The Executive Secretary of the National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO), Dr. Barclays Foubiri Ayakoroma, has charged Nigerians to take pride in their cultural background by having knowledge of such cultures, adding that it will give us a distinct identity in the global arena.
Dr. Ayakoroma gave this charge in his office at the NICO Headquarters on Wednesday, 15th August, 2012, in an interview with reporters of Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), led by Mr. Gabriel Odu.
Responding to questions from the NTA crew on the inherent benefits of culture to Nigerians, the NICO CEO stated that, apart from the fact that culture is the totality of the way of life of a people, the knowledge of our indigenous languages, practices, norms, customs and traditions, breeds national pride and identity, and gives confidence because with the knowledge of our cultural background, comes the knowledge of our country and its people, which would make us proud as Nigerians anywhere in the world.
On the issue of attitudes and morals and what the Institute is doing, the ES said: “We have NICO Cultural Clubs, designed as a platform to catch them young, by imbibing in children, the essence of our culture of honesty, integrity, peace, as well as other cultural values, like teaching them Nigerian dress culture, food culture, hairstyling, and so on.”
Speaking further, Dr. Ayakoroma stated that NICO is working on a national children’s cultural festival, where children are made “to cook indigenous cuisines, do indigenous cultural hairstyling, and do debate in indigenous languages,” that the debates have been carried out by NICO offices in Bayelsa, Ondo, Kwara and Lagos states; and that the Institute is now looking at it as a national event provided it gets the support of the various state governments since they have to sponsor participants.
The ES added that right from primary school, children should know how to cook indigenous dishes, learn to appreciate our cultural dresses, and do various indigenous hairstyles, so that they will realize that the frying of hair is not indigenous but foreign, and that to plait or braid are indigenous.
In the area of language, Dr. Ayakoroma said the NICO Nigerian Indigenous Language Programme (NILP) is designed as a platform for children to learn a second language or to perfect their mother-tongue if they are not fluent in it, instead of staying at home during the long vacation.
He noted that the idea is that at the end of the holiday, participants would have improved in their fluency in the mother tongue or a second language because by the time Nigerian children learn to speak one or two indigenous languages, the barriers that we are facing in the area of language communication would have been broken.
Asked where the Institute would be in the next five years, Dr. Ayakoroma stated: “NICO would be a household name in the nearest future considering the important role the Institute is playing in the sensitization of Nigerians to live culture-oriented lifestyles, in the sense that our training programmes, the Diploma and Post Graduate Diploma programmes in Cultural Administration would have produced quite a number of cultural administrators, well-grounded in Nigerian cultural practices, realities and philosophies that are essential for national integration, peace, unity and development in a multi-ethnic nation.
He stated further: “We would get to a situation whereby before anyone becomes a Director in the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, or in an Arts Council in Nigeria or an Agency in the Culture Sector, the person must have gone through the NICO Training School to obtain the Post Graduate Diploma in Cultural Administration. That way, he or she would have been really positioned to man the sector in the state and at the federal level.”
He went on: “In the same vein, our Cultural Clubs in schools would get to a level whereby people would be looking forward to our national programmes every year and by then also, our language study centres would have spread to all the states of the federation; and it will not just be a long vacation programme but also a weekend programme, where the long vacation would accommodate children as much as possible then after that they graduate to the weekend programme.”
Furthermore Dr. Ayakoroma said he sees NICO Language Centres bustling with activity every weekend and Nigerian being proud of speaking them, stressing: “I want to speak as many Nigerian languages as possible because language has the ability of unifying us as a people.”
Jonathan N. Nicodemus