Following recent development making the round on both social and mainstream media, the Director-General of the National Council for Arts and Culture has again been vindicated, writes OGAGBA Idu
It should be recalled that in February 2018, men of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Command raided the Nigerian Arts and Crafts Village, located at the Central Business District, and arrested 92 suspects and also recovered incriminating substances including a rifle from the suspects. This forced the Police to seal off the Cultural Village. the Director-General of the National Council for Arts and Culture (NCAC), Otunba Olusegun Runsewe, heaved a sigh of relief, especially over criminal activities of some individuals who have turned the Village to avenue to commit all sorts of crimes.
The DG applauded the police for their action and felt vindicated as he had all along deplored activitiesnof some never do well who have turned the place to merchandising hard drugs, illicit substances and even as notorious spot for engaging in prostitution, lesbianism and even male prostitution or gay activities. ITunes did not mince words to pronounce that the Village remains one of the premium places for showcasing Nigeria’s cultural heritage to the international community and therefore, people’s activities at the place must conform to the highest standards or law and morality.
Since then, the few beneficiaries of shopbspaces at the sprawling Arts and Crafts Village imbued with narrow selfish interests have sustained an almost ceaseless war against Otunba Runsewe in their quest to convert government property to personal use.
Bent insisting he would not yield to blackmail and insisting on fulfilling his mandate, an unyielding Runsewe remained firm and resolute coming out firmly to denounce the few individuals who turned the Art and Crafts Village into a haven for criminal activities.
Speaking at a world press conference last week, Runsewe decried those wishing him to be jailed for standing against dissident elements whose personal interests transcends the general good of Nigerians, to bury their heads in shame.
According to him, “the Art and Craft Village is currently undergoing massive renovation to meet international standards, it belongs to the Federal Republic Of Nigeria, it does not belong to me but to the Nigerian people, so I would be failing in my duties as a public officer and appointee of government if I cannot protect government property to which I was mandated to oversee”.
Further clearing the air over his recent travails in court, Runsewe reiterated that he will not “stand idly and allow unscrupulous elements hijack government property that was legally put under my care” stressing that, “posterity will judge us in the negative if we alllow some people turn government property to drug den, a holdbay and rented house for hooligans and criminal elements.
“A lot of people are interested in taking over the Art and Craft village for negative activities as we have seen in recent times, some even offered me huge sums of money to turn a blind eye, while they continued their unwholesome activities. When we came in, over 26 stolen cars were parked there which we informed the police for investigations and they came and cleared all those vehicles for investigation”.
The NCAC boss assued Nigerians that he remains focused saying, “for me the future of every Nigerian must be protected. The land is not my father’s land but they want to blackmail us so they can have a field day with government property. We are focused and nothing will distract us from championing the good course for all Nigerians.”
THE SECOND STORY
NASS promises to recover NCAC property in national interest
The National Assembly has expressed commitment to help the National Council for Arts and Culture take full control of it’s permanent site in order to maximise the site for the benefit of Nigerians.
This position was made known by members of the House Committee on unspent funds in Abuja recently.
Members of the Committee promised to look into the recent controversy surrounding the cultural village located near Sheraton Hotels in Abuja with a view to securing the premises for NCAC.
During the investigative hearing, the Director General of NCAC, Otunba Segun Runsewe stressed the need to ward off intruders to the Art and Crafts village so that the council can put infrastructure in place to empower Nigerians.
The DG reaffirmed that if the Art and Crafts Village facility belonging to NCAC is maximised, the site could boost Internally Generated Revenue(IGR) for the Federal Government.
Runsewe reiterated that the site worth N9.8 billion belongs to Nigerians and must not be used for personal gains by unscrupulous individuals emphasising that if put to good use, it could generate billions in IGR for the government.
Fielding questions from journalists after the session, Runsewe stressed the need to protect and defend the landed property of the council saying, “Nigerians must know that the land belongs to them and it’s not a personal thing. If that land was fully operational, it would have been giving some good IGR to the government”
Runsewe further commended the House Committee for a job well done noting with interest, its commitment to improving financial expenditures of government agencies, “we are the implementors and the committee is there to help us do our jobs better, it is not witch-hunting but part of fighting corruption and the committee can correct so many things”, he noted.