Thursday, October 3, 2013

Money Matters!

A very rich man once said, "If you took all the money in the world and divided it equally among everybody, it would soon be back in the same pockets it was before [you started]." This is only true because our knack for finances vary. While most are extravagant even in the midst of poverty, a few are prudent and know just how to carry on living counting their pennies.

My entire outlook in life was molded by the wise thoughts of my late Father Chief Seth Okachi Eleonu. Like most kids, I thought he was being too hard on me at the time, but I have recognized the fact that he was preparing me for the difficult task of leading an honest life and earning enough to take care of my family. He went about his life lessons in odd ways. Impacting knowledge by making me watch & practice what I had seen, teaching me by instructions and most of all allowing me to play.

Watching and Practice
I learned to watch and practice the hard way. As a young school boy, I spent most of my mid term breaks working as an artisan – as a carpenter one day, an electrician next break, helping out with a Welder one holiday and working with a Mechanic next one. This early exposure to professional handiwork resulted in the “Techie Guy” most of you know today. (see what my friends think of me This post however, is not about technical stuff though, it is about another hard lesson my Father taught me – Money Matters! 

Teaching Money Matters by Play
My Father is the most prudent man who ever lived. I often thought he was been stingy to himself as he did not care about the "Jones". He bought things based on function, price and durability rather than form or trend as most people would. He taught me to make a note of what I wanted and think around the issue contemplating other possible more cost effective options. He insisted on comparing prices and never to rush into the market. Most importantly, he taught me that it is hard to keep that which has not been obtained through personal development and hard work. According to him, "everything has a law controlling it. The car functions because of the law of combustion. The aircraft fly because of lift aerofoil and boats would not float with the law of dispersion. Money also has its own rule" – as he would put it “Easy come, Easy go!” 

These are sound advice I have imbibed and practiced throughout my life, to the ridicule of my friends and acquaintances.  In University (just as today), I was always the one friends ran to for a small loan when times where hard. I was usually the one with change when most would have squandered their pocket money. My friends would often say I am financially disciplined, but what I never told them was that I learned it through play. It is a known fact that most of us are not disciplined when it comes to finances. We are unable to resist the urge to SPEND, PAY, BUY. Little wonder why it is often difficult pay for ______ (type in your usual monthly head ache) subscription, let alone pay the children school fees. 

Abundant literature exists on how to make money and keep it, but theory is often very difficult to put to practice. Some clever guys have even devised bogus opportunities that gradually impoverish the uncanny – “Make $5000 from you house over the internet”. Others have opened up workshops to teach housewives how to make money by trading forex online, but they fall short to tell them that they will have to part with a lot of money in the process and end up broke (see Others less risk-averse folks have resorted to class rooms to learn the art. 

The Central Bank of Nigeria has drawn an inference with the financial literacy and the high exclusion rate in Nigeria. The Bank has commenced on a new initiative to include financial literacy in the educational system. Only recently, the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi recently picked up chalk to teach school children about financial literacy (see all the photos He noted that most children nowadays struggle with ‘peer pressure’, which he said always pushes them to making unjustifiable demands from their parents, who also have needs and responsibilities to take care of. I am sure that many of them will miss the mark. What they will get is the sound advice. They however still need to practice what they have heard. As they say practice makes perfect and there is no better time to start practicing than as a youg school child.So, I have decided to let the secret out on how I practiced to be prudent. I believe it is a better and more effective way to learn prudence. – wait for it….
Play Monopoly! 
Yes, play the board game Monopoly™. Charles Darrow, the inventor of Monopoly couldn’t have evolved a better way to teach most economic principles in a tidy small board. As a child I played it at every passing spare time. We had protracted games involving all the kids in the neighborhood. Some would act as Bankers, others as advisers to players. We spurned a “Naija flavor” to it (there is now a Lagos edition), and changed some rules to make it even more interesting. We even encouraged teaming up to win and Yes, some people preferred to steal money houses, rub the bank when no one was watching, sell black market money and deeds to get rich. Monopoly taught me the following hard lessons in life;

  • all the financial terms and concepts I know without ever studying commerce or economics (two subjects I hated with a passion) terms like, Mortgage, Tax, Liquidation, Bankrupt, Rent, Title Deed, Remortgage, Utility Bill, Assets, Liquid, Float, Salary, etc.
  • we all start out equal but certain decisions will impact on ones ability to “Monopolize”
  • you can only spend what you have
  • you have to guard my business – no need to let the neighbors know what I have until…
  • bluffing is an art and it have saved many a lives
  • spending all you have to look good is not the aim of the game of life ultimate aim is to stay on and buy important deeds or deal out your opponents
  • Salary may not come at the end of a run (month)
  • you have to make provisions for Chance and falling fowl of the law
  •  that making the right “friends” is important
  • buying what you don’t need is like slashing your wrist and then taking a shower
  •  Its all about strategy -buying “Old Kent Road” can win the game and mortgaging “Mayfair” could be a life saver.

As a parent, I am now struggling to impact the same values on my children – Chisom (9) Oma (3) and Chime (well lets say for now he play the bank robber as he is only 1yr old and does not speak any English). You may argue that it will be difficult since the days when families gather around the TV in the sitting room are long gone. Hand held computer games, including mobile phones and the internet have taken over the minds of the youths, but I have painstakingly reintroduced Monopoly to my family and insisted that Sundays is game night and everyone must play educational games. I intend to keep it up until Chisom understands the concepts. I trust it will work for you too if you try. The CBN Governor warned that “people could become poor when they spend more than they earn, and would conversely, become wealthy when they spend less than they earn”. A stitch in time saves nine. Unless You Change How You Are, You'll Always Have What You've Got.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Baked to Death in the Sahara

I stumbled on a video ( posted on FB showing scores of dead Nigerians in the baking heat of the Sahara Desert. The eerie video was no different from a similar one on Nigerians marooned and isolated in the Sahara en route Europe aired by CNN recently.

I once talked a GIRL from embarking on this trip in 1994. She had the list of all the safe houses and pass phrases including the fees and brief for migrats who wish to go on this journey through Benin – Togo – Ghana - Boukina Faso-Algeria – Europe. She said it was full proof and she knew many who had made it to Europe. I thank God she listened to me and is now happily married and still lives in Lagos.

Emmanuel Mayah, the renowned award winning investigative journalist documented the travails of migrants in his exposé Europe by Desert: Tears of African Migrants. in a recent interview he said “Nigerians are being executed in Libya; many have perished in the Sahara while trying to cross the desert on foot; many have drowned in the Mediterranean Sea trying to cross from Morocco to Spain and hundreds of thousands of Nigerians are in prisons in different countries. Many are at a point of no return; they have no money to buy food let alone transport themselves back to Nigeria.”

So from the above, it’s a known fact that Nigerians go on this trip and from various routes all across West Africa, but I am a bit worried about this video. It raises a few questions. How can all these men slump and die at the same time, within the same area? Even more worrying is the fact that the dead all seem to be bent over hiding their faces - as if they were been robbed or hiding from someone/something. Since there is no evidence of blood, I will eliminate gun shots but what about poison? Another worrisome issue is how the nationalities of the individuals were ascertained. The clothes worn by the deceased do not seem to originate from Nigeria (debatable). To me they look like those worn by our other west African neighbors.

I ask these questions because from that same document I mentioned earlier, I learned that locals from the communities migrants pass through despises these migrants, especially as the local operators are usually the same people that organize other vices in these same communities - gunrunning, smuggling, armed robberies, child trafficking, name it. Similarly, the locals are also very aware of the large sums of money they carry (usually US$). In fact their handlers have been known to rob migrants and drop them off in the middle of the desert to die. This is well documented by Aljazeera, CNN, BBC, and you can watch all this on youtube… watch the video -

While one can easily dismiss this all by saying the migrants are to blame. Why should Nigerians, especially the (Igbos including Delta and Edo states) continue to rub our name in the mud? Why do they think that they must seek greener pastures at all cost? Some have been known to “Sell all that they own to secure a bleak chance in a foreign country only to reach there and end up hawking / Hooking on the street in J’boug, Italy, Israel, Turkey, etc. These questions are debatable, but I blame the state, our leaders and the Federal Government. Nigerians are scattered all over the world, most of them struggling to earn a living in communities that loathes them. The federal government should look into these issues and ascertain or verify the events that led to the death of these people with a view to curb the trend.

To my mind, if our communities are made more habitable, if there is better transparency, if our leaders are more responsive to our cries, if there is more security of lives and property, then and only then will our people stop seeking greener pastures. What is your take?

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Delusions in Christian Parishes

Only this morning (28th August 2013) my attention was drawn to Pastor Biodun Fatoyinbo unfolding saga making rounds on Twitter and other social media channels. Ms Ese Walters had published an expose accusing the Common Wealth of Zion Assembly (COZA) of manipulating her sexually / spiritually.

As usual, rather than concentrating my article on this particular event, I will look at the big picture. Let us come away from the tree and look at the forest.

There are countless number of reported cases of rape that go unpunished because no victim is ready to speak up. Even when the victims speak out against their assailants, they are often slandered and even threatened. This has forced many victims to suffer undue hardship trying to pretend normalcy while the world around them continues to bask in the euphoria of our pretentious society.
This would not be the case in other societies.

I read Ese's story on her blog - and was perplexed to read what Nigerians had to say about her ordeal. Rather than empathizing with her, or investigating the matter, Nigerians had resorted to calling her names and blaming her for her ordeal. Typical you say. We (Nigerians) blamed the ABSU gang rape on the victim When the news broke and the video went viral the reaction of Nigerians was more about verifying the location of the crime scene and absolving their university rather than empathizing with the victim and bringing the perpetrators to book.

This is further exuberant when we add religion to the mix. Ese’s present predicament is reminiscence of another Nigerian pastors escapade in 2011. I recall watching a series of BBC documentary on African demons and deliverance in the Untied Kingdom. The series focused on tackling the belief system that African parents pass onto their British born children. The documentary consisted on in-debt studies and carefully planned stings aimed at documenting evidence that may convince the people. In one of such stings, a Nigerian mother visits a particular Redeemed Christian Church in London. She complains to the resident Pastor that her teenage British born daughter is “Acting up”. Readily without prompting, the pastor assures the woman that the girl is possessed and would require spiritual deliverance. After agreeing to make a voluntary contribution to the church after the deliverance is complete, the young girl is invited to attend a bi-weekly session run by the pastor. Before long, lured by the beauty of the girl, the pastor makes advances. Armed with audio and video recordings of the stings, the producers create a short account and randomly select 10 people from the parishioners to watch the video after the Sunday service, but are surprised that not one of them is bold or inquisitive enough to watch the whole 15mins video. Shouts like “Touch not my anointed!” ring out.

This same hypocrisies don’t only inhibit us as a people, but indulges perpetrators to carry on with impunity. Why can’t we look at the issues and forget about the players. Why do we avoid the truth and focus on self preservation. Why have the authorities remained silent in all this.
•    Unresolved cases of rape in Nigeria
•    Men raping their daughters
•    Public officials rape the nations treasury
•    Child marriages

Work in progress...

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Co-operation, no be competition - By Pa Monday

Yeah wondering where I have been all this while? Well the project to gracefully convert Nigerians to utilize electronic means of settlment has proved tough. For the past 12 months or so, I have been slaving away at it. first begining with the pilot in Lagos, and now planning to roll out to 6 more locations in Nigeria.

I miss writting but I thout to break the silence as I read my very good friends blog which has been published on at he write...

Even we small people dey do our own. Sotay we get generator wey we dey call ‘I better pass my neighbour’. That name alone don show how bad this spirit of competition dey. If you on your generator, connect light for your neighbour, na bad thing? Dat neighbour fit contribute to buy fuel na. Why house of 10flats go get 10generators?

I have always wondered why we are in such a mad rush on several fronts, but I never really saw the parallels with other bizarre things going on around us. Kudos Pa Monday, this is a brilliant Article on our percived bad sense of competition.,. even better is the genre - pidgin sets a very clear perspective to view Nigeria from.