There was a renewed hope for the actualisation of the long sought after united and peaceful Nigeria following the successful unity campaign staged by the National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO) in Abuja, on March 1.
The event held at the Cyprian Ekwensi Cultural Centre, Garki was attended by respected Nigerians from various ethnic backgrounds, top government officials, pupils and students from various schools and culture enthusiasts.
With the theme, Culture: A strategic tool for peace, unity and national integration, it was aimed at strengthening the ties of unity and peaceful coexistence among Nigerians.
It was also targeted at promoting and stimulating the interest of Nigerian children in the various cultures, languages, arts, music and dressings of various ethnic nationalities and indeed, instil in them the Nigerian pride.
NICO pointed out that it was to create a platform to discover young talents in culture and creative arts as well as promote the culture of religious tolerance.
The acting Executive Secretary of NICO, Louis Eriomala, said the parastatal places premium on children given their strategic importance in the promotion and preservation of cultural heritage of a people.
He said it was based on the idea of catching them young and channelling the minds of children on the importance of embracing peace and unity that the ministry assembled secondary school children to tutor them on the importance of building a bridge of unity.
“There is no gainsaying the fact that if our young people can be sensitised and educated to understand the nexus between peace, unity and national development, Nigerians would indeed have hope for a better future,” he said.
Eriomala further reiterated the commitment of NICO to the implementation of its programmes on children and youth, assuring that efforts would also be made to design new ones to address emerging challenges.
Also speaking, the Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Grace Gekpe, who was represented by her Special Assistant, Simon Tyungu, expressed concern over the growing wave of hate speeches in the country, saying there was urgent need to curb the menace.
“We must learn that peace, unity and national integration are the surest ways to building a stronger and better nation for us all. Our cultural diversity should not pose any form of threat to our peaceful coexistence but rather should be a unifying force,” he remarked.
Gekpe encouraged young students to learn and appreciate the right values of indigenous cultures of various ethnic nationalities in the country.
“Young students should be encouraged especially in this present time of modern innovation and influence by the western world to know that, our culture is our identity.
“It is common knowledge that our country is being faced with various challenges of communal crises, farmers herdsmen clashes, which have resulted in unwarranted bloodshed. We must therefore, understand that the ideology of our founding fathers was to use our cultural diversity in creating a stronger bond between us as a people,” he stated.
Meanwhile, as part of activities marking the occasion, different presentations were rendered by students from the selected schools such as; masquerade dance, cultural dance, drama and language exaltation.
The pupils presented cultural dances in Yoruba, Igbo, Hausa, Igala, Nupe, Ebira, among others; presented drama, and displayed what they had been coached on how to break the verbal and nonverbal communication barrier among Nigerians.
Schools in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) which participated in the exercise were: Junior Secondary School, Iddo Sarki; Lightway Academy, Wuse 2; Anglican Girls Grammar School, Apo; Model Secondary School, Maitama; Junior Secondary School, Gwarimpa; Tophill School, Wuse 2; and Government Secondary School, Tundun Wada, Zone 4.