You don’t need anybody to tell you about MMM. It’s all over the place already. And you also don’t need anyone to tell you that it’s a pyramid scheme. I’m happy that almost every Nigerian now has an Internet-powered smartphone and you’ve all checked up on what those things mean.
Needless also to say that this is not the first of its kind. Pyramid schemes have been around since forever. Even in my short stay on earth as a Nigerian, I’ve witnessed different cycles of the popularity of these schemes. In the early 2000’s, it was ‘Pennywise’ and co. Those ones crashed and we heaved a sigh of relief. In 2010 thereabout, it was the turn of ‘TIG’ (Trust in God) and co. Of course, those ones too have crashed. Now it’s MMM and others. The same thing will happen. And of course, things like GNLD, Forever Living, Maxi, and similar schemes where you help a company sell worthless products (beauty products, food supplements) at your own financial risk have been perennial.
Should you join any of these? That’s your decision to make and I won’t be part of those who would advise you to join or not to join. They’re not criminal in Nigeria as they’re in some parts of the world. So it behooves on you as an adult to weigh anything before dabbling into it. That’s not what this article is about.
What I want to talk about is the relationship between the three stakeholders in MMM Nigeria — Nigerians, their pastors and the national assembly. I’ll pick each stakeholder and discuss them in the light of the trending MMM craze in Nigeria.
Nigerians and MMM
It’s no news that unemployment is highly prevalent in Nigeria. We have an abundant population that could be channeled into productivity and elevate us out of the economic crisis we find ourselves. However these human potentials are wasting away.
The youths are finding life difficult. So many find it difficult to gain admission into higher institutions of learning. Those who have entered don’t know when they will graduate due to prolonged interruptions in school calendars across the country. Those who have graduated have nothing to do. They’ve tried to look for nonexistent jobs to no avail. Some of them have tried to start petti-businesses which have died due to the hostile economic environment.
Then comes the promise of ‘sit-at-home-and-earn’ jobs. These are jobs that don’t need you to apply at an office. They won’t ask you to be younger than 26 years and still have 3 years working experience. First class is not needed. Your father doesn’t have to be connected to a senator. Why should a Nigerian youth who is going through everything I mentioned above turn it down? And why should a Nigerian who is below the poverty line reject this?
Their Pastors and MMM
Today is Sunday and as I’m typing this, folks are already moving down to their churches in droves. They’re going down to listen to their pastors. You can’t separate people from their pastors. However I heard that some pastors are criticizing their members for doing MMM. And I’m asking myself why.
Nigerian pastors are known for their prosperity preaching and motivational speaking. They encourage folks to pay a 10% of their income and expect miracles. They tell people that if they invest in god, they will reap multiple folds. How is that different from MMM that asks you to invest some money and then expect some returns without doing anything? MMM is even better. I learnt that MMM advises you to use only your spare money whereas the Nigerian pastor even asks church members to drop their last pennies in the offering basket and expect a miraculous turnaround. What moral right do pastors now have to criticize MMM?
Folks who are familiar with MMM told me that your MMM investment yields results in two weeks. Since Nigerians have have been investing in their pastors (for years and decades now), what exactly have they gotten in return? Nothing except the call to keep giving more and more. So once again, what moral rights do the Nigerian pastors have to criticize MMM? MMM has done wonders in the lives of some Nigerians, more than those pastors that just gather them in multitudes and tantalize them with sweet but empty words.
What do these pastors celebrate? They celebrate the testimonies of members who became rich overnight without doing any work. It doesn’t matter if the person became rich through illegal means. Just be rich is their message. In other countries, the citizens work their socks off to grow the economy. In Nigeria, pastors gather multitudes of citizens and block the major roads for days. They keep their members away from work during working hours and even prevent citizens who are not their members from being productive. But they tell their church members that they could still become rich. Sorry. Are they any better than MMM?
When you fix a church program for 9 am – 4 pm Monday to Friday and you say your members shouldn’t do MMM, please what do you want them to do? And when you pray that people should earn more than they work, where will the extra come from? So why should you ask where the 30% profit of MMM come from? Unfortunately for the pastors, their church members still smuggle MMM into their auditoriums behind their backs. Water must find its level. The people must survive.
The minds of Nigerians have been tuned for MMM by their pastors. The ingredients for being an MMM participant get deposited and reinforced by the words they hear from their pastors every Sunday and everyday. ‘It doesn’t matter what you do, you can get rich.’ ‘If you can drop a big offering, you will receive sudden favour before this week runs out.’ ‘Because I’m rich, you too can be rich.’ These are the kinds of things Nigerians hear from their pastors, perfect tools for priming people for things like MMM. So why should a pastor call MMM demonic when he is even the demonic one?
When pastors’ sermons are titled like ‘Seven keys to success without stress’, ‘Five ways to activate the supernatural for financial breakthrough’, ‘How to supernaturally unleash the wealth in you’, etc, why should you criticize MMM that also promises to move people from poverty to wealth even though through dubious means?
The National Assembly and MMM
In the week ending today, the news broke that the National Assembly plans to ban MMM. Dem no dey shame? Is that what they should be doing? Perhaps if they had spent their constituency allowances for projects, jobs could’ve been created to prevent people from joining MMM. Perhaps if they had not been padding the budget and siphoning funds, jobs that would make people not interested in MMM would’ve been available for them. If they had managed the economy very well, perhaps the economic crisis that made MMM spread like wildfire among Nigerians wouldn’t have befallen us.
The national assembly is notorious for doing irrelevant bans. They attempted to ban Facebook. They banned two adults from deriving pleasure from each other the way they want while not disturbing others. They’ve recently pulled the plug on the subject called History that will let the children learn about their past and plan for the future. That’s all they do. Ban. Ban. Ban.
They’re yet to ban child marriage. It’s MMM they want to ban. Shouldn’t they be making the churches pay tax? The churches where Nigerians receive the inspiration to do MMM should be left alone? And why shouldn’t these lawmakers ban themselves from unnecessary foreign trips? Shouldn’t they be banning themselves from acquiring illegal wealth?
While I’m indifferent with what they do to MMM, I’m particular about them showing the zeal and the political will to do the right things first of all. If they really claim to love Nigerians by banning MMM, they need to start from some other things. Then we’ll take them seriously. For now, their anti-MMM campaign just makes them comedians.
MMM participants are adults and they sure know the risk involved in this. Have the national assembly banned cigarette production? Or don’t we all know the risks inherent in smoking? Have they banned gambling ? Or is gambling not laden with the risk of loss of investment too? The Nigerian government even promotes Lotto and other lotteries. How are they different from MMM? What about all these telecommunication companies that run dubious promos tricking Nigerians into parting with their money stupidly? There’s more for them to ban than MMM.
It’s a terrible web. The politicians make the economic situation difficult for the people to prosper. The pastors make the people intellectually lazy to liberate themselves. These two conditions predispose the people to things like MMM but the same politicians want to ban MMM while the pastors criticize their members for doing MMM. This nonsense has to stop. We need a clarity of mind if we must change our situation in this country.