If the sky is truly the limit to the aspiration of humanity, then we need to redefine the parameters of expectations of men who break the limit of the skyline to leave behind legacies in socioeconomic and political circles across the globe. In other words, there should be limitless, insightful and progressive templates worthy of breakthroughs in all areas of human endeavour, supportive of notions that nothing is impossible to those who dare to conquer.
Otunba Segun Runsewe, director-general, National Council for Arts and Culture (NCAC), falls within the aggregation and the very small inspiring community of leaders who set records for self and call to duty beyond the sky limit options.
Runsewe packs loads of faith and strength, enough to bestride and take up very challenging options and national assignments. He has the mentality of a tested army general, the likes that would fetch water from the brooks heavily guarded by strong opposition enemies, men with grasshopper’s disposition and recluses to change.
At NCAC, as he did in the NTDC many years gone by, Runsewe came to work every day in the past four years, with different colours of socks, each to soak up sweat of passionate and focused cultural economic deliveries. Noted for mentoring minders of same focal strength, this detribalized Nigerian born in the crocodile city of Kaduna hardly fails to register his unapologetic presence as a bulldozer of impossibilities.
Unmindful of the thoughts and gossip of simplistic minds who see and belittle every change of operational realities as “no be so we dey do am”, Runsewe plunges where average men fear to tread.
Take the rebranding of the iconic National Festival of Arts and Culture (Nafest), celebrated before he came to NCAC as “naming ceremony” affair.
In four years, the iconic national festival has become the true face of Nigeria’s cultural strength, with its socioeconomic potential laid bare for all to see. From Kaduna to Rivers, Edo, Plateau and Ekiti loading come November, the massive presence of our diverse tongues and cultures were on strategic display, opening vistas of collaborations with federating states, private sector, changing the climate of doom and hatred against the nation and people, certainly confused about age-long tales of the moonlight that Nigeria has got nothing to offer to the world.
To the world, he sold the vision and aspirations of a Nigeria big enough to champion the change of negative image of Africa as a land of crisis and impossibilities through the International Arts and Crafts exposition (INAC). This multinational cultural tourism assembly became the platform for global cultural communities to learn and mingle with the best in Africa, not only in Nigeria. INAC under Runsewe became the standard-bearer of the richness and diversity of the often maligned African culture and indigenous arts.
Before it became the lexicon of operational rural development imitative across other agencies, it is to the credit of this unassuming servant of the Nigerian government and people that the people, the rural poor, were brought into the equation of national growth through empowerment schemes.
To Runsewe, a cultural tourism engagement and revival without the people in view and at the forefront of the realities is like fishing in fishless waters. He knew that skills acquisition would make the rural poor contributors to national development and pivots of sustainable benefits. So, at each Nafest outing, every Nigerian, particularly the girl-child and women, are top targets for cultural derivables and deliveries centred on skills that can put food on the table.
Runsewe had always counted the nation and its people first in his gladiator work and walk. No doubt, both locals and foreigners believe that the President Muhammadu Buhari has made one of the best decisions not only to appoint Runsewe to revive the culture sector but to renew his mandate for another four years.
The endorsement and plaudits for the presidential announcement and approval were earth-shaking, pleasantly received across the industry. Professor OJO Bakare, was more than excited by the fresh mandate given to Runsewe to consolidate on the good work done at NCAC.
Bakare, one of the top industry leaders and Commissioner for Culture and Tourism in Ekiti State, told me that he has always believed Otunba Segun Runsewe would return to NCAC: “He worked hard and I know the reward for hard work is more work. He has worked hard for our sector. So, let him work more. We appreciate the President and the minister for the support and confidence”
Soji Amusan, former president of National Association of Travel Agencies and a notable travel trade and aviation influencer, stated that Runsewe personified passion and enthusiasm beyond measure, so deserving of the recall to duty to finish the good work he has started at NCAC.
“ It is not difficult to reason that Runsewe has got the presence and abilities to change the narratives of the Nigerian cultural economy. He did it gloriously at NTDC and has done same thing at NCAC. He is one of the few government appointees that one cannot question his love and dedication to nation building,” veteran Amusan explained.
To Nkerewuem Onung, acting president, Federation of Tourism Associations of Nigeria, Runsewe is an embodiment of hope and faith to an industry clearly misunderstood from the beginning: “We thank President Buhari and Lai Mohammed for the trust to bring him back and finish the good work he started. Runsewe brought light to the culture economy and we in the private sector rejoice that he is rewarded for standing firm on the side of the industry and people of Nigeria.
“I am sure Africa and the diplomatic community who witnessed and were part of his success story in the past four years, would trust government in its cultural pronouncements and positions.”
To Susan Akporiaye, president of NANTA, Runsewe is the road map to the actualization of the Nigerian cultural tourism dream.
“Runsewe’s physical and spiritual body language tells of his deep love for the work he is appointed to do, which he has done, will do in his usual way and that includes making practitioners the focal attention of his mandate.”
“We at nanta rejoice at his come back and we know he would surprise us more with more achievements and support.” Mrs. Akporiaye noted
To the media watch team, Runsewe certainly scales up above his contemporaries. John Omololu, President of Association of Nigeria Travel journalists, believes it would have marked a dooms day for the industry if Runsewe was not mandated to continue.
“He is the best administrator and champion of change in the culture tourism sector. Runsewe held on well, filled the missing gaps, reached out to everyone and provided leadership. As media watch team in the sector, our jobs were made easier because you feel his pulse on issues and can be reached without unnecessary protocols. His come back means that the president loves us and I must thank the Honourable Minister, Lai Mohammed for the support” Mr. Omololu further explained.
Gani Tarzan Balogun, President, Association of Tourist Boat Operators and Water Transporters (ATBOWATON), believes that Runsewe renewed mandate will bring greater glory to the industry.
“Runsewe certainly deserve this positive nod from the President and joy of it all, is that everyone including those who does not like his face agreed that he is the best man for the job. He really worked hard and at each point, he would call stakeholders to appraise the job he has done and offer advice. He truly wanted Nigeria to be the center point Africa Cultural tourism revival and with the right Support from the President, National Assembly, the Minister and the practitioners, Runsewe will take us across Jordan. Mr. Balogun stated.
To us here, we share in the sentiments and endorsements, appreciating the support of the President and Minister Lai Mohammed, for shaking off uninformed pressures to give the nod to this uncommon Nigerian, a man of guts and grits, a Cultural tourism evangelist who takes no captives and a bulldozer.
May God guide your path as you mass out again to serve nation and people of Nigeria, Africa inclusive in the next four years.