With only some 50 years of independent national existence, Nigeria is a country reeking with “new money.” The overwhelming proportion of the millionaires and billionaires in the country are “nouveau-riche;” they became rich literally “overnight.” We are talking of people whose wealth does not go beyond a generation.
Indeed, the fantastic wealth of Nigerian billionaires like Femi Otedola scarcely goes beyond ten/fifteen years. Not only does Nigeria’s wealthy few have a short history, they often have a short future as well. The money comes “miraculously” and goes just as “miraculously.”
In my youth, S.B. Bakare was the celebrated Nigerian tycoon. Highlife stars and juju musicians eulogised him in their records. But ask a young Nigerian today who S.B. Bakare is, and I can bet my bottom dollar he has never heard of him.
S.B. has fallen off the radar and so has his wealth. It is not identifiable by any major industry or enterprise. His descendants may still be in litigation over the dregs of his estate, but undoubtedly it is nothing to write home about again. Certainly, nobody is singing about S.B. Bakare today. There are now new pretenders to his throne.
Time was when wealthy Nigerians built something, developed something, or made something. At that time, the rich were truly captains of industry. Alhaji Sanusi Dantata made his fortune in the era of the groundnut pyramids in the North; buying and shipping them for export.
Sir Odumegwu Ojukwu had Nigeria’s largest fleet of inter-city “mammy-wagons.” He also imported “panla” (dried fish) on a large scale. Sir Mobolaji Bank-Anthony had a tanker fleet and a pioneering charter airline. Emmanuel Akwiwu, hauled oil-rigs and supplies for British Petroleum. Chief Timothy Adeola Odutola produced bicycle tires for the growing army of Nigerian bike-riders.
But thanks to oil, much of Nigerian wealth is no longer the product of such ventures. Yes, we have billionaires like Ibrahim Dasuki and Mike Adenuga who can still be rightfully described as highly enterprising. But even more significantly, we have tycoons who came into wealth through “wuru-wuru” and “mago-mago.” These men are hardly Nigeria’s Bill Gates.
On the contrary, they don’t have a clue what to do with their dubious wealth, and they are ignorant about wealth-creation. As such, they add little of value to the Nigerian project. Their praises may be sung today by their horde of parasitical hangers-on, but they will not be remembered for good when they are gone. As mysteriously as their wealth materialised, so will it vanish.
These men became rich through some of the following tried and tested methods, which can be relied upon to lead to one’s inclusion in the Nigerian Book of Irrelevant Rich Men. If you want to get rich quick, here is the Nigerian blueprint. But please, don’t tell anyone I “wiki-leaked” this highly-classified national secret to you.
Rob a bank
This strategy has gone through some transition. Bank-robbers used to be men of the underworld who held banks hostage at gunpoint and then made off with the cash. However, it was soon recognised that this approach has distinct disadvantages. You might get arrested and jailed. Even worse, you might get shot. It also became apparent that banks carry limited amounts of cash.
Therefore, a successful bank robbery of this violent kind might only land you perhaps 50 million naira tops, which is not even enough to buy or build a house in Banana Island. There is a better way to rob a bank with far limited risk. Simply establish a bank.
When you establish a bank, you can rob the bank every day without a gun. When people deposit money in your bank, they don’t know that they are handing over their life-savings to a thief. You then rob the bank you establish in a number of imaginative ways.
For example, you can lend money to your bank and then charge it a very high interest-rate. Better still, you can borrow billions from your bank and simply forget to pay it back. Or, you can use the money deposited in your bank to buy houses and then rent them out as branches to your bank at exorbitant prices.
By Femi Aribisala