Cultural understanding is the business of the National Institute for National Orientation (NICO); and the rich cultural heritage of Nigeria was again at the fore at the maiden Seminar on Cultural Diplomacy organized by the Executive Secretary, Associate Professor Barclays Foubiri Ayakoroma for the post graduate students of the Institute’s Training School in Lagos.

Throwing light on the concept of the epoch-making event, the ES urged participants to hold firm to their cultural values, saying the forum will help students in promoting their intellectual capacity, and also improve the use of cultural diplomacy as a basis for advancing Nigeria cultural heritage, stressing the need for a better Nigeria and positing that Seminar Cultural Diplomacy is a selling point for the Training School and also a platform to share knowledge.

The event, attended by NICO workers, cultural experts and prominent actors in the industry like Otunba Tunji Osotimirin (UNILAG) and Shaibu Hussein (National Troupe of Nigeria), who gave an added impetus to the event.

Osotimirin challenged cultural workers to keep fight against relying too much on ‘Oyinbo’ things, while Shaibu emphasized the role of Nigeria Television Authority (NTA) in championing our cultural values, just as he used the medium to advocate for the use of cultural workers in our embassies.

Earlier, one of the speakers, Njideka Dimgba, stated that traditional music is an integral part of the human soul, categorising Nigeria’s music into four genres: occupational music, situational, theatrical and court music.

Dimgba highlighted occupational music as the most important, giving the example of such as the palm wine music usually song by some people in Igbo land to purify the soul and used for peace purposes; and stressing that if we put hands together to package our music properly, it will be a unifying force and a source of income.

Another speaker, Agoro Solomon discussed the impact of folklore on Nigeria’s cultural diplomacy, noting that, folklores are meant to teach morals, be a form of integration, education and also a medium of expression, advising Government deploy officials who have the cultural know-how to our foreign missions.

Dairo Stella, on the other hand, stressed the importance of contemporary music to Nigeria’s cultural diplomacy objectives, with reference to music artists like Dbanj, Paul Play, Tuface Idibia, P-Square, Davido, among others, who have made the nation proud and through whose artistic ingenuity unemployment has reduced.

We cannot undermine the truth that culture can help generate revenue in no small way, as films sell the culture of the producing country and create avenues for cultural appreciation, Buhari Ayodele averred in “Benefits of Cultural Exchange among ECOWAS: The Nollywood/Ghollywood example,” maintaining that, cultural exchange through film production will create employment and bring about growth in the economy.

Also speaking, John Agononama, in “Sustaining Peace and Security among the Economic Community of Central African States through Cultural Diplomacy,” stated that government should ensure that our cultural properties should be well protected to enable Nigerians take pride in showcasing the rich cultural heritage, concluding that our youths should be well trained in our cultural values to enable them to be good cultural ambassadors.

In the view of the ES, this seminar had opened a channel for students to carry out researches on areas they had little or no idea of, just as James Ebipua-Epere talked about the role of Culture and Diplomacy in the League of Arab States, saying the League has played a very prominent role in protecting Member States interests and promoting their cultural heritages.

In his remark the ES commended the speakers for their efforts and urged everyone to be culturally aware and have respect for our tradition and values. Cultural diplomacy plays a crucial role in building relations among art and other aspects of culture among nations and their people in order to foster mutual understanding.

The seminar was moderated by the Director of Lagos Training School, Mrs. Brigitte Yerima, Director of Lagos Office, Mr. Louis Eriomala, Special Assistant to the ES, Mr. Law Ikay Ezeh, and a host of others.

Godwin Ekhayeme

Corporate Affairs Unit

NICO TS, Lagos