By Femi Babafemi, Editor, Saturday Sun
NO other name resonates louder in the arts, culture and tourism sphere than that of Otunba Olusegun Runsewe. One of the dominant personalities in that space in the past three decades, he stands out largely by his dynamism, innovation and productivity wherever he is given the opportunity to work. So far, he has been a dynamo of change and a model public servant with an unassailable track record.
Runsewe, who hails from Ogun State, was born in Kaduna where he attended St. Michael Primary School, Kaduna before proceeding to Vohoeven Technical College, Minna (now Government Technical College).
His educational qualifications include MBA in Marketing from Edo State University, Higher National Diploma in Management Studies from London School for Executives and Diploma in Public Relations from the London School of Management Studies. He also has a professional certificate in Estate and Property Management from Kaduna Polytechnic.
Otunba Runsewe is a fellow of the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations, Fellow of Institute of Management (FIM) and Fellow, Association of Business Executives, (FABE), London. He is Patron, Sports Writers Association of Nigeria, and Nigerian Union of Journalists.
While he is associated with culture and tourism, a chunk of his career was domiciled in the media. Starting as a Marketing Manager with the New Nigerian Newspaper, he rose to the position of General Manager. At various times, he was Head of Public Relations (Media), National Theatre, Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Sports Weekly and Publisher /Editor-in-Chief, National Network newspapers.
His service as a public servant includes his appointment as Executive Director at the National Orientation Agency (NOA) in 2000 and Director-General of the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC) in August 2006. His tenure at the NTDC remains a milestone in the annals of the development of Nigeria’s tourism potential and his feat still reverberates. By a combination of aggressive tourism marketing campaign and creative ingenuity, he gave unprecedented continental and global visibility to the Nigerian tourism industry. With the catch-phrase “Tourism is Life,” NTDC under Runsewe succeeded in positioning Nigeria as a tourism country.
The agency projected a positive image of Nigeria to the rest of the world with strategic presence at annual International tourism expos such as World Travel Market (London), FITUR (Madrid), ITB (Berlin) and Arabian Travel Market (Dubai). In those halcyon days of NTDC, Nigeria seriously contended for global attention as a destination of preference. The world took notice that there was something good about Nigeria. NTDC won accolades from tourism bodies and organisations around the world, including World Travel Market, London and FITUR, Spain. Runsewe’s organisational acumen was evident as the pioneer Chairman of Abuja Carnival Planning Committee. The inaugural Abuja Carnival of 2005 till date is adjudged by the international community as the best organised. Similarly, he made an indelible impression at the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa. While Nigeria did not qualify for the Mundial, the Nigerian Tourism Village, put together by Otunba Runsewe, was one-of-a-kind attraction and a PR coup that made Nigeria the cynosure of attention.
Presently, the Runsewe-led NCAC is working to revive the abandoned Argungu Fishing Festival in 2020. The UNESCO-recognised festival has been in limbo for some years now.