Christain Ugochukwu Okoli who was born and brought up in Enugu, hails from Agwu LGA of Enugu State. He is presently a student of the Department of Business Administration of the Enugu State University of Science and Technology (ESUT). He is known for his hardworking and natural born leader charisma. He is the youngest media entrepreneur & brand consultant in the South-East and also the CEO of Blueprint Afric & Blueafric media (although he doesn’t like to be referred to as a CEO). Although very young, he is a role model to many young people who look up to him & he loves to give back through his free entrepreneurial conferences/seminars. Today, he joins us on MW Special to tell us his life story that most people don’t know as well as his vision & dreams for the Nigeria Media Industry.
What childhood experience molded you to who you have become?
Funny enough, my primary four teacher, Aunty Tochi was the person that inspired me to be who I am today because she never believed in me. She used to say that I was going to eventually become a bus conductor and that I was the laziest student that she ever taught, so one day after she finished flogging me & my friend was consoling me, I told him that I will grow up to be rich & I was going to buy up Aunty Tochi’s village, home & everything she owns and make sure that she is homeless. From that day, I started working hard & here I am still working hard.
You are 3 years old in the media & journalism industry, right?
I started writing for magazines when I was 15. At 16, I started Brainbox Entertainment which unfortunately shutdown because I didn’t know the do’s & don’ts of running a business but I just wanted to start something. Then I started writing for C.I.C school magazine, afterwards I left the school & went to M.I.C where I also started writing for the school magazine. I joined the press club & after a while I started my own writing club in school. One day, I got the opportunity to write for a catholic magazine for Agwu Diocese called Sophia Magazine. Then I started blogging at 17, not because of money but just for the fun then soon the blogging stuff became more important to me but because of school stuff, I had to keep it on a low key.
How did you land your first gig with Diaspora Magazine when you were 15?
It wasn’t big then, it was someone in my church that started it & asked if I could do an internship with him, even if he won’t pay me that all I wanted was a page on your magazine and that was how I got it.
When did you start your company, Blueprint Afric and how has it been so far?
I started it in 2013 (19th December to be precise). Blueprint Afric grows everyday because the idea of it initially was just to run a calendar but with time I had people partner with me. So I would say that Blueprint Afric is a merged idea of me, Anugo Osadebe of Kefeller Photography & Michael E.I of Cyraworld. After 3 months, the branding & media company, Blueafric Media came into existence.
Since you started up until now, have there been any changes in your ideology about the media industry?
The media industry in Nigeria is so different. For eg when we decided to run Plant a Book Project, it was the first project that I did and it was about helping the young people by sending books to schools that can’t afford them. We tried to use the media to raise funds but it was a mission impossible because the media industry down here in the South-east is so backward & yet they don’t want to learn from the foundation and thereby keep growing with the ignorance of the media. So far, my ideology of the Nigeria Media Industry has changed a little and my eyes are open to the fact that if I’m to weigh our industry on the scale of 100%, we are just at 15%.
If you are to change something about the media industry what will it be?
First of all, make people to understand that the media is like a voice. For an economy to be good, the media needs to be credible because it is a platform where everything happens nowadays. The informative & print media has to work hand-in-hand for perfection. Everyone today is opening media companies but their vision isn’t properly stated. Secondly is Creative content as there is no originality in the media industry, everyone is waiting on one person to come up with ideas or content and then come & paste takes over.
What is your dream plan for the media?
I’ll keep most of it as a surprise but a little tip of the dream is to work with big brands in Nigeria & Africa as well as help brands sell their brands using Creative content. Build a tall power media house that will help me diversify.
At 19, you were screened for the Future Awards, how did you feel about it & on what basis were you screened?
When the screening came was the point in my life where I was struggling with a lot of stuffs as well as the frustration & depression that came with the struggle. But after the screening, it ignited a hope that I still had to work hard & push harder. It made me believe more in myself & the fact that people were recognizing me was a real tap on a shoulder to keep it up.
Last year, you hosted the Digi Plus Conference for bloggers & people interested in media business & from what I know it was free & it took a lot from you & your team, what was your aim?
I didn’t host the conference alone as I co-hosted it with Valentine Onyeka, the CEO of E-City Media. Val has travelled around the West Arica trying to understand the media & how to make Nigeria better. As a programmer when he came back, he called me & told me some stuffs that the Nigeria Media was doing wrongly & those are the things that we needed to change & I also told him what I personally have gathered from my travels & he suggested that we host something. So we gathered a lot of people that were good with media to teach the young ones & bridge the gap of thinking that you have to be out of school to do something for yourself in the media industry. Digi Plus conference was just a networking event.
How long do you want to stay in the industry & what aspects of it are you looking to venture into in the near future?
Being in the media is very fun but I’m not sure I will be in it for a very long time. I look forward to entering Journalism fully. But much later, I’m looking at going into ICT & app development.
Do you have any interest in Radio or TV aspect of media?
I have interest in TV but it will unfold in due time.
Because I’m already aware that some months ago, you co-hosted THE LIVE STUDIO for people with interest in Radio & TV presenting?
The live studio was hosted by I, Emeka Okoro & MC Olivia because we decided to give back to the people because there are a lot of young people who wants to be become TV presenters or On-air Personalities/Radio Presenters but don’t have the platform to build the abilities so we gave them an opportunity to meet the people that they see on TV & hear their voice on the radio to learn directly from them what they have learnt from their career over the years. The plan is to host the LIVE STUDIO across all the states because the testimonies we are getting from people have been awesome. I have turned down offers from two campus radios but the reason for the LIVE STUDIO was just to help the young ones.
Nigeria Media Industry isn’t in the place that it is meant to be & the south-east media is so backward, do you have plans to relocate to the West?
I’ve gotten 3 offers from the West but in order to attain my certificate, I will be in Enugu for a while. Media is online; you can operate & pull strings from anywhere. But I will love to go to the West to learn more about the media.
Between now & the next 2 years, what is your hope & prayer for the South-East Media Industry?
I pray that it becomes bigger than the west. Lots of stuffs are coming into the east unlike before & I respect everyone that is making it happen
If you were not in the media industry, what line of career would we have found you in?
Hmmmmmmm…..Its Business ooooo (not Oil business but definitely Real Estate). I’m an Igbo man & I love money. My certificate is solely for politics.
So what else do you plan to venture into later?
Making of Cosmetics (lollllzzz) from powder to bleaching cream to lipstick etc. I once attended a make-up class but I can’t make anyone up that isn’t my mum or wife.
Talking of wife, any special girl in your life right now?
No. My pastor said that I’m not allowed to date…loolllzzz….. I think that dating comes with giving attention & time to the person & at this point in my life; I don’t have the time to handle that. So I’m single & not searching. My life right now is GOD, my career & school.
Describe your dream girl?
Prayerful & not just God-fearing, intelligent, tall, someone with a dream (not one that all she wants to do is to get married), smart & can cook better than me.
How do you manage to keep a social life?
I’m not a party person, I neither drink nor smoke but I love to hangout. I hangout with people of like minds so when we are chilling, we are also exchanging ideas. My social life is work but I won’t say that I don’t have one.
You have been called Gay & have been threatened by some people, how can you say that the media has made people like or hate you?
For the record, I don’t need to explain myself. I’m a straight Godly young man. Before I used to think that to make it in the media that you avoid making enemies but my pastor will always tell me that there are friends for every stage in your life. So the truth is that the more you grow, some people will love you while some will hate you but all you should try & do is strike a balance between the haters & lovers.
What words do you have for those that look up to you?
They should change their aspiration because I’m not yet that big (laughing). Get someone to learn from. Everyone wants to be CEOs but you have to learn under someone first. Young people don’t want to work for people but the truth is that you have to be used to learn very well. Even me, I had to work as an intern for many establishments before I floated my company & now I can’t make the same mistake that they made. Kill you ego & get under someone & learn.
Who are those that have inspired you & that you respect?
I respect Leo Stan Eke, Ben Bruce, Oby Ezekwesili (after my encounter with her, my life never remained the same), Pastor Bowei Opukeme, Pastor Nnamdi Nwaoba, Chude Jideonyu, Nobel Igwe, Ademola Williams, Sammy Ajufo (Supersam), My business partners (Anugo & Michael E.I) and my brother from another mother, Super K.O of S.S.E.S.