By Bunmi Sofola
A report in the British Daily Mail a few years ago had this to say about our lovely countrymen: “Move over the Peking Pound, Lagos Lolly is taking over the West End. Nigeria’s booming oil industry has resulted in a flourishing middle class looking for somewhere to spend their money. Thousands from
the West African nation are flocking to London, following the lead of wealthy Chinese, Arab and Russian shoppers who have already become hooked on Britain’s favourite pastime.
“However, unlike other tourist-shoppers, Nigerians eschew designer labels such as Burberry and Gucci in favour of mid-market shops like M & S and John Jewis. Debenhams in Oxford Street has put up signs in Nigeria’s principal language, Hausa, to make visiting shoppers feel at home. Hitherto, foreign shoppers have flocked to Bond Street and Knights bridge. Indeed, visitors from the Middle East were such big spenders that high-street stores began to time their sales around the pre-Ramadan rush of foreign shoppers to London. But now, Nigeria is giving them a run for their money.
“The country was once set to become Africa’s biggest economy and the globe’s fifth most populous by the middle of the century—and the number of Nigerians visiting the U.K. now stands at almost 150,000 a year. Visitors from Nigeria are now the U.K.’ s fourth biggest foreign spenders, splashing an average £500 (about N200,000) in each shop they patronize—four times what the average Brit spends.’
“ And while wealthy Chinese shoppers tend to drop by in the two weeks after Chinese New Year and buyers from the Middle East spend time in London during the summer, Nigerians—and their wallets —arrive all the year round…. “
Much as this write-up is stating the obvious, the sad fact is that the average Nigerian rich is a selfish megalomaniac. The fact there is a recession on hasn’t dampen their spend-thrift nature. There is scarcely any week you switch on the TV or the radio without one or two appeal to these rich big-heads, urgently asking for a drop in their wealth to cure cancer, kidney or heart disease patients. But very, very rarely do we hear of such bills being settled by ‘anonymous’ donors.
Maybe we can now figure out why. With all the scheming rogues like recently caught Evans(notorious kidnapper), and the dare-devil escapades we are continuously treated to; coupled with the sleepless nights ‘pen-robbers’ spend on diabolical plans to beat the system; giving such loots away needs a lot of soul-searching. Such ‘Father Christmas’ gestures must be backed by legitimate earnings, and Nigerians tend to bad-mouth ‘philanthropists’ with no visible means of income. Except the ones that go for stupendously lavish parties and ‘spray’ hard currency on the dance floor!
“Some months back,” recalls Raymond, a small-scale businessman, “I went to an uncle for a soft loan of less than half a million to boost my fledging business. The tales of woe he told me were so pathetic that if I had the type of money I believed he had, I would gladly give him a chunk of it.
“Not long after, he had a lavish show-stopping wedding reception for his daughter that left everybody gawping at the extravagance. Waiters had a field-day ignoring most of the guests and ferreting bottles of very exclusive champagne to various hiding corners. Instead of feeling sorry for myself, congratulated my uncle and offered to be put in charge of his guests. He showed me to where the choice drinks were and by the end of the reception, I’d helped myself to quite a number of bottles. The security men did not even bat an eyelid as I took them to my modest car—they thought it was with my uncle’s authority. I made a small fortune from their sale!”
When the average Nigerian comes into money, he gets an itchy palm to spend and spend. First, some designer clothes, then exotic cars, one or two impressive property, some friends’ wives they’d once admired from afar, followed by a string of parties that leave guests thanking their stars they were either invited or had successfully gate crashed. Talk about a fool and his money being responsible for the best parties!
Now that the ‘whistle’ blowing is on-going, it is the swan song of, ‘Don’t Cry For Me Nigerians’ for shame-faced looters. The sad bit is that after this round of looters have been dealt with, up comes another batch with their own set of schemes.
Source: Vanguard News