In line with the restoration policy of the Bayelsa State Government, Bayelsans who have made significant contribution to the development and advancement of the culture of the Ijaw Nation have received cash awards totaling N6.5 million.
Also Governor Seriake Dickson announced that a centre for the study and preservation of languages with special focus on the Ijaw language is to be established in the state for the sake of posterity.
Governor Dickson announced this at the 2013 World Culture Day Celebration with the theme, “Exploring Nigeria Cultural Diversity for Development,” at the Banquet Hall of Government House in Yenagoa.
Governor Dickson said, the move was borne out of the need to preserve the cultural values of the Ijaws, which is fast eroding especially the people’s language that constitutes a major part of the culture.
According to him, the foundation stone for the language centre will soon be laid as the Ministry of Special Projects is already handling the project.
Governor Dickson, who reminded the people to strive to protect and project the rich cultural heritage and values of the Ijaw Nation, lamented the inability of the younger generation to speak their mother tongue and are bereft of core values and traditions of the Ijaws.
In his words: “Now we have competing cultures seeking for attention. Today we have our children comfortably speaking other tongues; we encourage it but not at the detriment of our language which is a major component of our culture.
“We should endeavor to impart the essential part of our culture and traditions to make us the quintessential Ijaw men and women.
According to the Governor, as the fourth largest ethnic group in the country, it behooves on government to strive to preserve the Ijaw culture at all times and bequeath it to the younger generation.
Commending the contributions of musical legends such as King Robert Ebizimor, Cardinal Rex Jim Lawson, Prince David Bull, White Eagles and Echo Toikumo, he stressed the need for the people to do more to have some level of presence in the entertainment industry.
This, Hon. Dickson noted, informed government’s decision to set up the Yenagoa Film City and made a donation of N250 million to the project.
In furtherance of his administration’s vision to promote tourism, the Governor said government would collaborate with the private sector to host Miss Nigeria and Africa Beauty Pageants in Yenagoa as well as organize two cultural events and a Boat Regatta later in the year.
The award recipients include, the state Council for Arts and Culture for their feat at the 2012 National Festival of Arts and Culture in Ilorin, Kwara State, where Bayelsa came tops in dance drama, the Ekubo Family, winner of the 2012 Maltina Family Dance Competition, Gift Zibima popularly known as Geebonz, overall winner of the National Upcoming Comedy Contest 2010.
Others are Miss Inara Isaiah, Miss Marian Makbere Usinzibe, Miss Poweide Lawrence, Miss Sophie-Ann Diete Spiff who emerged winners in various categories in the Beauty Pageants as well as Miss Tamara Etiemo, winner of Nigeria Next Movie Star 2012.
In his remarks, Commissioner for Culture and Ijaw National Affairs, Dr. Felix Tuodolo called on youths to emulate Bayelsans whose outstanding efforts have promoted the Ijaw Culture and Language.
Speaking as Chairman of the Occasion, Elder Comish Ekiye expressed gratitude to Governor Dickson for the recognition accorded them, as the gesture would encourage other talented Bayelsans.
Responding on behalf of the award recipients, Director of the state Council for Arts and Culture, Mr. Ineye Dudafa, who was full of praises for the state government, expressed appreciation to the Governor for creating a platform for performing artistes to excel