By Ochereome Nnanna
AS an onlooker, what should interest you more – how a person makes his money, or how he spends it? Between Obi Cubana and his “men”, more than half a billion naira must have been downed in that uncommon burial.
Most of us wondered aloud: how did these young men make this hard-to-find money with which they were playing football and handball? Till now, we have not heard that any of them is in the police net for running afoul of the law.
But what do we get instead? A “super-cop”, Abba Kyari (who made himself conspicuous beside Obi Cubana) has been indicted by the American law as an accomplice of big-time fraudster, Hushpuppi!
I was also expecting to hear from the Central Bank of Nigeria, which always warns of a six-month jail term for naira abusers yet never puts anyone in the dock when they do so.
Due to our culture here in Nigeria, the naira is the most abused currency in the world. The government is the worst culprit because it allows the naira to rot like cocoyam leaves to the point that even the banks reject them!
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What actually attracted me to this topic was a derogatory comment made by one of the anchors on an Arise TV news programme. He said that Oba, Obi Cubana’s hometown, had dilapidated roads and roofless primary schools yet he “wasted” so much money on a burial.
He also compared that burial with that of Madam Emily Aig-Imoukhuede, the mother of Aigboje, former GMD of Access Bank and founder of Coronation Capital Limited. I wondered what exactly was the point of that comparison.
In May 2019 when I met former President Olusegun Obasanjo at his Presidential Library in Abeokuta, he gave me a Yoruba proverb which translates: “before you criticise me, wear my shoe and walk a mile”. No two persons’ stories are the same, so it can be futile to compare.
Obi Cubana and Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede are wealthy celebrities, but they come from different backgrounds. The Aig-Imoukhuede clan of Sabongida-Ora, Edo State, is one of the most notable elite families of Nigeria.
Madam Emily Aig-Imoukhuede was not only a former President of the National Council of Women’s Societies, NCWS, but also a former Secretary (Minister) for States and Local Government Affairs during the Interim Government headed by Chief Ernest Shonekan in 1993. Aigboje was born before the Nigerian Civil War with the proverbial silver spoon in his mouth.
On the other hand, Obinna Iyiegbu’s parents were teachers. He was born after the War. His parents were part of the Igbo nation massively impoverished by (a) the Civil War itself, (b) the confiscation of their wealth in the banks with only twenty pounds given to account holders, irrespective of their prewar net worth, (c) the evil Abandoned Property of Rivers State and (d) circumstantial exclusion from the Indigenisation Policy which favoured the rest of Nigerians.
He is one of the Igbo businessmen who have weathered the bruises of the sustained state policy of economic warfare waged against them by the rulers of Nigeria. It continues till date with the partial shutdown of the international gateways of the Eastern economy (airports and seaports).
Obi Cubana is a symbol of the triumph of the Igbo businessman above all odds. He deserves his dance of victory on the occasion of his mother’s burial, more so as he has also led hundreds of others out of poverty. If you have money, you can choose to help your community by doing government’s job of building roads and repairing schools.
You can also choose to increase the circle of wealth. Either way, you are investing in people and contributing positively. No idler has the right to sit in a corner of a TV screen and gossip about people spending their money, so long as it is not stolen money or public funds!
In any case, a person like Aigboje, who is still a major stakeholder in Access Bank, dares not play football and handball with people’s money. But that is not to say he did not spend hugely to bury his illustrious mother.
In fact, a feature written by Etim Etim in Vanguard, June 7, 2021 noted as follows: “Pastor Emily’s children and the entire Aig-Imoukhuede family are sparing no expenses in giving their mother a befitting send-forth. ‘It will be a royal funeral’, says a family member”.
So, you see, it’s all a matter of style. It will be interesting to know what Aigboje has also done to uplift the wider community. Did he build schools and repair roads?
Whether we are talking about the boardroom or street side of money, the key takeaway is the paramountcy of “goodwill”, “trust” and “enterprise” (which some call hard work). If you prove you can be trusted, it will generate goodwill for you. And with the right dose of enterprise, money will follow you. This dictum works both for the boardroom and street side of money.
The youth should focus their attention on the importance of cultivating “goodwill” or integrity in their daily endeavours because it surely leads to money, or rather, wealth. It is the difficult road that one travels to make clean money, but it is worth the sweat.
Because of the difficulty involved, few people are willing to travel that road. Because goodwill is scarce among people, those who have it are in hot demand. All over the world, goodwill is a convertible currency.
The cash is just the by-product of goodwill. If you focus on it primarily, you will be misled to think that being wealthy is all about “yahoo plus”, cultism, internet fraud, 419, drug peddling, kidnapping for ransom or defending thieves in government because they are from your tribe or region.
Don’t be misled.