Chief Ahmed Ajibola, popularly known as General H, is the CEO, Copacopana Group of Companies and whose hospitality arm, a nightclub is arguably one of the biggest and most celebrated in Oyo State. He sat with ROTIMI IGE to discuss how he revolutionises the nightlife business in Ibadan and how he has managed to ensure that his club promotes and remains a tourism hub in the state. Excerpts:
You are one of the most influential night life crusaders in Ibadan. How and when did you decide to invest in the business of owning a club?
I’ve always had the passion for the nightlife industry for as far back as I can remember. However, because of my export business which required a lot of travelling, I never had enough time to venture into the business until 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic when I couldn’t travel outside the country for several months. That was when I started building up a team to actualise the long-awaited dream of owning a nightclub.
The name of a club defines it eventually. What influenced yours?
Copacapana was coined from Copacabana which is a beach in the city of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and one of the most famous beaches in the world. I wanted something exotic and the name just felt perfect and unique.
Your Copacapana club is one of the most talked about clubs in Ibadan. What unique ideas have you explored in the club and how have you maintained consistency?
Actually, Copacapana is the most talked about club in Ibadan. There are many ideas to talk about but I will mention a few so as not to take most of your time. Firstly, we are very particular about the ‘Wow’ factor and that is why the ambience of Copacapana would wow anyone as soon as they step into our facility.
We also put much effort in employing the best entertainers that money can hire and that is why Copacapana has the best hype men, DJs and lighting technicians in the whole of Ibadan. These entertainers are critical for the vibe consistency and have contributed to the success of Copacapana in the nightlife industry in Ibadan and Nigeria.
No business is without challenges. Tell us about some of them…
The nightclub business is one of the most challenging businesses because we have to deal with all kinds of customers.
Another major issue in business is debt. Some known customers could run very high bills and not pay immediately, so debt recovery is always a stressful process for nightclub owners.
What would you identify as the biggest threat to your business in Oyo State and Nigeria in general?
Energy and security are the two major threats to every nightclub, we spend millions every month on energy because a standard night club cannot run on regular power as it is unstable.
Security is also a major challenge as we have to spend a whole lot on it. When we have shows, we spend heavily on security, thus increasing the running cost and in return, affect profit generated.
Fake drinks and round tripping by staff are a constant issue for club owners. What has been your experience and how have you overcome it?
Copacapana has zero tolerance for fake drinks and that is why we buy our drinks directly from verified distributors only.
What is your vision in the entertainment business?
The vision is to become one of the biggest entertainment brands in Africa and also highly recognised across the globe.
Maintenance and customer service are two vital areas that most Nigerians businesses fail to meet. How important are these to you and your business and what measures have you in place to ensure this?
Maintenance and customer service are two vital areas we don’t joke with. We have a maintenance team in place to tackle all maintenance issues and we also have experts that help in the regular training and retraining of staff for effective performance and customer satisfaction.
Any plans to add other arms of interest in the entertainment industry to your portfolio?
We are looking forward to establishing a recording company so as to help lots of upcoming artistes in Ibadan push their music across the globe and give them international recognition.
Since inception, what would you say Copacapana has achieved in repositioning nightlife in Ibadan?
Our achievements are very obvious for everyone to see, we have set the bar high in the entertainment industry and now Ibadan’s nightlife is as vibrant as Lagos. In fact, the entertainment industry has increased tourism into the city of Ibadan as we now have people from neighbouring cities like Lagos coming to party in Copacapana.
Any plans to expand the club to other cities?
Yes. We are looking forward to taking over the Lagos nightlife industry just like we did with Ibadan and be assured that plans are in place to achieve that.
Three things not many know about you?
I’m a very principled person, guided by a strong set of values and beliefs that inform my decisions and actions. I have a clear sense of what is right and wrong, and I strive to live my life in accordance with those principles. My integrity, honesty, and commitment to doing the right thing inspire others very close to me to follow my example, and I am respected and admired for my strength of character.
Secondly, I have a very small circle even though it would appear as if I am friends to many people. Though I happen to know a lot of people due to the nature of my business, I only keep a few in my inner circle.
Lastly, I think many people do not know I am the son of Alhaja Saratu Aduke, the Iyaloja-General of Oyo State.