The Executive Secretary/CEO of National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO), Dr. Barclays Foubiri Ayakoroma, has pledged the Institute’s readiness to partner the Inter-Agency Committee on Culture and Tourism Development of the South-East Zone, the organizers of the annual Iri Ji Ndi Igbo National Festival, in order for the festival to gain international recognition.

Ayakoroma, who is also a Visiting Associate Professor to Nasarawa State University, Keffi, made this promise during the 2016 Iri Ji Ndi Igbo (National New Yam Festival), held on Saturday, 27th of August, 2016, at National Yam House, Etiti, Igboukwu, Aguata LGA, Anambra State, Nigeria.

Delivering his goodwill message at the event, the NICO boss, who led the NICO team, including his Special Assistant, Mr. Law Ikay Ezeh, NICO South-East Zonal Coordinator, Ms. Justina Akhilome, and the Head of NICO Enugu State Office, Mr. Nnaemeka Nwajagu, thanked the traditional rulers of Igbo land, the organizers of the festival, and Ndi Igbo in general, for promoting Nigeria’s rich cultural heritage through the annual festival.

 ayakoHe pledged that NICO, if invited, will subsequently fully partner the organizers of the festival in order for it to attain more recognition, both locally and internationally, since it falls in line with the Institute’s main mandate of “harnessing culture for national development”.

The Executive Secretary, on behalf of Management and Staff, equally used the opportunity to thank, in a special way, the Anambra State Council of Traditional Rulers and Ndi Anambra at large for honouring NICO’s invitation to the maiden edition of its National Conference on “Culture, Peace and National Security: The Role of Traditional Rulers” in 2012 and 2014.

According to him, more than 45 traditional rulers from the state attended the maiden edition of the conference, which had made it imperative that he came to Igboukwu to grace the occasion in person as a sign of reciprocity.

Earlier in his speech, His Royal Highness, Dr. Martin N. Ezeh, Idu II of Igboukwu, who is the Chairman, Board of Trustees, Mbido Igbo Association, called for the return of all Igboukwu artefacts scattered in various museums around the world.

“Igboukwu now have a museum and we can display them right here where the artefacts were found. The spirit of Igbo Jonah, Igbo Richard and Igbo Isaiah, all from Eze Ume Anozie dynasty of Igboukwu will never rest in peace till these artefacts are returned to their ancestral land”, he said.

The occasion also witnessed an array of masquerades and cultural dances from across the five South-Eastern States of the country: Eco Melody King and His Royal Melody Highlife Band of Africa, as well as the Ohafia War Dance from Abia State; Igbo Diegwu Cultural Dance from Umunze, Anambra State; Ajo Ohia Cultural Dance from Enugu State; Ohiya Cultural Association from Umuahia, Abia State; and the Imo State Cultural Troupe, among others, thrilled the guest.

Guests at the occasion also included the Director-General, National Council for Arts and Culture (NCAC), Mrs. Dayo Keshi; Eze Igbo Benin Republic, HRH, Chukwuebuka Onunkwo; the Honourable Commissioner for Culture and Local Government Matters, Anambra State, Barr. (Mrs.) Stella U. Onuorah; Dr. Henry Achukwu, who represented the Director-General of National Gallery of Art (NGA), Alhaji Abdullahi Sabo Muku; representatives from Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC) and National Troupe of Nigeria (NTN); and Members of Council of Traditional Rulers of the five South-Eastern states of the country.

Stanley Onuachu

Corporate Affairs Unit

NICO SEZ, Owerri