LAGOS – They are the reason the Nigeria Football Federation can beat its chest anywhere that it is 60-65% self –funded. Corporate Nigeria’s support for Nigerian Football has improved significantly over the years. And they all turned out gleefully and in full flow when the NFF decided to celebrate them in Lagos on Thursday night.
In south –west Ikoyi, upscale district of Lagos – the Centre of Excellence – there was an underpin of excellence to the planning and execution, and though not a night for speeches, the partners and sponsors affirmed their satisfaction and commitment to the relationship. Even those not in the boat yet gave words of their eagerness to jump aboard.
At the occasion were big wigs and representatives of AITEO Group (Official Optimum Partner of the NFF); Coca-Cola (Official Soft Drink and Co-Sponsor of the National Teams); Nigerian Breweries PLC (Star Lager – Official Alcoholic Drink of the Super Eagles; Amstel Malta – Official Malt Drink of the NFF and the National Teams); ZENITH International Bank PLC (Official Bank of the NFF
); Tropical and General Investments (Big Bull – Official Rice of the Super Eagles); WAPIC Insurance PLC (Official Insurance Services Provider of the NFF and the National Teams); Cadbury Nigeria PLC (Tom Tom – Official Candy of the Super Eagles); Emzor Pharmaceuticals (Official Paracetamol of the NFF and the National Teams); FrieslandCampina WAMCO (Peak Milk – Official Milk of the Super Eagles); Simba Group (TVS: Official Motorycle and Tricycle Partner of the Super Eagles) and; Sports Radio Brila (Official Broadcast Station of the NFF). Overseas –based kits supplier NIKE and 1XBET (Official Partner) sent words of goodwill.
Mr. Francis Peters (Deputy Managing Director/CEO) led the team from AITEO Group, and there were also Jordi Borrut Bel (MD, Nigerian Breweries) alongside Emmanuel Oriakhi (Marketing Director) and Uaboi Agbebaku (Head of Legal); Francis Ekonye, Chief Inspector of ZENITH Bank, alongside Yeside Banjoko (Head, Domestic Treasury and Marcel Eguabor (Head, Corporate Communications); Dr. Larry Izamoje (Chairman, Sports Radio Brila) alongside Jide Ojo and Babafemi Raji; Gbolahan Sanni and Soji Omogui (Coca Cola); Bala Yesufu (Director, Corporate and Government Affairs (West Africa) of Cadbury; Sunil Swahney (MD, TGI) with Executive Director Kachi Onubogu; Ayodeji Bankole-Olusina (MD, WAPIC Insurance) alongside Bode Ojeniyi, Executive Director; Manish Rohtagi (MD, Simba Group); Afolarin Ojo (FrieslandCampina) and; Muyiwa Kayode and Adeyemi Aseperi (brand consultants to EMZOR).
Still from the corporate world were Abubakar Lawal (Group Managing Director, GTI); Olakunle Alake (Group Managing Director, Dangote Industries); BUA Group’s Otega Ogra (Group Head, Corporate Communications) and Tajudeen Ahmed (Group Head, Business Development); Nafisat Rabiu-Adebayo (OCP-Africa) and MTN’s Dola Bamgboye.
Consul-General of the United States, John Bray; Stephen Forbes from the British Council and; Auditing firm PwC’s Edafe Erhie, Esiri Agbeyi and Tolu Adeleke added colour to the occasion.
President of the Nigeria Football Federation, Mr. Amaju Melvin Pinnick, as chief host, also had Barr. Seyi Akinwunmi (1st Vice President); Mallam Shehu Dikko (2nd Vice President); Alhaji Babagana Kalli (Executive Member); Ms Aisha Falode (Executive Member) and; Alhaji Ganiyu Majekodunmi (Executive Member) with him. There were also backroom staff of the Super Eagles, former players Larry Kubeinje, Onome Obruthe and Emmanuel Attah, and leading editors and sports managers.
About a dozen players of the Super Falcons – nine –time champions of Super Africa – came with a couple of backroom staff, with the glittering Africa Cup of Nations perched on their dinner table. Captain Onome Ebi, Francisca Ordega, Asisat Oshoala, Tochukwu Oluehi, Chinwendu Ihezuo, Christy Ohiaeriaku, Rasheedat Ajibade, Faith Michael, Josephine Chukwunonye, Osinachi Ohale, Halimat Ayinde, Saran Nnodim, Chiamaka Nnadozie and Glory Ogbonna were joined by Head of Women Football Ruth David and Team Administrator Mary Oboduku.
Francis Peters, in what turned out to be the refrain, commended the energy, dynamism and vision of the present NFF board, while attesting to his firm’s delight and satisfaction with being partners of the Federation. Other partners and sponsors also looked forward to a year 2019 of bountiful harvests for Nigeria internationally, with Pinnick expressing faith that next year’s gathering would be with the men’s Africa Cup of Nations, the FIFA U20 World Cup, the FIFA U17 World Cup and the U23 Africa Cup of Nations.
The highlight of the occasion was the presentation of the sum of N50 million to the Super Falcons by Dangote Group, immediately followed by the presentation of the sum of N25 million to the team by BUA Group.
A night of conviviality, sense of fulfilment for a glorious year and conviction of an even more glorious incoming year was capped with Akinwunmi and Dikko presenting special luxury hampers to the Federation’s partners and sponsors.