by Dele Momodu
What I find most fascinating and noteworthy about Glo is the employment opportunities and wealth creation it has provided for the young and old alike. Apart from those selling recharge cards in the different countries, Glo has paid the biggest endorsements ever known to artistes in these parts.
Fellow Africans, please join me in dedicating this column to one of the miracles to come out of a continent that used to be synonymous with wars, famine, diseases, political upheavals, fraud and all what not. In a few seconds, I will endeavour to highlight the reasons I believe this dedication and celebration are necessary and appropriate. In an environment riddled with bad news, occasional good news is worth all the space we can give it. Most people would agree with me that the story of Nigeria’s telecommunications giant, Globacom, is worth telling any day and any time.
In ten action-packed years, a fully planted, and amply rewarded, Nigerian brand, Globacom, has captured the attention and imagination of the world with the aggressiveness of its roll-out plans and dare-devil operations from the very first day. In the past, such a stupendous feat would only have been achievable and attributable to foreigners from far-flung places well beyond our shores. But one reclusive Nigerian whose propensity for risk-taking is legendary took the bull by the horns and changed the course of history forever. That man is no other than the energetic and enigmatic Chairman of Globacom, and a few other cash-cows in his kingdom, Dr Michael Adeniyi Agbolade Isola Adenuga, whose voyage in the world of business remains the stuff of fables and folklore.
The foray of Dr Mike Adenuga Jnr, (aka The Guru or The Bull, whichever you prefer), into telecommunications was as dramatic as it was intriguing. His path was littered with thorns and pebbles. If he expected a smooth-sail, after meeting all conditions and conditionality, he was in for a rude shock. Nothing could have prepared him for the apocalypse that nearly ravaged his lofty dreams. The Guru is someone who prepares for every venture like a war General. Though he has friends in powerful places, he never takes the role of meritocracy for granted. This is what has kept him above the ubiquitous rumour-mongers who never fail to scrutinise his every move with a fine toothcomb and ascribe his every success to the hands of Esau or the voice of Jacob. But he has confounded his vociferous and acerbic critics by demonstrating over and over again that a marathoner is always a man of stamina and resilience. He’s the modern day King Midas whose capacity to turn everything he touches into gold is bewildering and awe-inspiring.
After surmounting natural and manmade obstacles, including forfeiting 20million American dollars in a lost bid which could have crippled some feeble players, Adenuga nursed his injury away from prying eyes but returned again to bid another day. He was never a man to get floored by the vicissitudes of life. His mission and ambition in life have always been taller than his imposing physical appearance. His determination to succeed where others had failed is always a case-study in the tenacity of the human spirit over daunting challenges.
As soon as Globacom was given a clean bill of health and licensed to begin operations, Dr Adenuga and his team wasted no time in creating an enduring razzmatazz around a company that was positioned to positively affect the way we communicate instantly and permanently. How can we ever forget one of its earliest Television commercials which was tagged the Magic Ball? It was the compelling story of a talismanic green ball rolling all over the West African cities, villages and hamlets and producing a feeling of visible transformation everywhere it touched base. Since then, that supernatural ball has been gliding effortlessly and creating maximum impact and effect in communities and society at large.
Glo has been a mobile telephony on the go, ruling its world and providing unlimited possibilities and largely reliable services at clearly affordable prices. Glo it was that demystified the use of mobile phones in Nigeria at a time when it used to be the exclusive preserve of the privilegentsia. It shocked the Telecoms world when it announced an unprecedented Per Second Billing System at the speed of light. This jolted competitors out of supposed complacency and made Nigerian callers the king. Before then, callers were made to pay for calls they never made in full. Not just that, Glo brought about a sporadic uprising by crashing the price of sim cards from as high as N30,000 to as low as N1. It was too good to be true and even the International Telecommunications Union, an Agency of the United Nations, acknowledged Glo as triggering the superlative revolution in the Nigerian telecom sector.
In the area of high-tech, Glo has been galloping away with all kinds of value added innovations including General Packet Radio Service (GPRS), which allows subscribers to browse the internet directly from their handsets and send multimedia messages; vehicle tracking service and telemetry security solution which help in combating crime and criminals; MBanking and so on. Glo was known to have introduced the Blackberry service to Nigeria at a time it was still uncommon even abroad.
In a rare display of courage and ambition, Glo undertook the task of building a submarine cable, Glo 1, linking Europe to many parts of West Africa. This audacious move was initially greeted with incredulity because of the humongous amount of money needed for such a massive project and the fact that no individually-owned company had ever attempted such herculean task within living memory. But Adenuga has never been one to run away from seeming impossibilities. He’s a Master of the Game.
Glo was not satisfied with being a local champion. It extended its long antennae to Benin Republic. Its launch was greeted with euphoria and adulation for rescuing the country from the monopoly of expensive and erratic networks. I remember the red carpet rolled out by that Francophone country to welcome the world-class company. Glo then also made determined incursion into the Republic of Ghana where after several trials and tribulations it again registered its presence and created more than enough vibrations in the telecom sector. Today it has stamped its famous signature all over the country despite the presence of several networks ahead of it.
What I find most fascinating and noteworthy about Glo is the employment opportunities and wealth creation it has provided for the young and old alike. Apart from those selling recharge cards in the different countries, Glo has paid the biggest endorsements ever known to artistes in these parts. The company has taken our superstars to the level of megastars by providing them with commensurate financial rewards and requisite comfort. Wherever you find a Glo advert on Television or billboards, you should know some smart and talented people are smiling to the banks.
Glo has been very dominant in the area of aggressive advertisements and audacious promotions. It has enjoyed the widest endorsements from icons such as Wole Soyinka, Maitama Sule, Odumegwu Ojukwu, Ebenezer Obey, King Sunny Ade and Oliver de Coque, RMD, Bimbo Oloyede and John Momoh. It has sponsored many cultural festivals, hosted an Evening with Wole Soyinka in Ghana, sponsored the Wole Soyinka Prize for Literature, among so many others.
The younger artistes have not been ignored including music icons and entertainment heroes such as Lagbaja, Psquare, D’banj, Basketmouth, Waje, Ego, MI, Omawumi, Burna Boy, Flavour, from Nigeria. In Ghana, Glo elevated Reggy Rockstone, Efya, Irene Logan, Kwabena Kwabena, Wutah, Tinny, Edem, and a group of retired Ghanaian legends like Gyedu Blay Ambolley, Papa Yanson, Pat Thomas, and Zeynab from Benin Republic and shot them into the limelight. In movies, Glo attracted Jackie Appiah, Nadia Buari, Van Vicker, from Ghana and in Nigeria got so many Nollywood stars, Ini Edo, Rita Dominic, Ramsey Noah, Uche Jombo, Kate Henshaw, Monalisa Chinda, Desmond Elliot, Ali Nuhu, Mike Ezonronye, Nonso Diobi, Funke Akindele, Odunlade Adekola, Chioma Akpota, to endorse the brand and by doing so ignite their own image and their personal wealth. Even veterans like Madam Kofo, Ibidun Allison, Jimmy Johnson and others were not left out.
Glo has effectively engaged and emancipated many African youths through its sponsorship of Glo Naija Sings, Glo Gbam Show, Glo Campus Storm, Glo Rock n Rule, Glo Soccer Academy and the biggest of them all the Glo XFactor.
Glo has also assumed a foremost role in the sports arena. It has not only sponsored the Glo CAF Awards which is now the biggest celebration of soccer achievement on the African continent, it has also helped a great deal in resurrecting the comatose football leagues in Nigeria and Ghana through its sponsorship of their premier leagues. In addition, Glo has contributed to the superlative performances of the national teams of both countries through the financial and material backing it provides at all levels and the encouragement and assistance it offers their supporters’ clubs. Many customers of Glo have been flown to England to watch Manchester United through a special sponsorship package with the highly successful club. Glo has not been partial to only football. The Glo Lagos International Half Marathon gave it local and international acclaim. It has also been involved in other sports including golf.
Just imagine what Africa and indeed the world would have missed if Glo had been aborted in its embryo on the altar of political intimidation and vengeful retaliation as almost happened. We must salute the never-say-die-spirit that gave birth to one of the greatest African brands today. Its sponsorship of the African Voices on CNN is a very eloquent testimony to its belief in the African indomitable spirit. Through it, Glo has given voice to the voiceless and hope to the hopeless. Only an enemy of progress would not appreciate the amazing hard work that must have gone into this spectacular project.
It is hard to imagine how the vision of one man has catapulted Africa beyond the stereotypes of poverty, war and diseases. It is a tale of human triumph over tribulations and misery. We have something to learn from a man who continues to dream big without making much fuss about it. You will never find Adenuga wasting time, energy and money on frivolities. I have no doubts that from the engine-room of his sprawling mansions, this human power-house may still break the barriers of sound through his blistering ingenuity.
Dr. Mike Adenuga and his Team Glo certainly deserve our generous prayers and the heartiest of congratulations.
Read this article in the Thisday newspapers
Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.