FRANK Emenike Okamigbo is the frontman of popular haven of jollification, D’Place by Papas Niteclub, Lekki, Lagos. The model and king of night clubbing in Lagos was a year older on Saturday, October 31, 2015 and he rolled out the drums for celebration at the club house.
Before the heavy throwdown, the Birthday Boy had visited the Okokobaba Destitutes Home, Ebute Metta, Yaba, Lagos with some celebrity friends where he presented many gifts to inmates. In this interview with ENCOMIUM Weekly, Papas as he’s fondly called, recapped his journey to clubbing and more…
How do you feel being a year older?
Is it a landmark age?
At this age, what would you say life has taught you?
Life is a teacher. Like I philosophize, life teaches reality of nature. Life is a journey not a destination. I see life as living not just for yourself, but also for your environment. You also have to appreciate your Creator while doing what you like to do.
Why do you celebrate your birthday with destitutes every year?
I didn’t learn to do that, it’s something that has been inside me. I like to give out and be there for my friends, associates and family. Giving is probably part of the things that I inherited from my parents while growing. My family loves to help people. It’s not that they have too much but they know that life is for a purpose.
How did you venture into club business?
Entertainment has been part of me. When I finished secondary school, I got my first job in a mega video, DVD club, the same Mega Plaza owned by my aunt, Mrs. Marylyn. I was the supervisor of the movies. I learned public relation, networking and entertainment skills. When I got to the university, the social side of me started to manifest. Apart from being a model, which made me popular in school, it became an advantage. My friends and I formed an association called Prestigious Acclaimed Personalities and Associates (PAPAS). I was the founder and president of the association. PAPAS were the movers and shakers of the social life of the University of Lagos. Our events were sought after. Nobody wanted to miss Papa’s party. It was one of the events that we attended that someone told me that he liked the way I was handling the guests. To me, I wasn’t doing anything special just making sure my guests were comfortable. That person became my partner. He is Mr. Val Nwokobia. He discovered that side of me, because I am very reserved and a shy person. He told me he had a club that he was managing. He introduced me to Mr. Kamal (Boustani), who is the guru in the business. So, the rest, we say is history. A big thank you to God, then Mr. Val and Mr. Kamal. Of course, my big brother, late Mr. Akeem Sodeinde and The Place chairman, Mr. Kola Adewale. All these people lend me helping hands.
What are the challenges of this business?
Challenges are what an average entrepreneur in Nigeria faces. I see the light in every dark situation. I know we are not 100 per cent in terms of infrastructure, security, but we are trying to get there. It could have been worse compared to other developing countries like ours. Power supply has improved, kudos to the present government and the last government because they laid the foundation and we can’t deny that fact.
The security aspect has also improved because club business cannot survive in the midst of insecurity. People leave their homes around 12 to 2 a.m to come and have fun, then go home. So, security is paramount. This means security has improved. Kudos to security operatives for making this happen.
Would you say you have achieved most of your heart’s desires, if not all?
No, life is a process. We make mistakes, then correct ourselves. We need to be positive. I think Frank Emenike Okamigbo is a work in progress. I am grateful to God for where I am and also hopeful and prayerful for more.
What are the pains and gains of club business?
Of course, in business, the aim is to make profit. If you have a position and you are channeling it to make money, I think it will make one happier and being able to mingle with people freely. Then the pains, there is a saying that if you can’t stand the heat, don’t go to the kitchen. The kitchen is a beautiful place where food and things that make you survive as a human being is prepared. The heat is part of life. It cannot be rosy all the time, but one should be hopeful and prayerful. The pain is when you have people who are close to you, they come and buy drink, it is not their fault that the POS machine at times will not have network. Then getting them to pay becomes an issue. Because of the cashless policy, people may not bring cash.
How does it feel being one of the oldest in the club business now?
For one to be referred to as one of the oldest hands in the business, takes a lot of dedication, perseverance and creativity. Special thanks to God for making it happen and we are still work in progress.
How do you feel, when you hear that people who you trained and some young club owners respect you?
Waoh, I am humbled. Not everybody gets the opportunity to be accorded that kind of respect like you said. I am happy for everyone. I believe the sky is wide enough for every bird to fly. I always wish everybody well in their endeavours. When I see the ones that learnt from me, I am happy when I see them doing well. I am grateful and humbled by the nice words they say and I am rest assured that it won’t change who I am, but make me a better person.
How do you cope with female admirers?
The females are part of what I do. I relate well with them. I am the only son and I have four sisters, so it’s part of me. I have not taken advantage of the situation.
Are you in a relationship?
I don’t like to talk about my private life.
If you can turn back the hand of time, what would you do better?
I am a philosophy graduate. Life is a teacher, so you don’t need to take back the hand of time. You should recognize your mistakes are not the end of life. Regrets are not the best way to live. I am grateful to God for everything.
What’s happening to Papas Entertainment and Events Ltd?
The club is an arm of the group. We are up and kicking. We have the event department, the night side of it and the security arm.
How many times do you open your club a week?
I open from Tuesday to Saturday, and I have been doing this successfully for three years now. I think it’s a record breaker.
How have you been coping with opening five times a week?
It’s about knowing what you do and doing it to the best of your ability and also carrying your crew along, because it’s not something one man can do. Being a good leader is also important. Some clubs open two, three, four days a week, but D’Pace by Papas opens five days a week. It’s not easy. I am running my Masters programme now. When I sleep at around five or six, I have to wake up to get lectures by 9 a.m in UNILAG.
Life itself is not easy, but for you to get what you want, you have to break that ice.
Do you intend to use your discipline to pursue a career?
I crave for knowledge. I read philosophy and I am pursuing my Masters degree in Philosophy. My intuitive side wants to know more. My current business is a passion, so tomorrow I might want to do something else, and I need to be equipped to do it.
Do you still host artistes on their birthdays?
Yes, back in the days at K’s Place, we used to celebrate artistes. Some artistes were not allowed into the club because they don’t comply to the rules and regulations. Today, artistes are the best customers, and most fashionable, especially the new generation. Most of them are my personal friends. We still host celebrities on their birthdays. We have featured Wednesday at D’ Place by Papa, where we host artistes. Some weeks back, the Mavin Crew were here to sample their new song, the Five Star family are always coming here. Iyanya, YQ, Sound Sultan, 2Face were at my charity event. My big brother, DJ Jimmy Jatt was there too. Relationship is the key, they are like my family members.
How do you handle provocative customers?
It’s not easy for about 500 people in a club and you have to manage them. Some people are intoxicated, some have just lost their job, for some, their wives just gave birth and they are so happy. Some just won a contract, some just lost a contract, some have lost someone close to them. They all have different temperaments. But God has given me the grace to manage them. As a human being, it’s normal for you to get angry when you see somebody destroying your things but anger can spoil a lot of things. As the face of the club, you should not be provoked easily. It’s the hardest part though. We have about 15 bouncers, who can bounce anybody who tries to touch their boss. Some can take advantage. It’s just like policemen who can do anything to anyone who touches their boss. But then, this is a hospitality environment and we make sure whoever comes in should go out happy.