Obi Cubana Speaks: I once lived in one room with five others, I have a history
July 21, 2021
At the time we were doing our Garden business, me and my brothers including some friends were living in a 12 by 12 apartment in Zone 4 Abuja. We were six in number in one room. We were managing. We were not poor that time. As a matter of fact we were the biggest boys in town. At that time Abuja was not as urbanised as it is now.
Mr. Obinna Iyiegbu, aka Obi Cubana, the Anambra-born billionaire, has formally responded to the events surrounding his mother’s burial in Oba, Anambra.
In an interview with BBC Pidgin English service, Obi Cubana, recalled his hustling days, saying six of them, his siblings and friends, used to sleep in one room in Abuja. He dismissed the theory of ritual money, stressing that neither pastor nor native doctor will make anybody rich but hard work.
He recalled how he traversed Abuja looking for job after his NYSC stint at National Assembly but to no avail, adding that it was lack of job that drove them into hustling, from property agents, interior decoration and later restaurant and night club business from where the Cubana Group sprouted.
Below is the interview (translated):
“Miracle does not give money. The pastor needs the money more than you. Even the native doctor needs money but he’s poor and his children are fetchers of water. If you want money work hard, work hard, work hard.
“My mother’s burial turned out a carnival because we had planned a carnival-like 80th birthday for our mother but she died just before she turned 80, so all the plans, resources and energy we planned to deploy for the birthday was put into the burial hence it turned out the way it went. We have no regrets. The woman was our mother and we spent our money the way we liked. The people that attended the burial who sprayed money are all rich people some of whom were our classmates, some we hustled together, some we met in the course of our businesses and they sprayed their money by themselves. I feel they came to show love to our family, our mother and to Cubana Group. Everything makes me happy. The good news is that I was not caught stealing and nobody can say I stole his property.
“It’s been 15 years since our father died, so all the love we had for our father was transferred to our mother. When she died, it looked like part of my energy is gone because of her prayers.
“We were not born rich. We have history. I studied Political Science at UNN and did my NYSC in Abuja in 1999. I looked for job but no job came. From there we started restaurant business (Mama Put), from there to beer parlour (Garden relaxation business). Then Nasir El Rufai as Minister demolished everything and we thought that was the end of the road but that was how God blessed us as we opened Ibiza which grew to birth Cubana Group. At the time we were doing our Garden business, me and my brothers including some friends were living in a 12 by 12 apartment in Zone 4 Abuja. We were six in number in one room. We were managing. We were not poor that time. As a matter of fact we were the biggest boys in town. At that time Abuja was not as urbanised as it is now.
“We were pushing our lives doing every legitimate business we could find. We were able to send one of us to Port Harcourt, one to Czechoslovakia, one to Lagos. I and others remained in Abuja determined to make it big.
“It was not all rosy. We failed in some businesses, even lost money. But it did not stop us from trying. I made my first one million naira in Abuja after my NYSC. We were hustling as property agents. Selling land was a fast-moving business then in Abuja. We got a contract to furnish one man’s house and we did it very well. The man liked it and dashed me N500,000. I did small contract with PPMC and made small money with which I bought a Mercedes V-Boot. From there, I opened Cubana which bloomed and gave birth to other businesses.
“I don’t have time to respond to critics. I don’t want to descend to their level. Fasting and prayer alone don’t produce money, hard work does.
“Our goodwill brought the crowd at Oba that day. We did not plan for one-fifth of that crowd but our friends were planning things quietly behind us because of love. Anambra has many wealthy people, I don’t come close to their wealth by comparison but other people used their own wealth to show us love.”