How do your non-entertainment operations fit within the group?
Although Quilox is the most popular brand in the Aquila group and Aquila records has also gained widespread recognition, they contribute less than 10% to the revenue of the group. I went into the entertainment and hospitality space due to my passion and the genuine belief that I could redefine the industries. I am not sure entertainment was meant to fit but it is part of a diversification strategy driven by passion and conviction. Aquila Group is a conglomerate with interests in oil and gas although we focused more on the downstream side of the business. However, now we are restructuring to move more into EPCI, mid-stream, and upstream. The construction subsidiary has also executed several projects for government and the private sector. In fact, Aquila Building and Projects built Quilox, so if that expertise wasn't resident in the group, then setting up Quilox would have been a bigger challenge. We also have a few properties that we build and sell, such us our residential project Eagle Heights, which is coming up in Banana Island soon. We also do a great deal of procurement and supplies for private companies and the government with Aquila Global Resources Limited. On the entertainment side, Aquila Records was established to help developing and talented Nigerians and Africans become superstars. We have artists like Air Boy, as well as my brother, Que Peller, the only artist magician in the world. We also have Base One, an indigenous rap artist, Beezy, and my daughter, Naomi Peller. Quilox was established with the goal of revolutionizing nightlife in Nigeria; hence, the name, which means redefinition. My financial advisors thought I was overexposing myself in a business that has a notoriously short life span. However, Nigeria was one of the fastest-growing economies in Africa, and I knew Lagos, as the commercial capital of Nigeria, had great potential. I saw a gap in the nightlife industry that needed to be filled. Quilox has been around for five years now.
How large is the entertainment portfolio of the group compared to the other areas?
It would be unfair to compare some of the other businesses in the group to the entertainment side because the industry structures are fundamentally different. I am more concerned about the impact of each business on its market, though the contribution of my entertainment portfolio to the group is about 10%, which is quite decent.
What are the main challenges in the entertainment business?
The main issue is power. I spend an average of NGN8 million (USD22,000) a month powering our clubs via generators. On unstable power, we spend an average of between NGN700,000 and NGN1 million. This is a huge factor and a key expense. Security within the country is also a major issue, and the government needs to focus more on security. This would create a better business environment, because more people would be interested in coming and spending money. Other important factors are levies and taxes, and the government should work on streamlining the tax and levy structure.
What is your outlook for the group in 2019, particularly the entertainment side?
In 2019, I was elected to a national legislative position. The time for armchair politics is over. I have joined politics as a technocrat, which will allow me to help shape economic and business policy in the most effective way. I have been involved in many philanthropic activities, and I am excited to represent a new set of ideals. I have structured my businesses such that they will function smoothly in my absence during 2019. I foresee the price of oil continuing to stabilize. The government will continue to work on diversifying the economy as well.