When the Eagles land in Russia, Nigeria won’t be showcasing football talents alone but a gamut of cultural endowments and national pride. The intention is to become the cynosure of attention and leaves behind lingering echoes of Nigeria’s pride and potential. While Russia 2018 is strictly a soccer showpiece, the Mundial has other intrinsic opportunities that are mineable for strategic advantages.
Enter the Nigerian Village, a novelty concept of running a cultural village 24/7 devoted to the promotion of Brand Nigeria to the host country and the global fans that would be converging on the Russia cities. Lest anyone discard the idea hastily as outlandish or a wild-goose-chase venture, there has once been a precedence with resounding results.
In South Africa 2010, the then Director-General of the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC), Otunba Segun Runsewe devised an ingenious scheme of bringing Africa’s foremost footballing nation into reckoning. His Nigerian Village gambit paid off as the country’s delegate captured a global attention, despite the national side not advancing beyond the group stage.
As the countdown to Russia 2018 begins, Otunba Runsewe, now Director-General, National Council for Arts and Crafts (NCAC), is amplifying the imperative to replicate Nigeria’s impressive cultural showing in South Africa 2010 at Russia 2018 World Cup.
Runsewe recalls the country’s fantastic performance off the field showcasing her rich cultural and tourism potentials to the world despite the fact that the Super Eagles did not win the World Cup in South Africa.
The Nigerian contingent under his leadership then adopted the Nigerian Village model, which was specially crafted and culturally equipped to wow everyone and further reinforced the effort with a delegation to the month-long event.
“The Nigerian Village idea was a huge success in terms of providing a platform to showcase Nigeria’s rich art and crafts, dress culture, cuisine and tourism prospects, thereby drawing attention to everything positive which the country represents,” he says.
There is a need, says Reunsewe, to bring back such glory using Russia 2018 as an opportunity to market Nigeria’s rich and diverse culture. The gain from attracting global patronage, according to him, will translate to massive Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) for the country even after the fiesta.
To this end, Runsewe assures that the NCAC, having just initiated a campaign to raise 3 million culture-friendly supporters to cheer the Super Eagles, is ready to undertake the responsibility, just as he solicits the support of all Nigerians towards the cause.
On this, Runsewe is walking a familiar turf. He has previously experimented successfully the concept of staging strategic national presence at the World Travel Market events during his time at the NTDC.
The Eagles, in Group D with Argentina, Iceland, and Croatia, will be playing their matches in the Russian cities of Kaliningrad, Volgograd and St Petersburg respectively.
Although he is yet to unveil the full outline of the plan, given Runsewe’s pedigree and passion, one can count on having an impressible Nigerian outing in Russia’s second largest city of St Petersburg.
Wherever the Nigerian Village berths, you can bet on it leaving a lasting footprint, be it by craft, cuisine or by any other cultural means. You can even wager that the world will dance Shoki somewhere in Russia while the World Cup last.