Enyimba FC of Aba’s Victory over Plateau United at the Enyimba Football Stadium Aba, on Sunday June 23rd, is a feat worthy of celebration.

The match which marked the end of the season, saw Enyimba secure a continental ticket; to the joy and excitement of the Government of Abia state, the Management of the Club, and of course, the dogged and passionate Enyimba fans.

Shortly after his appointment as the Chairman of the Club by Governor Alex Otti, Kanu Nwankwo (Papilo) told me about the challenges he met on ground and his long term vision for the club.

Papilo was emphatic that he would be using the first season to lay a solid foundation that would see the club operate the way football clubs operate in advanced leagues.

My understanding of Kanu’s argument was not that Enyimba had not done well in the past in terms of trophies, but the obvious lack of profitable and sustainable intistitutional architecture, which was why the club couldn’t boast of anything as its real assets as a football club.

There was no basis to doubt Kanu’s revelation on assumption of office, because, when the Club under the former management needed money to go for the Super Six Tournament, they had to rely on money brought by Dr. Alex Otti who was then a Governor-elect to prosecute the tournament, because they didn’t have money in theiŕ coffers. No well built and managed football club would have found itself in such a situation.

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I did a post where I shared the discussion I had with Papillo, and the heavens were let loose, as all manner of persons who had different kinds of interests in the Club during the Old Abia era poured tantrums, and predicted that under Papilo, the Club would go on relegation at the end of the just concluded season, because according to them, he was a greenhorn, and had no right to complain.

Honestly, i didn’t feel angry over those reactions from some persons, because that’s the beauty of democracy. The government and Papilo obviously took those wishes of failure as a challenge and worked very hard to prove naysayers wrong.

In line with Governor Otti’s mandate that Enyimba should be completely reorganised and rejigged so that it wouldn’t just be a football club which participates in league matches on a weekly basis, but a powerful football club and brand that would be natured through topnotch management and partnership with reputable brands, Papilo moved into action, and before one could say Jack, they struck two strategic sponsorship deals with two reputable brands; an Australian Crypto Company, Stake.Com, which also has a partnership with Everton FC of England and the New Zealand/Nigerian born Mixed Marshall Art (Kick boxer), Israel Adesanya.
The People’s Elephant, as Enyimba is popularly called, also secured N100m Two-year Deal with United Nigeria Airline.

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The management of the Club has also digitised all media platforms associated with Enyimba, ensuring that the Club’s official website and other social media handles are up to date with information and activities of the club.

Governor Otti believes that football is a lucrative business, and that beyond the entertainment aspect of football, the economic aspect which is one of the most essential, must be explored to inspire youth development and empowerment, as well as economic development of the state.

The government of Abia state, management and staff of Enyimba, and all those who have played different roles to raise the operational standards and image of the club in all aspects in recent times must be commended for their roles in ensuring Enyimba’s victory and qualification to play continental football.

The organisation and beautiful spectacles, which included the music and cultural displays at the stadium on Sunday, were pointers to the understanding of the management that, branding is a key factor in football business.

Without doubt, Aba is being recovered on all fronts, and we can only do better.

Congratulations…….The People’s Elephant!

Ferdinand Ekeoma
Special Adviser to the Governor
Media and Publicity
June 25, 2024.

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