Benedict Peters, CEO of Nigeria’s energy giant, Aiteo Group, has taken another step towards changing the face of football in Nigeria with the sponsorship of the Nigerian Football Federations(NFF) awards, writes Bonny Kant.
The Aiteo group, under the leadership of Abakaliki-born Benedict Peters, has taken a couple of giant strides in the past two years. Its heavy social investment into football in Nigeria and at the continental stage has endeared it to the hearts of many and increased its brand recognition. Within two years of significant intervention, there had been a remarkable improvement in the country’s football.
A few weeks ago, it was a night of glitz, colour, and glamour at the Eko Hotels, Victoria Island, Lagos as the best performers and greatest icons of Nigerian football were celebrated. This is the maiden edition of the Nigerian Football Federation(NFF) awards, and Aiteo has once more stepped up to take responsibility.
Benedict Peters is a man with a remarkable passion for youth development in Nigeria and he sees football as a veritable tool for empowering the population and fostering national unity. His passion for the round leather game is summed up in an article he wrote in the Huffington post, where he said; “like a shared pursuit of a pan-African economic powerhouse, football should be held up as one of the new pillars of a pan-African future. If economic bridges can be built in trade; then cultural bridges can be built in sports.”
Aiteo’s intervention in football began in 2017 with the injection of 2.5 billion naira into the Nigerian Football Federation(NFF). After funds began to flow in, the National team, Super eagles were able to end a dry spell that had lasted for about 5 years. They qualified for the 2018 world cup after defeating Cameroun and Algeria; two of the most highly rated teams in Africa.
To help the development of local football teams, Aiteo also financed the Federation cup, the oldest competitive sports tournament in Nigeria. With the injection of funds, the tournament, rebranded as Aiteo cup became a tremendous success, with a final match that was watched by the largest number of spectators in recent Federation cup history. The prize money was also the largest, with the winner going home with N25million and the runners-up pocketing N10million.
The continued success of the super eagles both in Africa and at the global stage is a testimony to the Aiteo group’s tenacious pursuit of excellence and Benedict Peters astute vision for football in Africa
Aiteo never stopped at the national stage. The company stepped up its involvement in football to the continental stage with the sponsorship of the CAF football awards on January 4, 2017. The CAF awards reward the best in African football in the course of a year. The event, which took place in Accra, Ghana, heralded Aiteo’s arrival as a major football financier on the continental stage. It is a terrain in which popular brands like Total, Glo, MTN, and Orange had been players and now Aiteo joins them.
At the Aiteo-NFF awards, Deputy Managing Director, Francis Peters assured of the company’s continuous commitment to football in Nigeria. He announced that Aiteo has paid the sum of $600,000 and N320 million to cover its contractual obligation of providing support to the technical crew of the Super Eagles for the whole of 2018, well beyond the World Cup.
Benedict Peters may not strike you as the typical African billionaire; he has not been on the list for a long time. He doesn’t seem to have a larger than life image and he doesn’t court the attention of the media. He however, sits atop what is arguably the largest indigenous oil and gas firm in Nigeria with an average daily output of 90,000 barrels. Now he has also become the biggest football financier in the country. The Aiteo-NFF deal is another in a positive direction.
Benedict Peters’ unwavering commitment to sports and youth development was underlined when his brother, Francis remarked at the event; “we celebrate my brother, my mentor and boss, Mr. Benedict Peters, the Executive Vice Chairman and CEO of the Aiteo Group, whose extraordinary devotion and dedication to youth empowerment through sport has led to the remarkable outcomes our various interventions have achieved. Benny, I salute you! Thank you for what you have done for our sport and for being the consummate patriot. Only time and posterity will measure the true value of your efforts.”
Aiteo’s moto says the company is the future. With its immense contributions, the future of football in Nigeria is gradually looking like Aiteo.