Political expediency vs Economic rationality

My name is Adamu Ikemefuna Olakunle. I am 55 years old. I have six wives, one concubine and 30 children. Hadiza, my concubine is my first love but three of my wives I inherited from my father and the others I married to further my business interests. For reasons not relevant to my plea for help in this write-up, I won’t go into why Hadiza and I are not married.

I am well educated and have a business, OG Oni Deltoid E&P Ltd that was thriving but is now facing sustained pressure from competitors. My first wife Tamunoibi is highly educated, intelligent and has incredible understanding of the murky world of finance. She is the CFO of Deltoid and her brilliance explains more than half of why Deltoid remains somewhat competitive. The business has been earning enough to make my family one of the most talked about in the society. We own several private jets, travel around the world on expensive vacations, drive in choice cars some of them bullet-proof, we basically live babyboy lives. Unsurprisingly my wives don’t always see eye to eye and I suspect detest each other. In order to maintain peace among my wives and their children, I gave them about 50% of the shares of the business. Tammy, being co-founder and CFO owns 13% with the other wives, also educated and intelligent in their own way, owning about 7.5% each.

Some years ago, when Deltoid was really thriving, I took out a big mortgage. The mortgage was for an estate befitting of our status with one main house and six other wings. The wives occupied the wings and I the main house. The mortgage was based on a multiple of profits earned by the family business.  Although the mortgage was based on total profits, my share of profit was big enough to pay for the monthly repayment as well as cover most of the maintenance of the estate – as big man consign. As part of the peace deal, I agreed with my wives that they could spend their share of profits or any other earnings however they deem fit with me having no control or influence. So far, the wives unsurprisingly only spend their profit on their own wings and leave maintenance of everything else to me e.g. the footpaths between wings, the golf buggy-like vehicles they use to move around the estate and even the education and upkeep of the children. The wives on a monthly basis rotate on who occupies the main house with me, so I never need to go to them. As you can imagine, we’re talking big money but as big man, I was happy to bear the expenses.

But in the last year profit has come under serious challenge and Tammy has been raising alarm. I haven’t been paying as much attention to it as I’ve always let Tammy take care of the financial part of the business. She says we are facing a new kind of competition, mainly from disruptive technology and that this new threat may be around for a while. With Deltoid being a price taker, our previous approach of using financial engineering to overcome business challenges won’t work this time. In fact things are so bad now that the bank that provided the mortgage says I’ve been running an overdraft account for quite some time and that if I want to keep the estate, some serious cut backs and lifestyle changes have to be made. But Hadiza my love reminded me that I should have a fall back option in that it is my share of the profits that has been paying for the family’s larger than life lifestyle and all of my wives should still have majority of their share of profit intact.

You can imagine my shock when my wives revealed that they all had no money to immediately cover the overdraft. How I did not suffer a heart attack is a miracle.

This is why I am writing this piece as my wives and I need your help, yes you reading this. I have been racking my brain on the options available to me and can only come up with two options. I need to know which option is best or if there are others.

Option 1 is that I assume full control over all family profits. I will consolidate the family’s budget into one, assess what each wife’s wing needs and give them money on that basis. It makes little sense for me to have full responsibility for the estate but only have control over half of family earnings. This option is risky as it involves dismantling the deal that is the bedrock of the peace in the family, which is further complicated by Hadiza – the wives know of her. Adopting this option will require that I become a peacemaker which has not always been my strongest suit.

Option 2 will involve me making it clear to the wives that my responsibility to maintaining our estate and lifestyle will be limited to my percentage share of earnings. I will from now on only maintain the main house and ensure there’s security around the estate to keep robbers out and only contribute a very small amount towards the education of the children, perhaps pay a maximum amount per wife irrespective of the number of children she has or what stage they are in life. The wives will need to ensure that they meet the other needs of their children. If they want the environment around their wings to be neat and tidy then they’ll need to pay for it. They are all educated, so they can pursue new careers to earn more in addition to whatever they currently or will get from Deltoid in the future. Of course, they can keep the earnings from any new career they pursue but if things at Deltoid get any worse, I will ask for their help.

So what do you think? Which option do you think I should go for?

I can sense that you’re thinking I have an option 3 that requires I sell the estate, downsize and attempt to live within my means. Unfortunately President-elect Buhari cannot sell Nigeria. So no, this is not a viable option.

Political expediency vs Economic rationality

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