Cultural officers have been described as motivators and communicators that are much grounded in Nigerian cultural practices, realities and philosophies that are essential for national integration, peace, unity and development in a multi-ethnic nation.

Mr. Babatunde Peter Fayomi of the Orientation and Cultural Affairs Unit, stated this at the maiden edition of the in-house training programme, organized by the South-West Zone of the National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO), Tuesday, 10th March, 2015 at the Institute’s Zonal office.

Fayomi gave a constitutional justification of Cultural Administration, as enshrined in chapter 2 section 21 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, thus: “The state shall, (a) Protect, preserve and promote the Nigerian cultures which enhance human dignity and are consistent with the fundamental objectives as provided in this chapter; and, (b) Encourage development of technological and scientific studies which enhance cultural values.”

He said that, the Ministry of Education is equally empowered in section 18 (2) that, “government shall promote science and technology,” adding further that, if section 18 is read along with section 21, particularly 21 (b), such promotion of science and technology will enhance the promotion of cultural values in Nigeria.

According to him, if science and technology promotes the study of the chemistry of garri in such a way that will remove the stigma that it causes diabetes, for instance, such a Nigerian staple food would not only be protected and promoted but also preserved for the younger generation (and beyond), who seem not to know any fast food other than indomie, stressing that, the local “zobo” drink can also be scientifically worked upon to become world-class juice.

Earlier in his address, the Zonal Head, Mr. Ohi Ojo, said the in-house training was organized to engage members of staff in intellectual discourse, so that everyone will know and appreciate what others do in the sector.

Ojo said further that, it was only the Civil Service that can pay people for doing nothing; as such, some people are not challenged intellectually when they leave the civil service, adding that, lessons learnt from the training might help an individual throughout his/her lifetime, as one might not have the opportunity again.

In her introduction, the Head of Orientation and Cultural Affairs Unit, Mrs. Ruth Oyenekan said the choice of Mr. Fayomi, as the presenter, was not only because of his intellectual disposition, but also for others to share from his vast knowledge of cultural matters, as a fresh graduate of the NICO Training School, Lagos.

In her remarks, the Confidential Secretary, Mrs. Adesuwa Eze, appreciated the Unit and the presenter for a unique and rich presentation, the entire members of staff for their patience while the presentation lasted, and urged the remaining Units to conduct thorough researches ahead of their presentations.

There were reactions from the audience among which were: Mr. Chuks Nwokorie of Research & Documentation Unit who disclosed that, recently, there were deliberations among Ezes in the South-East geopolitical zone against a court injunction granted to women to inherit land; Mr. Godwill Zikala of Finance & Account Unit raised the issue of the demise of the Deji of Akure, which had put commercial activities in the Oja Oba of Akure to a halt for over a year; Mr. Adewumi Babatunde of Stores Unit asked if age has limitations or hindrances to cultural practices, in term of foods, clothing and music; Mr. Babangida Muhammad of Audit Unit said the programme opened up the minds of staffers to another thinking of how our culture affects us in life and how cultural issues can affect proposed business set-ups, also asking how a cultural officer can help in the promotion of traditional/ local herbs like “omo oroki;” Mrs. Adesuwa Eze asked how people can eschew some harmful traditional practices and fight to bring back our useful culture of integrity, respect and morality; while Mr. Laka Taiwo of Admin & Human Resources asked if there were similarities or a relationship between culture and religion.

Responding, the Zonal Head, Mr. Ohi Ojo, said culture is not static, adding that, some of the harmful cultural practices are fading with time, citing the example of the demise of Oba Adebiyi Adesida, the Deji of Akure, which had halted the commercial activities at the Oja Oba and the alternative stalls provided to bring succour to the market women, as a positive change in the cultural preservation.

Ojo also mentioned the abolition of the burial of the Kings’ horsemen (Abobaku) along with the dead king in the old Yoruba kingdom and the shaving of heads after the demise of Oba, which has also faded with time.

In an interview, after the programme, Mr. Anakpoha Ogaga of Corporate Affairs Unit said, the idea was well thought-out by the Zonal Head, which was welcomed by all and sundry, most especially as it gives staffers that have not gone to the Training School to be abreast of the activities of the Institute and also prepare such staffers to have sound backgrounds for their promotion exams.

The interactive session, which started at exactly 10:00am with an opening prayer by Miss Onyinyechi Chukwu came to an end at exactly 12:07pm, with a closing prayer by Mr. Muhammad Babangida; just as it was disclosed that, the Finance and Account Unit will make a presentation on Thursday, 12th March, 2015.    
Mustapha Alfanla
Corporate Affairs