dress Nigerian culture is very important. You can see that many people dress on suit and tie from Monday to Friday. We can manage the two dresses together, that wear English most times and native attire the other time, but the truth is that the British Prime Minister can never wear our babanriga.”

Continuing, he said: “Wearing of native dress in Nigeria does not remove whatever anybody has in his brain. In my own case, I cannot remember when I wore English dress last. I am always on my native dress. A bill can be sponsored on that so that it can be a law; then people will respect that law. In terms of the Nigerian Indigenous Language, it is very important for the basic education of our children. It will help them in the primary school. I am sure that 80 to 90 per cent of parents in Nigeria speak English to their children. Such children find it difficult to speak the native language. So, we should join hands to do these and at the end of the day, we must have contributed to national development.”

Earlier, the Executive Secretary, Dr. Barclays Foubiri Ayakoroma, had briefed the Committee members on the journey of NICO since it came on board 19 years ago as a joint initiative of the Federal Government and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

The ES said: “NICO, a parastatal of the Federal Ministry of Tourism, Culture and National Orientation, was established as a result of a joint initiative of the Federal Government of Nigeria and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), during the World Decade for Cultural Development (WDCD) Programme (1988-1997). The WDCD emphasized the cultural dimension in the development nations.  The Institute was subsequently established by Decree No. 93 of 1993 with the primary responsibility of promoting positive cultural values and harnessing culture for national development as enunciated in the Cultural Policy for Nigeria (1988).”

“As such we look forward to 20 years anniversary of NICO next year. We have the mandate to effect a sense of cultural direction and relationship to meet the challenges of social integration, unity, peaceful co-existence, and self-reliant national development. Our programme, Nigerian Indigenous Language Training Programme (NILP) has great potentials to let Nigerians understand our indigenous languages. Learning our indigenous languages is useful. The dress Nigerian culture is another programme we have used to harness Nigerian culture. Here in NICO if you observe, everybody is putting on native attire. We do so on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. These days there is no shirt or tie in NICO. We are looking forward to National Assembly and other government bodies adopting this dressing code.”

The ES, through PowerPoint presentation, briefed the Committee members on the Institute’s Intangible Cultural Heritage programme, Nigerian Indigenous Language Programme (NILP), Quarterly Media Workshop for Arts Writers/Editors, Affiliation of NICO Training School with Nasarawa State University, Keffi (NSUK), Annual Round Table on Cultural Orientation (ARTCO), Children’s Cultural Clubs, Annual Public Lecture, construction work at the Training School site at Kuje, need for access road to the Training School complex, and the critical challenge of office accommodation, among other issues.

Other members of the visiting team included, Hon. Jephthah Foingha (representing Brass/Nembe Federal Constituency of Bayelsa State), Hon. Musa Ado (representing Gezawa/Gabasawa Federal Constituency of Kano State), and Hon. Sani Mohammed Kutigi (representing Lavun/Mokwa/Edati Federal Constituency of Niger State).

Nwagbo Nnenyelike
Corporate Affairs