Obi Cubana Had to Surmount This Huge Challenge to Become ...
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Profiles - May 16, 2023

Obi Cubana Had to Surmount This Huge Challenge to Become a Billionaire

Nigerian Billionaire, Obinna Iyiegbu, popularly known as Obi Cubana was not left out of those who wished Nigerian Chef and Entrepreneur, Hilda Effiong Bassey (Hilda Balci) well on her journey to breaking the longest cooking marathon record. In an Instagram post, Obi Cubana wrote, “Few hours to record-breaking history! Few hours to GREATNESS! Perseverance, resilience, endurance and focus at play! Go, Hilda, we are all behind you!” 

One could say Hilda’s record-breaking feat reminds Cubana of his early days of selling street foods from open parks and gardens to neighbourhood corner shops before opening Ibiza restaurant. Situated in the Port Harcourt crescent at the heart of Abuja, Cubana’s Ibiza specialised in the rich cuisine of Nigeria’s southeast region. Meals like Abacha, Nkwobi, Isi ewu, Ukwa, Ji akukwu nni, Utala na ofe nsala, ofe olugbu, ofe ora, ofe akwu, etc, were readily available available at the restaurant. 

Who was Cubana before Ibiza?

After his service year, Cubana was introduced to the real estate business, where he made his first N1.1 million. According to him, one of his clients wanted to furnish his house. After furnishing the house for the client, Obi was gifted N500,000 as he also made over N600,000 in profit from the job. Speaking during an interview, Obi said, “That was the first N1.1m I made before I joined contract work in Abuja.”

How Ibiza restaurant became a popular destination 

Choosing entrepreneurship over paid employment, Cubana opened his Ibiza restaurant on a plot of rented land in Abuja. When he started Ibiza, there was nothing attractive about the restaurant because he started with a temporary structure of a wooden frame, roofed with zinc sheets on a floor that was barely covered with chippings of gravel.

Cubana like every other entrepreneur was thinking of what could come out of Ibiza rather than how it looked like. With a team of dedicated staff, Cubana prepared and offered the best culinary services to the eating public. Ibiza became a popular destination for Abuja night crawlers because it was opened at a time when Abuja was experiencing infrastructural expansion. 

The boom produced a surge in Abuja’s population and  Ibiza became for many a kitchen away from their mother’s kitchen where their cravings for the most delicious and sumptuous native  Nigerian delicacies are served. In addition to food, Cubana started selling all manner of drinks and alcoholic beverages.

From Ibiza restaurant to Cubana Group

Seeing how successful Ibiza was, Obi decided to invest in the nightlife and hospitality industry. His decision birthed the Cubana Group, one of Nigeria’s top luxury hospitality and entertainment brand. Cubana opened his first nightclub on the highbrow Adetokunbo Ademola crescent of Abuja. His nightclub reportedly separated the “Abuja boys” from “Abuja men.” In no distant time, his nightclub became a hub for Abuja’s super-rich middle age nightlife patrons. 

Cubana’s Days of Struggle

However, like every other businessman, Cubana struggled. His struggles birthed a relocation plan to South Africa, where most Nigerian hospitality and nightlife businesses were booming. Cubana wanted to relocate to South Africa to start a new life, but his visa application was denied. 

Speaking during an interview, Cubana said, “As simple as a South Africa visa was then, I couldn’t get it. I was frustrated and fed up. But on second thought, I was like, what am I looking for out there? Everything I’ve always wanted in life is here. And I went back to plan B. I started working. I prayed… I started putting everything I visualise into practice and they started yielding positive results… and here we are!”

How Cubana makes his money

As Chairman of the Cubana Group, Obi makes money from his hotels, eight clubs and event centres situated in strategic states in Nigeria. Having achieved a lot in hospitality, Obi said, “We have broken every known record in the entertainment world and that is why we veered into real estate to provide houses. It is more of diversification and expansion of our business.” 

Apart from real estate, Obi Cubana also makes money from being a brand ambassador. He was unveiled as the brand ambassador of a global New Age Power Bank in June 2022. Cubana also hosts celebrity club parties and concerts, an activity that has earned him friends from the Nigerian entertainment industry. Moreso, he makes millions of naira from his several partnerships with spirit and wine brands. 

Cubana’s mother’s burial and his billionaire friends  

Cubana became popular in 2021 when he organised a highly expensive burial for his mother in Oba, Anambra. As a socialite, Obi revealed that he spent seven months planning for the burial because he wanted it to be the mother of all burials.  

About 400 cows, 72 goats and 20 rams were gathered during the event as every guest came with a cow gift. The event was also graced with a long list of celebrities like House of Representative member, Shina Peller, former Super Eagles striker, Emmanuel Emenike, Davido, D’banj, Kcee, E-Money, Poco Lee, Ubi Franklin, Kanayo O. Kanayo, Alex Ekubo,  and Williams Uchemba. Also, his co-billionaire friend’s Cuban Chief Priest and Ned Nwoko were also present at the event.

His Odogwu Bitters and FMCG

Last year, Cubana ventured into another line of business when he launched his Odogwu Bitters. His Odogwu Bitters is the number one herbal alcoholic drink, an energy booster that helps in increasing the libido, provides antioxidants and helps the body fight flu. The alcoholic drink has been sold both locally and internationally.

With a dream of making his brand a global brand, Cubana also launched Fast Moving Consumer Goods, FMCG. FMCG focuses on fast-moving consumer goods covering manufacturing, distribution, importation, and retail sales in food, beverages, and other categories.  Cubana hinted that the brand is well-positioned to deliver impact and sustainably grow ahead of the market in years to come”

Cubana’s philanthropic acts

Beyond Obi’s billionaire status, his philanthropic acts are noteworthy. Reports say Obi pushed 53 uneducated Oba boys to the market to learn how to trade. After three years, he withdrew them from their masters and settled them with N3 million each. Opening shops for them, Obi linked about 47 of them with importation business and they are all doing well. 

Also, Cubana supported Whitemoney who emerged as the winner of the 2021 Big Brother Naija, BBNaija, reality TV show.

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