Two postgraduate students of National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO) Training School, Lagos, Mr. Kayode Ismail Yusuf and Mrs. Bola Adedoyin, have posited that unifying Nigeria through a culture of excellence in sports is a simpler and more realistic option to the country’s national development, arguing that with well developed sports infrastructure, the task of building a strong and united country out of the pluralistic population in Nigeria does not require stupendous efforts.

Speaking during the Seminar in Cultural Diplomacy programmed recently at Training School in Lagos, Mr. Yusuf Kayode, in his paper, entitled, “Sports as a Tool for Development, Peace, and Unity in Multi-Ethnic Nations: A Nigerian Perspective,” observed that lack of a well defined sports development policy impedes the country’s national integration; and that sports have the potentials to unite Nigerians if our sports festivals and other sporting activities are revived.

Sports development in Nigeria, he continued, will not only expand the economy by creating employment and generating revenue for Government but also present a platform to strongly connect Nigerians during such national and international sports competitions.

The paper presenter emphasized that the excitement sports events bring to Nigerians cut across primordial sentiments as individuals tend to come together to identify with and celebrate sporting achievements, irrespective of tribe, age, class, or other social cleavages.

Kayode concluded that, ‘if sports be the food of national integration,’ then Governments at all levels should vigorously pursue sports development policies by building stadia and creating various talent development platforms to nurture sportsmen and women to sporting prowess; that way, sports will develop and Nigerians will be united in celebrating our proud achievements in sports just as the nation state will prosper.

To Mrs. Bola Adedoyin, who discussed the topic, “Traditional Sports as a Viable Means to Address Ethno-Religious Violence in Nigeria,” social cohesion and national unity in the country can be achieved through the promotion of traditional sports in Nigeria, like traditional wrestling, traditional boxing, ayo olopon (a board game), and langa (a hopping game), among many others.

Adedoyin maintained that ethnic and religious crises in Nigeria, which are caused mainly by “clash of cultural interests, values, preferences and perceptions,” can be eradicated if Nigerians develop, as a way of life, the act of coming together in a convivial atmosphere to engage in traditional sports competitions.

The promotion of traditional sports in Nigeria, she concluded, will foster cultural understandings that will eventually lead to mutual respect and peaceful coexistence among the ethnic and religious divides in Nigeria.

Earlier in his brief on the programme idea, the course lecturer, Dr. Barclays Foubiri Ayakoroma, a Visiting Associate Professor to Nasarawa State University, Keffi (NSUK), disclosed that the NICO Training School Seminar in Cultural Diplomacy is in fulfilment of the course requirement leading to the award of the Postgraduate Diploma in Cultural Administration, and that it is a platform for knowledge sharing between students, staffers of the Institute and culture stakeholders, adding that, a similar event had taken place earlier at the Abuja Study Centre of the Training School.

Some of the theatre scholars and culture stakeholders present at the events included Professor Mabel Evwierhoma (University of Abuja), Professor Emmanuel Samu Dandaura (Nasarawa State University, Keffi), Mrs. Lauretta Njoku (former DG, Nigerian Copyright Commission), Dr. Bridget Onochie (The Guardian), Mrs. Flora Goka (National Gallery of Art), Mr. Michael Bush (The Boss, Bush House Nigeria on Kapital 92.9FM), Otunba Tunji Sotimirin (University of Lagos), Mr. Shaibu Husseini (Chief PRO, National Troupe of Nigeria), and Mr. Tunde Obalana ((President, National Association of Nigerian Theatre Arts Practitioners).

NICO Director that also sat through the events included Prince Bamidele Olusa (Research & Documentation), Mr. Godson Ordu (Finance & Accounts), Mr. Alex Omijie (Orientation & Cultural Affairs), Alhaji Ibrahim Husseini (Admin. & HR), Mr. Louis Eriomala (Lagos Liaison Office), Director, Mrs. Brigitte Yerima (Training School, Lagos), Mr. Law Ikay Ezeh (SA to ES), and Dr. Regina Onuoha (Coordinator, Training School, Abuja Study Centre).

Anthony Okafor                                                                                                       

Corporate Affairs Unit                                                                                                      

NICO Training School, Lagos