Members of the Ondo State chapter of the Forum of Federal Government Establishments, on Wednesday, 9th October, 2013, applauded activities of the National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO), both at the national and zonal levels, saying the Institute should not rest on its oars but do more to properly orientate Nigerians on its mandate.

They made the commendations at their monthly meeting, which took place at the Federal Secretariat, Igbatoro Road, Akure, Ondo State, where NICO Zonal Head, Mr. Ohi Ojo, as the host of the day, briefed members on NICO’s mandate and activities.

Starting from a definition of culture, as reflected in the 1998 Cultural Policy for Nigeria, Mr. Ojo noted that culture is usually misconstrued by the public “as a return to the past, fetish (demonic) and strictly as entertainment, and so on, and because of this impression, attention is no longer paid by the public to our cherished culture and tradition; hence, foreign culture tends to dominate our value system. This has led to increase in crime rates, lack of morals, and all sort of decadence practices in our society.”

Among the national programmes of the Institute he highlighted were, National Workshop on Promoting Nigerian Dress Culture and National Identity, Quarterly National Media Workshop for Arts writers and Editors, National Workshop on Repositioning Nigerian Workers for Improved Productivity, Annual National Conference on Culture, Peace and National Security with Traditional Rulers, National Training Workshop for Local Government Chairmen and Councillors on Repackaging Nigeria Culture to Meet the Challenges of Globalization, NICO Annual Children’s Cultural Extravaganza, NICO Annual Public Lecture, Nigerian Indigenous Language Programme, NICO Training School offering Diploma and PGD in Cultural Administration, and Sensitization workshop for Cultural Attaches in Nigeria, among others.

According to him, since inception in April 2009, the Zonal Office had carried out the yearly four-week Nigerian Indigenous Language Programme (NILP), and that the languages taught include Hausa, Igbo, Izon and Yoruba; organized Yoruba Quiz Schools Challenge on 20th and 26th October, 2010; organized training workshop for Cultural Workers of Ondo State Ministry of Culture and Tourism to reposition them for better service delivery on 25th and 26th May, 2010; documented 500 years of the Osemawe Dynasty and Oba in Ondo Town in July 2010; and inaugurated NICO Cultural Clubs “OMOLUABI” on 29th September, 2011, and has established the clubs in 17 schools so far.

Ojo also informed that the zone had organized a one-day Training Workshop for Ondo State Council of Obas, in conjunction with Ondo State Ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs on 13th October, 2011; organized the maiden edition of Children’s Cultural Fiesta on 12th December, 2012; inaugurated the NICO SWZ Cultural Troupe on 24th April, 2013, and that the troupe performed at the 2013 edition of the World Day for Cultural Diversity and the Children’s Day celebration in collaboration with the Ondo State Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development, on 27th May, 2013.

Mr. Ojo added further that the zone had researched and documented major festivals in the South West such as Elefon festival in Ikoro-Ekiti, Ekiti State; Igogo (love) festival in Owo, Ondo State; Orosun festival in Idanre, Ondo state; Odun-Ijesu/Opa in Ipinsa, Ondo state; Odun Oba festival in Ondo Town, Ondo State; Aeregbe festival/Dududu in Akure, Ondo State; Osun Osogbo festival in Osogbo, Osun State and that the research documentation exercise is on-going.

In his reaction, Alhaji Raji Taiwo of Standards Organization of Nigeria (SON), expressed his appreciation to the Institute for its laudable programmes in promoting and encouraging our indigenous languages, but added that NICO needed to put in more efforts in seeing that the NILP was well articulated into the educational curricula of Nigerian schools and possibly look at a national language.

Mr. Johnson E. Ekwuru of NISER wondered if there was still a national culture looking at the threat of globalisation, but opined that more efforts must be geared towards warding off the unnecessary influence of globalisation; while Elder Amos Olorunnipa, Curator, National Commission of Museum and Monuments (NCMM), Akure, commended NICO for the “Dress Nigerian” initiative, which is aimed at promoting our dress culture but advised that NICO should ensure that the issue of a national dress code be looked into.

In his response, Mr. Ojo said that it was almost impossible to speak of a Nigerian language, but rather languages of Nigerians, adding that we should realize that it was possible to speak a separate language different from our mother tongues, especially children, who researches have shown, are capable of learning and understanding at least five languages if taught early.

He pointed out that no culture or religion was superior to another, but that the challenge was for us as a people to learn, understand and appreciate other people’s culture, as that was the only way to live in a harmonious and crisis-free society.

He further posited that as Nigerians, we should be able to dress and take pride in our traditional attire and feel comfortable, and also use the opportunity to admonish parents to encourage their children/wards on the use of their indigenous languages, emphasizing that language and dress culture are major means of identity.

In the entourage of the Zonal Head, were Mr. Chris Sodje, Head, Research and Documentation Unit, Mrs. Flora Sodje, Orientation and Cultural Affairs Unit, Mr. Eustace Nwokorie, Research and Documentation Unit, and Miss Sophia Lawrence of Administration and Human Resources Unit.

Stephen Ayomoba
Corporate Affairs