A call has gone to the Federal Government under President Muhammadu Buhari to make culture the centre-piece of its national orientation because of the economic, social and political benefits the country stands to gain.

Executive Secretary, National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO), Dr. Barclays Foubiri Ayakoroma, who gave this advice while delivering a paper at the 11th All Nigerian Editors Conference (ANEC), organized by the Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE), at the Banquet Hall, Government House, Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, also called on The Presidency to give serious attention to cultural agencies in the country, saying culture is a ready catalyst for Nigeria to explore if the country will achieve the desired positive change.

Delivering the paper, titled, “National Orientation as a Catalyst for Change: Thoughts on Some Cultural Imperatives,” Ayakoroma, who is also a Visiting Associate Professor at the Nasarawa State University, Keffi (NSUK), said the change that the present government is talking about is one that should bring about national development; and if the catalyst, national orientation, is left out, the change may be a mirage.

According to him, what Nigeria needs to achieve this sought after development is re-orientation that is premised on the realisation that the country had lost direction at a point in our political development and any attempt at effecting any change has to start with the ‘self,’ which implies reinventing the sense of values, attitude and social order.

Citing a classic example of orientating people towards given policy direction, Ayakoroma recalled the War Against Indiscipline (WAI) initiative by the then Buhari/Idiagbon regime, saying in inculcating discipline in public places, Nigerians learnt to queue at bus stops, petrol stations, banks, shops, and even water taps, which attested to the fact that we can do things the right way once we are disciplined; but that the initiative did not stand the test of time as it died with the exit of that administration.

His words: “Re-orientation implies orienting one who had been orientated before but had veered off the defined path. The process of re-introducing culture into the national scheme of things is what this paper calls, cultural re-orientation; and the paper believes that change can be achieved on the platform of a national culture. Nations like Brazil, China, Indonesia, Jamaica, and so on, have used culture to enhance national development, and it is high time Nigeria did same.”

“The fact is that the culture sector is about the least funded and one of the first to have funds slashed when government thinks of reviewing budgetary allocations downwards. Of importance is the fact that, culture can be the rejected stone that could turn out to be the cornerstone, if government creates the enabling environment for the sector to function;” he said.

While reiterating that culture provides the ready framework for Nigeria to explore to actualize the type of national orientation that could catalyse positive change, Ayakoroma maintained that such orientation must be one that will influence the value system, act as a catalyst to change the mindset of the people, and move the country forward which should start from the attitudinal change of the individual.

To achieve the aforementioned, the NICO Boss disclosed that Nigerians will have to be proud of being Nigerians, have love and respect for self and one another, have love for the country, be ready to render selfless service to people and the country, being content with what one has in life, and cultivating the Nigerian spirit or the ‘never-say-die’ spirit.

(c) Nico News