The Executive Secretary, National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO), Dr. Barclays Foubiri Ayakoroma, who is also an Associate Professor of Theatre and Cultural Studies at the Nasarawa State University, Keffi (NSUK), has disclosed that the Institute is willing to go into partnership with Nigeria Info, 95.1 FM, Abuja in the teaching of Nigerian indigenous languages on radio.

Ayakoroma made this known in Abuja on Wednesday, 26th August, 2015, while responding to suggestions on radio by Ben Ubiri (aka Ben 200), the anchor of “Mid Day Dialogue,” a phone-in programme on Nigeria Info FM 95.1 FM, Abuja, where he discussed “Nigerian Culture and Cultural Re-orientation.”

According to him, if it is possible for NICO to use the radio platform as another avenue for its Nigerian Indigenous Language Programme (NILP), the Institute will appreciate it a great deal and the Institute’s Management will be the happier for it.

Ayakoroma lamented the level of cultural awareness in the country, saying: “The level of our cultural awareness and appreciation has reduced drastically. Therefore, the country needs cultural re-orientation, because culture as we know it back in the days, when Nigerians identified with their cultural way of life first before learning any other culture, is not the case presently, as our children prefer to learn the foreign culture first before deciding to learn the indigenous culture, except if the parents of such children are conscious in teaching them the importance of our indigenous culture.”

He maintained that the situation was unfortunate because most people do not take pride in speaking our indigenous languages, stressing that, “It is the reason why children presently prefer speaking only English, our lingua franca, rather than the indigenous language, which is our identity as a people. This trend has resulted in the gradual death of some our indigenous languages, a fact, which recently was buttressed by the unsettling revelation by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) research that a language like Igbo will die in the next fifteen to twenty years, if conscious efforts are not taken to arrest and revive it.”

The NICO boss further stated that, if a major Nigerian indigenous language like Igbo can be on the verge of going into extinction in the next few years, one wonders what would happen to other minor indigenous languages in the country, like Tiv, Izon, Efik, and the rest in the next five to ten years.

Expressing his concern over the situation, Ayakoroma noted that until conscious efforts are made towards reviving the use of our indigenous languages at home, in offices and in the educational institutions, the decline of these indigenous languages towards gradual death would be sudden.

Using his experience as an example, he disclosed that he learnt the alphabets in Izon language in his primary school days before learning them in English language, saying that the school system should promote the use of indigenous language in schools, and also introduce it as a compulsory course of study for foreign students studying in Nigeria as it is the case with students in foreign schools, where they have to learn the language of their immediate environment first before starting their studies.

Asked what NICO was doing to help arrest the decline in the use of our indigenous languages, Ayakoroma stated that the Institute runs the Nigerian Indigenous Language Programme (NILP), a one-month long vacation programme in August for students, where several Nigerian indigenous languages, like, Hausa, Yoruba, Igbo, Fulfulde, Izon, Gbagyi, Nupe, Tiv, Efik, among others are taught across NICO’s six zonal offices, in Katsina, Yola, Yenagoa, Akure, Owerri and Ilorin, its four state offices in Ibadan, Gombe, Enugu and Minna, as well as in its headquarters in Abuja and the Lagos Liaison Office.

Ayakoroma further informed that, the Institute also runs a weekend version of the indigenous language programme, which is targeted at public and private sector workers, house wives and traders, who may not have the time and opportunity to attend the one-month intensive long vacation language programme.

Jonathan N. Nicodemus & Caleb Nor

Corporate Affairs Unit

NICO, Abuja