Lagos to London – The Rise of the Nigerian Super Rich

Published on June 11, 2016

Our Take on The Lagos to London Documentary

On Tuesday the 7th of June, Channel 4 aired a documentary about the super rich of Nigeria and those who work with and alongside them.  If you missed it you can catch up here, or here.

It featured a series of characters including Cupp and Temi Otedola (daughters of the oil tycoon Femi Otedola), The Mbadiwe twin brothers who have lived a privileged and luxury lifestyle, and Alex, a self made business man selling luxury goods to the Nigerian buyers.  The documentary followed these characters and a few other smaller characters in their pursuit of ‘health and wealth’ as Temi toasts to at the start of the show. Her sister Cupp looks shocked and adds ‘and happiness’ but Temi doesn’t seem that interested to agree.

So why has Nigeria risen to become a serious contender in the presence of super rich, and what makes their approach different from other super rich nations?

Nigeria is often referred to as the Giant of Africa.  With a population of  over 174 million, its economy and growth is booming.  Nigeria is the eighth biggest exporter of petroleum, and Waterhouse Cooper have projected that by 2050, Nigeria will have a GDP of £4trillion.

It is a striking thought that although the country  is growing in wealth and strength by the day, the levels of extreme poverty across the country are rife. This polarity has led to questions of corruption amongst the political and governing bodies in Nigeria, leading to a very select few reaping the benefits from the country’s growth rate.

At one part of the Lagos to London document, one of the Mbadiwe twins drives around some of the ‘slums’ of Nigeria (after showing the viewers his collection of luxury cars parked in his home garage).  He aptly remarks how the difference between poor in Nigeria compared to poor in a Western country such as the UK is at two polar opposites.  In the United Kingdom he remarks that poor still means you have somewhere to live and three meals a day, whereas in Nigeria poor means so much more than that.  It is apt that he is able to notice the difference, and although seems emotionally disconnected from the plight of the poor people (as is so often the case with younger generations of all nations), one might hope that as he grows and becomes more powerful in his own right, he may use his wealth and power to force change in his own system and country.

The two sisters meanwhile are leading a decedent life in London, and with their father holding a net worth of £650million, they are supported and given the platform to follow their dreams.  Cupp at 23 years of age is an aspiring DJ and her younger sister Temi a fashion blogger.  Their father (as any loving father would) has given the support and means to follow their dreams and carve out a career in this competitive and challenging world.

Cupp is using her fathers wealth to travel, make connections and develop her skills as a DJ, whilst Temi has hired a videographer to capture her fashion blogs and gain access to the biggest fashion networks in the world. Both girls are very aware of what their father has given them, and also aware of their own sex and race in relation to those around them.

Cupp goes on to reveal that she is keen to be remembered one day as Cupp Otedola, rather than Femi Otedola’s daughter.  As often the case of super rich and their children, the children feel a great deal of pressure to not only make their families proud, but to raise the bar to perhaps impossible standards.  She and her sister are desperate to carve out their own identity and are both humble and proud on their journey.

Meanwhile the documentary takes us to visit an estate agent who specialises in Nigerian clients, he talks about how the Nigerian wealthy families are looking to buy property close to Harrods and in the areas of Chelsea, Knightsbridge and Kensington.  He shows us some typical properties worth millions which his clients buy, and comments on their taste (seemingly aligned with how much the properties are worth).  Interestingly he doesn’t mention staffing the households, but it would be typical that all these types of households would have multiple staff from Housekeepers through to Butlers.

Overall the documentary has an interesting and informative feel.  It highlights the wealth and lifestyle that is typical with families of privilege and wealth, but it tries not to judge or lean to bias.  Each family member and business owner needs to be working hard to achieve their own personal goals, regardless of the wealth they may already have.

It is positive to see such young people focused and hard working, striving to better themselves and carve out their own path in life.  Of course not everyone responds to this programme how we responded, and perhaps it is due to our deeper understanding and dealing with Nigerian super rich clients that lead us to believe that no matter how much money is in your bank account, we all just want to walk our own path and not be overshadowed by anyone else.

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