The pioneer vice-chancellor of the Federal University, Otuoke in Bayelsa, Mobolaji Aluko, has urged Nigerians to engage in Ayo Olopon, a traditional board game, to improve their mental alertness.
A professor of Chemical Engineering, Mr Aluko made the plea at the Ayo Olopon competition in the ongoing 34th edition of the National Festival for Arts and Culture (NAFEST) in Ekiti.
The festival, which started on November 14, has as its theme “Celebrating National Unity in Diversity.”
According to him, the traditional board game is a geometrical game that tasks the brain.
“I play ayo, draft and chess. Ayo, specifically, is a mathematical game that improves mental alertness.
“I urge you all to engage in it to boost your brain’s capability,” Mr Aluko said.
Earlier, the Director-General of the National Council for Arts and Culture (NCAC), Olusegun Runsewe,urged Nigerians to reawaken their consciousness on what made the nation relevant in ancient times.
Mr Runsewe said that embracing the local traditional games like Ayo Olopon just as it was embraced in the past, was quite important.
He said that this was necessary to enable Nigerians to think critically and allow them to profer solutions to national problems.
“Our major challenge in this country is that we don’t value ourselves, our culture and our values. Ayo Olopon is an aspect of our culture we must not jettison.
“Our fathers picked two items to unite the nation which is sports and culture.
“Culture is capable of uniting us. I want you to know that what unites us is more and greater than those things that divide us.
“Please believe that nothing can divide this country; it will remain the same. People from 25 different states are here. Let us believe in the country and stay together,” he said.
The Head of Service in Ekiti, Peju Babafemi, said she was brought up to love the game, adding that it had enhanced her mental capacity.
Ten states participated in the game – Bayelsa, Delta, Ekiti, Lagos, Rivers, Ogun, Ondo, Nasarawa, Niger and the Federal Capital Territory.
The results of the winners would be announced during the closing ceremony of the programme on Saturday.