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Nigerian Breweries: Hallmark of creativity and excellence

JOSEPH UNDU

NIGERIAN Breweries (NB), a company best described as the Creative Brewery due to its passion for drilling and refining raw creative minds, has over the years, demonstrated undying quest for professionalism and excellence in Nigerian media and creative industry, proving to its critics that it is indeed a development focused company.
The company, through its numerous sustainable initiatives, executed many wonderful creative projects which made it, unarguably, the only giant brewery in the country that brews four basic condiments–water, barley, hops and yeast–to add creativity to the beer, the end product. These creative programmess, no doubt, lights up the creative impulse in the youths thereby inspiring them to do exploit. NB achieved this feat with its laudable sponsorship of numerous programmes across Nigeria aimed at discovering, sharpening, supporting and launching talented youths to the world stage for global competitiveness.
A company, reputed for its robust Corporate Social Responsibility  (CSR) across Nigeria especially in the areas of youth empowerment, education, community development, entertainment and sports, has, for the past years, proved that it is a socially responsible company that cares for the well-being, welfare, progress and development of its esteemed consumers  and the communities where it operates. It has sponsored renowned initiatives like, Star Quest, Maltina Dance All, National Arts Competition, Creative Writers Workshop, Beyond the School level to discover talented writers, singers and dancers.
It has successfully empowered and launched them on the global stage as mega stars, most of them are now blazing like morning stars across the world. One  of such stars is KC Presh, a legendary music maestro, who rose through the Star Quest talents hunt to become one of Africa’s’ Best musicians in this age. More so, some notable schools which were hitherto in a ramshackle state had received a facelift through the philanthropic gesture of the people’s brewing company.
This includes the building and furnishing of 26 Classrooms in six different school blocks and four libraries, well stocked with books to enhance effective learning among pupils in six different communities across Nigeria.
Some of the beneficiary schools include Igbobi College, Igbobi, Yaba, Lagos; St. Barnabas Primary School, Ado Ekiti; Government Secondary School, Kudenda, Kaduna; Osakwa Community Secondary School, Aba, among others.
What else does a corporate organisation needs to do to boost creativity among the youth that NB has not done? One of the participants for 2014 Creative Writing Workshop, Mr. Afolabi Okpalobi, in a chat with Daily Champion, said: “I really applaud NB for its sponsorship of various literary events in Nigeria. They are doing a fantastic job. It’s really not easy to find a corporate sponsor for literary endeavours or events in Nigeria because of how we view it.”
In line with its vision of “wining with Nigeria”, the NB Plc has continued to demonstrate its undying commitment  to enhance professionalism and excellence in Nigeria media and the creative industries by instituting the “Golden Pen Award” and the Creative Writing Workshop” upon which, this piece hopes to discuss.
To start with, the “Golden Pen Award” which is one of its kinds in the country, started about six years ago and has since grown to become the most credible, vibrant and viable platform for rewarding, encouraging and celebrating distinguished journalists in Nigeria who have upheld the tenets of journalism in their practice.
According to the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer (MD/CEO) of NB, Mr Nicolas Vervelde, “NB Golden Pen Award was instituted by the company to recognise and reward professionalism and other ethical values in journalism in Nigeria”.
This, according to Vervelde, also implies boosting the morale of the media professionals as the handsome cash prize with a statuette and a Samsung Galaxy Tab that always come with the award, is meant to empower the winners to continue giving their best to the profession they are called to practice.
Speaking at the sixth edition of the award which took place at the prestigious Eko Hotels and Suites in Lagos recently, Vervelde applauded the Nigerian media for supporting the initiatives and aspirations of Nigerian Breweries over the years. “It is gratifying to note that we are not only here to reaffirm our age-old partnership with the Nigerian media but to celebrate these gentlemen of the journalism profession.”
Meanwhile, the Chairman of the Jury, Dr. Yomi Ogunbiyi admitted that “the entries for this year’s award were an improvement over the last years.” The Jury’s admission is a testimony to the fact that, NB’s determined effort in promoting professionalism in Nigeria media industry is steadily bearing fruits.
Dr. Ogunbiyi further hailed the efforts of Nigerian Breweries at sustaining the award and commended the Nigerian media for its unrelenting desire to set an agenda for the good of the Nigerian people.
The company’s huge investments in the Nigerian media and indeed the creative industry, is helping the country to create a new generation of notable intellectuals in the media and the literary world.
Since the world is gradually turning into a knowledge-based economy, this would sooner or later, put Nigeria in the forefront of exporting knowledge and not only crude oil to the rest of the world thereby reinforcing its leadership of the African economy.
The award which is, at the moment, meant for only journalists from the print media, has helped in salvaging the financial fortunes of most of the winners since the print media unarguably prides itself as one of the least paid in the country at the moment.
One of the past winners of the award, who craved anonymity said, NB has elevated his status in the Nigerian media practice. “I sincerely thank NB for changing my life with this award. It is one of the greatest things that ever happened to my life. This award has indeed changed my status from a mere journalist to an award winning Journalist; and I know that it is a challenge for me to do more.”
Aside the media industry, NB has also demonstrated it’s love for literary writing as it recently hosted the “2014 Creative Writing Workshop” (CWW), driven by Nigeria’s Award Winning Writer, Chimamanda Adichie, who is the Director of Farafina Trust, the organisers of the workshop with sponsorship from NB.
While speaking at the 2014 Literary Evening held at Lagos Oriental Hotel, Vervelde explained that NB is in its sixth year of partnership with Farafina Trust to sponsor the CWW to encourage the development of literary writing skills in Nigeria.
He said, “The CWW has become a major chapter in our Corporate Social Responsibility calendar. Through this platform, NB and Farafina Trust have helped to discover and sharpen literary skills in Nigeria.
“I have no doubt that this workshop has helped to fine-tune the skills of Nigerian Writers as well as encourage both published and unpublished Writers to fulfil their desire for self expression.
“It is our collective hope that Writers chosen for the workshop this year will have the potential to become future best sellers in literature. Adding that NB remains committed to championing causes that add value to the society as the company believes that business should operate as an integral part of the community where it exists and not in a vacuum.”
The future of writing in Nigeria and Africa as a whole according Adichie in a chat with Daily Champion is ‘very bright.’ “There are very talented writers in African continent. And I think we are going to see an upsurge in African literature in the near future. That means more people would be published and more people would be read.”
She expressed her gratitude to NB for sponsoring the CWW for the past six years and prayed they continue with the gesture. Saying “the vision of the workshop is Pan-African, as she hopes to have more African countries participate in the workshop which currently has over twenty participants drawn across Nigeria and two from Kenya.”
Some of the participants at the 2014 CWW who spoke to Daily Champion expressed their happiness over the program calling NB a creativity booster.
Bassey Ikpi, a United States of America based Nigerian writer, expressed her views to Daily Champion, “NB is an appetizer to creative minds that really want to do exploits in the literary world. I came to the workshop as a poet and essayist but now I am a complete writer. I acquired new skills, learnt new things from my senior colleagues and of cause have more confidence in my writing now. I am ready to explode. All thanks to NB for making my dream come true.”
With all these laudable feats NB has achieved over the years, you will agree with me that the company is not doing these things to boost its sells but solely on the ground of impacting humanity positively to fulfil its philosophy of winning with all Nigerians.
This is because their beneficiaries cut across different age bracket of which some are below 18 years; and not permitted by law to drink beer.
It would be of tremendous benefits to the good people of Nigeria, if all corporate organisations engage in projects aimed at human capacity building other than sells promotional tricks employed by some of them to drain the scarce resources of Nigerian populace.

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