The Nigeria Football Federation, through its President, Amaju Pinnick, was full of praises for the founder and Executive Vice Chairman of Aiteo Group, Benedict Peters at the 2018 Aiteo NFF Awards which held in Lagos, at Eko Hotel and Suites on Monday, April 1, 2019.Francis Peters, Deputy Managing Director, Aiteo Group (M), flanked by Amaju Pinnick, President of Nigeria Football Federation (R), as he presents the Presidential Award to Abdul Mumuni Abiola, son of late Chief MKO Abiola at 2018 Aiteo NFF Awards Ceremony.
Pinnick who was overwhelmed by the support of Aiteo Group, the headline sponsors of the award and Official Optimum Partner of NFF, shared with the crowd how NFF has been able to surmount several challenges and achieved stability through the intervention and benevolence of Benedict Peters.
“We must allow people to know how we started this journey with Aiteo. Some thirty months ago when we employed Gernot Rohr, the coach, we met a couple of companies that wanted to fund his fees, but somehow, all the companies backed out. My brother and my friend, A U Mustapha suggested that we should meet Benedict Peters.
“We met Benedict Peters, and immediately, he asked me a very simple question. He said, ‘Amaju, how much is the coach’s salary?’ We calculated the cost for a year and Peters suggested that we should get our legal team together while he also gets his team together. Within three days, NFF’s account was credited. The transaction was handled with the involvement of PwC and Financial Derivatives Limited.”
Pinnick mentioned that driven by the need to make more impact, Peters also volunteered to take over the sponsorship of the FA Cup, now renamed Aiteo Cup. “I was touched. Today, Aiteo alone funds 30% of the entire expenditure of the NFF. All the deals we have with Aiteo are also for a duration of five years. We have so many Nigerian billionaires, and we think they should emulate what Aiteo is doing, taking the youths off the streets is not sui generis to just one man,” Pinnick submitted.
Benedict Peters was represented at the event by the General Counsel, Aiteo Group, Andrew Onyearu. In his speech, Peters reiterated that Aiteo will continue to contribute significantly in the tremendous efforts to elevate the quality of football in Nigeria to very exalted heights, globally.
‘Rolling back the glory, golden days in Nigerian Football has underpinned everything Aiteo has done with NFF in the past two years as its biggest sponsor. Since we forged this winning partnership, football in Nigeria has witnessed tremendous improvements. We have not only intervened decisively in eliminating financial constraints that hitherto constricted on-field performance; we have also provided strong moral support to the facilitation of instructive platforms such as this, the Aiteo NFF Awards”, he said.
The most intriguing moment of the event was the presentation of awards to the Super Eagles Class of 94. Among those present to receive the award in person were: Peter Rufai, Daniel Amokachi, Augustine Eguavoen, Sunday Oliseh, Jay Jay Okocha, Samson Siasia, Edema Fuludu, Mutiu Adepoju, Alloy Agu, Nduka Ugbade, Ben Iroha, Uche Okechukwu, Finidi George, Taribo West and Victor Ikpeba. Daughter of late Super Eagles forward, Rashidi Yekini also walked the stage to receive her father’s award.
Speaking on behalf of the 94 team, Sunday Oliseh said “Indeed it is a great one for me and my teammates, those of us alive; we are very proud and it is also a moment to reflect on those who have passed on”.
Super Eagles stand-in captain, Ahmed Musa, was the biggest winner of the night, beating his counterparts, Odion Ighalo and Alex Iwobi to clinch the highly coveted Player of the Year Award.
Musa was voted as the Player of the Year ahead of his national teammates, Odion Ighalo and Alex Iwobi.
Onome Ebi of the Super Falcons also beat 2017 Aiteo NFF player of the year, Asisat Oshoala and another Super Falcons teammate, Francisca Ordega, to win 2018 Aiteo NFF player of the year award in the women’s category.
Other winners on the night were Gbenga Ogunbote of Enugu Rangers, who was voted Coach of the Year (Men) and Thomas Dennerby winning the award for the women team category.
The event was well attended by top government officials, industry moguls and representatives from FIFA, CAF and other major football bodies across Africa and beyond. FIFA Secretary General, Fatma Samoura won Aiteo-NFF’s Order of Merit Award. Outgoing Lagos State governor, Akinwunmi Ambode also won the lifetime award while the presidential award was given to late sports pillar and business tycoon, Moshood Abiola. Late Moshood Abiola was represented by his son, Abdul Mumuni Abiola.