By Osa Mbonu
THE mutually beneficial relationship between Ofala and Globacom was ignited one bright summer day in August, 2011, when the revered monarch of Onitsha Kingdom, Igwe Nnaemeka Alfred Achebe, the Obi of Onitsha, gave the nod that telecommunications outfit, Globacom, should be the official sponsor of the oldest and most colourful festival in the East of the Niger, the Ofala Onitsha Festival.
Expectations were high and the excitement at the Ime Obi, the palace of Onitsha Kingdom, venue of the signing of the first three-year Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), between the Onitsha Palace and the telecommunications giant, was palpable.
The feelings then were most understandable because prior to the coming of Globacom, some other corporate bodies had tried their hands on the festival. And riding on its antecedents in other festivals such as Ojude Oba and Lisabi, both in Ogun State, Oru Owerri in Imo State, Afia Olu in Anambra and Abia Ugwu in Abia State, Globacom assured the palace and people of Onitsha that it would make Ofala “the biggest festival ever not only among Ndigbo, but in the entire Black Africa.
By the time the first three years ran out, the two parties were satisfied and extended the MoU by another three years, and, after that, another extension was negotiated. The latest sponsorship agreement makes it the third time that the two parties have signed an MoU to work together to uplift the Ofala festival.
So for eight years now, Globacom has been the official and major sponsor of the festival. The company has equally in those eight years added more and more innovations to its sponsorship values of the age-long epic festival in the Eastern part of the nation. Given how quickly the festival has risen in stature these past years of the Glo-Onitsha romance, the three MoUs can as well be described as a radiant hat trick by the telecommunications company.
The 2018 edition of the festival, which ended with a Royal Banquet held by Globacom in honour of the Agbogidi on Monday, October 8, 2018, at Dolly Hills Hotel Onitsha, was a clear testimony that Ofala Onitsha has moved to the next level by virtue of the Globacom sponsorship.
Nothing demonstrated that testimony more than the affirmative statements by both the Chairman of the Ofala Planning Committee, Chief Ngozi Okafo, the Ogene Onira of Onitsha Kingdom, and the Obi of Onitsha himself who both paid glowing tributes to Globacom and Dr. Mike Adenuga Jnr., the company’s Chairman.
The Ogene Onira, who welcomed guests to the Royal Banquet, noted that the relationship between Globacom and Onitsha people on Ofala Festival “has been a wonderful marriage”. According to him, “We have enjoyed the magnanimity of Dr. Adenuga. We have collectively been enjoying the fruits of the relationship with Globacom. The last eight years have been super, and Globacom has done wonderfully well and, as the chairman of the planning committee, I must confess that the age grade competitions Globacom introduced eight years ago has been very rewarding, wonderful and most exciting”.
In his speech, the Obi of Onitsha, who attended the banquet in company of his wife, Igwenwanyi Ngozi Achebe, said since Globacom took over the sponsorship, “every year has been bigger than the other”, adding that it was worthwhile that the company had fulfilled its part of the bargain.
“Dr. Adenuga has been personally involved in Ofala Festival and this is very significant, very uncommon and this places on us a responsibility not to disappoint. We owe him a duty not to disappoint and to do it better, and the best way we can show our appreciation is to patronise Globacom.
The traditional ruler had in his Ofala 2018 address read at the Ofala celebrations two days earlier at the Ime Obi, described Globacom as “our strategic partners, who have been with us for eight successive years”, adding that the company had through consistent sponsorship of the ceremony raised its profile and made it an international tourist destination.
Globacom added additional pep to the 2018 celebrations when, at the Azu Ofala, it held a special Ofala promotion in which it gave out mouth-watering prizes which include three TV sets and power generating.
Besides the special promo, the various age grades which participated in the age grade competitions and won were rewarded with cash prizes and trophies by Globacom.