The other day, someone told me the story of two friends who became enemies and asked my opinion about how it happened. One friend, Mr. Benefactor, was wealthy generous to his friend. The other friend, Mr. Manager, lost his job and was struggling with life. Benefactor always showed love to the manager, sending him money whenever he requested for it. Then he decided to help Manager with his contacts and introduced him to a successful contractor. After the contractor began giving him subcontracts, Manager did something that both shocked and saddened Benefactor.
It so happened that both wives of the big people – Benefactor and the contractor – each gave birth.
The story was that Manager sent 200 thousand Naira to the contractor to, as he put it, help him with “baby things” that he could easily afford. As for his old friend, he sent a text message congratulating him and that was it. The contractor then called Benefactor to tell him what a nice man his friend (Manager) was and disclosed what he did. The information got Benefactor mad. How could he do this?
The person who told me the story asked for an opinion on two things: whether Manager did the right thing by his friend the Benefactor, and if Benefactor was right to feel angry at the way his friend approached the case.
My opinion was that Manager could have been more charitable to his friend. Visiting him was one option. Sharing the N200,000 between the Contractor and his Benefactor would have been another.
He clearly made a choice that the Contractor is where his bread is buttered and deserved to have his apple polished more than Benefactor. If Manager considered what he did as an investment, it should have gone to his friend with the social connection, not to someone he hardly knew. That will show him as a grateful heart.
Thinking about this made me realize how low-thinking folks among us operate at three different levels.
Greed drives the first level. Those who operate at this idea of thinking calmly kick away the ladder as soon as they are assisted to climb out of poverty. The ladder are the people who offered support and assistance along the way. Their decisions are aided by motivational books which tell them that it is dangerous to yoke themselves with poor people. The extended version of this admonition is the claim that to become a billionaire, one must start associating with billionaires.
It’s not even as if the likes of Manager are doing what something to show their gratitude for the push they got in life. One way that would have gladdened the heart of Benefactor if he heard it, was that Manager played it forward by assisting another person to climb. If the Manager were to do this rather than send money to either Contractor or Benefactor, none of them would have been cross with him.
At any rate, Manager probably didn’t remember Contractor is Benefactor were friends and there was no one else that Contractor could have called to tell his happy story except the one who was introduced as Manager’s protégée. The moment they begin associating with billionaires. This means doing away with those who assisted one to climb and making friends among the new (affluent) people that one becomes acquainted with.
Christianity is also partly to blame. These myopic beings believe that those who help them are only ‘instruments” that God uses to bless them.
Superstition is the third part – the irrational fear of wealthy people while praying for wealth.
Somehow, the poor think their rich friends are capable of “stealing their destiny!” Your friend who has made it big might have done so through magic or voodoo and must be dined with a long spoon.
There is what appears to be a direct fallout of the poor economy that is devastating the Nigerian psyche. It is the level of thinking among those struggling for economic survival, estimated at over 80 percent of the population. What affects this majority inevitably becomes the Nigerian image that the world sees. They may in effect also be adding to the fuel igniting aberrant behaviour, some of which border on the criminal.