These guys are quite educated, they can access information where and when necessary, and they know the risks involved. So, why do it, I asked them. One responded that it was like buying a lottery ticket but with a higher guarantee of returns. They all said they have seen people’s investments go down in the banks, stock exchange, forex trading, and similar ventures. If the MMM fails, what will be new? While they have learnt to hedge their bets more perspicaciously, they are also mentally prepared for the inevitable. No government, they swore, can dissuade them from the venture.
While I concede that not every investor is as discerning, and some poor people out there are genuinely convinced that the MMM is running a shadowy Wall Street, the interactions with these friends gave me another perspective into the reasoning that drives people to make such risky and desperate investment choices. Not everyone is an ignoramus expecting the soil to yield a harvest beyond the earth’s abilities; some of the investors are simply trying to cash into a dysfunctional system. Like they noted, a number of financial institutions have collapsed in Nigeria, taking people’s money and livelihoods with them. The institutions vested with responsibilities to prevent and punish these failures have not always been diligent.