A Ponzi scheme is a form of FRAUD in which belief in the success of a non – existent enterprise is fostered by the payment of quick returns to the first investors from money invested by later investors. From this definition, this already signifies Ponzi schemes as SCAM, yet many Nigerians still divert their funds or rather ‘spare money’ into it as suggested by the Russian ex – convict , Mavrodi. He perpetrated one of the world’s largest Ponzi scheme of all time, in the 1990s. By different estimates from 5 to 40 million people lost up to $10 billion and this is what several Nigerians are still running to? Some even resigned from paid employment to be guider of MMM.
MMM was established in 1989 by Sergei Mavrodi, his brother Vyacheslav Mavrodi and Olga Melnikova. The name of the company was taken from the first letters of the three founders’ surnames. In 2015, MMM began operating in South Africa claiming a “30% per month” return through a “social financial network”. Accounts were later frozen by the Capitek Bank. Several MMM South Africa subscribers protested in Johannesburg and it was later returned in late November 2016. In November 2015, MMM launched a website targeting the Nigerian audience also claiming a “30% per month” return including other acquirable bonuses. On the 13th of December, 2016; it announced the freezing of all members’ accounts due to system overload promising to re – open in a month time. We sincerely await its return, well off course another Ponzi scheme Ultimate Cycler was away for a week and has successfully returned.
Against the backdrop of the economic recession in Nigeria, different financial schemes are gaining attraction across our dear nation. Apart from the ever catchy MMM, we have the Ultimate Cycler which is a peer – to – peer donation business model created by Peter Wolfing, a United States based network marketer, well maybe this man has a legit work and is not an ex – convict like Mavrodi? But does not still make it decent. The scheme suggests that you put in N12, 500 and within three days if you can get down lines about three to four of them, you will get back your N12, 500 and an additional N37, 500 making N50, 000 in three days and well if you cannot get down line, the system will pair you with seven days. Cool money yeah? Accompanying all these is Zarfund, Givers Forum, iCharity, Crowd Rising, Get Help Worldwide, to mention a few.
One begins to wonder if all these other Ponzi schemes were all waiting for; a leader? Because since MMM launched and became more pronounced; they all came on like dogs released from its masters’ cage. Though, the Ponzi schemes have existed once, time of PennyWise in 2007, where you put N2, 500 and in ten weeks you get N250, 000. It is not today that things have been wrong in Nigeria, when will things ever be right? There was a country (By Chinua Achebe), at times I ask myself: was there ever a country? In Nigeria, every man is always thinking of how to outsmart his fellow man.
The emergence, prominence and sustainability of these schemes owe a lot to two major factors: the Nigerian government negligence of responsibility and the Citizenry adaptive features which has been since time immemorial. Nigerians never want the best or ideal welfare conditions, they would rather settle for less and manage, as long as they are alive even if not happy or having a good standard of living. Fuel pump price hike came, Nigeria Labour Congress wasted one week in May 2016 claiming they were protesting. After the embarrassing show of shame, our labour leaders eventually accepted the N145 pump price; off course that doesn’t happen without some settlement underground. Our labour leaders have failed us. Nigerians have told the government to let them be, that they will keep doing MMM till their last breathe. Is that not a failed government and an adapting citizenry? I sincerely do not subscribe to these things called Ponzi scheme and it is my wish that my children do not go through this hardship.
Nigerians say everybody is doing it and nobody is complaining. I ask myself: does that make it right? The society defines for you what is right? Nigerians are only adapting which is typical of them. Instead of condemning which Nigerians will never do (because they say it never works); you will just adapt .. like zombies. Many of my friends have begged and tried to lure me but I remain resolute on my decision not to partake in MMM. It is so funny, I provide help (PH) of N20, 000 and then I get $20 bonus plus my 30% interest rate after a month. When I want to collect my returns I will then request to get help (GH) which funny enough is another MMM members’ provide help oh? So what returns am I getting exactly, what investment?
Nigerians don’t stop amazing me, they ask: we should not do MMM, but where are the employment opportunities? That’s negligence on the part of the government; the unemployment rate does not reduce. In 2008, Obama contested with the “Change” mantra and we saw positive change; come 2015 and Rev. Father Mbaka is talking about “we need change” yet we have seen only negative change. Let us not ask where the employment is, rather question ourselves about the 191 government officials relatives reportedly recruited into the CBN. Recently the Federal Civil Service Commission advertised, that’s just formality. Those to be employed have been taken. The 500, 000 n – Power recruitment for two years, when happens to them after the two years .. unemployed again?
In essence, let us learn to live like there is a country. I mean let our protests be meaningful and when there’s the need for a revolt we should not be backpedaling. Let us do what is right. Let us stop adapting to below par welfare conditions and charge up ourselves as well as the government of the day. Nigeria will be great again! That’s if it was ever great?
Writer and Reviewer