The Director General of NTDC, Otunba Olusegun Runsewe
By Olawale Ajimotokan
Though the Nigerian team is yet to win a medal at London 2012, the team is getting encouraging words from the Nigerian High Commission in London and top United Kingdom politicians of Nigerian extraction.
The 38 ‘grassroots’ politicians were among the eminent guests that trooped to Hackney in central London, over the weekend in support of a two-day awareness project for the Nigerian brand organized by the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC).
The Nigerian mission in the UK was represented at the occasion by the Nigerian Deputy High Commissioner to the UK, Ambassador Oluwatoyin Kayode Lawal.
Some of the UK bred politicians included councilors Joy Laguda and Azubuike Ozowanyan. Former Super Eagles captain, Segun Odegbami also graced the event.
Ozowanyan, who is the councilor representing London Borough, said he was proud have Nigerian roots and would be glad to see Nigeria progress in all spheres of human endeavours, including sports.
He described the Nigerian team to the Olympics as a very strong and capable team that can cause a stir by hauling medals in track and field, boxing and basketball.
“Historically, Nigeria is reputed for its tradition of growing top class athletes. I think we will do well in track events. After I watched the opening ceremony on Friday where Nigeria was considered by all as the best dressed team, I will definitely be routing for Nigeria at the Games,” he said.
He also lauded the initiative of the NTDC in using the Olympics to project Nigeria to the outside world as a laudable effort.
Ozowanya, who noted that tourism can help a nation in forging a strong identity, advised the Nigerian government to take a cue from the decision of South Africa to host the World Cup in 2012, by considering organising a major international sporting event.
The Director General of NTDC, Otunba Olusegun Runsewe, said the tourism body decided to create awareness for Nigeria around the Olympic Games, because “Nigerians should begin to tell their own story instead of allowing others to do so for them”.
Runsewe said he was impressed by the high turn out of Nigerians occupying leadership positions in the UK.
According to him, Nigeria will benefit from the rub off effect if some of them deem it necessary to return home in the future.
“Nigeria is a great country. The man who manages the London Underground train is a Nigerian. Nigeria will be a great place if some of these politicians can bring their wealth of experience home. What we need is the will to move our country forward,” Runsewe said.
He noted that the decision to use the Olympics to brand Nigeria was a deliberate decision initiated over a year ago as every window is an opportunity for a country to promote itself.