By OSA AMADI
It was praises galore for Otunba Segun Runsewe and the National Council for Arts and Culture (NCAC) at the closing ceremony of the 2017 African Arts & Craft Expo recently in Abuja. The 22-day long exhibition which attracted arts, crafts, and culture lovers from all over the world was formally closed by covering the lid of the AFAC calabash, a cultural innovation which replaced tape-cutting at the event.
“No more cutting of tapes. Tape cutting is not our culture. We have replaced tape-cutting with opening and closing of calabash. Take note, journalists: we did not cut any tape in AFAC 2017,” The Director-General of NCAC, Otunba Segun Runsewe, had said.
Among the prominent personalities who attended the closing ceremony were the former chief Justice of Nigeria, Alfa Belgore; Tom Adaba, former DG of National Broadcasting Commission; Senator Smart Adeyemi; Mrs. Winifred Ekanem Oyo-Ita, head of Service of the Federation; Mrs. Grace Isu-Igekpe, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Information & Culture, and other dignitaries.
Dr. Tom Adaba congratulated Otunba Segun Runsewe for his excellent performance, saying that “old soldier never dies”. Otunba Runsewe, said Dr. Adaba, will always come back better, more articulate, and more vibrant. Language, arts and culture are the things that distinguish us as a people, “and these are where our integrity is based.”
Also speaking, Senator Smart Adeyemi observed that AFAC 2017 is one of the best events he has witnessed. Apart from sports, he said, arts and culture are one of the things that can be used to promote the unity of Nigeria. This time of hate speeches is most appropriate for the role of culture.
“I cannot imagine a Nigeria without the Igbo, or any other part of the country. Government must use art and culture to develop Nigeria. There is no nation like Nigeria. Let us use art and culture to cement relations, to promote our unity. Otunba Runsewe will be re-appointed,” said Senator Adeyemi, using the opportunity to canvass for the next AFAC to move to a state that is endowed, like Kogi, his state.
Mrs. Winifred Ekanem Oyo-Ita, head of Service of the Federation, expressed satisfaction with the facilities on ground. She commended the management and staff of National Council for Arts & Culture for a good job, urging them not to rest on this achievement. Oyo-Ita encouraged stakeholders to take the art and culture sector very seriously. “We must continue to improve our arts and culture value chain in order to continue to be relevant,” she said.
The Expo which recorded over 1000 visitors daily for 22 days also provided opportunity for skill acquisition for 2, 125 persons. Otunba Runsewe expressed his heartfelt gratitude to all who came, especially the team of National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) for their daily presence at the venue ready to respond promptly to any case of emergency with their state-of-the-art equipment which included a Mobile Intensive Care Unit Van and well equipped firefighting truck.
Earlier, Monika Eban, Assistant Director of NEMA, had told Vanguard Arts & Reviews that “Otunba Segun Runsewe is a capable man. No man has done what he is doing.”
Nine countries were officially given certificates for participating. They are Cameroon, Gambia, Mali, Chad, Senegal, Sudan, Burkina Faso, Ghana, and South-Sudan. The 16 states that participated were also awarded certificates.