The Imo State Commissioner of Police, Abdulmajid Ali, has stated that being versatile in Nigerian languages was a tool for national integration, saying the National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO) should be put on a firm pedestal because of its central role in promoting Nigeria’s cultural values.

The CP stated this at the closing ceremony of the 2014 edition of the Nigerian Indigenous Language Programme (NILP) organized by the South-East Zonal Office of NICO, on Thursday, the 11th day of September, 2014 at the Institute’s Zonal Office Complex, located in Owerri, Imo State.

Represented by CSP Chukwuemeka Egwuekwe, the Police Commissioner said the ability to understand and speak more than one Nigerian language contributed invaluably to the effective operations in the Police Force given the degree of mobility on the job.

Also speaking, the Commandant of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), Imo State Command, Adamu Soja Saddads, represented by ASC Okwuchi Ibekwe equally noted the advantages of being versatile in Nigerian languages as it engendered diplomatic manoeuvres during their operations, lauding NICO for championing the good course and declaring her readiness to be part of the next edition of the programme.

Speaking as the Chairman of the Occasion, Mrs. Celestina Anyanwu, who is also the South-East Zonal Coordinator, National Mass Education Commission, commended NICO South-East Zone for its sustained efforts in carrying out cultural enlightenment activities since 2009.

According to her, she had been privileged to be acquainted with the programmes and activities of NICO South-East Zone, and congratulated the participants, encouraging them to continue to make the best use of the cost-free opportunity to learn how to speak more Nigerian indigenous languages.

In his goodwill message, the Director, Imo State Council for Arts and Culture, Hon. Iyke Uzoma, represented by Mr. Ray Anumba, a Director in the Council thanked NICO for being at the forefront of cultural orientation, re-orientation and emancipation, pointing out that in the course of their work as culture ambassadors, they encounter series of challenges occasioned by language barriers.

According to the Director, indigenous language was key to national unity, integration, cohesion and sustainable development, adding that it was because of the invaluable benefits of the programme that his Council had been nominating staffers to participate in the programme since its inception in 2009.

Earlier in her speech, the Zonal Coordinator, NICO South-East, Mrs. Chioma Duru had said that, while the importance of speaking English language as the official language of communication in Nigeria was not in dispute, Nigerian indigenous languages should not be neglected because they were an intrinsic link to the people’s ways of life, identities, values and concepts.

She opined that the developmental strides of countries, like China, Russia, Germany, and so on, were closely tied to the value they placed on their languages and asserted that the survival of our indigenous languages required our collective efforts and strong will as well as the supportive policies of government, especially in the field of education.

The highlight of the event was the presentation of awards to deserving students and certificates to participants, drawn from communities and establishments across the state, including Imo State Council for Arts and Culture (ISCAC), National Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), Nigerian Police Force (NPF), Nigerian Prisons Services (NPS), and National Orientation Agencies (NOA), among others.

The Drama Troupe of NICO South-East thrilled the audience with a drama presentation, titled, “The Power of Language,” which reflected the invaluable place of indigenous language; while the participants presented a dance drama in the various indigenous languages offered.

The languages offered included Igbo, Efik, Hausa and Yoruba, which were handled by seasoned linguists from Alvan Ikoku Federal College of Education, Owerri, Imo State.

Corporate Affairs Unit

NICO Owerri