The Honourable Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has said that Indigenous Language Newspapers have a vital role to play in reviving the endangered Nigerian languages, adding that through the revival, the fortunes of the endangered languages will be maximized and their contribution to National Development will be obvious.

Lai Mohammed stated this at the opening ceremony of a 2-day Annual Round Table on Cultural Orientation (ARTCO), with the theme, Indigenous Language Newspapers and National Development, organized by National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO) in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, at Arewa House, Kaduna, on Monday, 15th May, 2017.

Commending the Management of NICO for the event, the Minister said the Institute has worked tirelessly towards the promotion of Nigerian languages, disclosing that he was impressed because as soon as he discussed the concept on the need to interface with stakeholders in the Indigenous Language Newspapers with the ES, he swung into action with his Management team, which has resulted to ARTCO 2017.

Continuing, he explained that: “there was no gainsaying the fact that Nigerian Indigenous languages are endangered. Situation reports show that there is remarkable decline in the usage of indigenous languages by Nigerian youths and many of them cannot read or write in their mother tongue. But the Indigenous Language Newspapers can help play a role in reviving the endangered Nigerian languages, inculcating the habit of reading and speaking indigenous language on the youths”.

Lai Mohammed assured that the President Muhammadu Buhari-led Administration is committed to giving Nigerian culture its pride of place, and will not leave any stone unturned to ensure that Nigeria’s cultural legacies and values are transmitted from one generation to the other.

Earlier, in his welcome address, the Executive Secretary, National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO), Assoc. Prof. Barclays Foubiri Ayakoroma said the ARTCO platform was designed to bring together various interest groups, stakeholders and scholars to exchange ideas on topical issues on various aspects of Nigeria’s cultural life, including the indigenous language and the media.

He further explained that Indigenous Language Newspapers will go a long way to drawing national attention to so many cultural issues, maintaining that, “if Indigenous Language Newspapers are patronized by the younger generation, it will not only enhance their understanding of such language but will also receive a boost because the publications are rich in cultural contents.”

Prof. Ayakoroma also stated that media organs, both electronic and print have been strategic partners with NICO in the discharge of its cultural orientation mandate, reiterating the Institute’s commitment to continue working closely with the conventional media and Indigenous Language Newspapers in tandem with its mandate of harnessing culture for national development.

The opening ceremony of ARTCO 2017 featured thrilling cultural performances by NICO Cultural Troupe as well as Kaduna State Council for Arts & Culture Troupe; and it had in attendance the Executive Governor of Kaduna State, Malam Nasir El-Rufai, represented by his Special Adviser on Media and Communication, Muyiwa Adekeye; Chairman Senate Committee on Culture and Tourism, Sen. Matthew Urhoghide, represented by his Senior Legislative Assistant, Barr. Neda Imasuen; the Keynote Speaker and Chairman/CEO, Leadership Newspapers, Sam Nda-Isaiah; the Royal Father, Emir of Zazzau, Alhaji Shehu Idris, represented by Prince Shehu Turaki, Barden Kudu Zazzau; President, Nigerian Academy of Letters (NAL), Prof. Olu Obafemi; National President, Society of Nigeria Theatre Artists (SONTA), Prof. Sunday Ododo; and former Dean, Faculty of Arts, University of Abuja, Prof. Mabel Evwierhoma, among others.

Pat Nwagbo Obi
NICO HQ, Abuja