70th Anniversary Gala Of Coca-Cola In Nigeria At Eko Hotels & Suites

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I am pleased to be here to join you as you celebrate 70 years of Coca-Cola in Nigeria and I must say you could not have chosen a better special guest of honour even if I say so myself.  The simple reason is my long history of personal and family coke drinking and coke drinking stories. I drank several bottles of Coke daily for many years. Just to give you some statistics, as a matter of fact from 1975 to 2017, I drank at least 2 bottles of Coke a day. By my calculation, even discounting 2 years, I have had 29,200 bottles of Coke in my life so far. I do not know what the world record is but I must be a contender!


After I got married in 1989, my dear wife said to me, “Yemi, would you mind if I give you a piece of advice? Since you drink Coke so much, I will suggest you buy some shares so at least you know that you are also making a bit of money from this Coke drinking thing.”


I took her advice and bought a few Coca-Cola shares sometime in 1995, for every Coke I drank, it was good for my conscience that you guys at Coca-Cola were not the only ones making money, I was making a bit of money too.


My father of blessed memory also loved his coke. He drank coke until his old age. He had a favourite Coke joke. He said there was this tailor from our hometown who respected him a lot and anytime my father visited his shop, he would often ask in Yoruba, “iru Coke wo le fe mu sir? Se Seven-Up ni abi Pepsi?” Meaning, what sort of Coke would you like to drink sir, Seven-Up or Pepsi? But my father-in-law is by far the worst of us all in his coke drinking, he loves his Coke, but for many years he always added sugar to it!


Let me congratulate the Board and Management of the Coca-Cola company on this landmark celebration, and our nation must celebrate with you, especially as you have been a part of our socio-economic story even before Independence. Besides, we are also part of your illustrious history, the Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling Group, first began operations in Nigeria and now has a geographic footprint spanning 29 countries, across 3 continents.


In these seventy years, you have demonstrated your commitment to the Nigerian people with repeated investments, in the building of production facilities across the country, in creating thousands of jobs but also in your active support of every aspect of our national life, from health to education, from women and youth empowerment to sports. All done with conscious respect for the environment.


I think it is fair to say that, that commitment has been met with the enthusiastic patronage of generations of Nigerians; families who have been supported by the stable careers of staff who have grown with the company through the years; young people who have found successful careers in sport and entertainment inspired by your support. Consumers from Lagos to Kano, Rivers to Plateau, linked by distributors in every region of the country, who have built enduring businesses getting Coca-Cola into the hands of millions of Nigerians.


You have also developed a robust value chain that includes service providers and marketing agencies. Creators of the iconic coke adverts that have formed part of our individual and collective memories for so many years. And speaking of Coke adverts, I think aside from making such a successful drink Coca-Cola must be commended for their memorable advertisements. How many people here remember the song in the advert?  (VP Sings) “I love to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony, I love to buy the world a Coke and keep it company. It’s the real thing.”


As a government, our commitment to creating an environment that allows the private sector to innovate and thrive remains active and sincere, despite the challenges. And we will continue to work with businesses across the broad spectrum of our dynamic economy to ensure that we do this with a clear view of the opportunities and problems.


I salute the entire board, management, and staff of Coca-Cola, and the diverse group of stakeholders present here today, and scattered across the country, for your hard work and dedication.


Your ongoing investment in the country, which you’ve said would be in the order of $1billion in the next five years testifies to your faith in the possibilities of Nigeria, and you can rely on the partnership of the Nigerian government and I dare say, the Nigerian people too, as you make these great strides.


As I wish you all a happy 70th anniversary, I pray that the coming years will be years of “Real Magic” for you all.


Congratulations to all lovers of Coca-Cola!


Thank you.