• Wednesday, July 24, 2024
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Audu Maikori is Making A Difference (M.A.D)

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Chocolate City Company started with just Chocolate City Limited, and for a long time they were best known only as a record label which also managed artists. They started with one artist but now they have about 13 artists. Despite general perceptions, Chocolate City was registered an entertainment company and not a record label. The label was their first foray into the entertainment sector but they had their sights on events management, cinemas, film production and merchandising. Today, they have 4 companies under the Chocolate City Group including: Chocolate City Music( record Label), Chocolate City Media( production/film/TV/content/ Events/Radio) , Chocolate City Distribution ( publishing company/music aggregator/part owner of Five Music) and Chocolate City Kenya ( distribution, music and TV content company based in Nairobi).  Seating as President of Chocolate City Group (CCG) is the intrepid, focused and optimistic legal leading light, Audu Maikori.
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From his conduct, you can tell he was brought up in a proper environment, instilled with discipline and the fear of God. I know this because he tells me “I grew up in a really fun environment, though to be clear, my parents didn’t spare the rod at all. They let us express and develop our creativity. Interestingly, my dad and mum were lovers and collectors of art and music. So we grew up listening to music from all genres and all parts of the world. My parents were both in the choir in their youth so music, singing were integral parts of our lives.”
“I started drawing when I was around 4 years old and developed the skill as I progressed. My father encouraged my flair for the arts and by the time I was 11, my siblings and I had a music teacher as well as art lessons which further helped to educate us. This no doubt set the foundation for a life that would one way or the other, involve the creative arts in my life, and it did.” Says Audu.
Worthy of mention is that Chocolate City has become a household name with the array of talented artistes signed up on the label. Did Audu see their current feat coming? He answers “I was largely influenced by Richard Branson and the Virgin story and realized from his story that if you could establish a niche for yourself in your chosen business, you could expand the brand to do other types of businesses – related or otherwise. So yes I had big dreams but did I think CCG would have achieved some of the things we have? No not all. Our target was to be top 10 in Nigeria music industry within 5 years of starting business in 2005.”
“By 2010, we were top 5, in 2011 we won the Africa Awards for Entrepreneurship beating 3,300 applicants from 48 African countries and we came second! No, there was no way we could see that. Prior to that in 2007 we won the British Council International Young Music Entrepreneur of the Year Award, becoming the first and only Nigerian company to do so. Since then, we have achieved some great milestones but I think we were blessed to have a strong, focused and passionate team- that’s why we got here.” Audu humbly admits.
Sharing further on their success story, Audu adds “Our Chocolate City Manifesto projected our inroads into the other sectors of entertainment within 10 years– cinema, film, studios and so on. We are glad to have made some headway in that regard. We are shooting a feature film this year, consolidating on the launch of Five Music which is a content aggregator/promotion and distribution company partly owned by us and which helps to promote artists and content across all genres and labels in Nigeria, also developing a multimedia facility for audio visual production- the first of its kind in these parts.”
Audu’s legal background has been of positive influence to his business. Hear him explain why and how “prior to launching Chocolate City fully, I had served in several capacities as company secretary, legal adviser, transaction advisor for World bank funded projects in power, railways, mass transit systems and more so, no doubt that helped a lot in understanding and implementing more structured systems as compared to our competitors.”
“But my co- founders Paul Okeugo and Yahaya Maikori brought different perspectives which collectively made running the group more efficient and successful from marketing, distribution to branding. In 2012, Hakeem Belo Osagie (a renowned entrepreneur and lawyer)- joined our board as the Chairman of CCG and took what we had started to another level with his wealth of experience and mentorship. The CCG of today is as a result of the whole team bringing their skills and expertise together to build one of Africa’s premier entertainment companies. Team work was also a key factor that made the dream work.” He reveals.
Mentorship in life is very crucial. Audu agrees to this and believes the best way to mentor people is how you live, not just by moving speeches and motivational sessions. “I hope my life is mentoring people especially the young ones who look up to me. Furthermore, I have dozens of mentees which I mentor online, via phone or in person depending on their needs and my availability. For me, the greatest blessing is hearing feedback months or years later about how my words affected them positively.”
You will agree with me that Chocolate City Group is an outstanding organisation. They are about value, development, empowering people and being the change they want to see. “We are here for the long term, we are not a fad. Our vision and projections for the next 10 years, anchors on being focused on the future and we want to develop young people who will catch the fire and run with it.” Maikori says and projects further “Last year, MI who came to CC as an artiste ascended to the position of the CEO of Chocolate City Music- this was widely applauded by many as a first- very few company founders readily relinquish a position in their company. They stay on as CEO for years without considering a succession plan. At CCG we are grooming the next leaders already while we focus on setting the vision- knowing that the future of this company, just like that of our country is dependent on the grooming we give to the next generation.” He concludes.
So we all have that little secret that nobody knows right? So I asked Audu for his and he says he wrote his first novel at the age of 11 called ‘Kidnap’…and I thought to myself “for real? At 11?…Kidnap? ..quite daring” I did not ask what led to his decision or what the book entailed (though the title says it all) however, make sure you ask him when next you see him perhaps, if the book is made public and the government gets a hold of it, there might be a solution to the age long problem of kidnapping in Nigeria…who knows? Just saying!
One thing admired about Audu is his humility and he attributes all to God “Everything I have, I received from God, and those that didn’t come from Him directly, He gave me through humans- therefore in truth I haven’t really done anything by myself- if this is so why should I get pompous or why should be arrogant?” 
Audu still has his legal consultancy which advises companies in intellectual property and commercial law and he sits on the boards of several organisations.
He leaves you with these lines saying “We all can by small sacrifices leave the world a little better than we met it; I am just doing my bit M.A.D (Making A Difference)”.
Kemi Ajumobi