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Tinkoriko, A Paradigm Shift, Targets 36, 000 Youths Off The Streets In Nigeria

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In a deliberate effort to check social menace in Nigeria, Tinkoriko is out to engage about 36, 000 youths across the  states of the federation off the streets. 

This is a paradigm shift from the usual empowerment programmes of governments over the years that often not result oriented but Tinkoriko has given birth to a new social order empowering and engaging the youths meaningfully through social reorientation. 

Tinkoriko celebrated January 1every new year, is simply a social group founded 30 years ago by the current Cross River State Representative on the Board of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Otuekong Orok Otu Duke giving youths in the state the platform to showcase themselves free of social vices. 

Now Tinkoriko which took Calabar by storm on January 1, heralding the new year, is bigger and better hence the need to take the campaign beyond the state to the national level. 

As part of the strategy to achieve this, Duke, former Deputy Speaker in the Cross River State House of Assembly said in Tinkoriko “right now we are trying to register a minimum of 1,000 youths per state, because for the past 22 years we have been seeing the same set of people come for training. We empower them, give them the same set of kits. So we are trying to do a database that would have list of young people, 1,000 each in every state, so that we can fall back in case there’s a programme. We need to engage them because an idle mind is the devil’s workshop”

Large crowd of Tinkorikos on parade, January 1.

Using the Cross River experience as an example, the former lawmaker (1999 to 2007) said, “if a young man plays Tinkoriko and sees another young man it will be difficult for you to go on a hit and kill that man the next day”.

For the past 30 years, he said Tinkoriko has impacted much on the youths and “we are still using the platform to canvass against certain social ills and also using it to serve as a platform for the youths to ventilate their feelings.

“We need more platforms for us to be meeting ourselves. Haven’t you seen the reduction of crime rate during the 32 days carnival? The more these young people are occupied, which is one of those things we will talk about when we start articulating programmes of NDDC the better for the country”. 

The 2023 Carnival Calabar theme was “Season of Sweetness” and how Tinkoriko got in, Duke said, “we were included in the calendar and the theme for this year is season of sweetness. It’s getting sweeter by the day. I told somebody that we are just warming up. This is testing the microphone. We will expect more things and we will get more things from the governor.

“Tinkoriko is a provision of a platform for people who fly different colours to ventilate. The different colours here means whatever social standing you are. The simplicity of Tinkoriko is such that you don’t get initiated. You don’t wear costumes. It’s just your pair of canvass shoes, your jean trousers and then we give you t-shirts

“First and foremost we were included in the calendar for the carnival for the first time since 1999, and for the second time too we decided to come out and celebrate our victory in the last election because Tinkoriko was totally in support of “Back-To-South”. We are saying a big thank you for voting Senator Bassey Edet Otu as our governor. That’s the basic thing. 

“We are saying a big thank you to the state for having voted governor Otu. We are also saying we did it! That’s more or less.”

The Tinkoriko masquerades.

Celebrating Tinkoriko for 30 years counting, he said, “when we started we used to circulate around Egerton. It started as Tinkoriko Mission Hill, that is Wards 4 and 5. Then we expanded through Mayne Avenue because Gershom Bassey was there and he was a leader of some sort. So when transiting we used to touch Fenton with Essien Ayi there, and then through Edgerly, then Mayne Avenue, but the route became too long. Of course Tinkoriko gave birth to the carnival. When Donald Duke resumed in 1999 he called me and said we should make it a state affair, but I told him we will not leave Tinkoriko.

“I sponsored the bill for the creation of the Carnival Commission. I told him it could be expanded to include 1st of January. But over the years they used to stop on 31st of December. This is the first year that they have made the carnival run for 32 days to include Tinkoriko. Tinkoriko is now drawing the curtain of the 2023 carnival and it’s not going to stop. 

“For now we are part of the Calabar Carnival calendar. We are thankful for that in our 30th year. Of course the governor has always been our grand patron for like 15 years now.”

A cross section of the Tinkoriko girls

On some of the challenges Tinkoriko has faced overtime, he said it has been expensive running the programme and “unfortunately t-shirts have been so expensive. This year each t-shirt costs N5,000. We printed 5,000 t-shirts, that is N25million. So that’s how expensive it is.”

Before now, he stated that Tinkoriko “used to be January 1st and Easter Monday, but I got tired of the Easter Monday because plenty of t-shirts would be needed. If you observed, this year we have removed the year inscription on the t-shirts that limited the t-shirts to the particular year. Now we have opened it to be a generic thing for them to wear it at all times. It is very expensive. They love it as they are showing it”. 

On why the politicians were not involved this year’s Tinkoriko as compared to last year, Duke without mincing words said, “it’s because they use us and dump us. But we still stay on and do what we do. That is the essence of what we do – consistency. They come and go but we still remain the same, otherwise we would not have remained the same for this long.”

Equally commenting on Tinkoriko, a Professor of Law win the University of Calabar, Emmanuel Eyo, said, “we are participating in the season of sweetness. Tinkoriko as a Calabar cultural heritage has been in existence for 30 years and since inception of the new administration we decided to showcase today’s display as season of sweetness which was coined by His Excellency, Senator Prince Bassey Edet Otu.”

On what has been the achievement of Tinkoriko generally, Eyo who is also the President of Tinkoriko Calabar Heritage said, “outside entertainment of our people and indigenes of Cross River State, we have been awarding scholarships to registered members. And before we displayed today, we had gone to motherless baby homes to give them what we have. We are non religious, so we do not need to go and give money to the church. We give to the less privileged. Those who are vulnerable and to those who do not have”. 

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