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Interview: 20 Questions For PrettyMike

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Like or loathe him, controversial socialite and entertainer, Mike Nwogu, popularly known as Pretty Mike, does not seem to get tired of throwing up stunts that would either put him in the good or bad books of the people. He has done it all and in this session, he speaks about himself and his many controversies.

Many people still don’t understand who Pretty Mike is. Some would say he’s the king of nightlife business in Lagos, others will say he’s a fetish and goes about doing weird things. You seem to be enjoying all the positive and negative attractions you are getting. How does it feel to mean different things to many people?

Funny enough, I actually enjoy the fact that I am a mystery to many people because at the end of the day, I feel fulfilled knowing that people are yet to figure me out. When I pull one stunt and people ask me Mike again? I tell them I had not even started. A lot of people try to box me into the category of certain people but I just laugh.

So you are really enjoying this?

Yes, I am loving it. I have aggressively studied social media to know that it can be controlled whether positively or negatively. I came into the industry having lived in the United States for almost half of my life. When I came into Nigeria, my elder brother and I started a night club business.

Did you leave United States to start a nightclub business in Nigeria?

People keeping asking me why would I leave United States for Nigeria where things are hard but I can tell you that most people who live in the US, no matter how rich or poor they are, want to come to Nigeria. In fact, they have this urge to want to come home but they get scared because they have heard a lot of negative stories and unsuccessful ones too. Even those who had made the attempt to come back, you discover that they usually run back because they could not find their footing.  So, for me, I took the bull by the horn. It was not as if it was safe to come or I was sure it would work out fine, but coming from my family’s background, I just had to push it from there and I drove it very hard.

So you came to Nigeria with all those concepts?

From where I came from, it is not as if I had a base here in Nigeria. I needed to drag people to me to keep asking questions about who I am. At the end of the day, because people could not figure out who I am, it was helping my brand to sell, my nightclub was booming and my products were selling. My joy at the end of the day, irrespective of what anybody says about, when I look my account balance, it remains very fat.

Now, let’s talk about Pretty and Mike. Why did you add Pretty to your name?

I didn’t add Pretty to my name. I have been answering that name for a long time. The name has never had anything to do with my facial expression. Growing up among many sisters, the name became a part of me because people addressed my sisters as pretty. So, over time, people would say this boy too is pretty. So, the name clicked. I never liked the name at first because it sounded feminine. Living in the US as a Nigerian-American, people would look at me and say you are doing well. I started driving when I was 14 years old. So, the confidence built and even the self esteem. So, it was not a name I chose by myself, it happened because of where I grew up and the kind of life I lived while growing up.

At what point did you decide to start pushing out those weird concepts and what exactly are you trying to achieve with it?

A lot of people keep asking me how I came up with these concepts. But the truth is that I have over a million concepts in my head that I can deploy any time. So, it is just part of me. The first thing people noticed was the umbrella thing, and that was borne out of necessity. I was a best man for a friend of mine and we were taking pictures but the camera man was taking forever. For some reasons, I had an umbrella in my car, which was supposed to be used for the rain. I pulled out the umbrella because I didn’t want the sun to hit me. The camera took my picture while I was holding the umbrella and it looked nice. When it was time for the groom and bride to dance into the auditorium, and It was getting to my turn, I started thinking of what I could do and how to dance. So, I remembered my umbrella and I asked someone to bring my umbrella. So, I opened the umbrella and everybody’s camera was on me. It was so much that all the attention shifted to me. I think I got more pictures than the bride and groom. I became the cynosure of all eyes. So, it became part of my brand that accompanied to all events I attend.

You have not been using the umbrella, are you not tired of it?

I am not tired of it but I had to stop it because when people see me, they know what to expect. It had become a norm and I didn’t like that. So, I just gave it a break. Some of the acts I pull, I don’t like to pull it once or twice. I don’t like people to predict me.

There was this particular one that placed you in the bad side of the people, which was the leashing of girls and taking them to every party. What necessitated the act?

I have never really shared that story fully. I am writing a book now actually and I am going to elaborate more on that story. That point in my life was a time when all the ladies were my friends and I was managing a lot of girls. I was not their lecturer and I was not a pastor, but these girls keep coming to me for pieces of advice from time to time. I started an NGO at that time because of these ladies trying to showcase the abuse we had on our ladies in our society. You know that sometimes, you may come up with a concept but it ends up in the wrong way. But I figured that if I am catching people’s attention with what I was doing, I have to use what I have to push it.

While the controversy was on, you were said to have been invited by the former Lagos State governor, Mr Akinwumi Ambode. What did you tell the governor about your concept?

At that point, the governor had launched a campaign against violence on women and there was this hotline that the ladies were advised to call to lodge their complaints. But a lot of girls I know could not access the hotline. So, I thought the best thing to do at that time was to create my image and use it to create awareness for some of the girls that were talking to me. I was already solving a lot of their issues and they were all students. So, I came up with the leashing concept, which I actually saw at a show in Paris, France. So, I did it the first time, it caught the buzz on social media. The first time I did it, I did it with an English suit. The second time I did it, I wore agbada and I was supposed to come out with a statement on what I was trying to do, but I couldn’t go far with it. After the second one, it was all over the world, everyone was talking about it in a negative way. A lot of people said I was using a dog chain, but I was actually using a leash but most people didn’t know the difference. Nobody cared to ask if the girls were cooperating with me. Nobody bothered to ask if they did it under duress. What everybody was talking about was the fact that they saw some girls being tossed around with leash around their necks. Nobody cared to know if this thing had been done somewhere else before.

But you were said to have been arrested by the police because of that act, is this true?

No, I wasn’t arrested because of the issue but I was invited. I am not someone that anybody was looking for. They came to my club and they said they were from the governor’s office.  So I went to their office and we waited hours for the governor. I had an elaborate meeting with the governor and almost his entire cabinet. It was a big gathering. I told them these girls were not under duress. This was an act that we pulled. The petition that was written was that I forced them, enslaved them, chained them and paraded them in public and sell them off against their will. We were all having fun but the social media people don’t care about that because they wanted to hear what they wanted to hear.

How did you handle that moment when almost everyone was calling for your head because they assumed you were enslaving girls with your money?

I have grown a tough skin to break away from this human part and the emotions. Once you call something business, you must toughen up and make sure your emotions don’t ruin your business. Sometimes, mine doesn’t ever come out. Sometimes, I look at it like a business that must be done, no matter the emotions and sentiments. Some people were feeling bad. I received calls from every part of the world and I told everyone including my mum who was worried that I was doing fine.

Did you ever feel like you were doing something wrong?

No, that never happened because I knew that deep down within me, I was doing nothing wrong. I never felt bad. The public outcry was heavy but everything was publicity for me and I enjoyed it.

You also pulled the bathrobe concept at a wedding, what informed that decision?

It is simple. I see how everybody goes to weddings wearing their natives, but if somebody decided to come out with his bathrobe, people would definitely want to take pictures. That was juts it.

This act you keep pulling, was it actually about money or popularity?

I think the two go hand in hand. The popularity will drive the crowd and contents to your business. One thing with nightclub business is that a lot of people who come to the club and the first thing they would ask is where is Mike? If you say he’s coming, they would sit down because they want to meet Pretty Mike. So, the concept sells the business because I am popular and everybody wants to see the guy that does that crazy stuff at parties. So, the more you are in the news, the higher the traffic.

How did you handle that moment?

As a young entrepreneur, I was trained to be ready for anything. You can’t allow the pressure get to you. If at the end of the day, you can’t handle it, you will call on your God to help you. You will ask God for extra strength.

Talking about God, you pulled a stunt when you went to a wedding with what looked like a sacrifice. Don’t you think that was overdone? Can you ever stop being controversial?

 

I can’t stop being controversial. Controversy is part of my life. Think whatever you want to think, I don’t care. My life, style is a movie every day. So, people should not expect anything less and everybody watching is the audience. When I arrived at my friend’s wedding with the big calabash and smoke was coming out, everybody started saying I was fetish. I was only laughing because it showed how ignorant our people are. I mean who does ritual in public? I have never heard of it. Let’s even agree that I am fetish, do you think I would take it to the wedding? It shows the level of ignorance in our society but I like it. We might as well do more sacrifices. That’s not my lifestyle. When I went with dwarfs to a party, people said the dwarfs live in my house that they are for sacrifices. That is social media for you.

Do you prefer your sex doll to a woman?

Yes, I prefer my sex doll to a woman. We have heard people say a lot about women but I don’t want too much stress. Some of our ladies are just too stressful.

Did you at any point study the concept of Charlyboy because it seems you have certain things in common?

Charlyboy, to me, is a unique individual. I have never for once settled down to study him. I think growing up as a young Nigerian; Charlyboy was very controversial; he is probably the only most controversial guy in our time. He pulled all his stunts those days and was very successful at it despite the absence of social media. I am not trying to be like him, we are two different personalities.

What kind of dream did you have about yourself when growing up?

I believe one day, I would become a pastor. It might still happen. It depends on when the Lord calls me. I like to speak to people. I like how motivational speakers talk to people. I grew up from a very heavy Christian background. But if you ask me if I am thinking of stopping my stunts anytime soon, the answer is no.

You said you might eventually end up being a pastor. What kind of relationship do you have with Him now?

We have an awesome relationship. I am a fan of Christ and I have a cordial relationship with Him but I am not the type that posts Bible quotes on their instagram page neither am I the one you would see in church on Sunday. But if you ask me if I have a relationship with Him, I would say yes. Does he understand me? Yes. Do I understand Him? Yes. In everything I do, from my waking up to going to bed, I am in constant relationship with God. I think I have a good Christian life.

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#EndSars : ‘Nigeria is becoming a nightmare’ – Singer Runtown says

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Nigerian Singer, Runtown has taken to his twitter page to react to the prevalent killings and kidnappings that have been recorded across the country in the last few weeks.

Runtown Gidibase

Pondering on the number of protests to engage in before the issue of SARS officers killing innocent citizens is addressed, the singer lashed out at Nigerian authorities over report of a cleaner allegedly killed by a SARS officer.

He tweeted;

How many more tweets do we have to put out? How many more hashtags do we have to push? How many more protests? How many more lives do we have to lose before something is done about SARS? This is not the Nigeria of our dreams. Our country is turning into a nightmare.

What exactly is going on? How is it that after the several outcries and well documented incidences we are yet to curb this menace? The people are being pushed the wall. People cannot continue to lose their loved ones like this. This has to stop! This just has to STOP! #EndSARS

Tut 1
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How Nigeria, Africa can compete with the American-Chinese duopoly

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Africa, with a landmass of about 30.3Million kmand population of over 1.3Billion people is the world’s second largest and second most populous continent, occupying 6% of the earth and yet it contributes just around 6% to the world economy.

In the latest Global Competitiveness Index (GCI) – a report compiled by the World Economic Forum – African countries make up 17 of the bottom 20 nations, which is frankly a sad commentary on the black continent.

According to the CIA’s World Fact book, the world’s Gross World Product (GWP) was around $107.5 trillion in Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) and Africa with just over $6.4 trillion contributes just around 6% to this global pool. How then does a continent once projected to be the next “Economic Engine” of the world actually compete?

In a global economy dominated by Chinese & Americans and closed followed by the Europeans and the emerging economies of Brazil, Russia, India, & South Africa, how really can Africa compete?

Between 2000 and 2016, Africa experienced strong economic growth rates (averaging about 4.6% annually), higher than Latin America and the Caribbean rate (2.8%) yet lower than developing Asia (7.2%).

These growths resulted from high commodity prices, improved macroeconomic management and strategies to diversify growth.

Despite this growth and however small it was, Africa would benefit even further from improving its economic growth patterns as the critically of the current times and the needs of her people increases.

Interestingly though and against popular opinion, Agriculture does not appear to be the primary way to make this happen, and happen fast.

It is no secret that Technology has pushed the world many years into the future. The Industrial Revolution changed a lot but the current technological revolution is changing everything from the way we live, eat, pay for things, have kids, get education down to the way we make friends, partners and how and when we associate with these people – virtually everything.

Indeed, at the moment, there are about 7.8Billon people on earth, and of this, about 2.7Billion are on Facebook alone, while about 2.1 Billion daily interact with the platform, which is perhaps the largest single convergence of humanity every day. This reality inadvertently means that over 30% of the world are actively interacting on a single platform every day. Imagine the economic possibilities embedded in this data.

It is thus undoubted that if Africa wants to compete, it must look ahead and try to discern what the future of tech would be or rather is becoming. Africa and indeed Nigerians must explore all the emerging technologies possible and see about engaging them for scale.

In 2016, I attended GiTEX in Dubai, the third largest technology conference in the world which converges every October. At the conference, there were clear articulations about the future of technology and why everyone should be preparing for the tomorrow that had arrived today. 5 major branch were the outlook for technology’s future. They were Artificial Intelligence/Data Science, Virtual Reality (VR)/Augmented Reality (VR), Blockchain Technologies, Robotics and of course, Platforms.

After the conference, myself and fellow attendees reviewed the submission and arrived at some interesting conclusions as we had to contextualise technology within the limitations and realities of our continent.

Indeed, it is necessary to submit here that the African continent does not have the infrastructure or the technological wherewithal to constitute an affront on most of the aforementioned tech directions. With respect to Robotics for instance, Africa still lags incredibly in manufacturing engineering which is a critical requirement for Robotics production.

The plants, people, power and infrastructure required to pull this off is largely unavailable or epileptic in most cases, which is a major constraining factor against adoption or fully exploring this technology at this point. Also, with AI and Data Science, the technology is such an emerging field that Africa isn’t even a consideration for some of the tests and data assumptions currently being paraded around the world at the moment. Same sentiments apply to VR/AR and Block chains which isn’t yet as widely accepted, mastered and deployed across the continent as they have been across the oceans to the left (Atlantic) and to the right (Pacific).

However, when you consider the patterns behind emerging platforms around the world and you look at the level of staying power Africa has on these platforms, you begin to see a trend – perhaps platforms can be Africa’s big break! A lot is happening on the continent currently. Infact, in Nigeria, some of the most reputable technologies to have emerged out of Africa are of Nigerian origins and they are mostly platform. Jumia – the e-Commerce platform, which was recently listed on the New York stock exchange is Africa’s first Unicorn. Quickteller, the Mobile payment platform from Interswitch, Remita the Payment platform from SystemSpecs, Paystack, PayAttitide, Flutterwave, Monnify and other leading indigenous technologies across the continent and in Nigeria are mainly platforms.

Indeed, African start-ups are beginning to make the right noises and consequently have started attracting global prying eyes – most of which have been so fascinated that they almost immediately become angel investors.

Nigerian FinTech start-ups alone attracted around $1Billion in 2018, a fund raiser milestone for the continent. As America and the Chinese continue to lead with the development and deployment of leading platforms globally, with Google, Uber, Facebook and Amazon the leading platforms from America while Alibaba, WeChat, Weibo, Tencent  QQ as leading platforms from China, Nigeria and Africa does not seem to be lagging on that front unlike other leading innovative technologies where we do not seem to have the vital skills, competence and infrastructure to support and deploy them at scale.

The question therefore is, what should Africa do to amplify this positive trajectory and sustain its growth? Build & continuous Build!!!

Africans and Nigerians in particular should build platforms that solve real, localized problems. Indeed, we should start exploring technology to solve real life problems and challenges plaguing our society. Challenges like Security, Waste Management, Financial Inclusion, Access to qualitative and affordable Healthcare, poor Transport and traffic management, Food processing and storage, Access to qualitative and affordable Education and many others.

To kick-start this revolution and scale its execution, the most important steps that should be looked at by every African government as well as multinational corporation should be to encourage Tech education. We need to encourage technology education starting from Basic (Primary) school to High (Secondary) School and tertiary levels across the continent. This will encourage more interest and will grow competence across all strata.

The next is a ramping up of Business Education and building of Partnerships(both intra partnerships within the continents and extra partnerships with other global giants) outside their shores. Mentorship programs should be put in place for young techies to access leading minds and coaches at little to zero cost for these young minds to encourage their incubation and interests.

Lastly, local investment and funding should be a priority for all Africans. The continent has over 20 known Billionaires (US$) and over 140,000 millionaires (US$), so local funding would ensure that Africans are key players in the coming continental resurgence. Currently, there is a lot of investment in yesterday’s assets across the continents. Real estate, Oil fields, trade and commerce and even depreciable assets like cars and accessories are still the leading assets of many of our rich Nigerians.

A trip to Banana Island in Ikoyi still reveals an assortment of un-occupied palatial houses, which is the same reality in Asokoro, Wuse 2 and Maitama in Abuja where Nigerian Billionaire are still hell bent on investing in a peaked real estate Market.

In Nigeria today, an Import License or Oil prospecting license is still considered the crème of local investment opportunities at the detriment of an abundance of revolutionary technologies emerging from the continent. It is a well-known but sad reality that more than 80% of Start-Up finance is currently foreign thereby exposing our enterprise and economy to foreign interest.

Whatever happens now and into the future, it should be known that a new Africa is coming – one that will be a force to reckon with.

Therefore, entrepreneurs across the continent should start exploring technology that can give us a competitive advantage and get us at the table. We all don’t necessarily need to know how to code.

Whatever skillset you may be blessed with, explore partnership with technically skilled people to deliver the next Remita or Google from Africa. For certainly, a day is coming, when the tale of the hunt will no longer be told by the hunter, but also by the lions, and when such a day arrives, we will behold a new continent arisen from the ashes of colonialism, militarisms, diluted democracy and costly wars that have stolen its boon and brightest.

When that day truly comes, a technovated Africa will emerge. One that will never again be ignored.

Lanre Basamta

Tech Marketing Expert & Strategist

Shared at the recently convened TEDx Ikeja 2019

@Basamta

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FDA And Police Arrest Mama Gee Who Sells V!Gina Sweeter

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Ghana’s Food and Drugs Authority and Police have arrested Elizabeth Torgbor popuarly known as Mama Gee, who sells aphrodisiac and other drugs said to be charms to make the ‘v*gina sweeter’ and also make men succumb to any demand.

Upon being arrested, the woman who operates in Accra, Kumasi, Takoradi and other regions in Ghana, claimed to be a Christian who only wants to build relationships and marriages.

Denying that her drugs are charms, Mama Gee however believes her drugs attract men as soon a woman prays over it and applies it on her forehead. The drugs she sell are reportedly not registered nor approved by Ghana’s Food and Drugs Authority.

“Mama Gee was arrested on Wednesday 10th July, 2019 at her shop at Madina near Rawlings Park in Accra.

The FDA wishes to advise the general public not to patronize such products from Mama Gee since it has not been approved by the Authority and the claims cannot be substantiated”, the statement read in parts.

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