By Frank Meke
Sometime in late 2017, few weeks after his glorious appointment by President Buhari as Director General, National Council for Arts and Culture (NCAC), Otunba Segun Runsewe had breezed into a hospital in Abuja to see a friend of mine and industry big wig who suddenly took ill and was near breathless.
It was past 12 mid night and he had rushed to the hospital at my invitation and a call to save a soul. Though Otunba is not a medical doctor, he does have this profound ability and insight to make light out of darkness. Gifted, intellectually robust, kind and effusive about helping people and nation, Otunba Runsewe has over time proved to the industry and the players that he is a friend in need and indeed.
Immediately, he arranged for my friend to be moved to another hospital, not minding the cost and time, all he was after is to see that the young man did not die and to also relieve me of the distress of anxiety and worry of having such a critical situation on my hands.
Though his efforts were stopped by the hospital doctors where my friend was on red watch, and with gratifying assurances that he would be well, Otunba Runsewe and I retired to the corridors of the expansive Abuja hospital to catch up on the telling health challenges of a dear friend and brother.
And of the two friends I called that most distressing night; it was only Runsewe that jumped out bed at midnight to provide succour. It was at this night, the time and intent of his avowed determination give the culture sector a new and refreshing grounding came to light. I had accompanied him to his car to bid farewell and pronto, we find ourselves by the bonnet of the car with heaps of papers, maps, photographs, sketches, designs and timelines.
It was template of his dream blueprint to revive and parachute culture and Arts into limelight. The lightening at the car park was not bright enough, so we had to put the car lights on for better illumination and appreciation of this new call to rebrand the Nigerian culture and art economy.
From structural and manpower content to festivals, Arts/Crafts with inter agencies and governmental strategies, local and International marketing and advocacy, Otunba Runsewe left me in stupor, re-energized and rekindled my hope and faith on our nation and our very many untapped, unappreciated and left to rot culture and arts economy.
From the slumber of despair, I quickly jumped at the projects blueprint, one or two questions of clarification, I bid Otunba Runsewe farewell and best wishes and to the glory of God, he had kept faith with nation and people of Nigeria throwing spanners into the deadly works of scavengers of our national growth in Arts and Culture.
A cursory look at the various outing of NCAC in 2018, revealed the key steps and intention of a leader conscious of the expectations and demands of his office and that of the people. His first key and strategic step is to give hope again to a workforce drained of the faith on their callings and nation.
Runsewe has always believed in people as fulcrum of national development. He hunts for the best minds and to the weak and unsure footed, he creates footholds of self-confidence and opportunity to grow and flourish. You cannot work with Runsewe and lack wisdom and urge to deliver on assignments.
Teacher, advocate, administrator per excellence and mentor, Runsewe’s father figure brought the supposed laid back workforce of NCAC into prominence and with the work environment. Restructured and reworked to create a living organization.
He flew into Lagos, met with the community of Arts and Culture practitioners and announced a change in orientation and organization. To the Bank of Industry, he collaborated to create intervention fund for practitioners who may wish to create for a better export market for Arts and Crafts.
Though the Federal budget for this strategic Institution is very low on ebb, Runsewe determined to break new grounds, took the message of culture as new Oil to the 36 state governors and commissioners of culture. At the world Cup in Russia, Runsewe parachutes our culture into the homes of Russians and their visitors. The red square in Kremlin became Nigerian square, and the world took note.
At home, same parachute efforts was deployed to Nafest in Rivers state, never seen before and today, a great gain of this government to Nigerian and the world that our culture is truly an enviable economy. Were you at International Arts and Culture expo in Abuja last November? It was classical message and affirment to the works and vision of a man ahead of his time, a great partner in national development, a culture and tourism advocate and wealth creator.
By Frank Meke