By Desmond Davies London Bureau
London, May 12, GNA – At the beginning of this month the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) saw its financial problems greatly eased when a N2.7 billion sponsorship kicked off.
The deal will guarantee salaries of coaches and other backroom members of staff supporting Nigeria’s men’s and women’s national football teams – the Super Eagles and Super Falcons respectively.
The funding has been provided by Aiteo Group, a rising indigenous oil company, which is now the NFF’s Official Optimum Partner.
It is the company’s first in-country sponsorship, which football fans in Nigeria hope will address the shaky state of the financial affairs of the NFF, which sometimes, lead to the failure of the country to make major African and global tournaments.
Constant bickering over non-payment of salaries of staff and bonuses to players have usually disrupted Nigeria’s performances at global tournaments.
It is expected that the sponsorship, which has the option of a year’s extension, will aid the Super Eagles in the bid to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia and the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) in Cameroon.
A Nigerian football fan told the GNA in London: “Let’s hope this huge amount is put into good use so that we don’t have to go through the embarrassment of not qualifying for AFCON 2019, just as we failed to make it to AFCON 2015 and 2017.”
Aiteo Group Chairman, Benedict Peters said, he was happy that a growing indigenous energy company was getting involved in a sport that was beloved by most Nigerians.
"As Nigerian companies grow, I believe the benefits of that growth should be spread as widely as possible,” he said at signing ceremony of the sponsorship deal in Lagos.
“Aiteo Group is as passionate about leadership as Nigerians are about football, so we are proud to be working together with the NFF and its coaching staff to reach a shared goal of a more prosperous Nigeria.
“Aiteo Group is proud to sign this multi-million dollar partnership, which will help to support the Super Eagles to success in the 2018 World Cup, the 2019 AFCON and beyond," Mr Peters added.
The NFF President Amaju Pinnick highlighted the organisation’s constant financial woes when he said: “I am very happy that a critical area of our expenditure is being taken care of by this agreement."
Aiteo Group is one of Africa's fastest-growing energy companies, operating through subsidiaries of which Aiteo Eastern E&P Co. Ltd is the main subsidiary.
Although the sponsorship of the NFF has excited Nigerian football fans, the company has over the years been making a lot of financial contributions to the communities in the Niger Delta where it operates.
The contributions are made in three ways: donations to churches and registered charities; scholarships for higher education, especially in engineering; and empowerment programmes to enable local people to be more responsible citizens.