Mike Eze-Nwalie Nwogu, popularly known as Pretty Mike, runs one of the top clubs in Lagos called Club Uno, recently renamed, Club Scandal. Early this year, Pretty Mike got involved in a huge scandal when he paraded ladies on a leash like dogs and this elicited a social media outcry on this ignominy against women. He was arrested by the Lagos State government and later got released. In this interview with EDWIN USOBOH, he reveals the reasons behind such an infamous act and the challenges of running a night club
What necessitated the change of your club’s name from Club Uno to Club Scandal?
We believe we know the market and people like something new; something different, unique and scandalous. People like to identify with something on a different platform and with the age of social media changing things; we are moving with the trend. We want to make every night an interesting one, present something different every day. When you wake up in the morning and think about what you had last night, you want to return to Club Scandal. We decided to shut down Club Uno after five to six years of being in business and we decided to rebrand to come out with something different, with new management and new swags and we came up with Scandal Night Club.
Scandal sound so strange! What is the concept behind the name?
Well the concept behind it is life; everything is scandalous these days. Nothing normal happens at night and we believe that the name speaks for itself; scandal can also be something funny, palatable, and enjoyable. So, if you want to have a scandalous night with your friends, please come to Club Scandal.
Are you saying it’s not possible for you to be in Club Scandal without having a scandal?
For us we are looking at Scandal as a good work, it’s progressive. My personal behavior has nothing to do with the name of the new club because for me, I believe I have a message. I believe the name is unique, it’s a catchy. One thing you need to know about night life business is that you need to put something in it that people will start asking questions about; what’s going on here? What’s it about? The more they ask questions, that means you have a better brand people will like to keep visiting. They will be curious to say, let’s go see what’s happening over there.
Does this have anything to do with the numerous scandals you have been involved in?
No! Life itself is scandal; I don’t believe you can be in night club business without scandal. To me scandal is associated with entertainment and once you’re into entertainment, you might not be able to run away from scandal. Club scandal is about having a good nightlife, socialise and come enjoy yourself.
You have been in nightclub business for about a decade now, what would you say are the challenges of running a night club?
In every business, there are always difficulties, for me I don’t see any hiccups, other people might see challenges, competition but I don’t see any of that. I believe the night life is big enough to take about 20 clubs in Ikeja alone or more. It’s all about finding your peach, finding your customers, finding people that matter to you, people that enjoy your concept and the environment. I don’t see any issue with it.
It came as a shock to many people recently when some pictures hit the Internet where you have some girls in dog chains, what was your reason for doing that?
Yea, I was shocked that Nigerians had already victimised me before hearing my side of the story. I have done it twice and let us not make it look as if it is something I have been doing all the time. The two times I have done it were weddings where I was part of the groomsmen which means that I have a personal relationship with the bride and groom. The overall reason I chose to do this was because of the mission statement behind it. It is just unfortunate how people are so quick to jump to conclusion without actually finding out what is going on. All they think is that it is an abuse or a form of slavery or perverted thoughts.
I would explain to you the mission statement behind my action. I would not call any names but I am sure we all know about an Emir that was given a 15-year-old as a wife. To me, that is putting women on a chain. We talk about traditional rulers that marry underage women; they’re putting women on a chain. We talk about boyfriends and husbands that beat their spouses and abuse them physically, emotionally and spiritually, that is putting women on a chain. I needed to get the world’s attention first to be able to pass across my mission statement. It is all about women advocacy at the end of the day. It is all about empowering the women. These women have no voice. I refer to the girls I use as super heroes and we had to do something drastic in order to be heard and get the world’s attention.
Do you think this was the best way to get attention or to get people to hear you?
I believe there are other ways I could have gone about it but there has to be a new way all the time. This is the era of social media and if I come up with a good write-up about women advocacy, nobody would pay attention to me. I would not even get up to ten ‘likes’. We are in the era of social media and if you pay close attention, something drastic has to happen to get the attention of people on social media. Most of the people that have become popular on social media did so by doing something drastic, different and unique.
It was alleged the girls were handsomely rewarded for them to be chained?
I did not pay those girls; they are a part of my team. I sat down with the team and we discussed this before I embarked on the action. When we did it at first, the level of curses we received was incredible. I was the one that suggested that the girls put on masks so that we don’t turn from the main point. If the masks were not on and their identities were revealed, you can imagine what they would have gone through by now.
With the current happenings in the country, recession and complains about bad government policies. Do you think this is the right time to rebrand?
This is what I say about knowing and studying your business. I can tell you categorically that I know my people and one thing I love about my people is in all-weather, they believe we should have fun. My elder brother have been the chairman of this company for years and also my back bone and my strength; he’s been the one that put me on this platform, he pushed me forward and carried me all the way.
So what are your new set goals?
I must confess it’s not easy to run a business in this country, so I think for now, this is enough. Government is not doing enough to help small businesses in the country. They are not doing anything, absolutely nothing, unlike other countries I have been to. You go out there, get the money, come back here to create jobs; helping government to create jobs and they are not doing anything to support you. It’s a bit difficult.
What drives you and what would you describe as your greatest job in this business?
What drives me in this business is being able to help people (customers) and see some problems get solved in my place. A lot of people have marital problems, when they come, they talk to me and we have a decent conversation with a bottle of drink. Sometimes people express themselves better when you are free with them and share a bottle together. Some have business problem, spiritual problem and they need that one location where they will have this connection; that’s my greatest joy in the business. I have a lot of people that come in and seek for my advice you will be shocked but a lot of people do that, sometimes they do better with a bottle of champagne. I like to see people happy because it makes me happy. I don’t like to see anyone sad. When I see people happy, I am excited.
A popular club owner once said that people who will eventually go to heaven might be picked from the club at night. Do you believe that?
Yes, I myself I’m an aspiring pastor, I am currently going to a Bible school. See, the word Christianity is big and I admire one of the best apostles in the Bible which is Paul. I total agree with the person who said that.