Culture, Nigeria’s new oil -Otunba Segun Runsewe

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Otunba Segun Runsewe; Director-General, National Council for Art and Culture.

• Describes Maitama Sule moralist, true patriot

By George Daniel and Remi Adebayo

With right attitude by Nigerians towards embracing its rich cultural  diversities, the sector will soon replace oil as major foreign exchange earner, Director-General of the National Council for Art and Culture, Otunba Olusegun Runsewe has said.

Runsewe stated this on Tuesday during an interactive session with journalists at his office in Abuja. The former DG of the National Tourism Development Commission wondered why Nigeria, with its rich culture should not surpass other 17 countries of the world that relied solely on culture as main revenue source.

The culture enthusiast disclosed that, under his leadership the NCAC would use the arts and culture to change the narrative of Nigerians; saying, “culture is Nigerian new oil as the next revenue base for Nigeria”.

Otunba as he is fondly called, described culture at palm oil to eat the from the opportunities available in tourism and a strong tool to change the whole nation.

Supporting with statistics, he posited that what Nigerians spent between 2010 – 2014 to purchase foreign suit was enough to provide 300,000 boreholes and provide portable water.

The DG attributed causes of some skin problems in Africa to the heat attracted by these foreign dresses copied by Nigerians while noting that Africans do not require dresses that would heat them up; he therefore advocated for simplicity of the African fashion and its wears.

On agitation by various youth groups on the unity of Nigeria, Runsewe said the NCAC is collaborating with the Nigerian Army to diffuse the tension through art and culture, saying, “If the culture is right, the agitation will not be there”.

While unfolding parts of his agenda for the Council, Otunba Runsewe said his leadership would be themed; “Our Culture, Our Pride,” urging all Nigerians to embrace those things that make the nation tick so that every citizens would be proud promoters of the nation’s rich cultural heritage.

The NCAC boss disclosed the agency had secured a N300m grant from the Bank of Industry as loans to ordinary Nigerian in the art and culture sector as part of its empowerment drive to make a difference.

Meanwhile, Otunba Runsewe has joined other Nigerians to mourn the demise of elder statesman and first chairman of the agency, Alhaji (Dr) Yusuf Maitama Sule.

In a statement issued on Tuesday by Otunba Runsewe,  the late diplomat was described as a great Nigerian icon, “a true patriot, a moralist who spoke openly against the vices of corruption, bad governance and discrimination along religious, political and ethnic divide”, the statement read.

“As the pioneer Chairman of NCAC Board in 1975, Maitama Sule laid a solid foundation for the development of the arts and culture sector of the nation.”

The statement said the late nationalist would be remembered as one Nigerian who spent his entire life fighting for the unity, peace and development of Nigeria.

Maitama Sule, the the Dan masanin Kano was born on 1 October 1929; he was politician, orator, diplomat and elder-statesman.

The late politician was chief whip of the Federal House of Representatives between 1955-1956; and he led the Nigerian delegation to the Conference of Independent African States in 1960.

Alhaji Maitama Sule became the Federal Commissioner of Public Complaints in 1976 before aspiring to be president under the National Party of Nigeria where he later withdrew for Alhaji Shehu Shagari.

In 1979, Maitama Sule was appointed Nigeria’s representative to the United Nations where he was chairman of the United Nations Special Committee against Apartheid.

He died at an Egyptian hospital on Monday, July 3 at the age of 88 and was buried in Kano, his home state on Tuesday.