From Peanuts to Millions: How Mike Adenuga’s Globacom Changed Entertainment Industry

Mike Adenuga, Chairman, Globacom

Apart from redefining the art of telephony in Nigeria, and introducing the per-second billing when the pioneer operators said it was impossible, Globacom, thanks to its chairman, Dr. Mike Adenuga’s love for the arts, has changed the story of many Nigerian entertainers – established and unheralded – alike, writes Lanre Alfred

Dr. Mike Adenuga Jnr., the chairman of Globacom’s love for the arts is intrinsic and invaluable. Perhaps after his passion for business, making money, and philanthropy, appreciation of the arts is next in line. Yes, If Dr. Mike Adenuga Jnr. doesn’t strike you, at first sight, then possibly, he is a masterpiece of a man disguised as a blank canvas. The trillionaire businessman affects a flurry of beings curled into one: he is science, an art, a foundation of genius with dashes of brilliance brightening the creativity of his mind and soul, thus illumining the world. A product of pure intellect, vision and sheer enterprise, he can become any form he creates; he is a library of masterpieces, an intricate web of sensitivity and hope attuned in full measure to the world’s needs. This is a glimpse of who he truly is.

Dr. Adenuga does not only set high standards; he abides by the standards as a matter of exemplary leadership and integrity of character. The entertainment industry has featured prominently in Globacom’s Corporate Social Investment (CSI) initiatives on account of Adenuga’s passion for the industry.

Aside from direct financial commitments including massive sponsorships, Globacom currently retains the largest number of key players in the entertainment industry as brand ambassadors while upholding that by actively engaging these key entertainment drivers, they, in turn, can help to grow the sector and the economy.
Many entertainers, both established and unheralded, have been blessed immeasurably by this love and patronage. Though patently elusive, he once drove himself to the album launch of Paul ‘Play’ Dairo, a phenomenon in the Nigerian music scene in the late 1990s and early 2000s, to the consternation of guests.

“The chairman, Dr. Mike Adenuga, showered me with so much love and I enjoyed so much favour from him. The height of the good gestures was when he honoured the invitation to my album launch in 2004. A lot of naysayers in the press said I was too inconsequential to get him to attend my launch. But they were all disappointed,” Paul Paul recalled.

When Paul Play fell sick in 2009 and took a long break to treat what many thought was cancer, he confessed that he didn’t try to publicly raise funds because “People like Dr. Mike Adenuga were there for me.”
Likewise, when Juju music maestro, Ebenezer Obey, who had retired from secular music decades earlier to concentrate on evangelism, required an eye surgery many years ago, Adenuga bankrolled the entire treatment, which took place abroad. That gesture restored Obey’s health and return to musical reckoning.

The Globacom boss also blessed the ‘Miliki’ exponent with an Escalade SUV. Adenuga loves a good laugh and he loves to share happiness, which is why he has supported and sponsored many comedy shows ranging from Glo Lafta Fest, regarded as the biggest music, dance, and comedy event in Nigeria, which brings top-rated African comedians like Bovi, Salvador of Uganda, Basket Mouth, Gordons, I Go Dye, 2Cantok, Seyi Law and others together in one place for an evening of unlimited fun and laughter; Glo Slide and Bounce, a travelling music and dance show; and Bovi’s ‘Man on Fire’ Lagos and Warri editions, among others.
His favourite comedians like Basketmouth and Bovi who, at various times have been ambassadors for the Glo brand, have also benefitted immensely from their personal relationships with the man fondly called ‘The Bull.’

Industry sources say Adenuga is almost always one of the first individuals to have a movie exclusively screened to him and his family in his expansive home cinema. Reports say Kunle Afolayan, one of Nigeria’s foremost filmmakers and former Globacom ambassador, has screened a number of his movies to him at home. Even when he was no longer an ambassador, Adenuga still found Afolayan’s movies a compelling watch. His love for the entertainment industry didn’t start recently.
Since it began operations in 2003, Globacom has made home-grown stars from the entertainment industry the faces (ambassadors) of its brand while making them worth their popularity in affluence and influence. At a time when entertainers were being paid peanuts for their artistry, Globacom upped the ante, dishing out millions of naira to their ambassadors, and helping them to live the life they only see in the movies or on MTV.

The least paid ambassador, sources said, was getting at least N10 million per annum depending on their level of stardom. But the highest-paid ambassador was P-Square, which, at the height of their fame, was reportedly paid over N200 million and got an expensive SUV each. While Peter got a 2015 G-Wagon, Paul got a Range Rover as part of the deal. Alas, the twin brothers have gone their separate ways. Prior to that, D’banj was reputed to be the highest-paid ambassador. In 2008, he was signed on as a Globacom ambassador in a deal worth N70 million and got a branded SUV estimated at N15 million. As the headlining act during the company’s Rock and Rule tour of Nigerian cities then, he got N2 million per show and was signed on for 18 cities. He was disengaged in 2010 due to a face-off with the company over performance engagement fees and re-engaged in 2013.

Indigenous entertainers are not left out of the Globacom largesse as stars like Pasuma, Baba Latin, Iya Rainbow, Papi Luwe, King Sunny Ade, and a host of others are not left out. Neither are new generation artistes like Davido, Olamide, Tiwa Savage, Timaya, Sani Danja, Ali Nuhu, Chioma Akpotha, and Funke Akindele. At various points, their artistry has earned them a sip or a gulp from Adenuga’s cup of magnanimity.

As part of reaching out to youths and motivating them to attain excellence in their chosen fields, Globacom, in 2010, announced that it was taking over Naija Sings, the music talent-search reality show being organised by MNET, which ‘aimed at discovering, developing and rewarding Nigeria’s brightest and boldest musical talents. In an exclusive three-year deal, the reality show was re-christened Glo Naija Sings and a mouth-watering prize regime including $100,000, a record deal, and a brand new Toyota RAV4 SUV was introduced.
The telecoms giant promised that it would endorse the winner of the show as an ambassador. Celebrities like Dare Art Alade, Olisa Adibua and Tosin Martins were some of the beneficiaries as they participated actively in the show.
In 2013, Globacom announced that it would be sponsoring the Nigerian version of the British music reality television show, X-Factor. The auditions were held in Nigeria and Ghana with the ultimate prize being a $150,000 cash reward as well as a deal to be managed and produced by Sony Music to record an album.

The company also collaborated with MTV on The Big Friday Show in 2012, an alliance that made the show more interactive and gave viewers the opportunity for live appearances on the show. There was an added benefit of GLO subscribers winning the network’s products every week. That was for the unheralded talents who needed a platform and motivation to get started with their careers.

Indeed, more than any other Nigerian company, Globacom has, over the years, supported the industry through corporate endorsements of practitioners from various genres by providing massive platforms for Nigerian and other African entertainers to practise their trade through direct sponsorship of concerts such as Glo Campus Storm, Glo Rock ‘n’ Rule’; Glo Slide ‘n’ Bounce; Glo Laffta Fest; Glo Mega Music Nationwide Tour, Dance with Peter, Glo X-Factor, Glo Naija Sings and the popular sit-com, Professor Johnbull featuring among others Kanayo O. Kanayo, Yomi Fash Lanso, Bidemi Kosoko and Bishop Umeh.

For several decades, the Alliance Française, committed to promoting French culture and teaching French as a second language around the world, was located in the boisterous area of Yaba, Lagos. But thanks to the generosity of Adenuga, the organisation now has a new home in Ikoyi that has been aptly named the Mike Adenuga Centre. Since it was declared open to the public in April 2018, the centre has been commanding commendations from far and near; from art aficionados and artists and preeminent Nigerians. The French President, Emmanuel Macron, said the centre is aimed at fostering friendship between Nigeria and France, adding, “Lagos is one of the challenges of, not only Nigeria but Africa. This huge city is a tremendous challenge about how to make people live together in peace and a better society.

I want France to be part of this story. I do want my country and citizens to be part of this experience, which means sharing same values, cultures, languages, literature, music, movies, projects, common economic projects, among others.” wIt was no surprise, therefore, that the donation of the centre was preceded by the French government investing Adenuga with its highest national honour, the Chevalier de la Legion d Honneur, which is coveted by global leaders.
Adenuga was recognised and honoured for his “remarkable contribution to the development of the French-Nigerian relations and appreciation of the French culture.”

Unlike the proverbial warrior who lives to sing the song of his own deeds and derring-do, Adenuga remains impressively humble and immune to conceit, treading a rare path to acclaim thus, attracting honour in torrents, from home and abroad. Indeed, he is a prophet with honour abroad and at home. Globacom was honoured at the 12th edition of The Headies Awards, held at the Eko Hotel Convention Centre, Lagos, for its unflinching support for the country’s entertainment industry. It was presented with the Power Brand Support Award.
The Headies, which rewards and recognises individuals and corporate bodies who have contributed to the growth of Nigeria’s, and indeed, the continent’s entertainment industry, said Globacom was deserving of the award because it had been “relentless and unapologetic in its support for entertainment, as well as in leveraging on the music and entertainment industry to strike a mutually beneficial relationship through sponsorship, endorsement, VAS, tours, concerts, event partnerships, patronage and many other creative ways of opening the eyes of many other corporate companies to join the party.”

Receiving the award on behalf of the company, Sola Mogaji, then Senior Manager, Events and Sponsorship, said, “This award is a great testimonial to our modest contributions to the growth of the nation’s entertainment industry and we are delighted that Nigerians who voted Globacom for this award are appreciative of our efforts at promoting, projecting and developing the music industry and entertainment generally in Nigeria.”

One of the finest pillars of investment in Africa with multibillion-dollar interests in telecommunications, oil, banking, and real estate among others, Adenuga’s investment footprints in sports, like in entertainment, now span the continent. His investment in the development of sports in Nigeria especially football is peerless.
Globacom sponsors the Supporters’ Club to any part of the world where any of Nigeria’s national teams is competing while it was the headline sponsor of the Nigerian football league and Confederation of Africa Footballer of the Year awards for several years.