The Minster for Culture, Tourism and National Orientation, Chief Edem Duke, has urged parents to encourage their children to learn Nigerian Indigenous Languages, saying that language is a veritable tool that enhances cultural identity.

The Minister, who stated this at the Nigerian Turkish Friendship Cultural Festival 2012, which took place at Nigerian Turkish International College premises, Ahmadu Bello Way, Wuse II, Abuja, added that language is also a source of unity to any nation.

Chief Duke, who was represented at the event by the Executive Secretary, National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO), Dr. Barclays Foubiri Ayakoroma, expressed delight on the way Nigerian children were speaking Turkish, the official language of Turkey.

He said: “I am proud of these children, the way they are performing in Turkish. These children can go to Turkey and blend well. You can see that barriers are broken with languages. That is the power of language. It brings cultures and people together. The parents of these children should be proud of them. Also, look at the way Turkish children appear in cultural attires, and the way they danced Nigerian dances. That is why I urge parents to make our children speak our indigenous language. It is a source of unity to any nation. It promotes culture.”

Stressing that the festival encouraged cultural diplomacy, he said that the Ministry for Culture, Tourism and National Orientation, will work closely with the Nigerian Turkish International Colleges: “We have heard much about this College. The Ministry will work with the college and the people of Turkey. The Ministry loves cultural festivals of this nature. We are determined to make Abuja Carnival the best. That is why the Honourable Minister has travelled to Lagos for a stakeholders meeting. The Ministry is determined to promote culture; people should realize that culture is not fetish; culture is not debased; culture is what gives a people identity. It stands you out anywhere you are. With the events we are witnessing, it is as if we are in Turkey.”

Earlier in their remarks, the duo of the chairman of the event and the Ambassador of Turkey to Nigeria, Hikmet Gobau and His Excellency Ali Rifak Koksal, respectively, said the festival is aimed at fostering bilateral relationships between Nigeria and Turkey.

The Chairman said: “We are happy that Nigerians have continuously joined us in this Friendship and Cultural Festival. The aim is to have a good relationship with Nigerians. We give message of peace. We will continue to promote peace in Nigeria. We will organize more events to promote friendship, brotherhood, neighbourliness and education. This festival helps us to see our friends we have not seen for a long time, and to bring our children together. I express my happiness to all Nigerians.”

On his part, the Ambassador noted that the long standing relationship between Nigeria and Turkey, that brought about Turkey establishing an Embassy in Nigeria, will continue to be strong, because Nigeria is very rich in human resources, capital and culture.

Other dignitaries that were at the programme, which was facilitated by Ufuk Dialogue Foundation, include the Vice-Chancellor, Nasarawa State University, Keffi (NSUK), Professor Shamsudeen Amali, with other Principal Officers of the University, the Vice-Chancellor, University of Ilorin, Professor Ishaq Oloyede, represented by Professor Musbau Akanji, Chief of Policy and Planning, Nigerian Air Force Headquarters, Air Vice Marshal G.A. Adekunle and his wife, Director (Air Force), Ministry of Defence, Mrs. Olubunmi Siyanbola, Director of Culture in the Ministry, Alhaji Muktar Abdulkadir, Ambassadors of many countries, traditional rulers cultural attaches, experts and administrators.

Nwagbo Nnenyelike
Corporate Affairs