Nigerian football gets Aiteo’s special makeover

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Afam Paulkinson Umeano

The 4,000 – capacity Agege stadium assumed the aura of a carnival recently, when local teams competed for the N25 million Aiteo Cup, the biggest local football competition in the country.

The choice of Agege, as host venue remains a subject of debate, given that the game, the equivalent of a local ‘world cup’ would be better suited for a bigger stadium, say the National Stadium, Abuja, especially for commercial considerations –endorsements, television money, tickets, adverts and all the razzmatazz associated with it.

Football, in addition to its pomp and pageantry, can be a force to activate local talent, inspire a generation and serve as blueprint of hope. Aiteo sought to capture this feeling by bringing the competition within the reach of those shut out by commerce and, thus, inspire a generation of young people to believe that dreams do matter.

Nigeria’s Federation Cup, now renamed Aiteo Cup is one of the longest football competitions in the country dating back to 1942. It has been won 76 times, the current champion being Akwa United who defeated Niger Tornadoes 3:2 on penalties to claim the N25 million top prize money that could only have been imagined years ago.

This was possible because Aiteo, a leading energy solutions giant and one of the reference points for local content success in Nigeria’s oil and gas industry, is sponsoring the initiative as part of efforts to rejuvenate football in the country.

But this is by no means the company’s only effort at supporting sports development. Aiteo is now the sponsor for the CAF Awards scheduled for the January 4th 2018 in Accra, Ghana. An organizing committee headed by CAF 1st Vice President Kwesi Nyantakyi is up and running.

“This sponsorship shows that there is a clear momentum behind Aiteo’s involvement in the game. Buoyed by the success of our corporate social commitment in Nigeria that has resulted in our emergence as the first African nation to qualify for the world cup, we are encouraged to advance our investment in the game to a continental level,” said Executive Vice President, Benedict Peters, in a statement.

Peters further said, “Our aim is to bolster the profile of African players globally, and encourage budding talents to put in their best. CAF Award shares our values in relation to creating opportunities, healthy competition and recognition for hard work. We plan on using this partnership to truly enrich the fan experience for millions of Africans.” 

The yearly awards, which started in the 1970s is organized to honour footballers and individuals who excelled in various aspects of the game, is getting a makeover with Aiteo as sponsor. Football enthusiasts believe it will be bigger and better.

 

L-R: A U Mustapha (SAN); Aiteo Senior. Vice President Gas & Commercial, Victor Okoronkwo; Aiteo Group Executive Director, Andrew Onyearu; Aiteo Group Managing Director, Chike Onyejekwe; and CAF President, Ahmad Ahmad after signing the AITEO/CAF partnership deal in Lagos State recently.

 

CAF President, Ahmad Ahmad said, “We are very glad to welcome Aiteo on board this partnership. Aiteo is distinguished for its commitment to excellence and this sponsorship is a demonstration of its confidence in CAF’s renowned value proposition as a veritable platform for brand extension across Africa. We look forward to a long and fruitful partnership.”

Aiteo’s quest for excellence has seen the company, founded in 1999, grow from a petroleum marketing company to a full-spectrum, integrated energy company with services that span petroleum products storage, marketing and distribution of refined petroleum products, oilfield services, electricity generation and distribution, LPG bulk storage and a fast-developing retail distribution network.

Aiteo has one of the largest private storage facilities for refined petroleum products in sub-Saharan Africa. Assets include petroleum storage facilities with capacity of more than 320 million litres. This includes its Port Harcourt terminal with capacity of over 110 million litres and the Apapa terminal with capacity of approximately 210 million liters.

Aiteo’s commitment to football development in Nigerian may yet prepare the ground for the next generation Kanu Nwankwos, Austin Okochas and Mikel Obis. The company is supporting the Nigerian Football Federation with N2.5 billion, which will ensure preparations for future hitch-free competitions. These investments will spur local talents, create new jobs and pay the wages of many administering the game in Nigeria.

It is often said that the past provides evidence for what the future holds, hence Aiteo’s track record supports the happy frenzy this commitment to sports is generating.

Aiteo under the leadership of Benedict Peters ramped up crude production from an average production of the 23,000 bpd to 90,000bpd barely two years after it acquired OML 29. The company has ambitions to grow its crude oil production to over 150,000 bpd and gas output to 200mmscf/d.

“Our outlook is bright with three producing oil fields and viable crude exports via Bonny terminal. We also have contingent resources to appraise and prospective ones to explore in the medium-to-long term, including full 3D seismic coverage and 2P NNS reserves of more than 1.6bn bbl. Put simply, we have a clear vision for the future with the experience and assets crucial to providing oil and gas consistently on a regional and global scale,” said Peters in a statement.

For a long time, lovers of sports rue the absence of corporate support for sports in the country and Nigeria’s sports performance has dwindled as a result. In undertaking to sponsor football Aiteo is joining an exclusive list of reputable brands, which have associated with the beautiful game. Partnering with a game loved by millions increases brand identity and loyalty. This will also mean administrators could better package the game to attract more interest from the corporate sector.

The company’s antecedent indicates that it may even rewrite the model for corporate partnership with sports because Aiteo’s culture of excellence has little tolerance for failure. Indicative of its passion and capacity for success, which will rub off positively in its sports sponsorship, Aiteo bought the troubled 97-kilometre Nembe Creek Trunk Line that evacuates crude to the Atlantic coast for export, after incessant attacks by militants. Today it is fixing the issues in one of the most important oil evacuation pipelines in the Niger Delta region.

A company that does run from challenges may just be the elixir the country needs to rejuvenate its most loved sport.

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