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 Billion Naira Sports Betting Industry Takes Over Nigeria



Sports Betting

 ***Nigerians Gamble With N1.8 Trillion Annually – Stakeholder

Lukmon Akintola


In Nigeria, betting is considered an influence brought in by the British, her colonial masters. It dates back to the 20s, gaining more prominence in the 50s, 60s, 70s, and 80s via card games, dice and even traditional games such as ‘ayo olopon’.

At a time, it was illegal and associated with miscreants, men considered lazy and others seeking quick cash.

However, its legitimacy came with the pool, a popular kind of betting involving numbers.

In the 70s and 80s, it was common to hear statements such as palm three from four. It was also common to see men sitting in small shops, glaring at old newspapers cuttings.

At other time, boards with numbers meaningless to the average passer-by, but very meaningful to a betting fan were commonplace.

Those were the early days of betting in Nigeria.

Today, what was once considered a vice is now legitimate via several online sports betting and lottery companies.

Unlike in the past when patrons were frowned at by the society, today sports betting has now been accepted, almost totally.

Until recently when the Borno State Governor Kashim Shettima asked betting companies, including the duo of NairaBet and Bet9ja to leave the state as part of his efforts to fight social vices among youths, sports betting was legal in all of the 36 states of Nigeria and Abuja.

Sports Betting

Considered by some as a blessing to a country like Nigeria and other third world nations where unemployment looms largely, Obinna Eze, a student of Olabisi Onabanjo University (OOU), who is a regular face at a 9jabet shop located at Ajah Bus Stop, Lagos State explained how important sports betting is to the average youth while speaking with Saturday INDEPENDENT Newspaper.

“Have you been to viewing centers in recent time? If you have, you would have seen boys and men with long sheets of papers occasionally glancing at their stakes once a major incident like a goal is scored in a match. They are seeking extra cash legitimately,” he said.

“Sports betting is important to the average Nigerian youth. It might have been perceived as a vice in the past, but today it is far from that. It is now a legitimate means of income for a lot of people including myself.

“Unlike in the past when young men would rather settle for crime, today they have the opportunity to make good money from betting and avoiding crimes, while supporting their teams and even teams that are not theirs,” Eze told Saturday INDEPENDENT.

“Money is what makes a lot of young people turn to crimes like ‘Yahoo’, but if they know that they can make money legitimately, they will rather do sports betting than turn to crime,” he concluded.

His position is supported by Ola Aina; a mechanic, who was eager to speak with Saturday INDEPENDENT. The mechanic explained that since finishing his training, he has been augmenting with money from sports betting. “At times, I win something big and at other times, it’s just small. I also lose my money at times, but I am not really bothered when I lose because it is just small money like N100 or N200.

“My father is the type that believes that once you have been trained in a vocation he owes you nothing. Having finished my training, I took sports betting, as an additional source of income and it has not been bad.”

Aina went on to say that a lot of people have turned sports betting into their regular job, as all they do is to invest an amount of money and continue to turn it around. “What will they do when they don’t have regular jobs?” he asked.

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Asked if he has a football team that he supports, he revealed that “I don’t really have a team I support, but I have had to keep a close tab of developments in different leagues to know how to bet my money.”

A veteran businessman within Lagos metropolis, Joseph Akinbusote, tells an interesting tale of his brother who is doing well today having started what he calls an investment company.

Akinbusote told Saturday INDEPENDENT that his brother, Gerald, started by investing N150,000 on Naira Bet monthly. He revealed that after months of doing this, he became more than comfortable. “At a point, a lot of people thought my brother was into ‘Yahoo’ because he hardly left his home. Indeed, the sports betting industry is a lucrative one.”

Available statistics in Nigeria hardly add up to world recognized growth pattern of 2.5 percent from year to year.

A 2016 PwC report projected that the industry would grow at an annual rate of 16% each year to $147 million (₦45 billion) in 2019.

Another report by News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) is quoted to have said that 60 million Nigerians between the ages of 18 and 40 years are involved in active sports betting.

Analytically, that is about 30 percent of the country’s population. These are indeed alarming figures.

Shocking also is the fact that N2 billion is spent on sports betting daily in Nigeria although Ademola Adebajo, head of Gameon, one of the football betting services providers operating in the country puts the daily betting amount at N5 billion or over $25 million.

These funds are spent via major betting companies such as NairaBet, Premier Bet, Bet King, Western Lotto, Bet Naija, Merrybet, Bet 365, Betway, Bet9ja,Naijabet, Lovingbet, Surebet247, Supabets, 1960bet, Nairastake, Parknbet, 360bet, Sportybet, Plusbet, Skybetnaija, 9jadollarbet, Visabet, Winnersgoldenbet and others.

NAN’s analysis of N2 billion a day translates to nearly N730 billion annually, while Adebajo’s analysis of N5 billion daily translates to N18. 2 Trillion annually.

According to data obtained from the Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System (NIBSS), owned by the Central Bank and licensed banks, there were 14 million web payments platforms worth a total of N132 billion ($420 million) in 2016. Transactions leaped to 29 million worth N185 billion in 2017 and in the first quarter of 2018, there were nearly 10 million worth N61 billion.

Another 2016 report by KPMG on gambling in Africa revealed shocking numbers from the sports betting industry in Nigeria. As at 2016, the leading sports betting company, Bet9ja raked in an average monthly turnover of $10m, while Naira Bet made an average turnover of $3m-$5m, a 20-30% margin on profit.

These statistics might be attractive and may translate into good business for the economy and government, however, there are also unpalatable sides to sports betting, as it is also known to have negative consequences like addiction, loss of savings, idleness and increased crime.

Indeed, not all stories relating to sports betting are palatable; as there are also records of huge losses via betting.

This position is supported by Lanre Gbajabiamila, Director-General of the National Lottery Regulatory Commission, who described the lottery industry as a very risky but also lucrative one.

Akin Martins (not real name) told us how N6million borrowed from his dad went down the drain because he wanted to be an agent of a sports betting company.

Martins revealed that while he set up the company and got patronage, he just couldn’t explain how the capital for the business disappeared after less than a year in business.

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This other side of the supposedly lucrative industry has led to questions such as what is responsible for the cult followership which sports betting has gotten in Nigeria.

One factor which has been linked to the rise in the country is the love of sport especially football, explained Tayo Olubayo.

Olubayo, who owns and operates a football viewing center explained to Saturday INDEPENDENT that the fact that Nigeria has the largest followership of European football around the world has caused a chain reaction that has sparked off prosperity in sports betting and associated businesses.

“This crazy football passion is what has been instrumental to sports betting shops springing up in nooks and crannies of the country.

“Betting in these shops continue unabated despite the fact that most of the clubs supported fanatically are abroad.

“Logically, as the clubs gain popularity and become more successful, so too does the amount wagered on the game increases and other businesses surrounding football such as souvenir production, jersey sales, and others increases.”

Findings by Saturday INDEPENDENT also indicate that the high use of mobile phones and the internet also contributes to the increase in access to online contents. 40 percent of Nigerians have access to the internet, while 50 percent have mobile phones, making access to football content easy, thus increasing betting.

General Manager SureBet247, Ajala Adeyinka Samson, however, explains the rise in sports betting thus “I think that first and foremost, this country has been receptive of the benefits that technology can afford us. Like we all know, betting has been in existence in advanced countries for many years and we also are trying to emulate what’s happening in the other parts of the world.

“Now with N100 you have hope that something better can happen. I have seen a lot of people who come here to collect cheques of N7 million, N9 million and much more than that with bets of N200. So, this is giving people hope. And especially for the fact that when they win, they get the money, it stimulates them.”

The simple process of setting up a betting company, a lack of proper regulation and the rush for new opportunities have also contributed to the many sports betting shops springing up.

In Nigeria, to set up a betting company is as simple as establishing any other firm. Asides from obtaining a license which appears, the biggest challenge, every other thing seem regular.

However, the Lagos State Lotteries Board holds a different opinion, as it insists it has been carrying out enforcement and ensuring fair play in the industry.

When Saturday INDEPENDENT visited the Lagos State Lotteries Board, a staff of the board who spoke with us in anonymity, revealed that the board has been trying in its job as a regulator. “We do our enforcement, we suspend lottery companies when they err, and we have even withdrawn some licenses. If we hear that something is happening in Ikorodu, with just the press of some keys, we can know what is happening there. It is not like I am saying we have everything covered, but we are doing well. We also encourage people to report what they see and hear especially issues of underage betting. We have a whistleblowing policy that we take seriously,” he added.

The need to ensure proper monitoring, punishment, and ban where necessary can’t be overemphasized. This is in order to checkmate excesses of the budding industry before they get out of hand.

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UBA Foundation Celebrates International Day of the African Child, with Special Reading, Mentoring Sessions



Head, External & Media Relations, United Bank for Africa(UBA) Plc, Mr. Nasir Ramon; General Manager, Corporate Bank, UBA, Muyiwa Akinyemi; Chief Credit Officer, UBA Africa, Franklin Erebor; Group Head, Human Resources, UBA, Patricia Aderibigbe; and Professional Teacher and Guest, Mr. Adeniyi Kunnu, flanked by secondary school students during the special Read Africa session organised by UBA Foundation to commemorate 2019 International Day for African Child held at UBA House on Monday

UBA Foundation, the corporate social responsibility arm of United Bank for Africa (UBA) Plc, on Monday, joined the rest of the world to celebrate the International Day of the African Child.

The day which has been set aside by the United Nations to celebrate children in Africa, recognises the courage of students who marched for their right to better education in Soweto South Africa, and is marked annually on June 16th.

UBA Foundation brought together students from various secondary schools in Lagos to the Tony Elumelu Amphitheatre in the UBA Head Office, where they were educated on various issues, ranging from financial literacy, importance of reading culture and nation building.

Some schools which were represented at the event included Akande Dahunsi Memorial High School, Lagos; Government Senior College, Maroko, Aunty Ayo International School Ikoyi and Wahab Folawiyo Senior High School, Ikoyi.

UBA’s Group Head, Human Resources, Mrs Patricia Aderibigbe who welcomed the students, said that UBA Foundation centres on three key pillars: Education, Empowerment and Environment.

Throwing more light on this, she explained that the bank, through its foundation, recognises the huge role that education and indeed a good reading culture has to play in the lives of the youth.

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She said, “The UBA Foundation is committed to impacting the lives of the African youth across the continent. As a pan-African institution, we believe that the future of Africa lies in her youth. For this reason, UBA Foundation is actively involved in facilitating educational projects and bridging the literacy-wide gap on a pan-African scale.

“The UBA Foundation is helping rekindle the dwindling reading and literacy culture amongst African youths as they pursue their education. Over time we have worked with various schools and educational institutions across the continent to ensure that the UBA Foundation continues to traverse the continent, contributing positively to the development of African youth, especially in the area of education,” she added.

She explained that the bank through its foundation, aims to make sustainable improvements in the lives of the needy and under-privileged by supporting entrepreneurship programmes, such as social entrepreneurship schemes which benefit the community at large.

On his part, the Chief Credit Officer, UBA Africa, Mr. Franklin Erebor, who spoke briefly on financial literacy and the need to plan for the future, told the pupils that it is important for them to manage their funds and finances.

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He said, “You are not too young to start to plan for the future, as what you do now when you are young will impact greatly on you later in live. So it is essential that you have an account which should be well monitored to ensure that it fulfils the purpose.

“You need to be financially literate, as this will help to open your eyes to the opportunities inherent and help you make wise decisions to benefit from the investments,” Erebor said.

The UBA top officials had a brief reading session where they read to the students and engaged them in reading a number of passages from select reading materials.

As a Pan African Institution, UBA is in the forefront of promoting Africa and African values, especially in the areas of economic development for the continent.

Recently, the bank also held its UBA Conversations, an annual event commemorating the Africa Day, where African icons contributed to discussions around changing the African narrative and growing the continent.


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We Must Join Hands to Lift Our Young Ones from Poverty to Prosperity – Tony Elumelu



: Former Head of State, Gen. Yakubu Gowon; Chancellor, Bayero University, Kano(BUK), and Amanyanabo of Tom Brass, King Alfred Diete-Spiff; Founder, The Tony Elumelu Foundation and Group Chairman, United Bank for Africa (UBA), Tony Elumelu; and Chancellor, Chairman, Governing Council, BUK, Professor Ibrahim Gambari; and Vice Chancellor, BUK, Professor Muhammad Bello, during the conferment of Honorary Doctor of Business on Elumelu by BUK in recognition of his foremost contribution to the Africa’s economic development through the promotion of entrepreneurship and philanthropy……in Kano on Saturday

***As He Receives Honorary Doctorate Degree

Tony O. Elumelu, Founder Tony Elumelu Foundation and Chairman UBA Group and Heirs Holdings charged everyone to join hands to lift Nigeria’s youth from poverty to prosperity. He made this statement while receiving an Honorary Doctor of Business (Hon D.B) degree by one of Nigeria’s foremost universities, Bayero University, Kano.

Former Head of State, Gen. Yakubu Gowon; Chancellor, Bayero University, Kano(BUK), and Amanyanabo of Tom Brass, King Alfred Diete-Spiff; Founder, The Tony Elumelu Foundation and Group Chairman, United Bank for Africa (UBA), Tony Elumelu; and Chancellor, Chairman, Governing Council, BUK, Professor Ibrahim Gambari; and Vice Chancellor, BUK, Professor Muhammad Bello, during the conferment of Honorary Doctor of Business on Elumelu by BUK in recognition of his foremost contribution to the Africa’s economic development through the promotion of entrepreneurship and philanthropy……in Kano on Saturday


According to the Vice Chancellor, Bayero University, Prof. Muhammad Yahuza Bello, Elumelu’s conferment was in honour of his immense contribution to human capital development across Africa and especially in Northern Nigeria. Through the Tony Elumelu Foundation, Africa’s leading philanthropy empowering entrepreneurship which he founded in 2010, he has empowered 7520 entrepreneurs across Africa; almost 1000 of the entrepreneurs are from Northern Nigeria. In addition to the current beneficiaries, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) recently partnered with Tony Elumelu Foundation to empower an additional 1,000 African entrepreneurs from the seven countries in Africa’s Sahel and Lake Chad regions, including the Northern Nigerian region. By the end of 2019, total beneficiaries of the Tony Elumelu Foundation will be 8,520.

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In his acceptance speech, Elumelu emphasized the importance of collaboration between the public and private sector to create more jobs on the continent. According to him, “Our young people need jobs that governments and big corporates alone cannot provide. By promoting entrepreneurship, creating favourable policies and building infrastructure to help these entrepreneurs, we enable them to create jobs, and become employers of labour”.

Elumelu commended the declaration made by the President of Nigeria, H.E President Muhammadu Buhari on Nigeria’s Democracy Day to lift 100million lives out of poverty. He stated that job creation and entrepreneurship will help to achieve this goal.

Elumelu said: “There are a variety of ways to lift 100 million citizens from poverty, but two stand out. We can increase the number of jobs in the economy or we can create more opportunities for our young entrepreneurs to transform their ideas into small businesses that employ labour.”

He added: “By promoting entrepreneurship, creating favourable policies and building infrastructure to help these entrepreneurs, we enable them to create jobs, and become employers of labour”.

Elumelu has been an active advocate for entrepreneurship as the key to catalysing the economic development of Africa. He has achieved this through empowering African entrepreneurs in the Tony Elumelu Foundation’s flagship Entrepreneurship Programme. In 2010, Elumelu and his family committed $100million to identify, train, mentor and fund 10,000 African entrepreneurs in 10 years Half-way through the commitment, he has empowered 7,520 African entrepreneurs across 54 African countries who have received $5,000 non-refundable seed capital, access to mentors and an intensive 12-week business training; a commitment which the President in his address said enviably complements some of the government-led initiatives aimed at enhancing the capital base of small businesses.

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During the conferment, the Dean, School of Postgraduate studies, Bayero University, Professor Umar Pate commended Elumelu’s commitment to lifting young Africans out of poverty. In his citation he spoke of Elumelu as “an illustrious son of Africa that has excelled at home and abroad, an economist that has empowered countless people through job creation and philanthropy, and a symbol of the African spirit of hope.”

Elumelu ended his speech by speaking on the importance of gender inclusion and a focus on quality healthcare and education to develop the over 60% of Africa’s population – the youth. “For Africa to avert a demographic catastrophe, and achieve sustainable growth, we must support gender inclusion, education, healthcare and entrepreneurship,” he said. “National prosperity can only come from widespread economic empowerment. This empowerment will come from inclusion, education, healthcare, and entrepreneurship.”

Other awardees were Senator Bello Hayatu-Gwarzo, LLD, Dr. Folake Solanke, the first female Senior Advocate of Nigeria, LLD and Prof. Abdulkadir Dangambo. Guests at the ceremony included HRH Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, the Emir of Kano; H.E. General Yakubu Gowon, Former Head of State; Chief Alfred Papapreye Diete-Spiff, Chancellor Bayero University Kano; H.E. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje OFR, Governor of Kano State; and the visiting Vice Chancellors from over 25 Nigerian universities.


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How FCMB Manager Defrauded Businessman Of N210m



A businessman identified as Idris Mohammed has told a Zuba Upper Area Court Abuja, how he was defrauded by a First City Monument Bank (FCMB) manager, Lukman Bada, and his accomplice, Idris Yusuf.

According to the plaintiff, BADA and Yusuf allegedly defrauded him of N210 million.

According to the police charge sheet,  Bada of FCMB Bank Area 11 Abuja and Yusuf who does business at 112 T/G Shanu Farm Centre, Kano State were charged with criminal conspiracy, criminal breach of trust, cheating and forgery.

Testifying in court, Mohammed alleged that he sent N210 million through one Umar Abubakar, his business associate to Bada at FCMB Bank Area 11 branch, to transfer 500,000 Euros to his business partner in Europe.

He alleged that Bada never sent the money to his business partner in Europe.

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Mohammed, who was cross-examined by the defendant’s counsel Bala Dakum, told the court that the defendants refunded N50 million out of the 210 million he entrusted to them.

Testifying, Abubakar the complainant’s business associate, told the court that when he got to the bank, Bada told him that Yusuf had a domiciliary account in which the money can be transferred.

Abubakar told the court that Yusuf provided a Zenith bank account number 1014867991 of one Empire Gate Business solution LTD and the Naira equivalent of N 210 million was transferred to the account.

“We waited for a telex copy to relate the confirmation of transfer, from Yusuf’s FCMB account, as indicated in the transfer form.

“Bada sent a copy of the telex to my associate and we later discovered that no transfer was transferred to our beneficiary.

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“We discovered that the money was sent to a bank outside Nigeria; we brought this to the attention of Bada who assured us that there no problem,” Abubakar said.

Earlier, prosecution counsel, Francis Gabriel, told the court that sometime in December 2018 the defendants forged documents indicating that they made transfer of 500,000 euros to the complainant’s printer in Romania.

The prosecutor said during police investigation the defendants admitted committing the crime and N50 million was recovered from them.

He told the court that all efforts to recover the remaining balance of N162 million failed.

After hearing the testimonies, Judge Gambo Garba adjourned the case until July 2 for continuation of cross-examination.

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