Posted by News Express | 24 January 2017 | 6,614 times
When I decided to finally break my silence on the issue of MMM Nigeria, little did I know that the writing was already on the wall. I published my introductory article on the subject matter a few days ago on the 13th of December 2016. Few hours after my first article was released, the news hit the airwaves about the so called temporary freezing of the account numbers of MMM participants.
Some people might wonder why it took me so long to give my opinion about this phenomenon. First of all I will like to say I only started to hear about MMM Nigeria a few months ago. I thought they were just trying to enter the Nigerian market, not knowing it has actually celebrated its first year anniversary in the country. Secondly, I was sure the government was going to respond by immediately prohibiting its activities in our country.
IS THE GOVERNMENT ALWAYS TO BLAME?
Even though a lot of people will blame the Nigerian government for lack of action as in a lot of issues concerning the nation, credit must be given to them this time. The federal government did actually give a warning through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the regulatory body of financial institutions in the country, the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC).
In the press release below, we see that the securities and exchange commission of Nigeria warned the public about the impending danger of investing in schemes like MMM. They actually did so mentioning in the process the MMM scheme by name.
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), has warned the investing public on the activities of some online investment scheme tagged ‘MMM Federal Republic of Nigeria.
According to SEC, the promoters of the scheme carry out their business activities via Nigeria.mmm.net portal/platform, and are promising investors a monthly investment return of 30 per cent.
SEC said the venture had no tangible business model, describing it as a Ponzi scheme, where returns would be paid from other peoples’ invested funds.
Ponzi scheme is a fraudulent investing scam promising high rates of return with little risk to investors. The scheme generates returns for older investors by acquiring new investors.
The notice on SEC’s website thus read, “The attention of SEC, Nigeria has been drawn to the activities of an online investment scheme tagged ‘MMM Federal Republic of Nigeria (nigeria.mmm.net). The platform has embarked on an aggressive online media campaign to lure the investing public to participate in what it called ‘mutual aid financial network’ with a monthly investment return of 30 per cent.
“The commission hereby notifies the investing public that the operation of this investment scheme has no tangible business model hence it’s a Ponzi Scheme, where returns are paid from other people’s invested sum. Also, its operation is not registered by the Commission.”
SEC, therefore, advised the general public to be wary of the online scheme, adding that anyone that subscribes to this illegal activity does so at his/her own risk.
The Central Bank of Nigeria also issued a stern warning against MMM letting us know, that the Nigerian government were really trying their best to better inform the general public about the dangers and painful consequences that could be related to indulging in activities such as MMM.
“MMM offers its participants 30 per cent growth rate per month for each and every donation they make into the system… MMM belongs to the community, its sustainability depends on the activities of the people that make up the MMM Nigeria community, that is me and you and other MMM Nigeria participants,” the promoters wrote in an online advertisement.
Typically, what promoters of such pyramid scheme do is that they offer rates far beyond what is obtainable in commercial banks. This would always attract a lot of people who would always rush in to stake their funds. But, those who join the scheme late would always be the ones to lose their shirts as they would have been convinced by those that joined earlier to invest huge amounts of money.
But experts have warned against falling for the bait of illegal deposit-taking institutions which are not licensed by the CBN, saying that their only intention is to defraud members of the public.
Whenever two government agencies are raising an alarm about one and the same question, warning the general public, it must be taken seriously. I hope and pray that this particular situation with MMM will help us to begin to restore our trust in government agencies, so that when next we are warned, we will respond accordingly.
MMM ACCOUNT FREEZE AND THE UYO CHURCH TRAGEDY. WHAT DO THEY HAVE IN COMMON?
In my introductory article on MMM, I mentioned the fact that Nigeria unfortunately is a country where everybody is at first excited about tragedies waiting to occur. Before the tragedy actually comes knocking, every other person is excited and dismissive of the possibility. Meanwhile when the inevitable takes place, we turn it to a whole mass tragedy.
Just last week the country witnessed such a tragedy when a church building in the southern part of Nigeria collapsed, with tens of Nigerians perishing as a result. A few years ago, a similar tragedy occurred in a prominent church in Lagos. Unfortunately, measures were not taken across the nation to prevent similar occurrences. The excitement in churches continued until another church tragedy struck. I will liken MMM to a similar tragedy waiting to happen. Only in this case the devastation will be much more disastrous for the nation as a whole.
In response to this my above written concern, some very zealous brethren decided to pick on my making mention of the church building collapse. I will like to state categorically here, that the reason I made mention of the church building collapse is not to rejoice in another man’s tragedy, but rather to point our attention to what could cause repeated tragedies in the nation if we don’t respond adequately to any one tragedy in any part of the nation.
As mentioned above, the peculiarity of our national psyche is that we are easily carried away with excitement when in our mind “things are happening.” What I am trying to say in effect is that the federal government must respond to the collapse of church buildings by ordering the regulatory organisations to immediately swing into action all over the country, otherwise the excitement, dancing and celebration will continue in churches all over the country until another tragedy strikes.
Even though I commended the federal government above for releasing statement concerning MMM and similar networks, I nevertheless believed that the government could be more decisive in preventing this tragedy.
A HUMAN FACTOR OR AN ACT OF GOD?
Tragedies, catastrophes and calamities as in the collapse of church buildings or Ponzi schemes are often not an act of God as many will want us to believe. A lot of these pains and woes are caused by human factors. As in the case of the church building collapse both in Lagos and Uyo, even though I am a pastor I still don’t buy into the argument of some of my colleagues who say that these are the acts of diabolical powers or unidentified flying objects.
The government and government agencies should know better. No tragedy must happen in the country twice. One tragedy is enough for it to never repeat itself again anywhere in the country. Either it is a residential building collapse, a bridge collapse, a church collapse or a pyramid scheme collapse. None of these should be allowed to happen again.
As I was reading through the comments in regards to the church building collapse in Uyo and the lost lives, I noticed a tendency that is peculiar to our religiously conscious nation. Most of the comments were actually only expressing emotions, sympathy and blaming Satan or the acts of God. This kind of response is alarming to me. We should all be talking about factors that lead to this, same as we should be discussing factors that can lead to the collapse of MMM. When it comes to building collapsing, the factors would basically be:
i. Human errors
ii. Human negligence
iii. Government carelessness
iv. Fraudulent processes
v. Rush and haste in construction process
vi. Jumping of rules and procedures.
vii. Unprofessional designs and construction calculations.
viii. Compromised standards in building and constructions.
ix. Efforts to economize and save cost
“It is good to have a reason for every action you perform other than blaming others for your faults.” ― Auliq Ice
Even though like most Nigerians, I feel the pain that were expressed in the condolences to the people of Akwa Ibom state, I wish to express my personal condolence to the relatives of the victims, the governor of the state and the bishop whose church experienced this tragedy. I will however want to maintain my own opinion that the devil did not pull down those church buildings in Lagos and Uyo. It is not enough for the government and citizens to only express condolences, we must demand for thorough investigations and ask for measures to be taken to avoid future tragedies.
MMM is also a similar tragedy whose cause can be traced to some of the above mentioned points. The bottom line is human factor. I am sure that on a daily basis all over Nigeria, smaller tragedies are taking place every day. We must learn from our mistakes. One mistake in a particular sphere or area of the society should only cause us to address every other area and aspect of the society where things must be put in order. It is not after tragedies have taken place, that we should now begin to run helter-skelter looking for whom to blame.
SO WHAT SHOULD BE DONE?
The national assembly must sponsor a bill that will tighten the procurement of permission for buildings all over the nation.
There must be an immediate official commission set up by the federal government to inspect all church buildings where there are mass gathering of people.
Apart from the inspection of already installed structures, there must be a review of all the original licenses and permissions given out for such buildings. In some cases, it might be expedient to actually call for a renewal of the permission for those buildings.
I believe that the building and construction associations and the engineering bodies of the country must be summoned to the national assembly so as to be tasked to upgrade the activities of their members, so as to prevent similar occurrences in the future.
In civilised countries, it is not easy to get permissions to build any structure talk less of structures for mass gathering of people. I believe that we need a more detailed and strict process of obtaining permissions for buildings in Nigeria.
One of the main activities of the government is inspection and supervision. The Nigerian government especially the state and local government must be tasked with the duty of inspecting every building before exploitation. The practice of exploiting a building, while the building is incomplete, should be stopped. Buildings should not be used even if it is half completed until it is completed and permissions are given for it to be exploited.
The government must make sure that any possibility of getting permission and certificate through bribes are totally closed down and any body found bribing their way for government permissions should be severely punished.
Strict capacity laws should be put in place to avoid overcrowding in large buildings.
“When we meet real tragedy in life, we can react in two ways – either by losing hope and falling into self-destructive habits, or by using the challenge to find our inner strength.” — Dalai Lama
A NATIONAL TRAGEDY EQUALS TO A NATIONAL LESSON
Even though I am spending a lot of time to address the situation with building collapse, I am only painting a parallel picture here. The question I am addressing is tragedies waiting to happen in general all over our nation. I am sure similar tragedies are hanging all around the nation, waiting to happen. I am therefore calling on the federal, state and local governments of Nigeria to hear the voice of reasons and come to develop the right response ability to any tragedy that occurs in the country.
This situation with MMM and the Uyo church building collapse happening within a week of each other should change us as a nation, not just the government but the people as well. As a people we too must learn to build a great nation thanks to the tragedies happening around us. This could only happen when we are well informed of the right response to national tragedies.
To those Nigerians who are personally calling me out to challenge me on what I am doing in regards to the current economic plight of the nation, I would like to say that I am not unaware, neither am I indifferent to the pain and agony of my people at this transitional period in our history. Even though I am living outside the shores of our nation, I am not sitting on the fence enjoying the good life while my people are struggling and barely surviving.
Yes, I am not in the country with you now but I have Nigeria in my thought every day. Moreover, I am daily working hard to contribute to uplifting the burden of pain on the shoulder of the ordinary Nigerian. Believe me, soon and very soon you will feel my presence and involvement in the wellbeing of the nation and of the ordinary Nigerian.
Even if you do not believe in me and my words, please pray for yourself that God will give you long life to be able to be a witness and a beneficiary of the good things that will yet happen to Nigeria and Nigerians.
*EDITOR’S NOTE: This Special Series on MMM continues next week Tuesday. Please keep a date.
•Dr. Sunday Adelaja is a Nigerian born leader, Transformation Strategist, Pastor and innovator who lives in Kieve Ukraine. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
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