Header Ads Widget

OBI CUBANA Reveals The Story Of His Life

Chief Obinna Iyiegbu, popularly known as Obi Cubana, is a businessman. He heads the Cubana Group, a diversified business organisation that has an interest in entertainment, real estate, and telecommunications among others. Obi Cubana hardly grants interviews. He rarely reveals the story of his life. Recently, he did. He spoke to Iyobosa Uwugiaren, of Thisday Newspaper and he spoke about how the story of his life.


It appears there are so many things members of the public do not know about you. Apart from the fact that you are into show business, club ownership, and entertainment. What are the other things that you are doing that many of your fans do not know about?

I will say that I am a very restless human being. I work round the clock because at this moment, my success doesn’t depend on just me; it is not just about me. I have a lot of dependants, a lot of people I mentor, a lot of people I carry along and a lot of people I am directly and indirectly responsible for their daily survival. So, I have to work, and I have to make new inroads; break new barriers and be very adventurous in terms of new business ideas. So this year, if you have noticed, I have been more out there, doing certain things you did not know about me because you only know about club business; my real estate, which became very pronounced this year and then Odogwu Bitters, because everybody saw me running up and down. Recently, I have been doing what I call the Cubana FMCG, which is Fast Moving Consumer Goods, where we gather a lot of products. We’re putting them under one umbrella and the products will be coming out very soon. I will be launching in October. I’m into construction, we are partnering with Axion, a Canadian company. It’s a building solution for block moulding, plastering, and concrete mixing. So, we are into real estate full time, consumer goods, entertainment, hotel business and telecommunication. Recently we made a loud statement in Information and Communication Technology (ICT) when we relaunched a global power bank and mobile phone accessories company, New Age Mobile Concept Limited. Cubana is a co-partner to the business, which I pride as among the leading mobile accessories merchandised companies in Africa, offering high-quality mobile products. And a lot of opportunities are coming up day by day, and then we look at the ones that do not conflict with what we are already doing that will make us employ more people, closer to grassroots and make life better for Nigerians and humanity.

Members of the public believe that what brought you into the public space is the entertainment industry. But there are other people who are involved in this business. Tell us what makes you unique.

First, if you are close to me or you know me from a distance, you know that I’m a people person. I like the well-being of human beings; I like to keep relationships. So, over time, I have kept relationships with a lot of people I came in contact with. It doesn’t take you anything to be nice to people. Then somehow, they feel indebted to me and my business. I have been running this business for like 13 years – in October; and if you have noticed, I am doing a facelift on the Cubana Abuja because we are making it very big. For Ibiza, which is the mother of Cubana, it’s 16 this year, it was opened in October 2006. So, it’s not easy to run the business successfully for just five years in Nigeria. I believe that because I am a people person, some of these things look easy. But they are not because we also do not rest on the job. We are making over the whole Cubana business, starting with Abuja; we are changing the face and you can see the Cubana Suites in Abuja that I am marketing. It has been there. This is the seventh year, but we have remodelled it and it’s looking like a new baby.


Give us more insight into the Cubana Group of Companies. I know you started in a garden many years ago in Abuja, and later Ibiza in Area 11, Abuja.

The Cubana Group started from a very humble beginning from a garden, then to Ibiza, with the primary objective of catering for people selling basic food, basic drinks and offering entertainment. You know life in Nigeria, sometimes entertainment plays a very important role in reducing the stress level. You will need to go there and ease your stress and then give us money to take part of the stress from you before you go back home. We started from the garden to Ibiza and then the concept of Cubana came sometime in 1998. And I said having done this at the grassroots level, we needed to move to Wuse 2, which is a prime location in Abuja, even up till now and cater for the higher class. That was the first club ever we will build because Ibiza was a lounge. Ibiza was a lounge for dancing openly, and it was a hit from day one. So, we designed it in such a way that it had VVIP upstairs and so many other features. And that’s how we metamorphosed from garden to Cubana. At a point, we had the challenge of insurgents in Abuja and became very low; then we decided to leave and moved to Port Harcourt and it became very lucrative at that point. So, we became an instant success in Port Harcourt and from there we went to Owerri, Imo State and it was amazing. Later the insurgency in Abuja increased because they were bombings, and if you noticed in Cubana, there was this barrier that you thought was a water fountain, but it was iron cast because then they used to ram into buildings. So, after that UN building incident, people were not going out to public places. When the security situation improved, we came back remodelled and then it picked up; but then, having started growing in other places, we had our eyes fixed on other places and the target then was Lagos, but I didn’t want to go to Lagos unprepared because if I rushed in, I would rush out.

We got a place at Adeola Odeku and it became a hit too because it gave us global attention; Lagos is the centre of everything. We got one in Ikeja. So, we have two in Lagos, one on the Island and the other on the Mainland. Immediately after we finished the one in Victoria Island, COVID-19 came and we realised that everything we had was just entertainment, and then we had up to four hotels in Abuja and we noticed that this thing grounded all my businesses. It was a natural occurrence, but with the kind of reasoning we had, there was no way we thought we will ever be stranded because we focus our energies on areas that were doing well and balanced the business geographically. But when COVID-19 came, it became a war because all my businesses did not function for over one year. So, it took the grace of God for us to survive that period. So, I needed to diversify.

A lot more people came to know you after the burial of your mum. That comes with its own burden. Tell us about that.

The burial made a lot of people misunderstand me. I never planned that burial to be that way, but I also saw the love people had for me. The one-year anniversary was a few days ago, and a lot of things started popping up on Facebook: images, memories and everything. And I said, wow! Was this a carnival? Because it wasn’t a political rally. I had a reflection on who I was before the burial, and who I became after the burial. It threw me to the open and a lot of people misunderstood me. Because if you noticed, throughout last year, I was in the news for some negative reasons, but then people began to understand me better. Some people felt I just sprang up from nowhere. But I know who I am, and I had to submit myself to everyone – of those investigations and then today, you don’t hear anything about them anymore. In those trials and tribulations, I was focused. People started going to read about me and where I was coming from.

How do you manage the family with all these, especially your wife who might feel my husband is in a club and I don’t know what he’s up to out there?

I am one of the luckiest men alive because of the kind of wife I married. There must be peace at home before you leave, and I think when I wanted to get married, I made up my mind emotionally that I was ready and my wife was ready emotionally too. We met when I was in the garden as her husband, and she saw my beat and that has not changed. I have not given her any reason whatsoever to doubt me. I know that I am committed to her and the kids. So, it’s about my commitment to the marriage and her own commitment to the marriage. Everywhere, in the air, in the garden or anywhere, you send her a message and when she wakes up, she will see it. She will know that you are out there for them. She’s the one coordinating some of these businesses and most of these ideas emanate from her. But I’m the one in the field that people see. So, we have that mutual understanding, mutual trust and mutual love that she tries to encourage me instead of doubting me. And I won’t also take undue advantage of her understanding. For me, it is a well-blended union.

You hinted earlier about how far you have come. Can you tell us where exactly Obi Cubana is coming from?

I knew quite early that I didn’t have any other option but to succeed. I come from a very humble family – although we never lacked anything as children of teachers. My dad was a school principal and my mother was a headmistress and we had the basic things. But the most important thing about life is contentment, not about what you have. You can have everything and still not be contented. So at every point in time, we were taught contentment. I did not come from a poor family because poverty is a state of mind. So, I was contented with everything because I went to some of the best schools – including the University of Nigeria, Nsuka, where I obtained a Bachelor of Science Degree in Political Science. So the upbringing helped in shaping who I have become. I knew I needed to leave a footprint in the world, a positive one. That’s why I look restless in doing everything I have been doing. I do business, mentor humans, impact positively on society, grow the economy and reduce unemployment and this is who I am.

There is a perception out there that you are very flamboyant and you like exhibiting wealth in the public, which may have attracted some negative reports in the past. What defines your lifestyle?

I do not know what you mean by the display of wealth because I am into show business. I live in a house. If I am in my office and we take pictures, if it wasn’t for social media, nobody will know. And then you post and the background shows something, it doesn’t mean I’m flamboyant. I see people flaunt their cars, their watches, cash etc.; but I don’t do that. But maybe because of the environment, I take pictures or in a private jet just to promote the things I sell. You can’t be showing champagne in a mud house? It won’t work. Even Odogwu Bitters, I took Okada; but people don’t see that one. I was never thought to be flamboyant and everything I show is for a cause – because I have been into luxury entertainment. You look at Jay-Z, DJ Khaled, and P Diddy, they do some things to be able to communicate with the people; their target customers and whatever I am showing, I’m trying to show them so as to survive and some of them are not mine. So, if I see myself in Transcop Hilton Hotel, I take advantage of the environment and post things; it is not about my personal life. Nobody has seen my closet or my toilet. They don’t know what my room looks like, they don’t know how many pairs of shoes I have, I don’t show how many clothes I have or designer watches that I have; they can see my bar because that is what I sell. You can see the food I eat because I sell food. Nothing more.

You said earlier that you are loved by Nigerians. What are those things you have been able to give back to them?

We do a lot of charity; like when I told you about the tech and part of the profit is going to make cheap homes or free of charge because I want to give people shelter because many of them are going through hell. We want to have these homes for free – depending on what their needs are for them. Just basic shelter and we’re trying to do our own bit to support the government as human beings. Whatever we are making from tech will go 100 per cent into charity. I want to build hospitals that will be funded from the proceeds of my business so that people can have basic healthcare and maternity care free of charge. Because if it is food, I have conquered that one myself. From my generation, no one will ever go hungry and part of the job that God gave us here is for us to take care of other people the way He takes care of us. So, I’m looking at the charity angle right now. I’m not good at dashing money or doing giveaways. Money that you give without guidance will finish like the prodigal sons. But just set up something that is basic.

Are you interested in politics?

I am interested because I have one vote and I am going to cast my single vote, but for running for political office, no. My elder brother has the APGA ticket for Idemili North and South Federal Constituency and I will be supporting him all the way. Me, personally, no.


Post a Comment