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 39-year old businessman whose friend absconded with funds meant for his business. He tells us about the unique circumstances around their friendship and how the betrayal affected his business expansion.
Could you tell me your money mistake?
In 2015, I won a contract and a lot of money was given to me. I decided to use part of the money to expand my business. I gave ₦5.5 million to my friend to help buy some machinery and register the business with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) and NAFDAC.
Unfortunately, things didn’t go as planned because he ran away with the money.
Wait. How did you find out?
After six months away, I asked about the money and how registration was going, but he only had excuses to give. He said they told him to come back and do a few things. I didn’t exactly question anything until it started looking like he was playing me for a fool.
To verify everything myself, I travelled to Abuja and went straight to the CAC and NAFDAC offices. After making inquiries about the registration, they checked their database. This was when they told me that my business wasn’t registered.
What was the nature of the business you intended to register?
It was meant to be a bottled water and ice-cream production company. I had already bought some of the machines for production; I just needed the company registered. That was how everything went away.
Why did you entrust the registration of your business with this friend?
My mother was sick and I needed to be with her. This friend used to work at NAFDAC, so I felt he’d be able to help me process everything seamlessly. I trusted him. In addition to a 50 by 50 plot of land I gave to him, I also added ₦250,000, all so he could help me with the business registration.
He never did. Till today, I haven’t seen him. Considering how we met, I didn’t expect all of this from him.
How did you meet this friend?
I got to know him through a colleague who works in a specialist hospital in Kogi state. At the time, this friend was sick and needed assistance paying the bills. I was able to support him then, so after he recovered, he reached out to me.
I didn’t even recognise him at first; it was after he explained how I had helped him that I remembered. From there, we became close friends. He would come to my house and soon, even my kids recognised him as daddy’s friend.
That’s why after everything happened and he ran away, I was shocked. I went to his family’s house to look for him and met his wife. She bitterly complained that her husband was missing and so many people were looking for him. I wasn’t the only one.
What? That’s terrible. Did you get the police involved?
I did, but you know how police are in this country. After some time, they advised me to forget the matter, that after all, people die and leave money. They said his sins would catch up with him and I should leave it for God, so I did.
What’s your biggest lesson from all this?
Never trust any friend to do what you can. We should create time to do the things that matter to us instead of relying heavily on others.