According to sub-section 3(1) (a) and (b) and 2 (a-g) of section 3 of the Act establishing NICO, the objectives and functions of the Institute are as follows:
- Serve as a focus for orientation in cultural matters for Nigeria’s policymakers and other government officials.
- Develop cultural materials for promoting the cultural image of Nigeria nationally and internationally and use them for the realization of the nation’s Cultural Diplomacy objectives.
- Train Cultural Development Officers who will integrate Nigeria’s culture into the educational system at all levels to facilitate the practical application of the Nigerian culture in everyday activity.
- Promote and develop relevant curricula aimed at integrating Nigeria’s culture into the educational system at all levels.
- Carry out public enlightenment campaigns of the various facets of Nigeria’s culture to effectively mobilize Nigerians towards a culture-oriented lifestyle; and
- Sponsor and undertake research into all aspects of Nigeria’s arts and culture.