FRUSTRATION SETS IN FOR COMMANDCLEM INVESTMENT SCHEME’s INVESTORS

For expectant investors that had invested sums ranging between N20,000 and N1million before June 19 2008 in the Commandclem Social Security Scheme, it seems the promise of the wind fall from their investment in the scheme is taking too long to materialize. Those that spoke with FORTUNE&CLASS WEEKLY said the wait for the conclusion of the court process that will enable the operators of the scheme start paying them is becoming frustrating.

The story behind the wealth making potentials of the Commandclem scheme is quite interesting. Protagonists of the scheme market it to intending investors as the ultimate path to escaping poverty through registering to become a patentee of a special paint product invented by a Nigerian way back in the 1980s or 1990s, in truth, non of the marketers can be specific about the date of the invention. By registering in the scheme, the investor is said to become a co-patentee to the supposed inventor of the product, a man named King Clement Uwemediimo.

Registered patentees, according to the scheme’s marketers, would be positioned to earn a life time monthly allowance of N30,000. Even after the death of the patentee, his or her offspring would be entitled to the monthly payment. There are other categories in the scheme differentiated by registration fee. The highest possible class in the patentee category is the Knight. A patentee qualifies to this category on paying a registration fee of N4,000,000. The promised benefits to a patentee in this category can’t all be listed, but it include lifetime monthly earning of N300,000, constant contract jobs and holidays in exotic places around the world.

The promises are quite impressive. But the downside is that benefitting from the impressive promises of the scheme is tied to the success of a court case. According to the marketers, King Uwemediimo had sued Mobil Nigeria Unlimited to court for patent right infringement. Is said that Uwemediimo had sold the right of the product, a special paint with which crude oil tanks in the ocean are painted so as to preserve the tanks from corrosion by the salty ocean water. The demand of Uwemediimo, the marketers said is a sum of $39.3billion. However, perhaps to make the offer more juicer, some marketers quote some more humongous figures like $67 billion or $8.7 trillion depending on the marketer selling pitch.

Suddenly, an industry seemed to spring up around the Commandclem scheme at about November 2007 when it was made public that the an Akwa Ibom High Court was going to sit in the Nigerian Consulate in New York to hear witnesses from Mobil on the patent right infringement.

A group of young men must have smelt the opportunity in the Commandclem court case. An organized campaign was initiated to market conclusion of the scheme as an investment.

The first sales line of the marketer is that an interested investor must be registered with the scheme before the court’s final ruling on the matter on June 19 2008. The second sales line is that Commandclem is favoured to win the case no matter the odd. The third pitch is that the court will order the all oil producing companies in Nigeria to calculate two dollars on each barrel of crude oil produced in Nigeria since the invention was allegedly sold to Mobil, and that, the market added up would amount to trillions of dollars. It is from this judgment sanction that participants would be paid their life entitlements.

The marketing pitch, apparently worked. Advertisement jingles were placed on radio programmes, while alleged representatives of the scheme even went around television stations for awareness campaign. Newspapers advertisement spaces were also bought to announce the scheme that would turn Nigerian poors into overnight rich people that would share in the humongous back log of patent fee that would be paid to Uwemediimo. Even on the internet, blogs and sites were dedicated to invite investors to register before the final judgment of June 19. Offices were opened nationwide for people to register.

Not a few Nigerians were taken in by the pitch. FORTUNE&CLASS OBSERVED a high traffic of people in offices of the scheme in Lagos State. In fact, one Okaiwele Austin requested on his blog site that interested investors should pay N5000 into his account before he would post contact details of the scheme operators to them. The officials of the scheme warned that no registration would be allowed after the June 19 2008 final judgment, this further fueled the high traffic.

But now, the cold reality of some of the unreal expectations of the scheme may be dawning on the investors. In the first place, the decision of the court can not be contemplated by any party to the suit. While it has been confirmed that there is truly, indeed, a court matter pending on the subject of a patent, the ruling of the court case is that of no other person than the judge. And the ruling can favour either Commandclem or Mobil. Besides, even if it is assumed that Commandclem wins the case, the cost sanction against Mobil may not be as huge as expected. In fact, if the court sanctioned Mobil in the cost expected by the Commandclem marketers, it would be the first of such in the world.

Anyway, the situation report at the moment is that expectant investors in the scheme back in 2007 are becoming frustrated over waiting for so long and to make it even bad, nobody can assure them of how much longer they are going to wait. The court that was expected to sit and make its ruling on the matter on June 19 did not sit because the judge was absent. The case was said to be adjourned to July 22. Again, on the adjourned date nothing was heard of the suit. Now, in November, not even the marketers of the scheme can provide updates on the court process and when it would be disposed of.

For a scheme that is tied to the judgment of the court, investors have started grumbling aloud that they were cheated into believing that the case was near conclusion before they registered but now that some of them have their money tied down to the scheme for more than a year, they are saying it seems they were hoodwinked.

PS: It has been brought to our notice that an aggressive advertisement of  Commandclem Social Security Scheme is ongoing in popular media houses in Ogun State, Nigeria, therefore, we believe it is our duty to advise the investing public to look before they leap. Thank you.

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NIGERIAN FOREIGN BASED PROFESSIONALS RUSH BACK HOME FOR JOBS

At about this time last year, the average American based Nigerian professional would not give much thought to a proposition for him to come back to Nigeria and pick up a job. The scenario has, however, changed over the last six months. With massive jobs losses arising from an inclement economic storm that suddenly came upon countries in the highest hierarchy of development, foreign based Nigerian professionals are now becoming more receptive to overtures made to them by Nigerian companies to come back home to work.

The option to come back home has actually been embraced by these foreign based Nigerian that have become victims of massive layoffs in the United States of America especially or are being threatened to be laid off.

The job loss statistics don’t seem to favour Nigerians, the Labour Department had announced that this past October was the tenth straight month of job losses with another 240,000 lost in the preceding month.

Companies that once were the stars of the business firmament were losing their shines and declaring losses. Citigroup announced last month it cut 11,000 jobs in the third quarter, bringing the total number of job cuts in 2008 to 23,000. According to Bloomberg, Citigroup aims to shrink its workforce to about 290,000 employees by next year from 352,000 as of Sept. 30.

Fidelity and Mattel have also announced 1,300 and 1,000 job cuts, respectively just as Ford had said it would cut its North American salaried workforce by an additional 10 percent. General Motors Corp., has also reported big losses and figured to be announcing even more job cuts before long.

Regulators, meanwhile, shut down Houston-based Franklin Bank and Security Pacific Bank in Los Angeles, bringing the number of failures of federally insured banks this year to 19. DHL has also said it would significantly reduce its air and ground operations in the United States and cut 9,500 jobs within the country

Still, the Labor Department’s unemployment report provided stark evidence that the economy’s health was deteriorating at an alarmingly rapid pace. The jobless rate was 4.8 percent just one year ago.

About 10.1 million people were unemployed in October, the most since the fall of 1983. With employers slashing jobs every month so far this year, some 1.2 million positions have disappeared, over half in the past three months alone. Factories, including auto makers, construction companies, especially home builders, retailers, mortgage bankers, securities firms, hotels and motels and educational services, all cut jobs. Private companies cut 263,000 jobs, the most since the country was beginning to emerge from the 2001 recession. It marked the 11th straight month of such reductions.

All the economy’s woes — a housing collapse, mounting foreclosures, hard-to-get credit and financial market may have set a new tone for Nigeria’s gain as some banks and other corporate organizations feverishly woo the foreign based Nigerian professionals.

Just last week, one of the many foreign based that are taking positions in Nigerian banks and other companies resumed at a new generation bank head office in Lagos. He had opted out of Arthur Anderson’s Illinois office for the new job in Nigeria. His reasoning is that business was shrinking for the audit practice of the company because most of the companies on the audit list of Arthur Anderson were more or less folding up.

Another returnee told FORTUNE&CLASS that there is a resurgence of hope in the economic development of Nigeria in the rank and file of Nigerian communities abroad. For this returnee, like another one that spoke with FORTUNE&CLASS the remuneration offered foreign based Nigerian professional to move back to the country are quite better than what their total package in the USA for instance.

Another attraction for Nigerian based foreign professional to start heading back home is the contemplation of his freedom to interact with his or her kith and kinsmen back home in Nigeria.