Football fans and legends across the country have hailed African billionaire and business tycoon, Benedict Peters, CEO of energy giant; Aiteo for giving Nigerians a night of splendour that many will remember for a long time. The second edition of the Aiteo-NFF Awards took place on Monday night at the Eko Hotel and Suites, Victoria Island, Lagos.
It was a night of glamour and elegance at Nigeria’s premier football awards. Several top shots across various facets of society were in attendance.
Lagos State governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, who received a special award from the NFF attended alongside Lagos Governor-elect, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, Kwara state Governor-elect, Abdulrahman Abdulrazak, and Abia state Governor, Okezie Ikpeazu.
From the football community, FIFA Secretary-General Fatma Samoura, also received a special award, graced the event alongside members of football royalty across the world. Members of the NFF were led by the NFF president, Amaju Pinnick and the first Vice President, Seyi Akinwunmi, who is the Chairman of the Awards Committee. There were also representatives of NFF sponsors and partners, chairmen of various football Clubs, members of the diplomatic corps, past NFF Presidents and General Secretaries, award nominees and their friends
Oil and gas giant; Aiteo, the sponsor of the event was represented by a delegation of senior executives, led by its Deputy Managing Director; Francis Peters, Executive Director; Andrew Onyearu, and Group Managing Director; Chike Onyejekwe.
There was musical performances from some of Nigeria’s biggest stars, including Reekado Banks, D’banj and Timi Dakolo.
At a point in the show, the NFF President, Amaju Pinnick called for a standing ovation to honour Aiteo’s CEO, Benedict Peters for his steadfast commitment to football in Nigeria.
According to Pinnick, Aiteo now accounts for up to 30 percent of the total funds for the NFF.
Several prominent football legends and fans interviewed by Today’s Echo also poured encomiums on Benedict Peters and Aiteo.
Segun Odegbami, former Nigerian player known as Mathematical for his football skills, ‘says this of Aiteo’s intervention in Nigerian football:
“It is fantastic, it is great. The company is rewarding the Super eagles and promoting football, so it is a positive thing.”
Linda Obi, a sports item merchandiser who attended the event commended the sponsors and the organizers.
“I am having a great time at the event. The music performances are electrifying, and the ambience is just beautiful. Kudos to Aiteo and the NFF for packaging this together,” an elated Linda Obi told Today’s Echo.
“My special appreciation goes to the Aiteo boss, Benedict Peters for taking the bold step to finance football in Nigeria at a difficult time. He will be remembered for taking football to the next level in this country.”
Taribo West, former defender and a member of the iconic 1994 Super Eagles team has this to say about Aiteo’s sponsorship:
“It is wonderful and progressive. We pray that they will not stop here but do more for football in Nigeria”
Kola Ijogun, a Civil Servant who is watching the event on TV spoke to Today’s Echo’s correspondent on phone. He was full of praise for the show’s sponsor
“I really want to appreciate the CEO of Aiteo, Benedict Peters, for making this possible; he is a man with a golden heart. Aiteo is a company that cares for football in Nigeria and on the African continent as a whole.”
Chuma Okolo, a student who called in from Enugu said he has followed the story of Aiteo’s intervention in Nigerian football and is amazed by Benedict Peters’ generosity.
“We are talking about a national award now because Benedict Peters decided to make the difficult decision in 2017 to start sponsoring the NFF,” Okolo said.
“Aiteo’s investment has turned around the state of football in Nigeria. I notice players no longer complain about non-payment of allowances and there is renewed interest in the local teams with Aiteo’s sponsorship of the Federations Cup and change of name to Aiteo Cup. The prize money for the winners gone up.”
Aiteo is currently Nigeria’s largest indigenous oil and gas company by output. In April 2017, Aiteo announced a five-year partnership agreement with the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) worth an estimated N2.5billion. This partnership saw the Group emerging as the NFF’s Official Optimum Partner and funding the salaries of coaching staff of the Super Eagles, a move which is believed by many as the singular most important factor that led to Nigeria’s emergence as the first African nation to qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.
In June 2017, Aiteo followed up this sponsorship with a fresh N2.5billion agreement to underwrite the cost of the Federation Cup, now renamed Aiteo Cup, which they have taken to greater heights, adding glamour and colour to the game, and making it the largest televised finals in the history of the FA.
Aiteo signed a deal last year with the NFF to sponsor the awards, which is the first of its kind in Nigeria. It celebrates the best performers in Nigerian football and the those who have led indelible marks on football in Nigeria. The maiden edition took place in February 2018 with 15 awards presented.
This year, in addition to the celebration of football feats, the Super Eagles team of 1994 was honoured.
The class of 1994 is still regarded as Nigeria’s best team ever and is still the most highly ranked by FIFA. Rachidi Yekini, the legendary striker who scored Nigeria’s first World Cup goal is late, so also is the captain of the team, Steven Keshi. They were remembered last night for their heroics.
Members of the team present to receive their awards include Daniel Amokachi, Peter Rufai, Sunday Oliseh, Austin Jayjay Okocha, Ben Iroha, Finidi George, Victor Ikpeba, Uche Okechukwu, Taribo West, Samson Siasia, Austin Eguavoen, and Mutiu Adepoju.
Ahmed Musa and Onome Ebi received the awards for Male and Female player of the year respectively.
The event was broadcast live on Supersports 2 and AIT.