Paul Okeugo – The Chocolate City Exec You May Never Have Heard Of

Posted on February 13 2020 , at 05:57 pm
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If you have not heard of Paul Okeugo and the headline of this article caught you by surprise, don’t worry it’s by design. The man is one of the most private individuals in the Nigerian entertainment business. But that is not why we are here. Paul’s contributions and achievements in Nigerian entertainment are immense and he has done it all from behind the scenes. 

Born on August 17, 1975 in Jos, Plateau State, Paul Okeugo was raised and educated entirely in Jos and he was interested in music and art at a young age. While securing a degree in Political Science from the University of Jos, he met his friend and would-be partner Audu Maikori and together they went on to found the Chocolate City Music label together in 2003. 

“I was raised in Jos and it gave us a good mix of Christian sort of upbringing. Jos was one of the best places to grow up back then,” he said in a 2019 interview with Vanguard. “It also gave us the freedom to express and explore arts, participate in sporting activities and be more creative in the way that we thought.”

Before Audu and Paul registered the company in 2003, Paul had worked as a research assistant at the National War College and a Chamber Administrator at a law firm before joining British American Tobacco in 2003 as a trade marketing executive, honing his skills. Though he has built Chocolate City with Audu Maikori for the past 25 years, Paul has also maintained a corporate job for most of his career. 

Speaking on how this helped at the beginning, Paul said, “Being able to have experience from the corporate world where one was able to learn best practices and being able to apply that to our own business are things that I think a lot of Small and Medium Scale Enterprises, SME’s, don’t have access to. A lot of people start businesses without having any formal experience but working with multi-nationals helped us.”

Some of the roles he has held over the years in the corporate world include:  Channel development Executive and Channel Development Area manager at British American Tobacco before leaving in 2008 to join Nokia West Africa, Senior Business Manager at Microsoft after the tech giant acquired the Nokia brand name in 2014 and finally HMD Global (new owners of the Nokia brand) in 2016. 

Waje, Paul Okeugo and Godwin Tom

After officially kicking off operations at Chocolate City Music in 2005, the first artist Paul and Audu signed was Jeremiah Gyang. Since then several other artists like Jesse Jagz, Dice Ailes, Ruby Gyang, M.I, Brymo and Ice Prince have come through the label, all bringing it varying levels of success. The label is still pushing on with newer acts like Blaqbonez, C Kay and Street Billionaires. Today, Chocolate City is firmly enmeshed in the last two decades of the Nigerian music industry. 

He returned to Chocolate City full-time as Chief Operating Officer in 2017 after a 2012 corporate restructuring that resulted in the creation of a larger holding company called Chocolate City Group to house the businesses other verticals. This restructuring also saw the return of Audu Maikori to the company following M.I Abaga’s stint as President of Chocolate City. In 2019, the company announced a new partnership with US giant Warner Music group. 

Paul Okeugo is married to Esther Sule-Okeugo and their son Zizah was diagnosed with autism in 2011. Since then Paul and his wife have been huge advocates of autism awareness and advocacy in the community. He is also the CEO of CCX Lounge, a food and beverage concept chain brand by Chocolate City in Partnership with Argentil Capital partners. He remains a very private individual, doing the much needed work of impacting the music industry from his favorite place – behind the scenes.

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