DMA: Good morning Sir.
Churchill: Good morning and how are you doing today?
DMA: We are doing just good sir, thanks for your time and this is Toast TV. Digital Market Africa is a TV series for entrepreneurs and brands all around Africa. We want to showcase the unique story behind brands in Africa and we are looking at young enterprising prolific individuals that are making giant strides in different areas of their life that why we’re having this interview sir. So today, we want to showcase your story to the world, we want to Africa who Dr. Olakunle Churchill is.
Churchill: Olakunle Churchill is a business man …man of the people, philanthropist, a leader and a God-fearing man.
DMA: we went into your website before we came for this interview … bigchurchgroup.org we saw chains of businesses tied to the Big Church Group. So can you give our viewers a preview of what Big Church Group does?
Churchill: We are into real estate, we are into consultancy, we are into Agriculture and mining, we are into ICT and we have a foundation … that is the one for the charity, that is where the 10% of all the income goes to that we give back to the society from the Big Church Foundation. And …I mean people call me Big Church then even before the company Big Churchill – I love to do big things.
DMA: At what age did you see yourself as successful?
Churchill: 23, I built my first house at 23. Started with the real estate but my main profession is the ICT which is the software development but I started making money at 23, I built my first house then I sold the house, …then I made probably times two of the money so, I was encouraged. I had to get more money and built a lot of houses then started selling that was how I got into real estate. But I think it’s actually a gift …not everyone knows how to multitask – not everyone knows how to pick four five things at once. Not everybody knows how to work on different things at the same time but I believe, I mean, I believe in handling four five things at once but at the end of the day two might end up giving you good result or three but if you are lucky, five of them. I think with that you can grow very fast and still strive hard because business is not 100% sure at the same time- you win some you lose some, so you have to be experienced and be ready for anything but the most important thing is that you have to always check yourself, you have to go day by day, you have to be able to achieve something every day.
DMA: Our next question is about Big Church Group and its international affiliations. You see Big Church Group in Ghana, I think I’ve seen most of your projects on the blogs so many things you’ve done in Ghana but I know Big Church Group should have other international affiliations.
Churchill: Ghana, Switzerland, London and we have affiliates in South Africa, Philippines, United States, Canada for humanitarian, Italy for humanitarian and many more companies that we deal with especially from the ICT angle. You know we are into Total Security, internet security, and ones for the gadgets like the CCTV ones and security gadgets- so; we deal with most companies from Europe and China.
DMA: We are going to be talking about your social life because everybody knows Big Church is a Socialite.
Churchill: Really? Have you seen me in a club before?
DMA: Not necessarily in the club, but you are someone people like your story, people gravitate to anything that has to do with your name, and you and I know the reasons why. Big Church is a Socialite that’s what I know, even today on the blogs around the country, you will see Big Church. Today on the Blog I read about your philanthropy and what you said about youths been included in politics and you can see lots of comments about that because people have an image about you in their head. They have this fixed picture of who Churchill is as a person. So now when it comes to misconceptions that Nigerians have about you as a person, they will say … there were some comments that you are just giving money because you want a political post… maybe when they see some of the things you do and they think it’s not just genuine philanthropy – that you have an ulterior motive behind it.
Churchill: I grew up with my Grand ma who happens to be a philanthropist and a Reverend – so, it’s something that runs in the family. And funny enough I never even thought of putting anything philanthropy on Facebook if not for the people who joined my foundation in 2010, they are Yebowale and Roseline Mura. They were first to publicize, to give it the extra touch and spice for people to know what we do – that this is Big Church and we’ve been giving out. Yebo is from the media and Roseline is also part of us. It’s not that we are doing that to show off or to make people feel somehow, but I know Nigeria is a place that even when you decide to help people, dem go vex for you. From that angle, it’s pure philanthropy and we get the funds from whatever comes from the company – we set aside 10% to help the people.
DMA: Our last question before we wrap up the chapter on philanthropy and Big Church Foundation: You single-handedly donated fire emergency equipment to the Fire Service Corp, you single-handedly sponsored lots of scholarship for the less privilege and other individuals that are not well to do or as highly placed in the society like you are – these are giant strides. Big Church Foundation when it comes to funding is it something you just do personally or is there still room for other Nigerians that are going to watch this interview to get to connect with Big Church as a Foundation at least to support you, to join hands with you to key into the vision of the Foundation?
Churchill: If you want to partner with us, probably on a project, yes we can partner but from Big Church Foundation, we don’t get fund, we don’t get people to give us funds; you understand – the funds come from the company. Whatever we make, we set aside 10% and we have a meeting on what to do and then we embark on projects.
DMA: One of the most controversial part of your name or what we read on the online blogs and what we see on TV is actually your marriage with Nigerian actress Tonto Dikeh which actually ended up in a divorce. Nigerians have their misconceptions about what actually transpired during the course of that marriage and mixed with the child custody brouhaha that we have going on, we want you to clear the air on that.
Churchill: What really happened – you know, I mean I can’t be talking about what really happened, I can only put it in summary but I will just advice everyone to ignore and eh… two questions, before I met her who knew about me? I’ve been there; I’ve been used to my private life, so I think that was not a mistake because I got a child – you know, I don’t regret anything, I think it’s just part of life and I mean, you have to go through something before you learn lessons but I personally honoured her, I mean… I honoured her because she was four months pregnant, I honoured her I took her to her place – community which I paid her pride price then I sent her out of the country. I have always been there for her; I took proper care of her. And it’s that I’m trying to brag, I’m just trying to tell you that there was no bad time because the time was very short – okay I met you three months before you took in. I wasn’t living in Nigeria. You took in four months gone, I took you to Port Harcourt, I paid your bride price, I flew you out of the country, you came back with the baby and even stayed in my family house in Texas. I flew my mum in, my sojourn uncle from London, we took care of you – I took proper care of you. All you posted was I brought them… and I always stopped you from posting, she’s only posted one-quarter of everything. I try to make her happy. Do you understand? So the time was short, she got back; we only lived together for six months which she had my baby through CS. I mean, come on, someone who had an operation, can you beat that kind of person? – Someone that was going through the healing process, can you touch that kind of person? I’ve not even touched a woman before. Can you touch that kind of person? First three months she was going through the healing process I was mostly around to assist. Then the other half of the six months, that is the other three months, I went back to work.
DMA: So the issue of Domestic Violence is real?
Churchill: Pure lies, go and check the pictures – I mean that was made up, she called a make-up artist. I saw the picture and I was shocked. I saw red. If they hit you, won’t it be black? It’s called black eyes and where she nailed herself: December 2017, before my work for love programme, I came back from Switzerland – I have the receipt. I bought my son a diamond pendant, like with the three diamond – very expensive and I got it for like, I think, eight thousand four hundred Euros; you know that gift you give to your child that you want to always see it on him till you can tell a story about it – I’m not going to do that yet but I’m just… you know, do you understand what I’m saying? I just got it because I just want him to enjoy it; to be fine; just be alright; let me do my work. I tried to make her happy …I tried everything, but the main issue was what happened and my mum was out – do you understand? I think she doesn’t want all of that to go out that’s why she started blackmailing me. And also another issue with people getting to like me; me becoming popular, I can’t take your popularity away from you. If you were to be with an okada man or a welder, they will still say this is Tonto Dikeh’s husband – yes or no? So, it depends on Tonto Dikeh’s husband if he’s doing good or not. People will even be proud of you if he’s doing good. So, getting married to a popular person or an actress is not bad, it depends on that person – It depends on that person but I didn’t get married to a celebrity, I got married to a wife. Why will I want to use your fame? Am I looking for a show or movie role? It happens; everything was scripted, I think that’s how she knows how to fight and also philanthropy is missionary whether you like or not, a philanthropist is just like a man of God; man of integrity. So she’s just trying to damage my image by putting out a whole lot of things to discredit me; to make people think who is a woman-beater, he sent my friend’s brother to jail – that one came out and was like, I didn’t go to jail, Mr Churchill sent the money for his event and it went successfully. He’s 4-1-9, I don’t have any court case, I don’t have any police case, I’ve never been indicted worldwide – I mean, you can find out and I’m from a very trained home, disciplined family, I don’t even have a tattoo, that’s how discipline my family is. So, for everything, I think that’s how she knows how to fight and fight her exes to destroy them.
DMA: Social Media doesn’t forget, we saw Tonto Dikeh; she posted a lot of things, that you didn’t pay her dowry; most of the gifts you gave to her; “she was the one that was sponsoring the marriage” that you are not as rich as you claim.
Churchill: What is she doing that she is sponsoring the marriage? She’s an actress sponsoring which marriage? There was no marriage, there was just like knocking; no celebrity came; we didn’t even call an artist; we didn’t call any of our friends; just four of us – me, my mum and two other people. What we had was a parlour thing, we didn’t celebrate it. We were to do the proper traditional marriage, church wedding, court wedding; still in the process – we were actually in the process when we split. We’ve not done traditional wedding; we’ve not done church; we’ve not done the court wedding.
DMA: What about the gifts?
Churchill: I have all the receipts of the gifts. The dowry you’re talking about, I think why she is about the dowry was part of the reasons I went to Portharcourt. I was told this lady she’s pregnant now, you have to pay her dowry so the child can bear your name. So, you see the reason why she fights about the dowry all the time? But I thank God her father came out and said that I personally him the dowry. Okay fine they didn’t pay your dowry, your father confirmed I gave him the dowry. And… okay… fine you said you gave me the money, with which account? Okay you said you’ve been the one sponsoring the wedding and me, at least you should have transferred money to my account once or twice. But I can give you statements of ten million five million upwards.
DMA: That you sent to her?
Churchill: Yes, but the bank does not lie. Ehn! Okay let’s agree you paid for your dowry yourself; the man was broke he didn’t have money, did you marry me for money? The man was broke, ehn! He didn’t pay for your dowry, a month after; he bought a twenty-two million Naira jeep – Prado white; I have the receipt. Is that making sense to you? Dowry of 1.2 million to 22 million Naira- why buy the gift? You should have just removed the money from the… brand new… do you get what I’m saying?
DMA: Yes. There are issues about Fraud – about Fraud she sometimes…
Churchill: She’s trying to stick – put things in people’s head to discredit me. I have never had any case before – I have never been indicted; all my customers are still intact; I’ve never defrauded anybody. I don’t have any bad record; I’ve been successful since twenty-three years old and I’ve been working. I don’t have any police case about Fraud; I’ve never done 4-1-9 to any company; to… I mean – I mean the persons should have come out. Do you understand? She’s just doing that to discredit me. We’ve never lived together before while she said… ehn… they used to squat with her. When I delivered your push gifts …they were even parking from your Lekki residence because your rent already expired. They delivered your push gift – the new Prado Dare; nobody was there, I had to get hotel for the driver to wait. Do you understand? Was I squatting in your house when they delivered the Prado? I don’t understand. O boy! This allegation ehn! E be like twenty-six years of marriage.
DMA: You people were married for?
Churchill: We were only together for six months but the allegation …like say na twenty-one years of marriage. Even me myself I dey fear when I dey see some things. E come be like movie, e be like say the script writer no dey tire.
DMA: So, you were decorated as African Youth leader, Face of ECOWAS Youths and Yoruba Youths worldwide –are these credentials not long enough for you to venture into politics?
Churchill: Something you should know: I’ve been into politics for years now; I’m not coming out for anything; I’ve not tried to come out for anything for now even before; but I’ve always supported people to be somebody but not openly. I mean, I have my people that I support but me personally, I’ve not thought about that.
DMA: In the future, do you see yourself running for office?
Churchill: ehn… they always tell me to come out; the youths want Dr. Olakunle Churchill as the Governor of the State; they want me as Senator; they want me to come out as House of Rep and all that; but I think I’ve not served enough; I’m still serving – I’m still serving my people, that my number one priority till when the time comes.
To upcoming Entrepreneurs, Dr. Churchill has these to say:
To the upcoming Entrepreneurs, I would really advice and encourage you to be hardworking and to take whatever you are doing very seriously; to learn how to multi-task; perseverance too and be prayerful. Then, someday, sometime, some moment and you’ll get there and with God, all things are possible and you keep growing. But don’t forget to always help people every day- at least one person; and just take time to reach out to people who need you more – the less privilege and the people you know you can empower because that’s the best investment you can put down for future, that’s the best investment – empowering people: imagine empowering one-one person in a month and in twelve months, you’ve empowered twelve people. In two years you’ve empowered 24 people. I mean, when you’re retired, you still have people that you can look up to – not that you’re going to be a beggar but it makes life easier and takes our community to the higher level. Thank you.
This Interview was conducted by: Kingsley Eze & Transcripted by: Agu Kingsley