By Lateef Adewole
“If you say money is not important, then you have not been without it for long.”
— Robert Kiyosaki (Author of Rich dad poor dad).
It was fascinating, watching Alhaji Aliko Dangote sometime ago, as he narrated how he decided many years back, to personally withdraw ten million dollars ($10,000,000.) cash (before the policy on cash handling changed), put it in his car booth, drove home, put the money on his bed, just to look at it, and have a feel of it, as a testimony that he is actually rich! The following morning, he packed them and returned the money to the bank to deposit. The video clip went viral at the time. It was during an interview he had with Mohammed “Mo” Ibrahim, the founder of Mo Ibrahim Foundation.
I can imagined already, how some people will be alarmed, just by seeing the headline of this write-up. Though, many are just been overly sanctimonious actually, while in truth, they all know that is the truth.
I expected comments like; “money cannot buy happiness”, “money cannot give peace of mind”, “money cannot provide children”, and bla..bla…bla. My question then is; what can? Poverty? I very much doubt that. Despite such faulty mentality, rarely do people pray to be wretched. So, while deny what we badly want? Why do we have to pretend?
There is a certain way you feel when you have money in your pocket or bank accounts. There is a level of “peacefulness” that comes with it. Like the Yorubas will say; “àìlówó baba íjayà” (being financially broke is the trigger for fear). If in doubt, ask workers who are being owed months of salaries arrears. And then immediately after their salaries have been paid, what would their mood be? Or when a business makes profit, that feeling of the business owner. It can only be imagined.
I often say that the sweetest sounds to the ears that can come from one’s phone is that of money credit alerts. Likewise, a piece of paper that is most pleasing to the eyes is the currency notes (money). Conversely, one thing that scares hell out of a person is debt (money owed). The palpitation that follows the knocks of a creditor at one’s door is better imagined.
At the roots of almost every human need, money can be found there. Nearly all unrests that could happen, no matter how small or big, can be traced to money. Couples fight, siblings quarel, families fight, communities, towns and even countries go to wars, at the roots of which is money, directly or indirectly.
People make a lot of sacrifices going to work on daily basis, business people take risks to invest, countries explore natural resources, all in bids to make money.
Quality education at all levels, whether home or abroad costs money. To get quality healthcare costs money. Providing habitable housing requires money. All infrastructures that make life comfortable and meaningful such as; power, portable water, good roads, and many other social amenities require huge investment of funds. They give good lives and quality living. The cumulative of all these will give comfort, peace of mind and consequently happiness, God’s willing, except whoever chooses not to be (lol).
If money is this important to our lives and wellbeing, why do many try to pretend about it or deny it? Like one of the James Hardley Chase books titled; “You are dead without money”. Either literally or otherwise, that title has meaning which many can relate with. Life can actually be cut short where there is terminal problem and the money to pay for needed treatment is not available.
A person without money can be considered as literally dead as well. For instance, a man who is incapable of providing for his wife, a father who could not cater for his children on consistent basis, all due to lack of money, will be viewed as non-existent. He might be literally dead to them. I have had one “strange” opinion for a long time, which I am unapologetic about. I believe that; “there is no love without money”. Many have disputed that with me on several occasions, but I insist it is valid. People naturally try to pretend and deny the truth, just to avoid the feeling of guilt.
And let no one hide under any religion to justify their personal biases please. Because, none of the two major religions (Islam and Christianity) abhors or discourages people from getting rich. They do not preach poverty. They only admonish about the process of acquiring such riches in “Godly” ways, not to commit crimes or engage in evil practices in the process, like many desperate people now do.
They commit heinous crimes just to make money. We can see that in yahoo-yahoo, money rituals, drug trafficking, kidnapping, armed robbery, prostitution, human trafficking, organ harvesting and sales, stealing of public funds and all kinds of corrupt acts. People do not genuinely want to work hard for their money again. Get-rich-quick syndrome is the trending thing, especially among the young ones. These are what religions frown at.
Islam preaches being conscious about what is done while working to make the money and not that people must be poor, as some people may want to make us believe (afterall, it is not in anyone’s power to make himself or herself rich. All powers belong to Allah).
When the richest countries of the world are listed, most of the Arabian nations such as Saudi Arabia, Iran, Quwait, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, etc, will be at the forefront. And that translates to rich citizens in these countries as well. The most sacred worship houses for Muslims in Mecca and Medinah, are not covered in tatters or rags. They are embellished with gold ornaments and majestically adorable decors. Money is used to do that. Or aren’t people there muslims? So, what is the difference between the muslims in those countries and the ones here? There should be none!
As Christians, it will be impossible to convince anyone that money is not important, not after the intensity of “prosperity” preachings that have taken over most of the pulpits. In Nigeria today, we have the biggest churches in the world, the most expensive ones, the richest pastors, and many other richests! So, if having plenty money is bad, how can that be explained under christainity? They even have a say that “owó ni kèké ìyìn rere (money oils the wheel of evangelism).
The Almighty has provided opportunities for everyone to make money, irrespective of their faith or belief. No preference for being poor or being rich. So, when people criticise or hate on rich people, they are just being hypocritical. And do not be deceived that accepting Jesus will “automatically” make you rich, like many of them preach (I have heard this many times) or your believing in God is the passport you need to become wealthy. That is not true. God gives wealth to whoever He wishes, irrespective of whether you believe in Him and worship Him or not.
And also, no particular affliction is reserved for anyone because of their wealthy status. Every unwanted condition that can befall the rich people can also befall the poor people. However, while some ailments that require money will easily be treated by the rich, it can become far more difficult for the poor and be more complicated. Therefore, what money cannot solve, poverty cannot!
Therefore, there is no point shying away from the issue of money. The subject need to be taught in homes and schools, from childhood. Parents should teach their children about money, its importance, how to acquire it in proper ways, how to multiply it, what to do with it when acquired, savings, and how to enjoy it without going out of bound. All these have become imperative.
Teaching about money (financial education) should be introduced into the schools from primary school to the higher institution level by including it in their curriculums. Afterall, every other professions being taught are towards making money at the end of the day. So, why not start learning about it early? This will give people sound foundation in personal finance and many problems that often come with financial mismanagement due to lack of financial education can be avoided or minimised.
This might cure our society of this obscene craze for illicit riches, by crook or hook, and any means possible, as we now witness all over the country.
All in all, working hard and smart to make good money in appropriate ways should be encouraged and celebrated rather than derided. People who are rich through genuine hard work should not be made to look like they have committed crimes. Poverty is not a virtue.
There are two problems of money: too much money or lack of money. Individuals can make their choices.
May God continue to guide us aright.
God Bless Nigeria.
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