My Money Mistake is a weekly PiggyVest series that explores the worst money mistakes real Nigerians have made, and the lessons they learnt from it.
For this week’s episode of My Money Mistake, we spoke to a 20-year-old third-year university student who started a venture with a group of friends, but eventually got in trouble when one of them ran off with the money.
Can you tell me about your biggest money mistake?
This happened earlier this year. A few of my hostel mates and I decided to organise a beach party for other students, following the success of a similar party a previous set had organised two years prior.
We were all close friends at the time, and we stayed in the same hall of residence, so planning the event was easy. We handed over the party planning and accounting to one of us, who is a communications student, instead of the accounting student. And that was the first mistake.
How many of you were involved?
Four of us. We had that guy, let’s call him Guy A, who we put in charge of the accounting and party planning, and then we had the silent partners — two other students who invested in it because they expected to get returns. Then there was me, the promoter of the event.
How did those investors plan to get their returns?
From the money left after paying the vendors. The idea was to share the proceeds according to how much each person had donated. Before the party started, we had gotten payments from ticket sales, and as the money was coming in, he was supposed to document them and pay all necessary vendors. But he decided to enjoy life with the money.
Did you guys know something was going on?
No. It’s the kind of thing that adds up after it happens, not in the moment. At the time, it felt very normal and casual that he was buying more food than he would normally eat, spending more money than we knew him to spend.
It felt like the way he would spend money if he had just gotten an allowance or a payment. So we didn’t really make the connection. But after everything happened and we all found out that he had squandered the money, things started clicking.
So, what exactly happened?
Around 8 PM, when the party was just kicking off, Guy A carried some packs of water and drinks. We didn’t think too much of it at the time because he was in charge of making sure everything went smoothly and all vendors were paid.
Towards the end of the event, the owners of the venue accosted some of us, including the guests, to demand their payment. We tried reaching Guy A, and he wasn’t picking up his calls. At some point, his number was switched off.
That was when we knew something had happened. We also knew these guys were dangerous and could harm us, so we took off for our own safety, and communicated to other students what had happened so they could also leave. At some point, the venue owners involved the police and one of us was arrested.
Because most of us found a way to smuggle ourselves out, the organisers started threatening everyone else, holding people down at random. One of us was drunk, so he couldn’t run and we couldn’t carry him. So the owners of the event venue invited the police and he was held down.
How much was the cost of the event venue?
Roughly ₦350k. And that’s without paying the DJ. The DJ charged us ₦50k, but Guy A only paid the initial deposit.
How did you get the person out of police custody?
I still don’t know how he got out, but he got to the hotel where some of the students ran to safety.
There was a hotel?
Yes, some students couldn’t return to school because of time, their dressing and the school’s alcohol policy, so they went to stay in a hotel. That was where they saw Guy A.
I didn’t even know. It was when they returned to school and told me that I knew he had been in the hotel all along.
What did you guys do?
We just cut all ties with the scammer and left him to settle his battles. He was a friend and a partner, so if he could abandon us in that way and risk our lives, there was no need for us to remain friends. So we gave him his distance.
Did he eventually settle them?
I don’t know. It’s not something I looked into afterwards.
So, today, you can be accosted by the guys who own the venue?
Yes, technically. But Guy A and the person who was arrested are the only people whose faces can be really recognised by the venue owners. There was even a time one of them came to our school with soldiers, but the school security didn’t let him in.
Then he returned a second time, dressed casually and got access. He called Guy A and threatened to report them to Student Affairs. They tried to reach an agreement, but I wasn’t involved after the party ended, so I didn’t follow up.
So, you guys didn’t do anything afterwards
No, we didn’t even consider involving the police.
It was a sour experience, and I didn’t want to keep remembering it.
Was there any lesson from the experience?
I guess the lesson was to be mindful of my friends and the people I call my friends. I guess it’s also to be money-wise. If we had also been money-wise, then this situation wouldn’t have happened.
I’m sure that Guy A had used a certain amount of the money and the amount left with him couldn’t add up, so he just dug himself into a bigger hole by running away. Now, I’m generally more cautious when it comes to money.