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Adenuga @70: Celebrities Celebrate Glo Icon

How Globacom boss has impacted the Nigerian entertainment industry

More than any other set of creatives, Nigerian entertainers have benefitted the most from the magnanimity of Dr Mike Adenuga, chairman of telecoms giant, Globacom. And this is not in any way arguable. Since 2003 when it began operations, Globacom has made home-grown stars from the entertainment industry the faces (ambassadors) of its brand while making them worth their popularity in affluence and influence. At a time when entertainers were being paid peanuts for their artistry, Globacom upped the ante, dishing out millions of naira to their ambassadors and helping them to live the life they only see in the movies or on MTV. Many of them seized the occasion of his 70th birthday to celebrate him for his impact on their lives and their industry, writes Lanre Alfred

The chairman of Globacom, Dr Mike Adenuga, sauntered graciously into the septuagenarian club on April 29. Left to him, the day would have passed without any merry-making. There was, however, a private party with select friends and family members at his palatial Banana Island mansion, Lagos, to commemorate the day. That close-knit event afforded many of Nigeria’s finest entertainers to celebrate a man they probably had never met but who had the biggest impact on their career. From Osas Ighodaro, Timaya, and Teni to Bovi, Gbenga Adeyinka, Flavour, and Paul and Jude Okoye, they were all there to honour the ‘Spirit of Africa’ as Adenuga is also fondly called.

Adenuga, guarded and self-effacing, had control over attendance at the exclusive party, but he had no such power over the floodgate of accolades and the avalanche of tributes, testimonies, and testimonials from life-long and latter-day beneficiaries of his generosity and impact in their industry and everywhere else. It was, whether physically or digitally, a perfect occasion to celebrate a man who comes through for them directly or by proxy.

Nollywood’s leading man, Richard Mofe-Damijo, who boasts an over-three-decade relationship with Adenuga, wrote, “Today, I celebrate my ‘mainest Oga’, Chief Dr Mike Adenuga Jnr. The chairman himself. Every once in a while, God directs our path to cross with people that will make a lasting impact in our lives, you my Oga don do pass. You go do good for person and no dey wait make dem salute you finish before you do more on top am. You too mush. If to say you be area, na Senior Brox I for dey hail you for being so supportive through the years. Thank you for recognising the vibrancy of the cultural landscape and being the biggest supporter of entertainment and arts in Africa. Thank you for believing in the youth of Nigeria and Africa and for empowering them by supporting their dreams. Here’s wishing you many more years of pleasure in good health and sound mind.”

No less significant among the deluge of tributes was that of Kanayo O Kanayo, legendary actor cum lawyer who, incidentally, has never met Adenuga. Not a man given to social media frivolities or clout-chasing, KOK, as the respected thespian is also called, wrote, “Even though I have not met you before but between 2016 and 2017, you created the series ‘Professor Johnbull’ as produced by TChidi Chikere and also celebrated Globacom through the nationwide Music & Comedy Fiesta. Through these projects, I built my house in the village. Otunba, for this impact, I remain loyal and grateful.”

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Professor Johnbull was a didactic but hilarious 30-minute drama series which aired on NTA Network, NTA International, DSTV Channel 251, and NTA on StarTimes for six seasons. Professor Johnbull told the story of a retired academic, Professor Johnbull, and his family comprising his daughter, Elizabeth (Queen Nwokoye), house-help, Nje (Angela Okorie), and kinsman, Jeroboam, aka Boam (Osita Iheme).

The eponymous character was a community leader in his Enugu neighbourhood, where his respected views and handling of knotty societal issues and conflicts made his residence a beehive of constant activities. The series also featured Yomi Fash Lanso, Imeh Bishop, Funky Mallam, and Bimbo Akintola, among others. Nollywood veterans like Chief Chika Okpala, aka Zebrudaya, Patience Ozokwor, aka Mama G, and RMD made cameo appearances in the series.

If the series had helped KOK build his country home, Adenuga’s innumerable interventions would have been life-changing for many of his colleagues. Aside from direct financial commitments, including massive sponsorships, Globacom currently retains the largest number of key players in the entertainment industry as brand ambassadors while upholding that by actively engaging these key entertainment drivers, they, in turn, can help to grow the sector and the economy. Many established and unheralded entertainers have been blessed immeasurably by this love and patronage.
Despite his predilection for shunning the limelight, he once drove himself to the album launch of Paul Play Dairo, a phenomenon in the Nigerian music scene in the late 90s and early 2000s, to the consternation of guests.

“The chairman, Dr Mike Adenuga, showered me with so much love and I enjoyed so much favour from him. The height of the good gestures was when he honoured the invitation to my album launch in 2004. A lot of naysayers in the press said I was too inconsequential to get him to attend my launch. But they were all disappointed,” he recalled.
When Paul Play fell sick in 2009 and took a long break to treat what many thought was cancer, he confessed that he didn’t try to publicly raise funds because “People like Dr Mike Adenuga were there for me.”

Likewise, when Juju music maestro Ebenezer Obey, who had retired from secular music decades earlier to concentrate on evangelism, required eye surgery many years ago, Adenuga bankrolled the entire treatment, which took place abroad. That gesture restored Obey’s health and return to musical reckoning. The Globacom boss also blessed the Miliki Exponent with an Escalade SUV.

Adenuga loves a good laugh, and he loves to share happiness, which is why he has supported and sponsored many comedy shows ranging from Glo Lafta Fest, regarded as the biggest music, dance, and comedy event in Nigeria, which brings top-rated African comedians like Bovi, Salvador of Uganda, Basket Mouth, Gordons, I Go Dye, 2Cantok, Seyi Law and others together in one place for an evening of unlimited fun and laughter; Glo Slide and Bounce, a travelling music and dance show; and the Bovi man on Fire Lagos and Warri editions, among others. His favourite comedians like Basketmouth and Bovi, who have been

ambassadors for the Glo brand at various times, have also benefitted immensely from their personal relationships with the man fondly called ‘The Bull’.
Industry sources say Adenuga is almost always one of the first to have a movie exclusively screened to him and his family in his expansive home cinema. Reports say Kunle Afolayan, one of Nigeria’s foremost filmmakers and former Globacom ambassador, has screened a number of his movies to him at home. Even when he was no longer an ambassador, Adenuga still found Afolayan’s movies compelling to watch. His love for the entertainment industry didn’t start recently.
Since it began operations in 2003, Globacom has made home-grown stars from the entertainment industry the faces (ambassadors) of its brand while making them worth their popularity in affluence and influence. When entertainers were being paid peanuts for their artistry, Globacom upped the ante, dishing out millions of naira to their ambassadors and helping them live the life they only see in the movies or on MTV.

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The least paid ambassador, sources said, was getting at least N10 million per annum depending on their level of stardom. But the highest-paid ambassador was P-Square, which, at the height of its fame, was reportedly paid over N200 million and got an expensive SUV each. While Peter got a 2015 G-Wagon, Paul got a Range Rover as part of the deal. Alas, the twin brothers have gone their separate ways. Prior, D’banj was reputed to be the highest-paid ambassador. In 2008, he was signed on as a Globacom ambassador in a deal worth N70 million and got a branded SUV estimated at N15 million. As the headlining act during the company’s Rock and Rule tour of Nigerian cities then, he got N2 million per show and was signed on for 18 cities. He was disengaged in 2010 due to a face-off with the company over performance engagement fees and re-engaged in 2013.

Indigenous entertainers are not left out of the Globacom largesse as stars like Pasuma, Baba Latin, Iya Rainbow, Papi Luwe, King Sunny Ade, and a host of others are all on the list. Neither are new generation artistes like Davido, Olamide, Tiwa Savage, Timaya, Sani Danja, Ali Nuhu, Chioma Akpotha, and Funke Akindele. At various points, their artistry has earned them a sip or a gulp from Adenuga’s cup of magnanimity.

As part of reaching out to the youth and motivating them to attain excellence in their chosen fields, Globacom, in 2010, announced that it was taking over Naija Sings, the music talent-search reality show being organised by MNET, which ‘aimed at discovering, developing and rewarding Nigeria’s brightest and boldest musical talents. In an exclusive three-year deal, the reality show was rechristened Glo Naija Sings, and a mouth-watering prize regime including $100,000, a record deal, and a brand new Toyota RAV4 SUV was introduced. The telecoms giant promised to endorse the show’s winner as an ambassador. Celebrities like Dare Art Alade, Olisa Adibua, and Tosin Martins were some of the beneficiaries as they participated actively in the show.

In 2013, Globacom announced that it would sponsor the Nigerian version of the British music reality television show X-Factor. The auditions were held in Nigeria and Ghana, with the ultimate prize being a $150,000 cash reward and a deal to be managed and produced by Sony Music to record an album.
The company also collaborated with MTV on The Big Friday Show in 2012, an alliance that made the show more interactive and gave viewers the opportunity for live appearances on the show. There was an added benefit of GLO subscribers winning the network’s products every week. That was for the unheralded talents who needed a platform and motivation to start their careers.

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Indeed, more than any other Nigerian company, Globacom has, over the years, supported the industry through corporate endorsements for practitioners of all genres by providing massive platforms for Nigerian nay African entertainers to practice their trade through direct sponsorship of concerts such as Glo Campus Storm, Glo Rock ‘n’ Rule’; Glo Slide ‘n’ Bounce; Glo Laffta Fest; Glo Mega Music Nationwide Tour, Dance with Peter, Glo X-Factor, and Glo Naija Sings.
For several decades, the Alliance Française committed to promoting French culture and teaching French as a second language around the world, was located in the boisterous area of Yaba, Lagos. But thanks to the generosity of Adenuga, the organisation now has a new home in Ikoyi that has been aptly named the Mike Adenuga Centre. Since it was declared open to the public in April 2018, the centre has commanded commendations from far and near, from art aficionados, artists, and preeminent Nigerians.

French President Emmanuel Macron said the centre aims to foster friendship between Nigeria and France, adding, “Lagos is one of the challenges of, not only Nigeria but Africa. This huge city is a tremendous challenge about how to make people live together in peace and a better society; I want France to be part of this story. I do want my country and citizens to be part of this experience, which means sharing the same values, cultures, languages, literature, music, movies, projects, and common economic projects, among others.”

It was no surprise, therefore, that the donation of the centre was preceded by the French Government investing Adenuga with her highest national honour, the Chevalier de la Legion d Honneur, which global leaders covet. Adenuga was recognised and honoured for his “remarkable contribution to the development of the French-Nigerian relations and appreciation of the French culture.”

Unlike the proverbial warrior who lives to sing the song of his own deeds and derring-do, Adenuga remains impressively humble and immune to conceit, treading a rare path to acclaim, thus, attracting honour in torrents, from home and abroad. Indeed, he is a prophet with honour abroad and at home. Globacom was honoured at the 12th edition of The Headies Awards, held at the Eko Hotel Convention Centre, Lagos, for its unflinching support for Nigeria’s entertainment industry. It was presented with the Power Brand Support Award.

The Headies, which rewards and recognises individuals and corporate bodies who have contributed to the growth of Nigeria’s, and indeed, the continent’s entertainment industry, said Globacom deserved the award because it had been “relentless and unapologetic in its support for entertainment, as well as in leveraging on the music and entertainment industry to strike a mutually beneficial relationship through sponsorship, endorsement, VAS, tours, concerts, event partnerships, patronage and many other creative ways of opening the ‘eyes’ of many other corporate companies to join the party.”

Receiving the award on behalf of the company, Sola Mogaji, then the Senior Manager, Events and Sponsorship, said, “This award is a great testimonial to our modest contributions to the growth of the nation’s entertainment industry, and we are delighted that Nigerians who voted Globacom for this award are appreciative of our efforts at promoting, projecting and developing the music industry and entertainment generally in Nigeria.”

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