What stops Nigeria from becoming a cyber hub that generates wealth for its citizens and even billionaires the legitimate way? I think we all know the answer: It is fantastically corrupt.

Two things that I want to talk about that are kind of unrelated. The first is simply jumping off a discussion in an earlier post—why women tend to prefer initiating dates through social media and dating apps as opposed to traditional organic in person meetings (article: https://olustories.com/pandemic-romance-scam-alarm/)

I had another discussion with a female friend who likes initiating dates by meeting her intended on social media or dating apps such as Tinder for another reason apart from the lack of time: choosing and dating is personal and remains private online, for as long as you want it.

When you communicate with your attraction via DM, your intentions are personalized and remain private unless one of you is a jerk. When each of you share intimate videos and photos in your DMs, it is private between just both of you (and the CIA and Russians spying on everyone’s data)—again except if one of you, maybe even both of you (is a/are) jerk(s). (For those who are mortified that the CIA examines pics of intimate DM transmission, do not worry—punani is not seen as a deadly weapon, it is an asset.)

Ever worry that the US government sees everything?

Social media intimacy is really private, unlike meeting and doing it the conventional way. Of course, what started in the virtual world progresses into the physical contact space too—if there is to be congress. In any event, traditional in person instigated hookups are typically public affairs, with your business out there from the get-go.

For instance, your friends realize your loneliness from not having a partner, and then they invite you to the age-old pit for initiating hookups—a bar, night club. Even a party. These all have the element of publicity. When you are introduced to your attraction, when you spot your attraction and approach them, it is a performance well observed by everyone who cares to view.

Since the time of the Romans, dating and its ultimate consummation in marriage in front of the Church congregation as penultimate to the consummation of the marriage, our relationship trajectory has been a public affair.

"Considering the comparative influence of their respective environments—egregious discrimination in America staring down African Americans versus about the most richly endowed natural resource region in the world at the behest of Africans—African American entrepreneurs squeeze water from a stone, while Nigerian entrepreneurs pick copper pennies from a diamond mine."

However, social media and dating apps help us break this bondage to public view. An advantage in the privacy of social media hookups is when things go wrong, for instance when we break up before the public performance of the couple going out in public, we can keep the foiled relationship under wraps. Nobody needs to know. I think the security of privacy is an additional attraction for women who use dating and social media apps for initiating and finding love. For traditional men who do not have to foot the bill for every experimental date until they find a keeper, social media platforms are a cheaper means of being adventurous; or for just searching for true love. Of course, it comes with its risks for women. We have seen rare instances of women being murdered by a social media date make the rounds.

Now to my second observation: Tyler Perry is finally so quickly a billionaire—even before Puffy and Dr. Dre who still aren’t shabby by the way, with their respective net-worth hovering over $800 million. With at least 5 African American billionaires from the entertainment industry, it is fair to say entertainment makes Black folks rich and is the most bankable industry for them to luck out as billionaires. Sports by the way is also entertainment—WrestleMania convinces us of that easily in case you are still scratching your head. Thus, NBA legend Michael Jordan represents the fusion of sports with the adrenaline of entertainment producing African American billionaires with his net worth at 1.6 billion dollars.

NBA legend Michael Jordan is one of the few African American billionaires, with a personal fortune of $1.6 billion according to Forbes.

However, just remember that the man sitting at the top of the African American billionaire pile (a smattering more like, not really many) is not from any field of entertainment but from the field of the mind—a former investment banker Ivy Leaguer engineer turned tech hedge fund owner is the richest Black man in America and is worth over 5 billion dollars. Of course, everyone now knows his name: Robert F. Smith. He had been quietly making money on Wall Street without the fanfare entertainment is associated with.

So Black people in America are becoming wealthy from entertainment by not simply being products who get a contract. They are becoming wealthy by becoming the owners and risk takers who have control of the products and get the rewards. They have always been entrepreneurs and enterprising. They just lacked control and ownership. That is how your value or net worth can be associated with the control of a “going concern”, and not just a product with a limited shelf life defined by a contract that expires and pays only so much for as long as the contract lasts.

There is tremendous discrimination in America, which African American billionaires must also contend with on their journey. That is why more of the young billionaires we are seeing are coming from a field mainstream America has come to acknowledge and permit Blacks to dominate—sports and entertainment. Or simply entertainment. The enterprising African Americans simply have to figure out how to be associated with control of the products and not just being the products.

the stories of indigenous Nigerian billionaires are as irritating as they are feckless. There is nothing new to learn from their stories. You are merely wasting your time if you focus on them or even study them. So much of it is smokescreen.

Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, and Jeff Bezos tell us the most money comes from the industry of the brain and not the performance industries African Americans have been confined to. Not discrediting the gifted African American entertainers who have figured out how to gain control of production and capital, and consequently joined the exclusive billionaires club. You leverage your talents and can only benefit from what you have. But Blacks also have gifts of the mind which they can leverage—if racism does not bar them. So much kudos to Robert F. Smith for being a trailblazer for Blacks worldwide in the industry of wealth creation through the gift of the mind.

Considering the comparative influence of their respective environments—egregious discrimination in America staring down African Americans versus about the most richly endowed natural resource region in the world at the behest of Africans—African American entrepreneurs squeeze water from a stone, while Nigerian entrepreneurs pick copper pennies from a diamond mine.

However, now we segue to the so-called African and Nigerian billionaires. None of which has emerged from the African American paradigms: entertainment, sports, and the mind. The African American billionaire is associated with talent. The Nigerian billionaire is not. First off, we know the richest men in Nigeria, dead or living, are associated with the military and dictatorship and pilfering. The sums of embezzled funds recovered from dead Abacha still surpass Dangote’s net worth on Forbes—8.1 billion dollars, making him the richest Black man in the world. But none of Aliko Dangote’s wealth unfortunately comes from talent, entertainment, or new money unlike that of the African American billionaires on Forbes.

Dangote is the grandson of a Hausa trader reputed to have been the richest African in his day—Alhassan Dantata. Dangote is said to have borrowed 500,000 naira (roughly 200,000 dollars back in the day) from an uncle to start his business when he was in his twenties. Consequently, Dangote started off much like untalented Donald Trump—using a lot of family money. In addition, Dangote has been aided by government patronage and the patronage of the corrupt military dictators. In a country that lacks transparency (it is said that the state petroleum company, NNPC has not been audited in decades) and is labeled fantastically corrupt, and is routinely ranked among the 4 most corrupt countries in the world, it will not come as a surprise if there is some unaccountable money in its richest man’s net worth.

Alhassan Dantata, a Hausa trader was said to have been the richest African. He was the grandfather of Nigerian billionaire, Aliko Dangote, who with a net worth of $8.1 billion is the richest Black man in the world.

Other billionaires like Mike Adenuga, the former taxi driver in the United States, are often associated with state actors. For instance, Adenuga is said to really be or has been a front for former military dictator General Ibrahim Babangida who is said to be a friend of his. Or it is rumored that he at least received some funding from him. The son of a former Lagos state governor, Otedola who made a brief visit on the billionaires’ index and has now been relegated to merely a quarter of what it takes to be a billionaire in net worth, of course has the pedigree of daddy former governor to bank on, and sudden access to something that has to do with oil.

Anyway, the stories of indigenous Nigerian billionaires are as irritating as they are feckless. There is nothing new to learn from their stories. You are merely wasting your time if you focus on them or even study them. So much of it is smokescreen. This quandary also displays the Nigerian government’s apparent disdain for the brain. Nigeria is light years away from realizing the brain as a source of wealth like Americans and now the Chinese have. Nigeria continues to eke out its pittance from remittances from its brain drain.

The fact that Nigeria’s billionaires are linked with patronage, ancestry, and mystery and a paucity of talent and ingenuity is even more disappointing given the current state of Nigerian entertainment—the very ingredient and chief industry of African American billionaires.

Nigerian entertainment and artists are hot. Burna Boy, Davido, Wizkid, Yemi Alade, Olamide and Nollywood (and so many more artists) have got the world’s attention. But Nigeria cannot generate its billionaires from being products marketable to the world. Control of the generation of products makes you have value. Something else billionaires have which though a pejorative and may present a prima facie case for illegality in America at least—is monopoly.

Nigerian billionaire Mike Adenuga ($6.1 billion) is said to have driven a cab in New York to pay his way through an MBA he earned from Pace University in the US.

Apart from having an MBA, I took Antitrust Law which is the study of monopolies and busting them up and the creation of laws to prevent monopolies. While I am not going to get into the complicated business of defining a monopoly, let us simply call it the control over a market which rich people have that makes them super rich.

Nigeria needs to have what America has in order to be capable of creating its billionaires from a resource and gift they have—entertainment—and that is an indigenous market that has purchasing power to buy goods, services, and entertainment. America has a consumer market of citizens who predictably earn enough and have residual money to spend on entertainment and sports and not just the necessary goods. Right now, Nigerian citizens are merely desperate to get the basics for survival. Our entertainers are still banking on exporting their art and the purchasing power of foreign countries and their demand for Nigerian entertainment. The same thing with the sapped Nigerian oil industry which relies on foreign countries’ demand for the extract. Today, the brilliance of Nigerian artists depends on the demand and purchasing power of foreigners in America and the United Kingdom and other African countries to make money.

The export reliance model shows how bereft of creativity Nigerian leaders are. The emergence of Nigerian billionaires along the American model, including that trailblazed by their African American cousins pivots back to fixing Nigeria’s economy. Sorry, I meant overhauling or even more like destroying and starting afresh and creating a new foundation for the indigenous economy which rewards talent, merit and what is homegrown.

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I started this rumination by speculating on the romance in cyberspace and now I jump-off its digital domain to contemplate another angle. The West African online romance scam is now known as a global threat, especially to the American economy. It is estimated that US consumers lost 201 million dollars to romance scams in 2019, according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). 90 percent of the West African romance scammers are said to operate out of Nigeria and the masterminds behind internet romance scams are said to also drive business email compromise and other internet threats that cost businesses globally a loss of 26 billion dollars.

Rap moguls and entrepreneurs Jay-Z ($1 billion) and Kanye West ($1.3 billion) show that the most bankable path to the billionaire club for Blacks in America is through entertainment.

All these malevolent cyber operations launched by youth in a country with an enervated power supply. If the government had any good intentions for its people and could mix its good intentions with gumption and political will, investments would be made in the nation’s control and mastery of the digital space. India, a nation in the same category as Nigeria just less than 75 years ago, made an innovative leap into the dotcom era and has since become the global player in that domain. What stops Nigeria from becoming a cyber hub that generates wealth for its citizens and even billionaires the legitimate way? I think we all know the answer: It is fantastically corrupt.

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Jay-Z’s timeless hit a narrative of the hard knock life which today’s African American billionaires have overcome. Unlike their Nigerian counterparts.