By Osa Amadi, Arts Editor
History was made in Accra (described as home of culture as Nigeria is to the world) when on Friday 28 June, 2019, Otunba Segun Runsewe who was honoured with West Africa Man of the Year Award during the 5th ‘accraweizo’ conference, launched the Nigeria-Ghana Friendship Club. The event took place at the glamourous La Palm Royal Beach Hotel, Accra.
Launching the club and flanked by many dignitaries including the traditional ruler, Nii Quaye Aman II, Teshie Akwashiongtse and Dr. Zibril Idi Abari, Deputy Minister for Tourism, Arts, and Culture, Ghana, Otunba Runsewe said: “Today we are going to make history in the annals of West Africa. Today we are going to exchange flags, stronger brotherhood, and to show that we are truly together. After this celebration, we are going to share kola. Kola brings life in Africa. After this celebration we are going to have a new thinking between Ghana and Nigeria. We are going to have ties stronger than what we used to have.”
Otunba Runsewe who addressed the audience in Ghanaian language after representatives of both countries had exchanged flags that symbolize the two countries’ formation of a friendship club, also said that the “unborn Ghanaians, and Nigerians will come to meet the peace being espoused today.”
Delivering a goodwill message earlier, Otunba Runsewe had said his first visit to Accra was 15-17 years ago, “and I did not spend up to 2 hours. This is the first time I am spending a night in Accra.”
He described Ghanaians as very hospitable and friendly people. Runsewe went into history to unearth some very uncommon historical facts in Nigeria-Ghana relation. “The first goal that was scored at the National Stadium in Nigeria, as far back as 1972, was by a Ghanaian – Yakubu Mambo. He was a star of our time. He was a Ghanaian, but even when we played against the Sierra Leone in 1973, he scored a goal to give Nigeria victory. So, you can see that Nigeria and Ghana have been together for a long time.
“Again, players of the IICC Shooting Stars of Ibadan, Philip Appiah and Ansah (the goalkeeper) were all Ghanaians. The captain of Ghana, Abdul Rasak, is a Nigerian but he is still living in Ghana till today. He can’t even go back home. The greatest supporter of football in Nigeria, Baba ele Eron, is a Ghanaian. He came to support one team as far back as 1962 and till today he has not returned to Ghana. So, we have always been brothers and sisters. We have come, we have seen, and the continent shall conquer.”
Responding and breaking the symbolic kola, the traditional ruler, Nii Quaye Aman II, Teshie Akwashiongtse said: “I break this Kola to join Ghana and Nigeria to be one nation, one people, and one destiny.” Otunba Runsewe took one of the unbroken kola nuts, promising to preserve it in the Nigerian Museum for unborn generations to see and remember that such tie of friendship was forged that day between Nigeria and Ghana.
From La Palm Royal Beach Hotel, Otunba and his train moved to the Nigeria High Commission in Ghana where he was received by Counsellor Daniel Ebijor Tonibor, Ibrahim Abdulazez Hong, First Secretary and Head of Chancery; and Mrs. Oyenike Adebowasule.
Addressing the embassy, Otunba Runsewe said: “We are going to change the narrative of the way people see Nigeria. We need to speak for ourselves now. Nigeria has all it takes, but it is just a little disconnection which we have to reconnect. We want to furnish all the embassies across the globe. Under my leadership, I want to assure you that the Embassy will hear more from us.”
On behalf of the National Council for Arts & Culture (NCAC) and the country, Otunba Runsewe deposited the following cultural items at the Nigeria High Commission in Ghana: two gongs which are symbols of National Festival of Arts & Culture (NAFEST) celebrated annually in Nigeria; Newsletters of NCAC, iPad covers made of Nigerian local fabrics; NCAC publications containing all the festivals in Nigeria, made-in-Nigeria keyholders, etc.
Responding to Otunba Runsewe’s kind gestures, Counsellor Daniel Ebijor Tonibor promised to convey all the messages to the Ambassador who happened to be unavoidably absent to witness the unusual diplomatic event.