By Tony Ogunlowo A few days ago a rather chilling…
By Abdulkabir Olatunji
There is so much chatter dominating public discourse by Nigerians with many complaining about the harsh economy and the perceived failure of government to alleviate the ‘suffering of the masses’. However, a critical look at the behaviour of Nigerians indicates a people that insist on doing next-to-nothing and getting maximum returns.
This trait pervades our life from the political office holders who insist on getting outrageous allowances, privileges and perks which do not prevent them from stealing public funds to civil servants who refuse to perform their duty unless and until they are bribed in monetary and/or other forms. The private sector is not left out with so-called high flying business executives often being little more than racketeers, scammers and swindlers of varying degrees and forms.
Perhaps, the greatest evidence of the laziness and greed of Nigerians is the rapid growth of ponzi schemes in the country in the last 12 months, the most popular of which is MMM with Ultimate Cycler being another popular one. These schemes promise participants anything from 30% or more ‘gain’ for doing next-to-nothing. There are no products to be sold through which commission is earned, just some wondrous system of reaping bountifully for doing nothing other than staking your money in the system and adding new members.
The advocates of these schemes insist that they are forms of ‘charity’, ‘welfare’, ‘help or aid’. However, the concept of charity is being abused because it entails giving without expecting anything directly in return, this is what differentiates it from investment. On the one hand, schemes like MMM claim not to be investment and at the same time are not charities. Therefore, any scheme masquerading itself as a form of charity while guaranteeing or promising a certain amount in return is essentially dubious. This begs the question- why would any decent self-respecting individual want to be involved in a dubious scheme? The answer is none other than being greedy at best and being a scammer if you think the worst of such a person.
It is clear that our moral fabric has been torn to tatters with leaders in almost every aspect of life from politics to business and more importantly religion becoming hypocrites that should not be emulated for the most part. Where will the needed redemption and reformation come from? A difficult question to answer but perhaps if each one of us begins to seek a higher quality of existence outside of capricious accumulation of wealth and understand that the true worth of a man is not determined by the amount of wealth he is able to accumulate but in the positive impact he has on his family, community, society and humanity at large, we would have taken a huge first step in our journey to redemption and a higher quality of life.
It is counter-productive to complain of suffering from the negative effects of economic recession while still staking your limited resources in dubious schemes. Many Nigerians scoff at the government’s call for citizens to embrace agriculture which is proven to be a productive venture all over the world but are willing to seek ‘free money’ with Ponzi schemes. Is this a failure of government too? Definitely not, it is a failure of individuals to take the right decisions. Yes, it is not everybody that will become a farmer but there are other legitimate businesses that people can go into and highly sought-after skills that people can learn to gain full time or part-time employment. Examples abound in ICT with programming, translation jobs, virtual jobs of all sorts paying in foreign exchange if you are willing to do the work.
Perhaps the greatest opportunity lies in the fact that imported goods are now expensive and if one can take time to provide local alternatives that are of minimum standard, the potential income is great. Nigerians need to eat, clothe and have shelter whether or not there is a recession, how many of our young people are seeing opportunities in these areas rather than looking for ‘free money’? Let those who are wise look inward and take head, I definitely have little respect or sympathy for those who seek to reap where they have not sown anything of value.