“I am a lawyer though but not practicing. I was hoping to practice until I fell in love with entertainment and event planning.”
Lawrence Enyoghasu, Chineye Ezenwa and Victoria Amadi
Mr Isaac Usifo, popularly known as Mcee OJ, is the CEO of OJS Event. He is a barrister, comedian, master of ceremony and event planner. He told Inspire how he had to plan events free of charge for people just to handle the microphone at ceremonies. He also spoke of how his friends and father thought he was going to be a failure in life when he abandon legal profession for event planning.
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Did your education prepare you for entrepreneurship?
I went to one of the best primary schools. I attended a secondary school as well as university. By the grace of God, I am a lawyer though but not practicing. I was hoping to practice until I fell in love with entertainment and event planning. I have been into entertainment back but then it was just for fun until I graduated and started working with a multinational company. Entertainment kept coming even as I was working there. I was getting offers for events because it is something I have been doing from school. They started getting my attention as I was working. I tried combining work and entertainment but somehow entertainment started coming more. Looking at the financial side, I think I was getting more from entertainment than the office job. Apart from the money, I have this love for entertainment. Before I chose to be a comedian, I noticed that I had it in me to make people laugh. It got to a stage I started doing jokes at events even when I’m not anchoring. It could last for five minutes then I leave the stage. What really pushed me to start anchoring was when I started playing politics in school. I had the love for facing a large audience, the bigger the audience, the happier I get. So I had to start anchoring events, which was a plus for me. Aside from doing jokes, I anchor events and do the jokes alongside. That went on for a long time until I finally resigned from my job.
How much were you earning as at that time?
When I started I was earning N50,000 and in an event way back as early as 2007/2008, I was earning like N30,000 or N40,000 for an event and I work for N50,000 in a month. If I do like two events I get like N80,000 or N70,000 depending on how it went. Although I didn’t have the fame, so I learnt how to hustle for jobs. Sometimes I beg people for an event, Sometimes people pay me N10,000 and I buy a suit of N15,000 or N17,000 just to package myself and that was because I have the passion which actually caused an issue between me and my dad. My dad did not want me to leave law for comedy.
How did you get into event planning?
When I was coming up as a comedian, I used to work with some event planners just to get jobs from them. In a bid to get jobs I go with them to do decorations, I arrange chairs, I hang ribbons, I blow balloons. I never went to any school of decoration, I learnt on the job because I have worked with a lot of guys and I have seen how they do their things. I learnt it on my own, I could decorate a hall for any event. I just need to get the necessary colours involved and I do my thing. From there, I gathered knowledge, I was working there as a comedian but I took out time to register my company and I was writing proposals for event planning. With the help of social media and the rest, if I couldn’t do the work, I get the help of a decorator, a caterer, a DJ. If I am planning a full event, I get the services of those vendors. We have a meeting where I assign them their jobs. If I am handling the event as a whole, I only do the MC part but I get other vendors to do other jobs.
How was it growing up from the street into stardom?
I have actually practiced some of the lessons from the street at home. I have stolen cash at home. It was because I wanted to buy something that was in vogue, baggy jeans. I didn’t have any source of income, I had no option than to go home and search all the bags and I stole my aunt’s money. It wasn’t funny and I was beaten like a thief, they didn’t care if it was my first attempt but definitely, they made it my last. Our parents have this technique of beating children. I was tied and also given the opportunity to choose what to be caned with. I actually learnt how to pick money from the street. I went back to the street to inform them of the beating. Because of my home training, I didn’t fall victim to the street and I learnt how to survive. I sold puff puff for my mum, I even had to grind egusi and ogbono for my mum in her shop. I didn’t have the opportunity of playing football in the street so well. What took me off the street was when I gained admission into the university. I was partially out of the street but I still went back. In the street, you learn how not to be cheated, how to find your way out of trouble, you learn how to guarantee yourself of the next meal even when money is not coming out from your pocket. The street has taught me a lot and I still want to be on the street. Being poor taught me how to make
Can you share your experience in event planning?
It is an interesting job because you get to meet people. You meet different kinds of people. You meet the calm customers; you meet the irate kind of customers and if possible the never-understanding type of customers. I started for the money, I started to gain grounds; I just wanted to have clients. Most times when I get jobs, I even join the vendors in decorating. It was interesting for me because I was learning how to decorate, how to amend chairs.
I wanted to go to a school that would teach me decoration, how to plan an event but because I have been working with some vendors, I was able to learn. From my experience in anchoring an event, I know all the details about any event and what it is required to make it a success. Most times I end up adding my money to it, to satisfy my client and make sure the event is not a flop. I made lots of sacrifices like that. It got to a point I was almost discouraged and wanted to focus only on MC and forget about event planning. I thought of those depending on me and those I don’t want to let down. For me to leave law for entertainment, I owe people a lot of explanations.
First, my parents; second, my colleagues. They were surprised when I dropped my legal profession for entertainment. I had to prove to my colleagues that I know what I was doing because I lost most of them because of my decision to be an entrepreneur. At the end of the day, most of my colleagues I was the one that actually anchored and planned their weddings.
How did you feel when your friends were ashamed of your decision to go into entertainment?
I felt I was doing the wrong thing. But then I later took it upon myself to prove to them that I can make something out of this thing I have decided to be an entertainer and I must do all I can to make sure they accept me. I started working hard; I even went to events when I was not invited.
Do you feel fulfilled now?
There was a time I was rejecting clients for some reasons. Now, I am able to handle even the most difficult client. Those clients make you stronger, they make you feel as if you are doing something wrong, you sit and wonder where exactly you are going wrong and buckle up. Event planning generally is very tasking and challenging but fun.