Tourism: Challenge me to a dance and I’ll give you run for your money –Otunba Runsewe former DG NTDC
Otunba Olusegun Runsewe, former Director-General of the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC) has found a new love in golf.
Still bubbling with life, the flamboyant tourism technocrat is hardly seen in social circles these days. He is either in church services or out there, playing golf. He is also the promoter of the biggest indoor /golf academy in Africa today.
“Immediately that takes off, golfing history in Nigeria will take a new position”. Speaking with Effect, the Ogun-State-born power dresser speaks about life after leaving NTDC and lots.
We hardly hear about Otunba these days, what are you up to now?
Otunba Runsewe is on spiritual holiday now.
How do you mean?
I’m communicating with my God because he owns everybody’s destiny. In life, you need to go on break and start again. That’s what makes the journey sweeter. You can’t move on the same speed forever, you need to take a break and come back. Then, people appreciate you better. Let me use the example of the popular Olajumoke, the bread seller. She never knew that fortune would come to her doorstep until Almighty God made her to have contact with her destiny-helpers and that was the story. So, in life you must learn to go on spiritual holiday so that you can give room to your destiny helpers to network and connect with you.
What misconception do people have about Otunba Runsewe?
Otunba Runsewe believes in innovation. The moment you believe in innovations, you would step on the toes of people who never believe in moving forward. People want to remain in one place. Even while in government, those who didn’t understand my vision did not celebrate me. That is the disconnect. I believe in my originality; i believe in my own thing and want to always do my own thing.
In all these, what has life taught you?
I’ll be a bit spiritual this time. What life has taught me in all these years is to thank God, wherever I find myself. Whichever way you feel, you have a challenge other challenges are more than your own. To make things better, you must thank God for today because there can’t be champions without challenges. There is no success without struggle and we must all abide by the spirit of believing in God. God owns the next minute of our lives. So, we should enjoy the best of every minute of our lives because nobody knows what would happen in the minutes to come.
So, how do you unwind?
Unwinding is very important to the body chemistry. If you can up with me on the dancing floor on a good day, I’ll give you a run for your money. Life is worth celebrating. You can never know what tomorrow would bring. You heard of the doctor who committed suicide on the third mainland bridge. if that doctor had been involved in accident three minutes before that time, and had his ribs broken, his mother would have said, God was not fair; the death of that guy is a lesson for all of us that we should always thank God for his deliverance known and unknown. if that guy had been involved in accident or armed robbers had attacked him, he would be fighting that now, not the suicide issue. We should always thank God for every situation we find ourselves.
I learnt you play golf these days. Does it also keep you busy on weekends?
I discovered recently that some golfers don’t attend church. On Sunday morning, play golf. Then, I coin a word that there are two G’s. The capital G is God but the small g is golf. So, the capital G comes first but the small g can come anytime. It is not as important as the capital G. It’s just a swag way of praising God and that we must not compared GOD with anything. You cannot give the time of the capital G to the small g. You can never see Otunba Runsewe playing golf on a Sunday morning. I cannot give what is for God to anything inasmuch as I love to play golf. We travel to Oturkpo, Sen. David Mark’s golf course to play golf sometimes and we play on Saturdays and Sundays only. On Sunday, other golfers would be looking for me because by then, I was already in church. It was later they would tell me they were searching for me.
I told them I could not sacrifice my Sunday morning for anything. There and then, two, three or four people have changed their attitudes of playing golf on Sunday morning. Most of the Muslims I played golf with, when it was time for prayers would tell me to wait. They would say their prayers and continue. There is over 6 billion dollars that would be going into golf by 2019. The money is ready in the international golf circle. I want Nigeria to get a chunk of it. Meanwhile, only two African countries are making moves to get their shares of that fund coming into golf.
The countries are South Africa and Zimbabwe. With the effort I have put, Nigeria is in one of the calendar line of countries that will benefit from this 6 billion dollars.
I started playing golf six years ago. Golf is a holistic game and I want to plead with Nigerians who have not discovered golf before the age of 50 to connect with the game. Golf is the only game that you play and your body chemistry communicates on just one swing. Golf shows who you are. If you want to know an introvert or an extrovert when a golfer hits the ball, it tells much story about the person standing behind the ball. Golf brings out the character in everyone. It’s a unique game. in golf, we play 18 holes, if you play 18 holes with a lady or a gentleman, you will know that person more than when you live with the person for 18 years. The 18 holes is about 4 hours and the four hours tells the story about every individual.
You advised that every Nigerian before age 50 should play golf. But there’s the assumption that golf is a game of the rich, what’s your take on that?
In 1937, there was a guy called Rocky Miller. He was a staunch golfer. He granted a journalist an interview and he said to the journalist, “let us meet on the golf course. “The journalist got there and met many prominent people. That incident also contributed to people’s perception that golf is a game for the elites. No, golf is for everybody. I will give you this analogy. In golf-kitting, we have the standards of a Mercedez, a Lexus, a Lamboughini, a Jaguar and a Keke Napep. If you think you cannot afford any of these big time brand, you can go for the smaller brand. That is why people misunderstand what golf is all about. Are you aware that to play polo, you need a horse? Do you know that you can play golf with two or three clubs, it depends on who you are. If you want the best, you can get the best but would pay a price for it. So, I want to remove the assumption that golf is for the elites only.
You are a power dresser, are you a designer freak?
Life is to be enjoyed. Let me give one of these to my wife. My wife loves designing clothes and does many things for me. I want to look good on every occasion; from color combination, to branding, to brand identity, I want to look unique. I love it. Even when I come out to play golf, people see a different outlook in the golfing environment. I love designers, i love to look good and I will pay any price to look good.