The newly appointed Special Assistant to the Executive Secretary, National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO), Mr. Law Ikay Ezeh, has emphasized the need for Nigerians to be sensitive to other people’s cultures if they must make progress in a multi-ethnic country like Nigeria.
Ezeh, who made this call on Tuesday, 1st September, 2015 when he featured as guest in the “Living Room” on Bush House Nigeria, a live phone-in radio programme on Kapital 92.9FM in Abuja, anchored by Owigo Okolo, said understanding the different aspects and components of our diverse cultures is the beginning of our progress, as culture can be used as an instrument to foster peace and develop in the country.
Recently redeployed from his teaching job at NICO Training School, Lagos, where he was also Students Affairs Officer, Ezeh, responding to questions on what is expected of incoming students to the Training School, said apart from being culturally alert, there was also the need to understand our cultural diversity.
Continuing, he said: "I also talk to them about cultural diversity. You know people are coming from all over the country into Lagos, which is a different terrain; and when they come in, there are a lot of expectations and we need to let the students know so that they don’t get caught unaware because Lagos has its own culture."
According to him, it is only when Nigerians have knowledge about cultures and the understanding that it can go a long way in uniting the nation; that they will appreciate language, food and clothing as components of our culture, which have the capacity to unite us and bring about communication, stressing that it is only when we know that as human beings, there are things around us that we can use to develop and not depend on oil all the time.
He regretted that in Nigeria today, people are yet to fully appreciate our cultural diversity, which, he said, has to do with orientation saying it is the reason why NICO is trying to bridge the gap, averring that, "NICO has been defined as the change agent. We want to change all that mindset where you see yourself as an Igbo person and you don’t want to take on a Yoruba culture and the Yoruba person doing the same. NICO is doing everything possible to make sure that through our food, language and clothing, we make people to see that Nigeria is one; and whatever culture you find yourself in, adapt to that culture because one definition of culture says culture is the complex tool you must acquire if you must survive in the society."
To him, for one to understand the culture of a people, he or she needs to look out for the language of the people of the society they have found themselves, their dress codes and kinds of foods, saying if they have these three basic things, they can be welcome and be a part of those people.
His words: "If you wear their kind of dresses and eat their food, they welcome you and NICO is doing everything possible to ensure this because we have the indigenous language training where people come from different parts of the country to learn languages other than theirs. What we do under the NICO platform is that students don’t learn many languages at once, they just learn one that they have interest in because it is that interest that propels your knowledge so once you have interest in a language, you want to know the language.”
Ezeh stated that NICO will continue to do everything possible to propel culture, spread culture and take culture to everywhere, especially with the training of cultural officers, who come from different institutions with the essence of taking culture to the nooks and crannies of the country, so that people will understand that culture is not fetish or sorcery.
Caleb Nor & Jonathan N. Nicodemus
Corporate Affairs Unit