BN Trailblazers & Tastemakers: Beyond a Fulfilling Banking Career, Nimi Akinkugbe, Founder & CEO of Bestman Games, takes her Personal Finance Message across Africa

Mrs Nimi Akinkugbe_Nimi Akinkugbe was born in Port Harcourt and lived in Lagos until she was 7 years old when her family moved to East Africa where her late father Mr. F.I. Ajumogobia was UNESCO Chief of Mission. She grew up in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania, and attended the International School of Tanganyika, and later Limuru Girls School, Limuru, Kenya before returning to Nigeria for her O’ Levels at the International School, Ibadan. On completion of her Bachelors’ degree at the London School of Economics, she formalized her interest in Music by obtaining a piano teaching diploma from the Royal College of Music in London before returning to Nigeria to participate in the National Youth Service Corps scheme. “I never thought of living anywhere else. It was always my plan to come back to Nigeria. I never contemplated living or working abroad.”

After the NYSC programme, she joined IBTC (which later became IBTC Chartered, then Stanbic-IBTC), where she spent 20 years in a fulfilling banking career. She subsequently joined Barclays Bank where she spent two and a half years as Regional Director (International Private Bank) for West Africa. In September 2012 she established Bestman Games Ltd. In this exclusive interview with Gbenga Awomodu, Nimi takes us through her career journey and talks passionately about personal finance, and the City of Lagos Edition of Monopoly, which has gained the world’s attention, from The New York Times, to the Economist, CNN, BBC, and Daily Mail in the UK.

20 years in a single organization is a long time. Why do you think you were able to work for that long and maintain interest in your job?
It didn’t feel like twenty years as my experience at IBTC varied and I was privileged to work with wonderful people. I started out in the Treasury Department, and then later was given the opportunity to help build and run the private banking department. That was a very rewarding experience and I had an outstanding team and fantastic clients. Initially it was a very small team, but very focused in a particular business area. After 20 years, it was time to move on. The time went by so quickly and for many years it felt right. Once I felt I needed a change, it was time to move on.

When and why did you start Bestman Games?
At Stanbic IBTC we realized that there is no personal finance instruction in the school curriculum. People just grow up picking up bad financial habits along the way, sometimes having great difficulty in their finances as they become adults. We started to include next generation seminars into our periodic personal finance seminars and talked to our clients’ children about saving and investing. Standard Bank had an excellent personal finance board game called “Winning Teams,” that teaches children in a playful, practical way, the basics of saving and investing.

It was at that time that I first embraced the idea of creating a personal finance board game that could go along with my columns and speaking engagements. I have written articles for a host of publications; Genevieve Magazine, 234 Next, and later The Punch Newspaper, Business Day, and a few blogs, including BellaNaija. I didn’t do much about the board game until October 2010 when Harrow School, UK launched their own edition of Monopoly. Before then I had only been familiar with the famous London edition and didn’t realize that there were customized editions. Harrow School directed me to Winning Moves who own the franchise from HASBRO, owners of the Monopoly brand, to customize Monopoly editions in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Monopoly is such a fantastic brand so there was no reason to continue to pursue my own board game. I approached Winning Moves UK and said “You cannot ignore Africa. You cannot just focus on European cities and ignore a mega city like Lagos.”

What is your scope at Bestman games; do you hope to have other games?
We have the exclusive distribution license to create customized editions of Monopoly and other games in the Hasbro product suite, across Africa, except South Africa. Two African countries, South Africa and Morocco, already have customized country editions of Monopoly. Lagos however, is the first African city to have its own edition of Monopoly of which we are very proud.

Do you plan to have additional services like consulting for people, advising people on personal finance, going to schools?
A lot of what I do revolves around spreading the message of personal finance and private wealth management out to anyone that seeks to improve their financial lives. I have done this largely through speaking engagements and my personal finance columns. We look forward to introducing afterschool activity clubs that teach the basics of earning; saving and investing, and Monopoly will be a part of the practical educational tools. Monopoly is yet another platform to spread the message of financial prudence. It is a personal finance game and key elements are reflected including insurance, banking, the stock market, mutual funds and of course, real estate which is the essence of the famous property trading game.

From your interactions with many Nigerians, and feedback from your columns, what are some of the notable mistakes that people make as regards personal finance?
I get a lot of feedback from the public. The biggest problem that most people face is succumbing to peer pressure. We’re all busy trying to “keep up with the Joneses”. We are not satisfied with creating our own plan and following it through, but rather, we tend to look at other people who appear to have much more than we do; a bigger car, a bigger house, lots of jewelry. We know very little about the person; we have no idea if they are in debt or have been dishonest, but we just want to be like that. Many people don’t have a plan; they’re just stumbling along. If you have no plan, you are bound to fail. There are many people retiring in their fifties and sixties with no plan whatsoever.

The regular pensions plan in collaboration with the government has been riddled with so much controversy and allegations of mismanagement. Would you advise that people rather plan private pension schemes?
The pension reform through Pencom is an excellent initiative and it has been a lifeline for many people. Naturally there are still areas that need to be improved, but it is a brilliant initiative. But your pension generally is never going to be enough. So, alongside your contribution and your employers’ matched contribution, you also need to try to build other savings and investments and have insurance in place in order to be able to maintain your lifestyle during your retirement years.

How did the Lagos State government get involved with the launch of the City of Lagos Edition of Monopoly; and in what other ways are you trying to get the message of the board game to the bottom of the pyramid?
We were very honoured that His Excellency the Governor of Lagos State launched the City of Lagos Edition of Monopoly himself. With the support of the Lagos State Government we were able to use this novel tool to present some basic lessons in civics by educating players about some of the laws of the city that are so often overlooked, and to attempt to correct negative behaviour, and reward positive behaviour through fines and rewards in a fun way. One card fines players for driving without valid vehicle particulars and sends them off to Lagos State Driver’s Institute for retraining, whilst another sends those who drive against traffic on a one-way street for psychiatric evaluation at the Psychiatric Hospital, Yaba and imposes a fine! Whilst it is tongue in cheek, it is real at the same time and has a powerful impact as all learning through play does.

We have been very fortunate with our media partners, This Day, The Guardian, Smooth FM and Silverbird Group, who have been very supportive of the project. The international media also showed a lot of interest in the launch. The awareness is there; the challenge for us is to ensure that the game board is available for all those that want it. Through some company CSR initiatives some children that might not be able to afford it will be able to have access to it.

Lagos Monopoly_ Rectangle with board

Resource management; that’s also something the game is meant to teach the players. Could you elaborate on that?
A friend of mine was narrating how she played Lagos Monopoly with her children and within a few minutes she was trying to buy Banana Island. She was bankrupt quite quickly and it was a perfect graphic example of what many people tend to do. You see people living way above their means, paying rent in a very expensive, choice area yet they are not quite ready to live there, as they really cannot afford it. It might take several years of hard work and investing first living in a cheaper area and slowly working towards moving to a better area. But if you put your limited resources into an asset that you cannot afford, you will quickly go bankrupt or you may be tempted by the pressure and end up in Kiri Kiri jail, which is where you are sent to in the game. It is tongue in cheek but a graphic portrayal of what happens in real life. So her children were busy slowly buying property in less expensive areas, and moved forward. Because all her money was gone, she had to sell her properties and was bankrupt.

For children playing together, it teaches strategy. If you don’t plan ahead then it will be unlikely that you will succeed. You can keep adjusting your plan as you go on. It is also great in terms of teaching patience. It is quite a long game, though there is a short version one could play as well. For children, it teaches concentration, planning and patience.

The average game of monopoly should not last more than two hours, but because people usually bring in some adjustments to the rule, it could take more than four hours sometimes and they don’t necessarily get to learn the key lessons.
Learning through play is a vey powerful way of learning. It is not so much about the length of the game; you immediately see that real estate is an asset class and that you should try to own property in your lifetime. You will be learning that your car should be insured. You will learn that you need to have a bank deposit and that you should invest in the stock market. As you’re playing, these are things that will be in your psyche. Some of it will stick. Many of us knew the streets of London before we ever visited the city just from playing the London edition.

For Nigerian children growing up abroad who know very little about Lagos and Nigeria, it is a wonderful way for them to learn about the Third Mainland Bridge, Tinubu Square, and the National Theatre. They would never have known that there is a beautiful garden called Oshodi Heritage Garden, or that there are LAG and BRT buses. People often change the rules when they are playing board game; that’s part of the fun of playing games!

Many Nigerians who grow up and/or study abroad these days find it difficult deciding to return to the country. How can more of them be encouraged to return and help make a difference?
I tell every young person that cares to speak with me that they need to come back home. There are many opportunities here; much more than they would have abroad. They don’t get the same recognition for their intelligence and hard work. Some get very used to the way of life abroad, and if they stay away too long, it becomes very difficult to adjust.

Many young people tell me that the experience here can be much more rewarding as often the type of transactions they would be involved in very early in their careers in Nigeria may not come their way for several years in a bank or other institution abroad.

Of course it is clear that there are huge challenges here and it is very expensive for a young person starting out particularly if there isn’t much support from family. I do hope that the environment will improve to make it much more attractive for our bright young people to return and contribute to improving home. For me, the best and brightest people I have ever come across in every field from doctors, lawyers, engineers, musicians, bankers, teachers, have been Nigerian, in spite of the bad press we continue to receive.

Nimi Akinkugbe_ Piano

What do you do in your spare time?
I love playing the piano, listening to music, writing and gardening. I also spend a lot of time on the lagoon; it’s a wonderful way to relax and reflect. I feel I don’t read nearly enough and I am trying to build that into my spare time going forward.

What are the traits you value most in people?
I value hard work and admire people that are hard working and stay focused on an objective and see it to fruition.
I also admire people who, in spite of all the pressures around us, are able to stand up for what is right.
I value those who are quietly changing their community and the world and doing extraordinary things quietly and without fanfare.

In what other ways do you give back to society, like mentoring?
I am a member of the Executive Council of Women in Management, Business and Public Service (WIMBIZ). We have a very strong mentoring initiative where volunteers are assigned mentees whom we work with. It is wonderful to see them develop and see what they have achieved. WIMBIZ is an extraordinary organization set up by thirteen extraordinary women and one man over ten years ago and they have added enormous value to women in Nigeria and beyond. We have several laudable initiatives to support women. WIMBIZ has an overriding vision “to be the catalyst that elevates the status and influence of women and their contribution to nation building.”

In the end, when you want to look back at life, what are the main things you want to be remembered for?
I hope that in some small way, by having the wider population benefit from having improved knowledge of managing their own finances to enrich their lives and the lives of others, I would have added some value.
I support a few musicians from time to time and it is wonderful watching careers blossom.
There is so much negativity about Africa. We hope that through this game, the African editions of Monopoly can enhance the profile of Africa and present Lagos, Nigeria, and Africa in a positive wholesome way that would be great.

Photo credit: TY Bello

__________________________________________________________________________________________________
Gbenga Awomodu is an Editorial Assistant at BellaNaija.com. When he is not reading or writing, Gbenga is listening to good music or playing the piano. He loves to meet new people and discuss issues that really matter. Follow him on Twitter: @gbengaawomodu | Gbenga’s Notebook: www.gbengaawomodu.com | Facebook Page: Gbenga Awomodu

54 Comments on BN Trailblazers & Tastemakers: Beyond a Fulfilling Banking Career, Nimi Akinkugbe, Founder & CEO of Bestman Games, takes her Personal Finance Message across Africa
  • Olayinka January 23, 2013 at 4:01 pm

    I find Nimi Akinkugbe’s story very inspiring..what an amazing woman! Excellent women like Mrs Akinkugbe provides very fine example for young women like I. Very impressive..

  • Opsy January 23, 2013 at 4:28 pm

    Beauty with brains and a good pedigree. Excellent combination. I find her money managing skills interesting and do practice them.

  • Sexxie January 23, 2013 at 4:33 pm

    Wow! Beauty, brain and panache! I’m impressed and inspired.

  • 2-D January 23, 2013 at 4:37 pm

    WoW! This woman has hammered. I see huge profit. Game business is big business. Dont be surprised if you see public offer of shares in the company in few years time. Thumbs up Nimi. I learn so much from your personal finance articles. This are the real people making impact, not the fake mediocres making noise for self aggrandizement.

    • moi January 23, 2013 at 9:08 pm

      All the best to her, you take a chill pill, who are the fake mediocres making noise for self aggrandizement, some pple just come on BN to let off unnecessary steam. Do your own thing and don’t look at others phew!

  • gooby January 23, 2013 at 4:45 pm

    pls dnt tell me she’s single!!

    • Madam the Madam January 23, 2013 at 8:43 pm

      And that’s all you could focus on?

    • PraiseGod January 25, 2013 at 3:25 pm

      She is happily married with grown up kids.

    • Mrs O January 28, 2013 at 8:28 am

      Look at her surname, and look at that of her late dad! They are different, so 1st thought should be “ok she’s married”. Obviously that should tell you something o!

  • ify January 23, 2013 at 4:48 pm

    Inspiring woman!

  • Tincan January 23, 2013 at 5:16 pm

    Inspirational!

  • Olufunmi January 23, 2013 at 5:28 pm

    She’s done well for her self.. hope i get there some day! May God be with her now n always :D

    YCFOnline.com

  • Diseye January 23, 2013 at 5:33 pm

    Good to see an ijaw woman like myself excel.

  • x factor January 23, 2013 at 5:48 pm

    Very Inspiring Piece

  • rop January 23, 2013 at 6:09 pm

    @ gooby… I don’t think she is single oh…Her father’s name was mentioned which I assume is her own maiden name and so it could be that she’s married to “Akinkugbe”. By the way, the first picture shows her wedding finger being very much occupied.

  • Woman in Business January 23, 2013 at 6:11 pm

    Pls don’t tell me she’s single like that’s all to a woman! With all this accomplishment its sad society will still see an amazing intelligent strong woman as lacking just cos she’s single. Well to cut the story short, if you are literate enough, you would have read in the beginning her father, Mr “Ajumogobia” and noticed her name Nimi “Akinkugbe”.

  • ttt January 23, 2013 at 6:50 pm

    I know her and she’s happily married with, grown-up children..Ciao

  • dont mention January 23, 2013 at 7:31 pm

    wow……what an inspiration. what i want to grow up to be, successful woman not defined by beauty but by my brains n capabilities…..hope we all learn something from her
    vikkyscreed.blogspot.com

  • Madam the Madam January 23, 2013 at 8:44 pm

    “I tell every young person that cares to speak with me that they need to come back home. There are many opportunities here; much more than they would have abroad. They don’t get the same recognition for their intelligence and hard work”

    I find this to a big joke. Congrats to the lady, but she should definitely speak for herself on this one.

    • Take Five Ma'm January 23, 2013 at 9:33 pm

      Finally someone whose reasoning is not that of the collective populace . Doesn’t it just make you laugh when you see young (i mean our generation, not the political thieves and government contractors of our parents generation) 9ja successful men and women, and you go check their pedigree, suddenly people who don’t look beyond the surface start chanting words like inspiration, and its other synonyms. As if the opportunities she had growing up, you had it or it is available to every average Nigerian. This silver spoon kids, should live in the real world for once, and stop touting as if the road to success just takes having an idea and going for it, and working hard. I’ve read so many interviews on BN, and I’ve been waiting for someone to finally filter through, and get to the koko of the gist. Who no know how to work hard. It goes beyond hard work. When hard work meets opportunity, support, and background, its a recipe for success in the Nigerian context. Do you know how many Nigerians have ideas, and with no backing or pedigree to go for it. Put these same Nigerians in the positions such people have an they will do the same. Thats the dichotomy we have in Nigeria, sadly, so before you start chanting inspiration. Think deeply. Her dad worked for the UN, that’s pedigree talking. Look at her background, her schools her first job, someone please don’t tell me that was just down to her efforts alone. I am NOT knocking her hustle, or jealous, she has done very well for herself and she should be proud. She has brought awareness to Lagos internationally, good for her, but I want her and other people with their privilege backgrounds to stop painting castles in the air, as if it is possible for everyone to be like them. They should paint that story to the children of their social class. There’s life beyond Lekki, Ikoyi and VI. Take the 3rd mainland bridge please, and stop living in a bubble. Nigeria is probably one of the only countries where to do well, you must have a blue blood pedigree. It is everywhere apart from the music industry. Someone look at our fashion industry and start naming names and ticking their pedigree. There are very good fashion forward tailors, but no exposure or backing to take it to the point they have. Where you don’t have to worry how you will feed your family, pay bills, of course you will be creative, challenge your mind, …….. Opportunities in Nigeria my foot. Lets compare the Nigerian dream to the American dream, and see the unfairness of it all. Look at the top 100 in America and trace their backgrounds, come to Nigeria, it will be the opposite. Look at Obama, he got to go to Harvard, because he lived in a system where he worked hard AND had access to student loans – level playing field, to a LARGE extent. If we had a Harvard in Nigeria, it will be full of rich kids, the poor can go to Yaba Tech for all the government cares. It has already started, abi who goes to Private Uni’s in 9ja. The system in Nigeria, favours the well to do, and stifles and frustrates the nobody’s’. A few get to escape it, but only very few, unless u go the politics, or government contract route. Imagine if our system was different, how amazing Nigeria will be, with all our brains and street hustle skills. Opportunities if your father or mother is somebody you mean. I didn’t say she is not good at her job or brilliant, I’m just pointing out that her background put her in a position where she could do well. She could have gone the route of other layabout rich kids who spend daddy’s money but she didn’t, that I commend her for. I just want her, to be honest, and stop assuming the opportunities she got to excel is available to everyone. My sisters husband got a scholarship abroad, a brilliant man that had applied to everywhere and anywhere in Nigeria, he tried setting up something for himself, but faced road blocks, both finance and connections. He submitted proposals tire, tried to apply for bank loans, nothing. This was years ago before it even became this bad. He got a scholarship thankfully, and he lived in a country where there are real opportunities available to every man, yes using your parents connections or your parents smoothening the way for you is in every country, but in America unlike 9ja, with every 1 blue blood child, there are 1000 more ways available to the average American to succeed, if you work hard.The American dream it is called. You need to see him now, the son of a woman who sold wrappers in the market is co owner of a very successful multi national company in America, listed on the stock exchange. Wont mention his name, or his company, because it will be immediately recognisable. Those are true inspirations, a graduate of Uni Ibadan who barely scraped by to get his degree. U have many many many of such stories in America. Those are the true inspirations. In a level playing field, these successful corporate, business owner types we have in 9ja wont even shine, because the pool will be saturated. Unfortunately the child of the nobody is stuck doing his job and is told they are not trying hard enough, or looking outside the box, there are many opportunities here, I laugh in French. Like Seriously. Sorry it is lengthy. I wish I could write more sef and send it as an article to BN

      • Madam the Madam January 23, 2013 at 10:02 pm

        I very much enjoyed reading your comment, because it is the truth. I didn’t even want to start reciting story in this comment box, you have pretty much said it all. Quite hilarious to see this woman state that abroad, people do not get recognition for thier intelligence and hardwork, and that the opportunities are not as much as in Nigeria. Quite hilarious indeed.

      • Xtsy January 24, 2013 at 1:46 am

        I will copy and paste this………

      • sasyxcassie January 24, 2013 at 1:41 pm

        i love you, ma’am. Get out of my head!!

      • esther January 24, 2013 at 2:07 pm

        Well said!!! I agree with you 100%

      • madman January 24, 2013 at 8:47 pm

        well stated. well stated. You can change the world anywhere you are. You don’t have to be in Nigeria. All is well.

      • Lateefah January 25, 2013 at 12:44 pm

        .@ Take five ma’m you took the words outta my mind…sooooo true…INSPIRING INDEED!!!

      • Edo man January 26, 2013 at 12:28 am

        U have said it all…. We that have opportunities just opened our mouth and talk thinking life is easy for the ordinary Nigerians. I schooled and worked in the uk, before moving to Nigeria, I earn over 14 million Naira a year now, but there are many graduates, who are more intelligent than me, that can’t even get that job, because their background is not solid like mine… So we should preach equal opportunities and level playing field. Yes she has tried, but there are more creative people with opportunities

      • Ada January 28, 2013 at 8:52 am

        Well the Bible says “A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children” Prob 13:22

        Its up to you and everyone on here to leave and pass on something to your children. It doesnt have to be money but even time invested. You can say his mum sold wrappers in the market but she obviously taught him something in so many ways than words can express. That in itself is valuable!

        Yes her dad may have worked for the UN, but do you know where he came from, the Ijaw creeks I’m assuming from their surname (I dont know them), and he must have worked extremely hard to make something for himself, so that his own children will have an easier platform.

        In a way, my background is like Nimi above, but it is silly if I were to write an article and people will assume, they had it easy all along. I was part of the generation, whose parents went to schl abroad (USA) for uni (bachelors/masters/PhD) and came back to naija afterwards, eager to help out naija. I have many friends like that, our folks got jobs in the civil service, and had it tough, all for sake of helping the country. We lived in Surulere, albeit then it was decent, but it wasnt no VI/Ikoyi that we saw some of our extremely comfortable, and bank stealing family friends live in. I remember after an armed robbery incident, we went over a yr without a colored TV because money no dey. I remember my folks sometimes having to beg for rides for me to schl. In primary 2, I walked one day for 5 hrs with an older cousin because we couldnt find bus home, even though my parents were struggling to pay my tuition at a prestigious Lagos primary schl. After enough suffering, my dad dusted his PhD and left Naija again, after his life was threatened for trying to transform a parastatal he was supposed to head. He did it, because he worried about our future (the children) and wanted us to have access to something. Today I have multiple degrees/titles acquired in the US, including “Dr”, but if I were to write an article, it would be ignorant to now ASSUME, without knowing the FULL picture. I dont know Nimi’s whole story, but I know several friends who have similar stories to mine.

      • Chi March 6, 2013 at 3:11 pm

        I totally agree with you. Well done for writing this.

    • Mz Socially Awkward.... January 23, 2013 at 11:38 pm

      Thanks for pointing that out, was enjoying the interview until I read that bit. It continually sticks in my craw when peope group all Nigerians living outside the country into a single category. And here’s this lady saying Nigerians have limited opportunities abroad because “They don’t get the same recognition for their intelligence and hard work”. What a huge joke. Is she talking about the same Nigeria that I lived and worked in? I laugh in pidgin.

      Oh the great divide in the reality experienced by the Haves and the Have-Nots within that very same Nigeria.

    • Sue January 24, 2013 at 1:03 am

      its a joke to u, i schooled abroad, still here but coming back next month, nimi is 101% correct, the best grad student in my M.Sc class is washing toilets in a night club here….that’s one of millions of stories, even if u work in the best companies here, u wont be allowed beyond a certain point plus wen u compare with ur mates in naija, in a few years, u would be far behind….keep dreaming

      • Funmi January 24, 2013 at 6:01 am

        Far behind, are you kidding me. I read this comment – for any mentally lazy person who cant read, or take time to read sense, and would scroll through 2000pictures of red carpet events, and even comment on the pictures, that Take Five Ma’m’s comment is not for you. I can really relate. My parents scraped and scraped and borrowed and sold, to pay for my Masters, and I’m not joking, what I have achieved in a very very short time, my mates in 9ja from regular, average and below average homes in 9ja haven’t.

        Me the daughter of nobody, moving with the top players, children who went to £30K a year secondary schools in the City in the UK. I love that comment for pointing out the level playing field that comment said. Sometimes I have to pinch myself, when I look at my surroundings. I still can’t believe it I swear. If it was 9ja, the kind of job I have will be solely to the class of people who attend posh schools. My boss grew up in Peckham for goodness sake. The first university graduate in the history of his family. That tells you his background. Who says we are not giving recognition. Work hard my dear. You can’t beyond a certain point, really? You’ve believed the lies those Nigerians who haven’t done well for themselves abroad tell you. I used to think they were all aje butters until one after work dinner we had, and people started sharing their rags to riches background. I was shocked.

        I was stuck, like that comment said, doing my Zenith bank job, waking up at stupid o’clock to get to work, coming back bone weary, to an average family house, some days there isn’t enough money to keep the gen running for more than 2hours each night, frustrated out of my mind everyday. I used to cry sometimes after work. I saw an ad in the newspaper one day, and this girl earning 120K a month in Zenith dared to dream. I applied without telling my parents, I knew we couldn’t afford it, but the few moments of that application gave me hope.

        When I got the admission, I went down on my knees and said Lord this is my escape route. Mountains moved, my parents sold stuff, my savings, some family friends chipped in and I travelled. I went home last year and went back to my branch, and I was almost in tears. They are still the same people, still doing the same jobs, looking at me and telling me I was lucky to escape. There are hard workers, people even better than me still stuck in that country, can’t make a headway because of that system which tramples on your spirit, crushes your ambition. Give them the same opportunities, Nimi had, and watch magic happen.

        Your Msc mate still washing toilet is sad unfortunately, but until you drop the Nigerian mentality at Heathrow, or whatever country you are in, you won’t get ahead. Think like them, challenge yourself, tell yourself you can do it, you deserve it. The educational system in University is way different from the job market. You can excel in school, and perform woefully in the job market. The Nigerian mentality does something to your psyche, especially when you don’t come from a rich home.

        You have to feel like you are entitled to that lifestyle a good job gives you, just the way rich kids feel entitled to the lifestyle they were brought up in. My friends Uncle tried to sell us that kool aid. Go get a job in Sainsbury’s for now, that’s what you can find now, all those big big jobs you are chasing, they are very hard to get o. Once you believe that lie, (that lie that never do wells abroad spread to the newly arrived, so you can be at the same level as them), it will destroy you. She believed it I didn’t, all in the bid for, I must get a job. She wasn’t from a rich background too, so no family support from home, and the poverty cycle continues. We don’t even talk anymore, cos the envy and resentment is too much. For him to be washing toilets, it means there is no family support back home, so he has to change his tactics for succeeding in the job market.

        The person that interviewed me said Foomie, I saw hunger in your eyes, I saw drive in your eyes, I said to myself this girl has personal demons she has to overcome, and she’ll be amazing at this job, that’s who we need. When I later told him my background, he said no wonder, I too had that background, I saw myself in you. You just work hard and watch your life transform, and it has. I worked in Zenith longer than I have worked in the UK and the achievements personally and professionally can’t even be compared.

        So Nimi, we are not all toilet washers, or McDonalds staff. We get recognition and there are many opportunities here. Only someone from her class will make that daft statement. Live in the real world Nimi, there’s life beyond the third mainland bridge.

  • femmelounge January 23, 2013 at 10:16 pm

    i have read many of her articles on personal finance. she’s done excellently well kudos to her.

  • adara January 23, 2013 at 11:00 pm

    Ma’am: You’ve said it all.

  • Couture By Makioba January 23, 2013 at 11:26 pm

    Proudly Kalabari….. you go girl…. we are proud of you, sister…..

  • chic January 24, 2013 at 11:18 am

    Awww she is a “Chocs” old girl! Hongera dada on all your accomplishments

    • Rosie January 24, 2013 at 4:12 pm

      She brave dthe crazy cold and came out strong :-)

      • chic January 25, 2013 at 11:50 am

        You know! Kudos to everyone who went to school in the Kenyan highlands with its sub zero temperatures year round!

  • Anonymousone January 24, 2013 at 11:28 am

    I love this piece. The part where she categorically states that Nigerians abroad need to come home and build teh nation. This shows her passion and sincerity. Young people need more people like her who will help validate their career decisions. Thank you Bella Naija.

  • PJ January 24, 2013 at 1:57 pm

    @Take Five Ma’am and Funmi, thank you so much for the comments. Well said and thoughtful. The fact that someone is washing toilet today doesn’t mean they will not breakthrough later. We need experience of any kind to fit into the system abroad. In washing toilet or working in MacDonalds someone could learn interpersonal, communication and people skills which a lot of people in Nigeria don’t have! I worked in House of Fraser as a student or nearly 2 years, I thank God I didn’t just see it as a job to get by due to the deep senseof responsibility my parents instilled in me. My first main job after graduation I got because the manager/interviewer also once worked in House of Fraser head office. For the most part of the interview that was what we discussed. She was so impressed that someone that only worked part time had so much knowledge about the company. I am not singing my own praises, I am just buttressing the points laid out above that truly hard work is rewarded eventually in developed countries. Nigerians of nowadays are so quick to give up. We don’t like to try so hard. I have so many examples. My younger brother andhis friends came for their MBA after a medicine degree. They were doing care work for a longtime, 2 their friends left for Nigeria saying can do better in Nigeria. My brother and his other friend persevered, now they are being sponsored by the government for their training for 4 years. And they receive full pay with opportunity to do locum in their spare time which allow them to earn extra. These opportunities are not available in Nigeria! Please let’s open our eyes to the problems in our society and stop all these hypocrisy

  • Fola January 24, 2013 at 3:06 pm

    Really good interview. I have benefitted tremendously from the writings of Mrs Akinkugbe. I hope she get to read this. The positive impact on my finances and consequently on my life has been tremendous. May your pen never go dry and may God continue to grant you wisdom and happiness. Amen.

  • Mo January 24, 2013 at 5:10 pm

    Fummie and Take five ma’am…….. I luv you dearly

  • Madam the Madam January 24, 2013 at 5:20 pm

    @ Funmi, THANK YOU. Very well said.

    @ Sue: Sweetie, please speak for yourself and the millions of people that you know who are washing toilets abroad. Because as for me, and the individuals that I know, we are all doing quite well for ourselves. Yes, we may not own range rovers and be able to buy Louboutins every week unlike my Lagos baller counterparts, but we are very comfortable. We have good and stable jobs that enable us pay our rents and mortgages, our bills, put a good amount in savings every month, and still be able to indulge in the little luxuries of life like traveling, shopping etc.

    I am beyond tired of you guys who view folks abroad as people who are struggling and suffering. Seriously, miss me with that. I don’t know any body who is out here hustling to wash toilets, so if that is your experience then that’s too bad.

    I mean…listen to yourself: “u wont be allowed beyond a certain point plus wen u compare with ur mates in naija, in a few years, u would be far behind….keep dreaming”…to that all I can say is that with your mentality, you will not get far at all in life so yep, you might as well pack your load and return to Nigeria where you can be on “par with your mates”.

  • Mz Socially Awkward.... January 25, 2013 at 1:58 am

    @ Funmi and Take Five Ma’m – tell me about it.

    No doubt some young people are doing well in Nigeria and I note their achievements with respect. In the same way, I’d like the nay-sayers above, including Mrs. Akinkugbe to also note the achievements of those Nigerians who live abroad and have done very well for themselves. For every person they’ve seen cleaning the streets in London, I can show them 50 unemployed, de-motivated graduates living in Nigeria. And this includes people I know that went back home, following post grad studies in the UK. I always tell people, respect a man who’s cleaning Macdonalds for a paycheck – he chose to do an honest day’s job instead of selling drugs to kids or committing benefit fraud.

    Like Funmi, God blessed me with an incredible career in the UK and I would have struggled to grow as quickly as I have right now under a typical Naija company management system (whether due to not coming from the right ethnic group, not sleeping with my oga, not greeting madam very well in the morning – take your pick). My hardwork is recognized on the basis of what I’m bringing and not who I am, I have a voice that’s heard with senior management who seek my advice, the company keeps encouraging my professional development and the rewards(!). My december pay rise came in and I had to sit down and thank God – still cannot believe how far He brought me in this foreign land.

    I meet Nigerians looking for jobs and try and encourage them but so many are fixated on those stereotypical views which they picked up from the wrong sources. A lot of them are shocked that I’m working in my proper discipline because, seemingly, “they” said it was impossible to find “professional jobs” in this country. Even us Nigerian christians who can ordinarily pull down heaven are surprisingly faithless in that area.

    Know exactly what you want and more than anything, pray (hard!) but even in your praying, see opportunities and never assume they are too small or too grand for you! Oyibo people like go-getters, that’s just a basic truth. So many of my colleagues worked in Tescos, Asda, Debenhams, Gap, bars/restaurants etc before they landed jobs in the oil&gas industry and progressed in their careers. And I’m talking about managers, they started from somewhere but didn’t remain there. And these are people who mostly do not even believe in God! I have other colleagues who have chosen to remain in the same position for years on end. That’s the beauty of the society – opportunities exist, its up to you to take advantage.

    So having a positive can-do attitude & chasing your dream will take you far in this country, with your prayers. I was an adult when I moved over and it was very hard to imbibe this at first so I know about how the culture shock can affect Nigerians. But many opportunities are regardless of class and I can’t imagine anyone trying to make out that anything remotely similar exists in Nigeria.

  • Opsy January 25, 2013 at 9:35 am

    To people like @Gooby, marriage is an end while to others, marriage is a means to an end.

  • TimesAreHard January 26, 2013 at 8:43 am

    abeg how can i marry quick into this Mrs Akinkugbe’s family.My money go dey kampe! I go get shares for Monopoly o. Dont sweat the small stuff jare this woman get correct sense! All of una wey dey London MORE GREASE to ya elbow but your quality of life SUCKS no matter how much you earn.

    • Funmi January 26, 2013 at 4:27 pm

      Go check the dictionary dear for the meaning of quality of life. You jsut came to BN ot show your illiteracy. LMAO

  • TimesAreHard January 26, 2013 at 9:53 pm

    Funmi dont be a silly muffin. The dictionary wont define quality of life. Ur point? People who live opulent lives in London dont check bella naija. abeg take a seat!

    • Awon ti Aberdeen January 28, 2013 at 9:12 pm

      ummm, have you actually checked a dictionary?
      Noun 1. quality of life – your personal satisfaction (or dissatisfaction) with the cultural or intellectual conditions under which you live (as distinct from material comfort); – state of being gratified or satisfied

      Surely you are smart enough to understand the context of Funmi’s point.
      Lastly, different strokes for different folk. You weren’t too clear in your statement so I can only deduce that perhaps you mean life in London is not to your taste? Or perhaps you meant the quality of life in London ‘sucks’ because there is electricity, security, good transport, health, education and justice systems,similar to what you might find in developed countries the world over but not Nigeria? Again different strokes! You must be the opulent of Nigeria who also doesn’t have time to read BN. What could possibly be the relevance of that statement in your post to the discussion?

      Meanwhile, cosign@ Takefivemaam, madamthemadam,funmi, mzsocially akward, pj,madman et al who are taken aback at the hasty generalization in Ms Akinkugbe’s argument

  • Tosin Alalade January 27, 2013 at 10:08 pm

    Personal Finance mastery is a must for everyone that wants to move forward in life. It’s not just about how much you earn but more about how much you save and invest.

    tosinalalade.blogspot.com

  • Show some love January 28, 2013 at 11:05 am

    Nimi I applaud you and Im very proud of you. You are an inspiration. @Funmi and take five, I suggest you stop living for yourselves and come back to your country to change your nation and make the nation a better place for the next generation. Nimi is enrichign lives with all she is doing. She could just sit down and enjoy her wealth but sh eis maing a difference and empowering the next generation> I suggest you do something for others too

    • Awon ti Aberdeen January 28, 2013 at 9:15 pm

      Right, Show some love- what have you done lately for those who are on ground yourself? Comeback home, come back home, what has been done for the graduates currently at home? Puhleeze

  • Ikoyirealist January 29, 2013 at 3:34 am

    I think this is a great discussion…I used to be one of those Nigerians in college who 100% planned to come home, one of those whose parents paid my fees and I was slightly disdainful of people who proudly stated that ‘moving back’ wasn’t for them. Time and circumstances changed my mind so much so I actually almost became one of those people who had no plans to return to Nigeria but after many many years I found my way ‘home’- God has an individual plan for everyone and He truly knows best plus home is where your heart is- opportunities as well are relative imo. I know so many young Nigerians/ Nigeria families ‘thriving’ in diaspora- yes many of them miss home and feel like ‘something’ is missing; many of them recognize the vast potential and opportunities but like someone mentioned the quality of life measurement is a personal one and everyone has their reasons and preferences. Im tempted to think Nimis quote may have been misinterpreted but if not to each their own..every society has its elite and the reality is that for those people ‘home’ has more opportunities…and Ada your comment only reinforces the disconnect between Nigerias middle class and lower class- ‘that’ was a struggle? Girl bye! I often wonder how much education/money/comfort/wealth does it take to be blind to the suffering of our fellow citizens. Without intending to diminish your experience life sans a color TV does not a struggle make- your educated parents still scraped money to pay those schools fees which laid a great foundation to your ‘Dr’….just cos you didnt live on the Island doesnt mean that you didnt have it pretty good compared to others.

    • Ada January 30, 2013 at 11:03 am

      @Ikoyirealist, actually you misinterpreted what I was trying to say, if you are insinuating that I am blind to the struggles of our fellow citizen. See that’s the issue behind writing, the one who writes, and the one who reads it, we are all coming from different mind sets, so easy to be lost in interpretation. I am forever grateful that I never had to eat from the dustbin or bath outside in a gutter, or that I didnt have to carry my own chair and desk daily to school. I on gave the example of walking hours for bus at that young age because my classmates had drivers and numerous cars, and if I had mentioned my school, without that incident, people would have quickly made the assumption that it was the case for me as well. I never claimed we were down and out, of course I knew then, and know now we still had it better than the lower class, I just said that folks shouldnt make assumptions just based on what is written. Its part of the reason I went into the helping profession, and why my organization is established back home, even though I am not permanently based there, and cant move back at this time for family reasons. We cant draw conclusions on Nimi based on what we see on this BN page, I dont know her personally but at the end of the day, to each their own.
      Nigeria lost its middle class with the 80s, now you are either comfortable or you are not. Though slowly in recent years, the middle class appears to be building back up again. People who are gainfully employed and can afford fuel and food on the table do not want to leave, but people who dont, and have been jobless for years, are looking for any way to leave.
      Lets chill with the assumptions
      Not every Nigerian in the diaspora is working menial jobs, many are citizens of the countries they find themselves in, and are making moves, and even are impacting Nigeria in many ways, some have set up programs, even though they arent based there.
      Not everyone who has moved back to Nigeria, has a platinum spoon, many have the outside experience, and passion, and are using networks established either externally or internally to bring about change.
      At the end of the day, we need everyone to be a part of the movement, and thats helping Nigeria in our own little way, so that there is a Nigeria that we are proud of, not just for us, but even for our children.

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