By Onochie Anibeze
Nine years ago, there were long queues  in Nigerian cities especially Abuja.
It cost more than 20,000 to purchase a sim card when Nigeria introduced GSM telecommunications.  Globacom stormed the scene more than one year after  and crashed the price to N5,000.

Nigerians, in their hundreds of thousands, lined up to acquire Glo lines. It was a massive relief to the common man as the cost even crashed further until it got to the current state where a hundred Naira can fetch one a sim card. That’s what competition can do to an economy.

Nigerians reaped from this economic factor courtesy Globacom. It did not end there. GSM charges were on minute by minute billing and Nigerians complained of reap offs as calls less than a minute attracted full one minute charge. Glo was on the march again.

They started second by second billing and others followed. Nigerians were the beneficiaries of this Glo initiative.  Phones are for everybody and not only for the rich as it struck many during analogue era and the early stage of GSM phones.

Globacom had made instant impact and it did not take them time to glow into sports. Just barely one year in business Nigeria was to host the greatest sports show in Africa, the All Africa Games. They did not want the event to suffer and had to lend a hand financially.

They became the official GSM partners of the Local Organising Committee, LOC. They leveraged from the visibility it exposed  them. Sports commands passion.

Sports is loud, noisy and sensational in all aspects including the reportorial duties of the media. They all add to the huge entertainment that it is. It has great followership. Globacom tasted it and felt that it was good.

They marched on. They became the sponsors of the National league, the national football teams and the supporters club. They went into athletics and sponsored the Lagos Half Marathon. They have had a hand in golf and Squash Racket.

When Nigeria hosted the Under 17 FIFA World Cup in 2009 Globacom was one of the sponsors. Just on Tuesday they launched a football academy. They have become synonymous with sports in Nigeria. But have their efforts yielded commensurate results? I wouldn’t say so. But that has been largely no fault of theirs.

However, they are still to blame to some extent. When a league in tropical Africa receives some sponsorship funding  to the tune of about N500m to almost N800 m yearly that league should be worth the sponsorship. But the managers of the league in Nigeria had other ideas and helped themselves rather than the league. Why would Globacom share in the blame?

There’s a difference between donation and sponsorship. When you donate money to an organisation you don’t worry about what they do with it. It’s charity work. But when you sponsor an event you have a right to know how the sponsorship money is being spent. You expect certain mileage from your sponsorship. And if you are not leveraging from it you have a right for a review based on the contract, anyway.

Sponsorship is not free, it’s no donation. And this is what Globacom did not appear to realise in the greater part of their sponsorship of the league in Nigeria. They failed to ask questions about their sponsorship money. When they tried to do the damage had been massive and the league was crumbling.  Globacom suspended their sponsorship and till date the Nigerian League has no title right sponsors two seasons after they said enough is enough. Nigerian football has remained the loser. It should not be so. Nigerian sports should be richer going by what  Globacom has invested since they started business in Nigeria.

”We have invested about N9 billion into sports in Nigeria in the  nine years we have existed,” Globacom’s Regional Director, Marketing  communications, Charles Janarius said in Lagos last week. It was in a dinner that reminded guests this is their 9th year of service and business in Nigeria.
Janarius told me Globacom has not stopped sponsoring sports. “We are still sponsoring sports and cannot stop as sports is part of life.

We are still the sponsors of all the national teams. As for the league, we hope that they get a few things right. We are the sponsors of the league in Ghana and there the foreign leagues have not consumed everything. The crowds still come to watch  matches and the people still have passion for the local league.

We need to get a few things right in Nigeria and Globacom will renew the league sponsorship. We have not left. We are still there.”

Janarius freely discussed global sports including  the Olympics and showed good knowledge of the sports industry.  What he said is a challenge to those running the league now. The current managers have also not met expectations of Nigerians. They have not lifted the league beyond were they met it. Some argue that it is even worse.

The loser is still Nigerian football. The only good thing about the Nigerian league is that new Eagles coach is drawing players from the local pool. Globacom may still return and make it better. Their chairman, Dr. Mike Adenuga Jr has passion for sports. He will not let it die. He is a patriotic Nigerian

Adenuga has been massive to sports. He has a massive frame, massive businesses which have provided massive employment for thousands of Nigerians. It is no wonder that the Federal Government  on Monday honoured him with a massive National Honour, Grand Commander of Niger, the second highest award in the country.

He deserves it. He is the ENYI 1 of Nigeria. Ask Orji Uzor Kalu what this title means and he will tell you the role Chief Adenuga played when Enyimba won the then elusive Champions League back to back.


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