Talthe Executive Secretary, National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO), Dr. Barclays Foubiri Ayakoroma, has expressed delight with the increasing number of executive students in the Nigerian Indigenous Language Programme (NILP), North Central Zone, as evident in the request forwarded by Commissioners, Permanent Secretaries, Directors, and other top government officials, to have private teachers that will be taking them in the study of Nigerian Indigenous Languages of their choice.

Dr. Ayakoroma made the observation at the Conference Hall, Government Secondary School, Ilorin, Kwara State, venue of the closing ceremony of the 3rd edition of the 2012 intensive one-month long vacation Nigerian Indigenous Language Programme in the zone.

He said Indigenous Languages are vital instruments of expression and understanding of each other’s value system, which foster national co-existence, peace and unity, and expressed his displeasure over the attitude of people, who do not encourage speaking of the local languages, thus pushing them to the verge of extinction.

altThe ES, who was represented by the Deputy Director (Protocol), in the Office of the Executive Secretary, Mr. Alex Omijie, explained further that, the Nigerian Indigenous Language Programme was initiated in response to the disheartening state of our indigenous languages, so as to enable Nigerians speak and use their indigenous languages in all facets of our national life.

He said, the importance the Institute attaches to the programme made it present a memo at the last meeting of the National Council on Tourism, Culture and National Orientation, which took place from 22nd to 24th August, 2012, in Ilorin, Kwara State, requesting Council members to support the programme in their various states.

The ES further explained that the Council did not only acknowledge the laudable efforts by NICO to promote Nigerian Indigenous Languages, but also urged states to provide the needed support in the area of qualified language teachers.

The ES also appreciated the efforts of the Zonal Coordinator, Mr. Ibrahim Lawal, and members of his staff and everyone that made the programme a success, hoping that the programme will be taken to another level by next year.

The Special Guest of Honour at the occasion, Dr. Rafiu Ibrahim, Honourable Member, Federal House of Representatives, National Assembly, Abuja, who was represented by Chief Rauf Akogun, the Akogun of Oke-Ode, appreciated and commended the efforts of NICO for the wisdom and vision, in organizing the 4-week language classes in seven languages, namely, Yoruba, Hausa, Nupe, Tiv, Igbo, Izon, and Batonu, which, he said, is a bold step towards saving our local languages from going into extinction.

Dr. Ibrahim pointed out that, once a language is learnt, other attributes of culture like greetings, tribal marks, norms and behaviour, ritual ceremonies, proverbs, styles of dresses, foods, religious and social systems, are also acquired.

He therefore urged the Federal Government, not only to adequately fund the Institute, as expected to enable it carry out its mandate effectively, but to ensure that the Federal Ministry of Education makes the study of indigenous languages compuksory in the school curriculum at the primary and secondary school levels.

Earlier in his address, the chairman of the occasion, who is also a member of the Kwara State House Committee on Culture, Hon. Elder David Bamidele, declared that, posterity will judge him if he failed to overtly commend and praise management and staff of NICO, for the uncommon direction they have taken in rescuing our suffocating cultural values.

Hon. Bamidele said there is no doubt that NICO, as a parastatal, has taken the lead in making peaceful co-existence a reality in our country with its consistency in organising the Nigerian Indigenous Language Programme in Kwara State, the State of Harmony, and all the other zones in the country.

In his good will message, the Royal Father of the Day, HRH Alhaji Bayo Buhari, Olomu of Omupo, said the unity of this country lies in the understanding of each other’s cultures and expressed his ultimate desire for the ideal direction NICO has taken in making Nigeria one, praying that the efforts of the management and staff of NICO will never be in vain and also thanked the Executive Secretary, Dr. Barclays Foubiri Ayakoroma for his foresight.

Among the Executive Students were, the Honourable Commissioner, Ministry of Sports and Youth Development, Barr. Anthony Kayode Towoju (in Hausa class and was the Head student of the session), the Permanent Secretary in the same Ministry, Mrs. Rhoda Ajiboye (also in Hausa class and was the Head girl), the NICO North Central Zonal Coordinator, Mr. Ibrahim Lawal (who was the class captain), the State Controller, Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria, Mr. S. O. Owoshagba (Hausa class, who was the Labour Prefect), the DPM in the Ministry of Education and Human Capital Development, Alhaji Alfa Mohammed Yahaya (Nupe class  was elected as the prefect in charge of library), just as the Speaker of Kwara State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Razaq Atunwa,  was the Head student and his wife, Alhaja Islamiyat Rasak Atunwa, the Head girl.

Typical traditional entertainers, like the ‘yangurumi (Hausa) from Okesunna, the Gangan drummers from Amule, and Dadakua’ada from Babbanloma of Gbomina ethnicity, all in Kwara State, including graduates of the various languages taught, presented different types of entertainment pieces, which kept the audience alive throughout the occasion.

Naseer Saeed Ategba
Corporate Affairs, NCZ