Why Nigerians Remain Poor

Why Nigerians Remain Poor

Ten years ago, I decided to make a bold move of staging an International Conference, to address the germane issue of poverty among retirees. Our main aim was to give those who were about to retire, the tools and insights that would enable them to properly plan and program themselves to retire rich. We approached a prominent Chamber of Commerce for partnership, and met with one of their directors. I mentioned to her in passing that many Nigerians have less than one hundred thousand naira (₦100,000) in their bank accounts. To my rude shock, she said, “it’s true ooo. Me self wey go retire in less than a year; cannot boast of ₦100,000 in my account.”


Nigerians have no business being poor; with the abundance of human capital and mineral resources that we have; it’s sickening to see that in spite of all that God has blessed us with as a country, most Nigerians are poor. In my previous article, WHY NIGERIANS ARE POOR, I mentioned that one shouldn’t be fooled by the nice clothes people have on, or the fine cars they are driving; you would be shocked when they opened up to you. Honestly, people are going through a lot of struggles here in Nigeria. This reminds me of an acquaintance who drove a Benz G-Wagon. He later confessed that it was all about trying to package and maintaining a high level status. He was actually in debt running into millions of naira. And that sometimes, it was even a struggle to fuel the car. So, why have Nigerians remained poor?


First is insensitive and inconsiderate government at all levels. I am a student of history, and have studied and researched leadership extensively. One of my major findings about developed countries is that they invested heavily in their human capital. Take Singapore (which became independent as the Republic of Singapore on 9 August 1965); the government ably led by Lee Kuan Yew; prioritised the education, wellbeing and prosperity of their citizenry. The current Nigerian federal government is an anomaly. They would rather borrow for recurrent expenditure than invest in us. And the so-called infrastructure such as the railway lines that they have borrowed heavily for, are yet to be justified. I would rather that they pump that same amount into building the capacity of our young people. Give scholarships, adequately fund the educational sector; in other words, first build the mind infrastructure of Nigerians and then the other needed physical infrastructure. My belief is that when you invest in improving the competence, character and capability of your people, they would in turn build the nation. This misplaced priority in my opinion is a major reason Nigerians have remained poor.


Second, is the gang up of a few elites against our development. Whether or not you agree, some folks have held this country to ransom because of the mind-boggling money they are making from the current decadence. How come we still don’t have access to uninterrupted power supply? Why are we still importing fuel? Why hasn’t our steel industry taken off? The simple answer is, ‘Gang-up of a few unscrupulous elites.’ These folks shamelessly syphon the resources meant for the vast majority of people, into their private purses. When you come across someone who is very rich but you cannot lay hands on exactly what he or she does for a living; be very suspicious.

Third, is faulty systems. I have realised that when there is absence of proper economic and political institutions that can engender the prosperity of a people; it would be near impossible for them to come out of penury. Just look around you; all you’ll see are very corrupt and unworkable systems and institutions. If we would become a developed nation, with prosperous citizens; we need to right the wrongs in all of our institutions.

In conclusion, the aforementioned are not necessarily exhaustive reasons Nigerians remain poor; however, they are some of the germane reasons. We now have an ample opportunity to select a new government that would serve us. Let’s endeavour to vote according to our conscience and not according to our stomach (what to gain right now). I still believe in a New Nigeria where the vast majority of us would be rich and prosperous; and we shall achieve it in a few years.

Building Wealth In A Very Challenging Economy

Building Wealth In A Very Challenging Economy

A few years ago, I was at a forum where Dr. Gabriel Ogbechie, GMD/CEO, Rainoil Ltd. – one of the foremost downstream oil and gas companies in Nigeria; shared the fascinating story of how tough it was for him to raise $1000 to start the business. Here is what he said:

“Back in 1995, I set out to raise $1000 for my business. I didn’t have the money. I wrote several proposals. I went to those who I knew had the money. I was sure it was going to work. Sadly, all I heard from them was come here today, come here tomorrow. Nothing but Stories! It was a very frustrating experience.

“I learned my first lesson: People rarely give money to those who don’t have it. My office where I was in paid employment was in Isolo, Ire Akari Estate Road – a suburb in Lagos, Nigeria.  And I had a stockbroker who was on Bank Anthony Way in Ikeja – a commercial centre in Lagos, Nigeria. With as little as $7 in my pocket, I would drive from Isolo to Ikeja, meet my stockbroker, and say, buy me 1000 units of First Bank. When I had $5, I would drive again to Ikeja and tell him to buy me 800 units of Nigerian Breweries. This went on for an extended period of time.

“By 1996, I was very frustrated. I still couldn’t raise the $1000. But one evening, I brought out my capital market file and I started itemizing all the stocks I had bought one by one: 1000 units of 7UP at 5 cents per share; and 2000 units of First Bank at 12 cents per share. I itemized the stocks. It went into 2 pages. When I summed it up, I was surprised, it came to $1656.67. I was shocked. I gathered the share certificates and took them back to the same stockbroker. He verified the ones he could verify and sold the ones he could. At the end of the day, I had my $1000.”

There is something strange about the current global economic climate: it is indeed very challenging. Wherever you turn, people seem to be lamenting about how difficult it is for them to get by. Organizations are not left behind in the stories of woe. Again and again, I have had to counsel my clients on how to thrive in spite of the economic challenges. One of the things I say to them is that this is the best moment to build real wealth. Rather than join the bandwagon to sing songs of lamentation, I would focus on offering solutions to the myriad of problems that are cropping up. Having said that, the critical question that begs for an answer is, “How do you build wealth in this very challenging economy?”

First, you need to engage in what I call Asset Allocation. Simply put, asset allocation is the proper appropriation of your hard-earned resources. In other words, you carefully determine what you spend your money on, and where to invest it. This is very important in such an economic terrain that we find ourselves in. You cannot afford to spend money or invest anyhow. The real payoff of asset allocation comes when you figure out the right mix of how much of your money you keep safe and how much you’re willing to risk to get greater rewards and have the potential to grow faster. To get the very best of Asset Allocation, you need to determine the percentage of your assets you are going to put into investment vehicles, and what percentage you are going to keep. Before you make the choice, you have to consider three factors:

  • Your stage in life
  • Your risk tolerance
  • Your available liquidity


Second, you need to create a Financial Plan now. Agreed, things are changing faster than we could imagine; we still need to be proactive by having a robust Financial Plan that we regularly update. In the first place, it is the Financial Plan that would enable you to properly allocate your assets and resources. A simple plan is better than none. We need to be very strategic in our quest to build and retain wealth in such a time as this. If you don’t already have a Financial Plan, I would suggest that you get one as fast as possible. I have assisted loads of clients in creating their Financial Plans.

In conclusion, bad things happen when you refuse to heed sound advice. This reminds me of an acquaintance of mine who got a windfall of $100,000; after his father had passed on. Rather than create a solid financial plan, and properly allocate the money; he invested everything in stocks. This turned out to be the worst investment decision he ever took. Needless to say, he lost the money. May you not lose money stupidly in this season.