Reflections on the GLO-CAF Awards, By James Atinga

Any attempt at achieving success or recognition in any field requires some form of benchmarking with the top players in that field. You would have to compare yourself with whoever is considered a success in your chosen field. I once heard of a lecturer who urged his students with the admonition ‘imitate your betters’. Watching the GLO CAF Awards some weeks ago, that was all I could think of. As if to further emphasise this, some days later the FIFA Ballon D’or was aired on the same network.

Whether it was organised by GLO or CAF, it was a poor show. The acoustics left a lot to be desired except, of course, if the problem was from my television. I do not think the microphones were checked before the show started. The presenters of the awards came up to the stage from different directions of the hall giving the ushers the liberty of choosing whom they would usher up the stage. All the winners of the various awards were announced by the hosts of the show and I wondered why they bothered to bring up three people up the stage if all they were to do was to hold a big picture frame and a small trophy?

The organisers found a way to include every House committee member, every CAF executive committee member, every commissioner and top GLO dealers in the list of award presenters. This was, to me, a reflection of our desperate need for recognition even at a mediocre event. After this, I was convinced me that this is not just a Nigerian thing, but an African malaise.

It is a big contribution to football for GLO to sponsor the CAF awards but did they have to rub it in our faces? Maybe rub is not the appropriate word; more like smear. The stage was set in the unmistakable brand colours and just in case we were not sure who the sponsors were, the logo was prominently displayed as well. It could very well have been a GLO shop. All that was missing was customer care staff selling their products.

The show started with a GLO advert. At various intermissions, there were more adverts. The opening speech was made by an ill-prepared GLO staff. The company’s dealers were selected to present awards. Their brand ambassadors were chosen to perform. It was a relief that guests and presenters did not wear the brand colours. Surely with the network’s experienced brand consultants, they must know that sometimes less is more and that such too-much-in your face branding can create negative reactions.

I had hoped the artistes performances would deflect from the poor organisation but they threw up more issues. After an intriguing opening performance by some stunt man(that’s the best description I have for that performance), D-Banj took the stage. He was dressed in a nicely cut suit that would have been better suited for a black tie event except for the shoes. He opened his performance with the track ‘I’m on top the World’ but his back up dancers, dressed in an obviously hurriedly arranged costume of jeans and T-shirts, looked like they were at the bottom of the world.

A good stage performer as usual but I doubt if much thought was given to preparing his team of dancers and the band for the show. The thinking must have been “once D-Banj is here everything is ok, abi?” P-Square did not turn up. I know the sound production was really terrible but if the P-Square look-alikes who stepped on the stage at the end of the awards were really P-Square, then they need to apologise to their fans.

Thankfully, Lagbaja, Lira and Flavor gave good performances that showed they had obviously prepared for the show. From their costume to their back-up dancers and bands, they put in serious work to make it a show. That’s the way it should be. These three would have fitted in perfectly at the Ballon d’Or ceremony.

At the Ballon d’Or, despite having most of the world’s top football executives, coaches and greats present in the audience, only a few were selected to present the awards. The presenters were ushered in from back stage, announced the winners, showed the name to everyone to see, handed over the trophy and left the stage quietly; in an organised manner. The winners were allowed to say some words of thanks to their teams, coaches, parents, whoever they chose to recognise. The FIFA 11 were named, called to the stage, given a memento for being in the world’s best 11 and made to pose like a team. Only the FIFA President made a speech. We didn’t see the logo of the sponsors but the football world will know who they are.

It was an event that told of proper planning and organisation with minimum fuss.  I just hope the organisers of the GLO CAF awards were able to watch the FIFA Ballon D’or, because for the next awards, they need to imitate their betters.  Just the next day after the FIFA Ballon D’or, I watched the Golden Globe Awards. I am sincerely hoping that the organisers of the Africa Magic Movies Award organisers saw it too and will do a good job at imitating that.

Maybe someday we can dream of a Nigeria where our leaders, institutions and companies imitated their betters…

James Atinga is a keen observer of social issues and he writes from lagos.


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