Ghanaian President John Kufauor has described Globacom Chairman, Dr. Mike Adenuga as Africa's number one businessman. Kufour who was speaking at the 2006 Glo/CAF Awards held Thursday night at the Accra International Conference Centre noted that the Globacom Chairman symbolised the African enterprise spirit and had through his business conquests given hope of an African rebirth.
"When you talk about business in Africa, you talk about Adenuga. He has within a short time left his footprint on different areas of business including banking, oil, aviation, real estate and telecommunications. But I am particularly impressed with what he has done with Globacom. In just a little over three years, Adenuga has made Globacom a force not only in Nigeria but also in the African telecommunications landscape, "Kufuor said.
President Kufour said the government and people of Ghana were excited about Globacom's entry into their country, assuring him of full support of Ghanaians. "We are happy with what they (Globacom) have achieved in Nigeria and look forward to having them replicate that success in Ghana, "Kufour said.
He described the CAF Order of Merit in Gold (Pillar of African Football) award given to Adenuga at the event as a most deserving reward for his unparalleled efforts in promoting football in Africa. He told the over 10,000 guests who crammed into the ICC hall that he was pleased Globacom chose his country to host the most prestigious awards in the continent especially as it coincided with the 50th anniversary of Ghana's independence and the establishment of the Confederation of African Football. "It is a historic moment for us and we are proud to have CAF and Globacom management here today," Kufour said.
The Ghanaian president described Chelsea of England midfielder, Michael Essien who made the final three for the African Footballer of the Year award as a proud product of Ghana and one of the brightest stars of African football. Essien was however beaten by his teammate, Ivorien Captain Didier Drogba. Taiye Taiwo of Nigeria who plays for Olympic Marseilles of France won the Young Footballer of the Year Award while Super Falcon's striker Cynthia Uwak emerged the Female Footballer of the Year.
Kufuor observed that Globacom's sponsorship of the Glo/CAF awards had raised the profile of the awards and deepened interest in the event and the game of football in Africa. He praised the standard of the Accra event, describing it as one of the most glamorous events ever to be staged in his country. President Olusegun Obasanjo was represented at the ceremony by the Chairman of the National Sports Commission, Bala Kaoje.
Adenuga in his speech described African players plying their trade across the globe as great ambassadors of the continent. Adenuga also rated the players higher than their counterparts from other parts of the world. He said the continent should be proud of their ambassadorial calling. His words: "Africans are great and talented people. In terms of everything we do, we always show our greatness. But we are a people from different backgrounds and tribes. We also speak different languages but football is one game that speaks one language. We have hundreds of our players scattered all over Europe, who have represented the continent exceptionally that nobody can ignore the number of players the continent has supplied to Europe and who have contributed immensely to the development of the game there. We should all be proud of ourselves."
He said, given the immense talent that abounds across Africa, players from the continent would continue to dominate various leagues in Europe in the years to come. "I have no doubt that with the array of talents across Africa, the continent will continue to produce quality players that will continue to dominate the game in the various leagues across Europe ," he said.
Drogba said at the occasion that the award would propel him to perform better in future competitions both for club and country. Drogba who dedicated the award to his family, thanked his country men and Africans at large for the love and support shown him over the years. He also received a standing ovation from the crowd for emerging in an Ivorien traditional outfit to pick his award.
Nigeria's Cynthia Uwak who won the Female Player award, also said the award would forever galvanize her to win more awards in her career. Uwak who dedicated her award to Nigerians said but for her selection into the female national team, she would not have been noticed. CAF has awarded Adenuga, the Pillar of Sports in Africa for his strong support for African Football at both national and continental levels. Adenuga will be presented the trophy at the opening of the 29th CAF General Assembly scheduled to hold in Khartoum on 10th and 11th February 2007.
The Chairman of Globacom made headlines when the company secured the sponsorship title rights of the Nigerian Premier League at an annual fee of N639 million for four consecutive soccer seasons. Globacom's sponsorship has raised the status of the Nigerian football League to one of the highest in African and has won President Obasanjo's commendation and a special recognition from the Confederation of African Football, CAF.
The 53 year-old Adenuga Jr. was born in 1953 in Ibadan. He attended the famous Ibadan Grammar School, in Oyo State for his secondary education and studied Business Administ-ration at Northwestern State University, Alva, Oklahoma in the United States. He also earned a Masters degree at Pace University, New York, majoring in Business Administration with emphasis on Marketing.