The Other Side of MMM Nigeria

By Dayo Williams                                                                                  
I was in the banking hall of one of these new generation banks recently for a transaction. While I was on the queue waiting for my turn to be called, I heard a guy, in his mid-20s, university graduate, post-NYSC, tell his friend that ‘’the reliability of MMM is surer than the Nigerian government where nothing is certain except recession.’’ His friend nodded in affirmation. I was as shocked as I was pleasantly amused by the inexact comparison.

I had thought that was the highest form of confidence anyone could repose in what some financial experts have christened a Ponzi-like scheme until I encountered a level-10 civil servant in Ondo State two weeks ago who confided in me she would put the whole of her 6 months’ salary into the scheme if Governor Olusegun Mimiko should fulfil his promise of paying the backlog of salaries running into 7 months now. I had visited the state as a media observer to witness the recent gubernatorial election held in the state.

 
Her reason for wanting to put the whole money into the scheme should the Governor pay? She told me with some magisterial confidence that nothing is as sure as the reliability of the scheme. In fact, she said she had been borrowing money from her friends indifferent to the scheme to invest in it.
 
‘’Now my life is getting better. With the returns I am getting from the money I put into it (MMM), I have been able to set up my own private business. Hopefully, when Governor Mimiko pays and I have enough money, I will expand the business,’’ she said with a wry smile on her face. When I countered her that the federal government frowns at the scheme, she retorted: ‘’MMM is the antidote to economic recession. Were it not for the scheme, many people I know would have slipped into depression by now. What has the government done to contain the raging recession?’’, she said matter of fact.
 
Truth this, based on my findings, in spite of the federal government frowning at the scheme coupled with the disclaimer  coming from financial regulatory agencies in the country that MMM is a fraudulent scheme, which will soon crash, many Nigerians, even in the rural areas, are signing up for the scheme almost on a daily basis. The rate of its currency at the moment is on the high side.  Some who were hitherto opposed to it are now joining it.
 
When I asked a psychologist what could be the reason for this, he said those into the scheme have decided to take their destiny into their own hands since the society has failed them over the years. Surprised? You had better don’t be. In a society where over 75% of the people live on an American dollar per day, then you know anything is okay for them as long as it aids their survival. The rule in the jungle is survival first, every other thing follows.
 
Even those who are gainfully employed with quality month pay are signing up to the scheme for quick returns on the money they put into it- I actually know of a banker friend, a data analyst, working in a branch of an old generation bank in Warri, Delta State, who has been on the scheme for three solid months now. She once asked if she could register or mentor me (I forget her exact words now) for the scheme!
 
Notwithstanding the government labelling  the scheme a fraudulent one, waiting to crash when the cookies crumble and the audacity with which people are signing up for the scheme, whose  definitive fate they know, but yet defy such for their immediate pecuniary gains, there is the ‘human face’ of the scheme. I am sure many people are unaware of the social intervention programmes of the scheme in recent times, especially in the north central part of the country and the Federal Capital City (FCT), Abuja. I chanced on one of such programmes recently in Abuja.
 
MMM (Nigeria) recently gave Kukak Foundation the sum of N1, 144, 500 for its awareness campaign against cancer among school children, young adults and older women in the country.The event which held on November 22, 2016 took place at Prison Staff College, Barnawa, Kaduna.The country director of the foundation, Bavoshiya Gloria Nyan, commended MMM for its philanthropic gesture, saying the organisation was the first of its kind in the last ten years to support the November Cancer Campaign of the foundation.
 
Aside that, MMM has been partnering with another foundation known as Heavenly Treasure Charity Foundation, an NGO based in Abuja, to do some humanitarian services. MMM(Nigeria) donated the sum of N1.5m to the NGO for its support to IDPs living in Camp Durumi area of the Federal Capital Territory. During the visit of the NGO to the camp, MMM (Nigeria) gave 12 widows a donation of N25, 000 each to enable them start up a small business for themselves.  With MMM’s support, the NGO also visited Alpha and Omega Orphanage located in Mararaba, NasarrawaState where several relief materials were given to the inmates of the orphanage. The event was held on November 26, 2016.
 
On November 30, 2016, MMM(Nigeria), in collaboration with Kids With a Vision Foundation, Jos, Plateau State,  sponsored a skill acquisition programme for the inmates to train in soap making, tie and dye, how to make air and room freshener, provision of a teenage transition home e.t.c. MMM(Nigeria) sponsored the programme with N2.5m. The event was witnessed by Jos residents. The care giver in charge of the foundation, Mrs Grace Adam praised MMM(Nigeria) for its financial support, saying with the support the foundation received from MMM, 3kids who lost their parents to Boko Haram insurgency in the north east will be given scholarship for their academic pursuits. MMM’s team was led by Guilder Ojore and Guilder Donatus.
 
No one is certain yet. Some experts say the scheme will crash one day. Majority of those who participate in the scheme also believe it will crash someday, but they seem to carry on with faith, believing the merits they derive from the scheme now far outweigh any potential calamity which may or may not come.
 
Eyebiokin Isaac, a 400-level student of Industrial Chemistry in one of the universities in the southwestern part of the country said ‘’the integrity of MMM has been questioned many times but the critics often fail to find a leverage against it. The population will surely make it last long no doubt about that, but what many fail to understand is that the strength of MMM(Nigeria) comes from within and not from outside. No matter what they say, the money will keep flowing.’’
 
Another MMM (Nigeria) participant, Ugo Agojiwe, on a Facebook thread I monitored recently quipped: ‘’The Nigerian model of MMM will keep it for more than 4 years rolling. I hope you all don’t grow old quick as you wait for it to fail because it won’t fail.’’ How can a character like Agbojiwe be dissuaded from participating in the scheme?  Not even when MMM (Nigeria) has been giving back to the Nigerian society through its recent social interventions.
 
Mavrodi Mundial Movement (MMM), started by a Russian in 1989, has over 3m Nigerians as participants in the Nigerian version of it. It is more or less an online community of participants who render financial assistance to one other by merging two persons together- creditor and recipient- sort of. For every money transferred to the beneficiary, within the next 30 days, the one who makes the transfer, upon request, gets his money back with a 30% increment on the initial fund he credited to the account of the first recipient he was merged with.
 
On MMM’s website, it is clearly stated: ‘’this is a community of ordinary people, selflessly helping each other, a kind of the Global Fund of mutual aid. This is the first sprout of something new in modern soulless and ruthless world of greed and hard cash. The goal here is not the money. The goal is to destroy the world’s unjust financial system. Financial Apocalypse! Before you join, be sure to be acquainted with our ideology.’’
 
Temidayo Williams lives in Abuja, Nigeria
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