By, Bamidele Ademola-Olateju
Dateline 2016 – Ahmadou lives in New York. He works two jobs giving care to the aged. He is the first in his family to venture out of Mali, his native country. His brother had no job. As it is with immigrants, he became a regular at Western Union counters. In 2016, he sent home to his brother, Ousmane, the $1500 he had always ask for to buy a tricycle. When I spoke to Ahmadou this June, his brother has bought three more tricycles. In 2018, he wanted to pay Ahmadou back, but Ahmadou refused and told him to take the responsibility of taking care of their parents and sundry issues back home.
In contrast, Adeyinka started buying cars at auctions in 2014. He heard it was lucrative and returns at least $500-1000 on a car. His brother has been telling him how fast car sells and how they could make profit and good business from selling cars. The first set of four cars he bought from a popular car auction in upstate New York averaged about $5,300 each. He had $4200 in savings and took home equity loan to buy the cars, and ship them home. At the time, such cars were cleared for N250k each. Adebisi added N25k on clearing charges for each vehicle. Before clearing, he made N100k from his brother.
After clearing, he sold the first set really fast. He told stories and creamed off at least N100k from each vehicle. His brother suspected nothing. He gave him N50k on each vehicle as his share of profit. From the profit and capital, Adeyinka sent five cars again. Again clearing was billed at N275k instead of N250k. One of the cars was an Infiniti truck. He took a picture of it in many ways. He called in his friend to pose as a mechanic. They opened the trunk and pretending to work on it. He took the pictures. The cars went fast! He creamed off N100k each. On the Infiniti, he made a staggering profit of N1million based on the out of port price. He told his brother the car had fault and yet to be sold. He remitted money for the four. Because the spread of cost was on five cars, his brother couldn’t send four cars again. He sent three. By this time Hameed Ali tariffs had kicked in at the ports, Buhari’s economy began its erosion. Cars were not selling again, profits dwindled. Adebisi kept telling stories on the Infiniti. When Adeyinka got tired and suspicious, he sent a friend to the garage discreetly, the car was not there. His friends posed as buyers and he gave them a price. Gleefully, he called his brother announcing another price, a few hundreds below what they offered. Of course, the friends never returned. Adeyinka bought his ticket and flew into Nigeria. He took the cars to a friend and told them to help him sell it. He sustained losses but was able to pay back his home equity loan. He changed his phone number. That was 2017.
Imagine what the likes of Ousmane contributes to Malian economy. If Nigerian are honest, the remittances home would have bouyed the economy better than it is doing. Obligatory parasites kill their hosts and they don’t survive it. When you think you are smart, you are killing your long term prospects on the alter of instant gratification. There are too many Adebisi’s in Nigeria. It is an open secret that you can’t run any business in Nigeria remotely. You will be roasted alive.
I will be back…