The National Council for Arts and Culture on Wednesday in Abuja begin the drive to raise three million, culture-friendly football lovers to passionately support the Super Eagles during the matches of the 2018 FIFA World Cup finals taking place in Russia this summer.
Director–General of the council, Otunba Olusegun Runsewe noted that it was time that Nigeria used the tool of football and its abiding passion to promote and celebrate Nigeria’s rich culture internationally.
“It is noteworthy that 32 countries from all continents of the world would be competing for this prestigious trophy,” he said. “The implication of this is that the whole world will be gathered in Russia during the one-month duration of this most important football fiesta.”
“It is therefore clear that apart from serving as a platform for displaying football talents, Russia 2018 is also a veritable avenue for all nations to showcase their strength and uniqueness in other areas.
“For far too long, we have underemployed the power of football and sports generally in promoting our culture, in promoting our arts, and in promoting our heroes. The time to start doing this, and in a big way, is now.
“Nobody will celebrate us for us; we have to do it ourselves. We must reawaken the spirit of promoting and projecting our arts and cultural items in such a way that even domestic football will benefit.
“I have strong faith that we will raise even more than three million Nigerians who are ready to project our culture and wear the green-white-green anytime Nigeria is playing. We will also distribute miniature Nigerian flags to all these supporters. ”
Chairman of the occasion, Chief Olusegun Odegbami (MON) lauded Runsewe for “opening a window to allow us to see that football is much more than playing a 90 –minute match,” adding that just like education, religion, politics and the economy, culture is one of the most potent instruments to dominate the world.
“Our human capacity tells us that we can do it; our quality of population, given the number of Nigerians doing very well in different areas of endeavour globally, tells us that we can do it.
“We need to start to have a full appreciation of who we are, and this concept has come at the right time with the FIFA World Cup – the biggest football showpiece in the universe – just by the corner. We need to take Nigeria’s arts and culture to the world the same way we are the second highest exporter of football talents to Europe after Brazil.”