Government has been advised not to take the programmes of the only cultural Institute in Nigeria, National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO), lightly because it is the only source through which Nigerians would be meant to understand that there is culture in everything.
ABC Duruaku, Associate Professor and Dean of Arts, Alvan Ikoku College of Education, Owerri, who stated this in his lecture at the 2nd NICO Management Retreat at City Global Hotel, Owerri, Imo State, said unless culture is introduced in everything in Nigeria, the country cannot move forward.
Prof. Duruaku, who was the former Executive Director, Imo State Council for Arts & Culture, in his paper, titled, “Validating Culture in the Nigerian Social Space: the Truths, the Myths, and the Realities,” stated that it is NICO’S mandate to harness Nigerian culture and the Institute is expected to deploy available cultural resources to meet the challenges of social integration, peace, unity and national development, which means that NICO should deploy culture as a diplomatic tool through robust engagement with the myriad of cultural establishments.
Defining culture as: “the you in you that makes you, you,” Duruaku declared that it was only NICO as a cultural institute that can inculcate this in Nigerians, adding: “NICO is an Institute. NICO is not a Commission. NICO is not a business enterprise. NICO has appropriate mandate of an institute which primary basis is the moral, philosophical and praxis-inclination of its policy drivers for the sustainable development of the Nigerian society.”
Other Resource persons, Professor Muyiwa Awodiya of the University of Benin, Dr. Tracie Uto-Ezeajugh of Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Mr. Reginald Bobmanuel of Continental Business and Leadership School Ltd, Abuja, and Mr. C. I. Anyanwu, CEO of Corporate Drive Consulting, Abuja, also demonstrated the indispensability of NICO to Nigeria’s corporate existence.
Professor Muyiwa Awodiya of Theatre Arts Department, University of Benin, posited that to achieve the above, NICO should organise a specialized expertise coaching in the cultural education programme to offer a distinctive perspective within the fabric of the university curriculum.
He stated that this was necessary because the human resources should be given adequate training in cultural education, alongside their theatre training programme, to enable them become foot soldiers and cultural education vanguards, teaching in our primary and secondary schools.
Continuing, he emphasized that of the 42 universities that offer courses in theatre arts, close to 35 of them have full-fledged theatre arts programmes, giving credits for courses in acting, directing, playwriting, voice, dance, stage movement, costume design, lighting design, theatre history, theatre management, and various other courses in production workshop; and that NICO can be co-opted into these events.
Stressing the importance of NICO to Nigerian culture in her paper, “Documenting Indigenous Culture for National Identity: The Role of NICO,” Dr. Tracie Uto-Ezeajugh, a lecturer in Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Anambra State, likened the place of the Institute to Nigerian culture as that of National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) to Drug administration, adding that much had not been heard of NICO until the current leadership took up the mantle, like in NAFDAC, and began systematically to give classification and identification to Nigerian and, indeed, world cultural practices.
She explained further: “There is therefore the need for NICO to consolidate the gains of the past at the same time as moves should be made to develop newer strategies for effective documentation. In expressing national identities, through cultural documentations, NICO is expected to explore the formation and expression of national identity from antiquity to the present day. It is pertinent to point out that NICO has vigorously and passionately embarked on the research and documentation of Nigerian indigenous languages and culture. NICO has initiated and coordinated programmes and workshops geared towards cultural exhibition, documentation and even reporting.”
Bobmanuel, who spoke on “Managing Change in National Institute For Cultural Orientation,” he looked at change as the most important element of successful management of any entity today, saying that to remain competitive in an increasingly aggressive market or economy, organizations and individuals alike must adopt a positive attitude towards change.
He continued: “To ignore or trivialize a change process leads to unproductively. We must adopt change management, which is a structured approach to shifting individuals, teams and organizations from current state to a desired future. It is an organizational process aimed at empowering employees to accept and embrace change in a given business management. In this regard, NICO must maintain continuity in its progress and programmes by deriving corporate change management programme, identifying its role in line with the Government transformation agenda and articulate a detailed corporate operations manual.”
On his part, Mr. Anyanwu in “Team Building for Organizational Management,” noted that under the present leadership, NICO has recorded significant breakthroughs and laudable achievements in the area of administrative reforms, restructuring of headquarters from three to five departments, reform of NICO Training School, affiliation with Nasarawa State University, standardization of Diploma and Postgraduate Certificates, collaboration with international bodies and Institutes, and curriculum review and development.
While commending NICO for all of the above, he called for paradigm shift to make for future outlook that are anchored around the consolidation of past gains, building on past successes, and embarking on new initiatives, noting that one of the key drivers of this shift is effective and smart teams.