The Federal Government has been urged to fund the National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO), for the daunting task of cultural re-orientation of Nigerians, especially the younger generations.

Participants at the recently concluded two-day conference in Kano, Kano State Capital, organized by NICO, believed that the socio-cultural challenges bedevilling the country were a result of cultural dislocation among the people.

Culture experts were also of the opinion that considering its mandate, which has become very apt in present-day Nigeria, NICO should not only be funded for greater impacts, its activities tailored towards orientating the minds of the people positively should be expanded and made more prominent across the country.

With the theme, Culture, Peace and National Security: The Role of the Media, the Federal Government at the event, charged the media to always promote the culture of peace and non-violence among Nigerians in their reports, especially as the country prepares for the 2023 general elections.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who gave the advice, stated that the present administration will not relent in its efforts at combating insecurity in the country. However, not without the support of the media.

He, therefore, enjoined practitioners to shun fake news, sensational stories and every unprofessional conduct that is detrimental to national peace and development.

The Minister added that the present administration has committed more resources to the procurement of equipment in fighting insecurity in the country than in other areas.

Welcoming his guests, the Executive Secretary, of NICO, Mr Ado Yahuza, informed that the annual conference was to continually remind journalists on the need to place peace, unity and national cohesion above self-interest in the discharge of their duties

According to him, the event is aimed at highlighting the relevance of peace and security to national development.

He further pledged NICO’s sustained collaboration with the media to sensitize the industry towards promoting peaceful co-existence and national cohesion among Nigerians

The event was chaired by former Head of Service, Kano State, Dr Kabiru Shehu, who stressed the need for Northern Governors to reform the Almajiri system of education as part of efforts to combat insecurity in the area.

Commending NICO for the conference, Shehu urged the media to support the present administration in overcoming the nation’s Security challenges, including the activities of Boko Haram Sect, banditry, kidnapping and other social crimes in the country.

Several papers were presented at the event. Some of them include, The Role of Social Media in the Prevention or Escalation of Conflict in Nigeria by Dr. Hajara Umar of the Department of Mass Communication, Bayero University, Kano; Culture, Banditry and the National Security Challenge: History and the Way Forward by Prof. Mansur Ibrahim of the Department of History, Maitama State University, Kano as well as The Nigerian Media, Patriotism and the Quest for Peace and Security in Nigeria delivered by Professor Bala Muhammed of the Faculty of Mass Communication, Bayero University also in Kano.

Others are Cultural Dynamics and the Challenges for Sustainable Peace and Security in Nigeria by Dr. Mahmud M. Lawan, Department of Political Science, Bayero University; Social Mobilization and Security Awareness as well as The Synergy between Security Agencies and the Media presented by Dr. Gambo Nababa.

In their respective presentations, the source persons underscored the benefits of the media, especially the social media revolution in information dissemination and awareness creation.

They however expressed worries over the menace of fake news, noting that its consequences on peace and security are sometimes, far beyond imagination.

Dr Umar personally frowned at the rate of fake news, hate speech and other negative use of social media in the country.

Prof. Ibrahim in his presentation identified the poor educational system as one of the factors responsible for insecurity in the country.

Prof. Bala blamed the security situation in the country on borrowed culture, which he said, has hardened the hearts of youths. He also identified five pillars of insecurity among which were drug abuse, the proliferation of guns and impunity and decried that even women were involved in gun running in Zamfara State.

The former staff of The Guardian Newspaper flayed traditional rulers for their complacency which led to foreigners penetrating Nigerian villages and forests without their knowledge.

Shortly after the Kano outing, NICOs moved to Asaba, the Capital City of Delta State for its Annual Roundtable on Cultural Orientation (ARTCO). This time, the emphasis was on drug abuse among youths and its implications on national development.

Again, several resource persons delivered on the issue. The Asaba programme brought together, a large number of youths including Youth Corps members serving in the state.

At the opening ceremony, the federal government linked social crimes confronting the country to the high rate of drug abuse among youths.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who was represented by the Director, of International Cultural Affairs, Mrs Maimunat Idula, reiterated some of the efforts put in place by the present administration to combat drug abuse, which he admitted, had assumed a worrisome dimension and called for more concerted efforts towards addressing the scourge.

Speaking, the Director General of, the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Prof. Moji Adeyeye, represented by Delta State Coordinator, (NAFDAC), Mr. Jude Ndekile, expressed concern over youth’s involvement in illicit drug abuse in the country.

According to NAFDAC, it has been collaborating with other stakeholders in tackling the issue.

With the theme: Culture, Drug Abuse and The Future of Nigerian Youths, Yahuza noted that the socio-political and economic problems plaguing the nation could be traced to the erosion of the nation’s cultural values, and urged that children and young people are rooted in the country’s culture

On his part, Yahuza assured that NICO will not relent in sensitizing the youths on the imperative to shun immoral acts and embrace the culture of dignity, peace, unity and national cohesion

He said: “We must always be mindful of the fact that the youth serve as a bridge between generations. Therefore, we have the responsibility to prepare them to be responsible leaders of tomorrow.”

At the event were representatives of the Nigerian Immigration Service, Federal Fire Service, Nigeria Police Force, Nigerian Drug Law Enforcement Agency and other stakeholders in the fight against drug abuse.

And when the technical session was declared open, scholars took turns educating the teaming youths on the consequences of drug abuse on their mental health as well as on the nation.

Some titles of the presentations include, ‘Rethinking the Strategies for Combating Drug Abuse among Youths’ by Professor Grace Okorodudu of Delta State University, Abraka and Towards Saving Nigerian Youths from the Menace of Drug Abuse: Intervention by NDLEA was delivered by Dr Wale Ige of NDLEA Headquarters.

There was no doubt that both events made significant impacts on the people and generally on the nation.

At the close of the two-day event in Asaba, Yahuza charged participants to go and be youth ambassadors against drug abuse in the country. Meanwhile, certificates were presented to participants to mark the end of the counting.[customParams]=custom&actionInfo=false&mute=true&loop=true&dmPubtool=customembed-v2&GK_PV5_PHOTON=1