It started when he heard a call from his colleagues at the State Ministry of Finance. Emeka often had the penchant for betting. He would anticipate the weekend football games, so that he could stake so many games at once, to make it easier, he would divide the games staked into different betting slips. Dan and Obinna knew he had the “mind” to put his money into anything. Emeka was your typical(or stereotypical) Igbo man, who is famed in the society to be willing to do anything to make money.
The economy’s health was deteriorating and the doctors were reckless – it’s well-being was being mismanaged, and it was heading into a recession. Prices rose high, while salaries were not interested in being increased. There was so much pain and agony, hunger and disharmony. People could barely provide for those whom they had responsibility. These trying times led many people into new, lucrative, albeit risky ways of making money. These were get-rich-quick schemes propagated to take money from the surplus economic units to the deficit economic units. The mantra was to provide help in order to get help.
Emeka’s average salary of 50,000 Naira, was what his wife and two-year old son depended on. They were barely living “from-hand-to-mouth”. MMM had just paid one of his age-grade members the other week. A whopping sum of 657,900 Naira was what he received, after he had provided help. Rumour had it, that he borrowed the money from the administrator of the staff cooperative union. What a sharp guy! Using everybody’s monthly contribution to make some money off MMM.
So, Dan was calling to serve as a referral to Emeka, since, by so doing, he’d even get some referral bonuses. He urged Emeka to register and quickly provide help, so that he could get help, in return, come the month’s end. Everything worked like magic, and he got his reward of a 30% bonus. That month, his income looked respectful. Just like every gambler, there’s a hunger for more. He staked more money and more and more funds. The game was looking sweet. Emeka understood the game from the onset, and he had started referring people already, posing him greater chances at raking higher incomes in the scheme.
Obinna was making money off MMM, but in a very low key way. He was one of those guys who would publicly bash the Ponzi scheme on Facebook, telling people how disgusting it was to reap where they did not sow. The conservativeness was just a smokescreen. He had recently gotten engaged. The recession had altered some of his plans for a decent wedding. If you planned for something decent pre-recession, during recession, the money you have can only afford you a bang average wedding, unless you had other plans. Of course, Obinna was a sharp guy. MMM was a chance for him to gather some money, which will be used to show off to his in laws. You wonder why he thinks that he needs to impress his inlaws. Perhaps, inferiority complex was the case. Obinna paid in 250,000 Naira to provide help. This money was even borrowed from about five sources. Emeka had planned to lend him another 400,000 Naira – such was his large-heartedness. Obinna’s liabilities were piling up, owing money “up and down”.
As a sharp guy, he got the loan from Emeka and invested on MMM. His idea of a perfect wedding(isn’t that particular with young Nigerian women?) could be pictured on those wedding accounts on Instagram. He knew how much he wanted to spend on the wedding, so he staked the whole 750,000 Naira, expecting to rake in maximum profits over four months, but from nowhere, the operators of the Ponzi scheme said that they were going to freeze the accounts of participants for an indefinite period. Ghen ghen! Obinna is indebted, and doesn’t have any cash to offset these debts, even if they would be paid in annuities. He was in real deep shit! As the wedding drew nearer, he was so broke, that he couldn’t even print the wedding cards. It was his wife’s parents who funded everything, so that the wedding could be successful, although, not as he had dreamt.
You know the other side of your friends when money is involved. Emeka was extremely upset by Obinna, for not paying back duly. Even his account had been frozen, and he gave most of his earnings to support Obinna’s wedding. Things were getting tougher, and he couldn’t bear the hardship anymore. School fees had to be paid. His wife’s upkeep had to be regular, pressure from home was piling up. Remember, he has to replenish the funds he borrowed from the cooperative. Obinna refused picking his calls. Other lenders had also reported that he avoided their calls and SMSes, he blatantly changed his DP on BBM, while ignoring their messages. One day, they had it up their necks, and finally got him arrested. Emeka turned his back on Obinna really quick. The cunning attitude pained him. The frozen account frustrated him, his outstanding debts riled him up. Things were hard, the economy was ill, it may suffer worse ailments in the future, and the quality of life was uncertain. As the hungry looking police men harassed Obinna into the cell, Emeka and the other lenders remained sad, as it looked like their monies were never coming back to them. A Ponzi master (who was pretentious and extremely greedy) had just put their financial future in jeopardy. The cold rain outside never stopped until night came. The cold afterwards was unbearable. They could feel it was going to be a very long night.