The relationship between the Next Generation Network, Globacom and the Onitsha Traditional Council headed by the Obi of Onitsha, Igwe Alfred Nnaemeka Achebe, was contracted five years ago with the signing of the first Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). It was for the sponsorship of Ofala Festival in August 2011 and renewed in September 2013.
The understanding has continued to wax stronger, while the synergy between the Onitsha Kingdom, Anambra State, and the telecommunications company continues to grow in leaps and bounds. Igwe Achebe acknowledged this fact as he praised Globacom at the 2015 edition held between October 10 and 13.
In attendance were Governor Willie Obiano, Ghana’s former Minister of Health, Road and Transport, Dr. Richard Anane, who represented that country’s former President, Mr. John Kuffor and former Minister of Aviation Senator Stella Oduah, among others.
Igwe Achebe noted that the success of Ofala has been as a result of the company’s support: “My gratitude goes first to our long standing partner, Globacom. The success of Ofala Onitsha over the past years has depended materially on the cooperation and support we have received from Globacom.”
Since Globacom took over the sponsorship of the festival, it has brought in innovations with flashes of showbiz to stimulate the interest of the youth in appreciating the value of their culture. From the collection of magnificent works of art in the Oreze Arts Exhibition to the Age Grade Competitions, the Youth Carnival Floats, the Ofala Music Concert, the Miss Ofala Beauty Pageant and the Royal Banquet organised by Globacom in honour of the Obi, the 2015 edition of Ofala was truly outstanding and deserving of Achebe’s commendation.
Chairman of Globacom, Dr. Mike Adenuga, in his goodwill message said: “Our support for the festival is hinged on two main considerations. The first is our shared belief that nobody can appreciate our values more than we Nigerians, hence our commitment at Globacom to support the promotion of Nigerian arts and culture. Ofala is, therefore, a major cultural heritage of our people that we treasure and support.
“Our belief in the potential of Ofala and other major traditional festivals to boost our tourism industry. With dwindling oil earnings and the need to explore other sources of revenue, there is the need for individuals and organisations of goodwill to support government’s effort to develop other sectors. According to data from World Travel and Tourism Council, Nigeria’s tourism and hospitality sector contributes an insignificant 1.5 percent to the nation’s GDP. This figure has remained the same for three years now.”
Adenuga paid tribute to the Agbogidi for giving Globacom the opportunity to sponsor the Ofala festival: “We assure you of our continued support to take the festival to the next level. We equally want to assure His Majesty that the Oraeze Arts Exhibition which was incorporated into the celebrations three years ago shall continue to enjoy our support. We appreciate the essence of documenting the historic past of the Black Race in visual arts.”
At the Royal Banquet held at the Mulumba Place, Onitsha, Obi Achebe said: “The coming of Globacom to the Ofala Festival five years ago has made the festival to grow bigger in scope and content.” He described Adenuga as “a man with uncommon passion for anything he believes in.”
Adenuga, represented by Mr. Augustine Mamuro, Globacom’s National Sales Coordinator, South-South, commended Achebe’s industry and hospitality “which in themselves epitomise the essentials of the Onitsha people. He has attracted many developmental initiatives to Onitsha and greatly transformed the city, making it the commercial nerve-centre of the entire South East geopolitical zone of this nation.”
“So, for us in Globacom, we consider it worthwhile to celebrate the shining light which the Igwe is. It is indeed a privilege, and we are proud of our relationship with His Royal Majesty and the entire Onitsha people. Today’s banquet is a testimony to what we intend to do in the years to come as we jointly project this epic celebration.
“We have in our own modest way decided to expand the scope of the banquet by enhancing the side attractions; music, comedy and dance, all in a bid to further demonstrate how much we value and appreciate this relationship.”
The banquet was not all about wining and dining. It was an entertainment galore as an array of comedians led by the legendary Okey Bakassi, 2CanTalk, AB Simple and MC for God were brought by Globacom to spice up the dinner with rib-cracking jokes. The quartet of Mama G, Chiwetalu Agu, John Okafor, aka Mr. Ibu, all Glo Ambassadors, and Chief Chika Okpala, aka Zebrudaya Okoroigwe Nwogbo, Alias 430 of the famous Masquerade TV series, were also present to add glamour and other side attractions to the event.
Globacom also rewarded the different age grades that came tops in the dance competitions. They were rewarded with cash prizes ranging from N100,000, for the first prize to N75,000 and N50,000 for the second and third positions respectively. Ani Amaka, Ifechukwulu and Aghaedo age grades, took the first, second and third positions respectively in the age grade group of 50 years and below.
In the age grade of 50-60 years, Nwanuebife came first, while the second and third positions went to Anyibuofo and Ado Amaka respectively. Ife Nkili came first in the age grade of 60 years and above, second was Officer age grade and in third position was Nkolika group. The best carnival float was won by Agbalanze and the second and third positions went to Otu-Odu and Ichie respectively.
For the beauty pageant, Ekwerekwu Jennifer Ansu, a Law student, was crowned Miss Ofala 2015 with a prize of N100, 000, while Okoli Onyeagun came second and won N75, 000. Mba Uche Collet, who is studying Economics at the Nnamdi Azikwe University, Awka, came third and went home with N50, 000.