The Honourable Minister, Federal Ministry of Tourism, Culture and National Orientation, High Chief Edem Duke, has reiterated that the Ministry will continue to support the National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO), in its laudable Nigerian Indigenous Language Training Programme (NILP), conceptualized in 2007 and aimed at helping Nigerians to learn and speak their indigenous languages.

Chief Duke gave this hint, as Special Guest of Honour, at the formal opening ceremony of the 2012 edition of the Nigerian Indigenous Language Programme (NILP), organized by NICO Head Office in Abuja, and held at the Zuma Hall of Rockview Hotel (Royale), Ademola Adetokunbo Crescent, Wuse II, Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, on Thursday, 2nd August, 2012.

The Honourable Minister, who was represented by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Mrs. Ibikun Odusote, stated that the language programme would not only ensure that several Nigerian languages are taught intensively during the one-month, but that the programme had become a platform for sensitizing stakeholders to their responsibility and to draw national attention to the critical importance of indigenous languages to national development.

He stated further that, the decline in the use of indigenous languages has become a global challenge, leading to the proclamation of February 21st of every year as the International Mother Language Day by the United Nations and therefore commended the Executive Secretary, Dr. Barclays Foubiri Ayakoroma, management and the entire staff NICO, for taking the initiative to ensure that the ninety percent of the over four hundred indigenous languages in Nigeria, classified as highly endangered, are not allowed to go into extinction.

Speaking further, the Minister said, the ministry appreciates our indigenous languages because they are the vehicle that transmit the peoples’ cultures and are veritable means of documenting, processing, as well as promoting our cultural heritage, and noted that it was in this regard that the ministry had intensified action on a renewed National Policy on Culture, which would be launched soon.

He enumerated some implementation strategies in the National Cultural Policy,  which include, undertaking research, documentation and presentation of all Nigerian languages; promoting Nigerian languages at various levels of the educational system; supporting and promoting Nigerian writers in the production and publication of books and journals in Nigerian languages; encouraging the use of Nigerian languages for Government and official programmes; identifying and documenting endangered Nigerian languages through the visual literacy and performing arts; encouraging the use of Nigerian languages in the print and electronic media; encouraging tertiary institutions and research centres to develop dictionaries, technical and scientific documents in Nigerian languages; as well as encouraging the public and private sectors to provide increased resources for Nigerian language education.

High Chief Edem Duke concluded by saying that the Federal Ministry of Tourism, Culture and National Orientation, would remain committed to the continued support and encouragement of the promotion, teaching, learning, documentation and preservation of Nigerian indigenous languages.

Earlier, the representative of the Honourable Minister, Mrs. Ibikun Odusote, had tested participants’ knowledge of the National Anthem by ensuring that the second stanza was also chanted and their proficiency in their mother tongue by challenging some secondary school students, who attended the ceremony, to introduce themselves in their indigenous languages.

The opening ceremony witnessed the presence of Dr. Paul C. Dike, OON (former Director-General, National Gallery of Art), who was the Chairman of the Occasion, HRH Alhaji (Dr.) Usman Ngakupi (the Sa’peyi of Garki), as Royal Father of the Day, Alhaji Abdulmalik Usman (Deputy Chairman, House Committee on Culture and Tourism), Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Abubakar, represented by ACP Adegboyega, Mrs. Magdalene Anene-Maidoh (Secretary General, NATCOM-UNESCO), Her Excellency Mrs. Dela Obika (Wife of the Ambassador of Trinidad and Tobago to Nigeria), Mr. Aye Dikuro (Permanent Secretary, Bayelsa State Liaison Office in Abuja), among others.

Jonathan N. Nicodemus
Corporate Affairs