altIt was a day of excitement at the South-East zonal office of National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO), on Wednesday, 4th September, 2013, as the zone marked the closing of its 5th edition of the National Indigenous Language Programme (NILP), and participants thrilled guests by showcasing what they had learnt in the one-month long programme, through songs and dances that incorporated ideas from the four indigenous languages learnt, namely, Efik, Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba.

The one-month intensive language programme witnessed participation from agencies like Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), Imo State Tourism Board (ISTB), National Orientation Agency (NOA), and Imo State Council for Arts and Culture (ISCAC), youths from Obazu community in Imo State, and other individuals.

Speaking at the occasion, the Head of Personnel of the State Council for Arts and Culture, Sir Charles Okoro, commended NICO South-East zonal office for its untiring efforts in carrying out cultural orientation programmes in the zone and for its contribution to the nation’s drive for dialogue, peace and good governance, through its annual indigenous language exercise.

He stated this in his goodwill message to NICO alongside other encomiums that came from the State Director of National Orientation Agency (NOA), Mr. Vitus Ekeocha, among others, who recognized NICO as a key player in preserving, promoting, and propagating Nigeria’s culture, especially in encouraging the learning and speaking of indigenous languages to fosteralt a sense of pride and national identity in the citizenry.

In her remarks, the NICO South-East Zonal coordinator, Mrs. Chioma Duru, expressed her joy saying that the registration in the language programme for 2013 was encouraging, compared to the previous editions, adding that language endangerment was a very serious issue, because if Nigerian languages are allowed to go into extinction, it will mean that future generations will only read about their existence in history books.

Mrs. Duru said in a multi-lingual society, such as Nigeria, the importance of indigenous languages should not be over-emphasized, as they are strategic to achieving social cohesion, solidarity and peaceful co-existence, and that when a language is allowed to experience what the sociolinguists call, “linguicide,” there is loss of cherished cultural, historical, religious, and ecological knowledge of a people because it is through language that cultural heritage is transmitted.

Also spalteaking, a high chief from Obazu, Mbieri, Mbaitoli Local Government Area, Chief Vitalis Arisukwu, who sponsored seven candidates in the language programme, lauded NICO for initiating the language programme and the zonal co-ordinator, Mrs. Chioma Duru, for her determination in implementing the mandate of the Institute in the zone.

The Institute’s drama group in the zone presented a drama that highlighted the importance of indigenous languages while the participants rendered songs in the four languages featured in the program to add glamour to the occasion.

Among the dignitaries were the State Director of National Orientation Agency (NOA), Mr. Vitus Ekeocha, the General Manager of Imo State Tourism Board, Lady Emelia Ibeh, and titled chiefs from different communities, among others.

Wise Onwuzurumba
Corporate Affairs Unit
NICO South East Zone