Otunba Olusegun Runsewe, the cat with Nine Lives, has finally used up all the nine and has been felled, not disgraced. Maybe Otunba, as we fondly call him, misjudged himself, and realized too late that a lion will not rest until it subdues its prey. He fought too many battles since he assumed office as the Director-General of the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation NTDC. More than two times he survived extra legal means to remove him and methought those against him merely retreated to restrategise and overhaul their plans.
Now they have triumphed. They popped Champagne, Click glasses and toast to their victories. We know the Vanquished. He is the towering, ubiquitous and highly productive Mr. Tourism, the Otunba. We are yet to be told what he has done wrong.
Somebody whispered “anti-party” activity. Which party? PDP? If he is, couldn’t he have been disciplined by the party? I am just wondering.
Now, who is the Victor? Somebody is pointing a finger at the direction of the Minister Supervising NTDC, with whom Otunba had flaks from time past or is it the case of the warm that eats the leaves is perching on the leaves?
Who knows, it could be enemy within.
If those who caused his removal had the spirit of God, they could have been patient a bit, endure the nuisance value they thought he had and allowed him to complete has term in August 2014.
Yoruba would say: “Obani, ko baje”. Translation? Just simply, nothing spoil.
It’s baffling that people forget history very quickly; otherwise they would have remembered that the NTDC that Runsewe met was what we derogatorily referred to as Siberia in the FRCN of yore. Those days, Siberia is a unit of frustration where persons who fell out of favour were deployed. I recall that when Otunba was transferred from National Orientation Agency to NTDC, he almost declined the offer but his instinct advised him not to.
NTDC was a graveyard and no activity worth remembering was taking place there. It existed in name. An Agency, a Parastatal of government. Nothing in the likeness of tourism was taking place there except, the usual Civil Service routine paper pushing and of course the roll call of ladies who strap bags on their shoulders strutting around. There was an overlapping effect of this lull. Tourism took the back seat. No pep. No elixir. It was indeed a Siberia.
The reluctant Runsewe came into that desert with no idea of what he would meet on ground. He knew little or next to nothing about Tourism and all his pedigree was Journalism and of course Newspaper Publishing and a seasoned publicist. By oratorical classification Runsewe qualifies as a motivational speaker which could just be a pre-requisite factor for a Tourism developer.
Perhaps his Journalism training, his knack for excellence were what he needed to drive Tourism and about five years down the line, he moved mountains, drove life into Nigeria’s hitherto dead Tourism to the admiration of everybody even his foes who would admit privately that Runsewe is indeed an achiever, and daring success.
He turned the old secretariat Abuja office of the NTDC to a Mecca of sort, and to the envy of experts across the world, Nigerian Tourism under him became the fastest growing industry in Africa and third in the world. I certainly cannot fathom or conjecture what would happen after him but looking far into the future things may not be the same again. Not my kind of prayer anyway but if what he accomplished is nothing too super a feat, just go through a checklist of the achievements of Runsewe as the DG of NTDC.
Runsewe it was who introduced guides to Tourism, city guide even on Telephone, landmarks in major cities, he developed a compendium on Tourism, a Tourism Radio, Registration of Hotels and Parks. The list is endless. Is that the kind of man that should be wasted even if vexed by demons?
I am just thinking aloud.
Time there was when rumour flew around that he corruptly enriched himself as DG of NTDC. I was disappointed and I put the question to him. He exuded some confidence which I never saw in him, smiled and told me that the entire budget of the NTDC is N1.2billion. After overhead and sundry costs, how much is left to be embezzled? I told myself that it was wicked to be that unfair to a parastatal.
Whatever those who feel they have wrestled him to the ground think, Runsewe will ever remain an asset that should not be dispensed with or dismissed in the political thrash can. The mountainous Runsewe is not the Goliath that was felled by little David, he is the Moses who sank the great Pharaoh in the ocean of shame. He knew from day one that he would traversed a rough road. The road will continue to be rough but he still has not reached his utopian.
Weep not Otunba Olusegun Runsewe.