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The Ponzi Renaissance: Is Patience Still A Virtue? – Pope Jay

Before anything, I must firstly state that this article was birthed from a very dire need for me to make a quick editorial appearance amidst my circumstantial writing holiday. As a matter of fact, I am unsure that I possess the appropriate adjectives to describe the exigency of this need. However, as my brief appearance should end upon the completion and publication of this necessitated piece of my mind, I cannot guarantee my usual immediate responses to counter-opinions and comments but irrespective, I promise to respond to all in due course.

Due to the nature of my hobbies, the outlook of my personal social media platforms are not quite the usual; I tend to get a comparatively higher number of messages than average. And whilst the price of this is a more tedious process in finding and responding to major messages, it also has its edge. From merely studying the trend of chats and posts, I can extract some of the popular concepts and topics of discourse at a point in time, some of them being peculiar to certain circles of course. And anyone who also likes to pay attention would notice the rapid re-emergence of Ponzi schemes ongoing in the Nigerian media sphere and indeed, Nigeria. From the headlines of the major dailies to the most basic gossip platforms, it’s either MMM or Icharity or Zarfund or whatever other names there are. Worryingly, there is a high tendency that you are qualified with an undesirable adjective by participants if you claim ignorance or no interest in any of these schemes. However, assessing some of the fundamentals of these schemes, it quite interesting to know that a rather high number of Nigerians are part of them, with some even going as far as “idolizing” them.

A Ponzi scheme is commonly defined as a business or investment arrangement where its operator pays returns to its investors/participants from funds earned from new participants rather than through legitimate business activities. Named after Charles Ponzi, the scheme bears some resemblance to Pyramid marketing schemes which is also sometimes regarded as fraudulent and has been banned in a number of countries. In simple terms, without new participants, a Ponzi scheme cannot thrive. The natural answer to this challenge would be that there is no way new participants would not arise, perhaps this is true, there are after all about seven billion people in the world. But then again, considering the quite extravagant interest that is usually promised in these schemes, most tend to often get to a point where even Seven billion is not enough and a crash of the scheme becomes inevitable. After having the discussion with a number of participants of these schemes, most tend to just come to the “Make I sha chop my own” reaction at this point. Typical of the Homo sapien.

But then, commenting on the rapid re-emergence of these schemes without linking to the current wicked economic realities of the country would be grossly incomplete because although MMM Nigeria may issue disclaimers that it is not a business investment or enterprise, it may be more than that to the average Nigerian participant- It’s God’s answer to his prayers. Maybe the “small work, big pay” prayer got a better answer; “No work, big pay”. Little wonder the schemes have started to gain strong grounds in religious institutions, who says your spiritual guider can’t be your MMM guider? Then there are the even worse pyramid schemes. They tell you to come and pay N1 and bring in seven people to collect N7, then the seven go out to bring in another seven and it goes on until there are no more seven to bring in.  

We grew up listening to the maxim. “Hard work pays”, but the only thing you get to hear these days is “MMM pays” and “Money must be made (fast)”. Sadly, the patient dog also stopped eating the fatest bone years ago, and the question now is…is patience then still a virtue?

Pope Jay

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