In the first part, I wrote about the deals that I made here and how I sealed them. In this part, I am taking it back to the beginning, to the people who taught me to use Facebook for good. If you are reading this for the first time, please scroll down my wall for Part 1.
When I first joined Facebook, I was desperate for friends and some activities so I sent friend requests to almost and prayed that they accept. I accepted friend requests from everyone too. I’d stay up at night, between writing and playing Rise of Nations on my HP computer, to search for my old friends on the new platform. My searches almost always returned empty. So I started to find and add up people with New York Film Academy on their profiles. I found Bura-Bari Nwilo, then Vincent Vincent Degree Ajayi, then Teenar U Gene, …. One person led to another person until a known face finally popped up, Anita’s, the girl I crushed over all the while I was supposed to be training as a screenwriter. Anita is the other name for Nwankpa Kels (I already wrote about her in Part 1).
I also joined groups that I cannot recall their names or purpose. In one of those groups, I met a guy called Val and another guy called Chimaobi Nwankwo. It was a group of hip-hop fans and they impressed me the most so I added them. We used to write lyrics and battle rap back in the day. Val informed me of a group called the BASE and he promised that I’d love it. It was not a group as Facebook groups have come to be known today but a chat group since the entire conversations happened inside an inbox, like a WhatsApp group today. I met all kinds of characters there but it was good to finally find people who were always available for a chat. In the group, we talked about everything from girls, boys, school, sex to cultism. Yes, some people wanted to be feared for what they were not (like ‘Kingsley’ who claimed to be a Viking only to vehemently denied ever claiming anything like that when he was introduced to an actual member of the Supreme Viking Confraternity. We also had the pact to support each other against non-members. Here is how we operated, whenever anyone among us got into an argument, usually over some pointless issue, he or she would report to us and every one of us would go and overwhelm the other person. I rarely participated in such oppressive raids because I never had a reason to call for backup since I could handle my business on my own. There were over twenty of us in the group and every day was a different drama – if Lekan was not fighting Eric about something, Val was fighting someone for trying to hook up with his girl, Chidera – it was almost as if we were all irritable from been crammed into a small room with over twenty egomaniacs. The BASE was a monumental waste of time but it laid a roadmap for how I’d later navigate through these streets, a prophecy into today’s culture of rage.
Between 2010 and 2012 when I met Fiona Lovatt, I used Facebook mainly for drama and to escape from life out there. So, if I wasn’t involved in one fight or another then I was busy chasing Kels or G (read about G from Part 1). True to the science of attraction, the universe kept pushing my way people who kept giving me fights to engage me. I brought more people into the group called BASE to dilute the powers of those who were in charge before I joined. If I wanted to take over the group it’d have been easy. But one day, after fighting with a group of kids, as I walked the street of Kubwa that evening, I asked myself if there was a point to it all. Among the people that I interacted with there were barely five with whom I could hold meaningful conversations so I was dedicating hours to fight with strangers who were very comfortable with being idiots. I decided to stop being an idiot myself. So I joined some screenwriting groups like the Rockett Writers Group. Such groups got me writing again. I wrote a script and passed it around to some people for feedback then I started writing a novel. Although my withdrawal from the BASE was gradual, I started applying my time meaningfully here and avoided all the drama going on there. It is why you can’t find me jumping on dramas these days – been there, done that.
I did, some ten years ago, the things that today’s self-styled kings and queens of subs do. Only that, even at such an amateur level, I did it with finesse because I had a substantial life offline. My street credibility was real too, unlike these boys who pump themselves with too much hardcore rap these days and lift irons for days so they can come online to role play.
My friendship with Fiona started on a turbulent note. We were chatting about a tribe from New Zealand when I sent her an erotic story written for Kels 🤣🤣🤣. There was no way to retract messages back then so I quickly apologized and explained that it was for another girl. When she came online and read it she flared up. I apologized to her for two days but she refused to accept that it was a story for Kels, so I switched into a combat mode and asked her to do her worse. We fought on and disagreed on various subjects from there. About that same time, I turned Facebook into my diary where I shared thoughts and plans: about God, my future, political, and family troubles. Fiona protested against my use of language and other things. Sometimes I’ll ignore her if I was not in the mood to fight. She sent me books and links to articles on whatever subject we were discussing. I learned so much from our early interactions so I asked if she belonged to any group that she thinks I’ll love. She added me to a group called Synopsis where I met a fresh league of friends that changes my life. There were a lot of intellectual conversations in that group and I had so much to contribute to. It was where I connected with Richard Ali (although I knew him since his days from A.B.U), Petra Akinti Onyegbule, Furera Bagel, Isa Muhammad Alfadlah, Auwal Sani Anwar, Olufunke Phillips, Aliyu A. Wali, and Viola Ifeyinwa Okolie. These people changed how I looked at Facebook and eventually other social platforms when I started using them. Their posts were mostly fun and games until Goodluck happened then everyone sat up and the serious, sometimes tense postings started. I added Bucky Hassan much later but she’s also had an amazing impact on my life and social interactions.
Let me confess, I fell in love with Viola and secretly wished that we could date. I’ve always had a thing for women who are older than me. But I was a broke boy with enough self-respect who didn’t want to disgrace his ancestors so I kept my feelings in check and loved her from afar. 🤣🤣🤣 If na today, forget it, I for make my move sharperly.
Anyway, I learned from conversations on their walls where I also met very cool people. They engaged with my thoughts on my wall too and it was all lovely. I knew that I needed a new set of friends, more people like them. I eliminated most of my early friends. While building my new social network I set two rules for myself: avoid sexual banters with strange women and do not beg people for money. You should know that I was broke and knew that some of them were earning well, but my mother used to tell us that your attitude towards women and money could eager make or kill you.
I was once known as a controversial person. My posts from back then got enough engagements to fit into what is today known as viral posts. But those were genuine interactions with myself which attracted other people’s opinion and they erroneously thought I was deliberately courting disagreements. I said things as they occurred to me, unfiltered. Soon, I discovered that there were people who were encouraged my posts about my struggle with family and religion, even though the majority of my TL tried to police my thoughts.
Then I joined the Words Rhymes & Rhythm / Cọ́nscìò Magazine community and my honest feedback on the poetry of some people didn’t sit well with them. Then one day the EGC award was announced and I openly criticized it because I felt that Richard Ali and Eriata Oribhabor deserved to be on the list. It caused a huge backlash. Kukogho Iruesiri Samson and I had our little beef, of course, the poets were on his side but I didn’t care because what I said wasn’t out of hate. Today, Samson is my son. I learned from that community and it led to my involvement with the 100 Thousand Poets for Change (Official). I think that Samson does not get enough credit for what he did for poetry in Nigeria from the early days.
First Facebook Money
I made my first money from here when someone asked if I could rewrite something that she wrote, for a fee. I said yes and she paid 10k for it. She’d later return and pay 50k so I could help her with her school project. Cool money, yo! This was around 2012. It was the same year that I connected with BM Dzukogi through Ahmed. When Governor Muazu was about to create a Book and Intellectual Development agency, BM invited me to Minna to work with him as the first DG. I learned so much about the power of delegating from him and the philosophy of ‘regeneration’. I made some money in Minna too and met a Senator (whom I fought speaking ill of my people) and a house of rep member who became my friend until he passed on.
2012 and 2013 saw me battling with the question of my purpose on earth. I knew that I wanted to become rich but I also wanted to solve social problems. So, I watched out for opportunities to contribute my skills to projects that my friends were involved in. If you were planning an outreach to some rural areas, I volunteered to go with you and take pictures for free. If what you did required so much writing, I offered to help. When the Chibok girls were kidnapped and some people wanted to make a short film, I wrote the script for 60 Drops of Tears. If you had a project that was stressing you or that you were struggling with or that you were lazy about, I’d be there to push you to complete it. If you were new in Abuja and wanted a place, I introduced you to my cousins who then help you to get a place. I helped some people to buy good pieces of land with zero drama. I did all these and more as a token of friendship, declining payments when they were offered. All I asked was that people direct opportunities my way that may contribute to my growth. I asked those who insisted that I take something to buy me books.
I was still struggling but I wanted to be remembered and valued. I wanted these people to speak kindly of me, to look out for opportunities on my behalf, and above all to pay attention to my struggle with finding purpose. It worked.
Benefits from Relational Capital
I invested heavily in relationships between 2012 and 2015. Fiona and I became closer and more agreeable. I flew to Maiduguri to create images and videos of the work that she’s doing with the children there. This gave me access to AusRelief that became a client one time and introduced me to a producer in Doha through whom Aljezeera paid me some good money for a short video.
Teresa Oyibo Ameh bought me my first Samsung Galaxy phone. She called on one of my birthdays some years ago to ask what I wanted and I jokingly said a phone. A few hours later she delivered the brand new phone. It was the first time that I’ll hold a 200k phone in my hand (I still have the phone and the receipt even though I’ve long stopped using it). Yeah, I am the guy behind those beautiful pictures you see of the work that her organization does. She can always call and I’ll answer.
Talking about birthdays, I received my first birthday present from a total stranger. I don’t remember how Pearl Allison and I became friends but on one birthday she promised to send me a cake. On the main day, she apologized and asked to send me money instead. That was my first birthday gift as an adult. I cried. Pearl and I didn’t interact again and we only met for the first time in 2018 when I hosted her and her husband at my office in Lagos. Her husband, Adam Adams Allison is one of my confidants today.
I have battled with mental illness all my life and have always had major breakdowns every 3 – 4 years. I’ve shared already how I made my first few millions a year before joining Facebook. I lost all that money and my first business failed partly because of ignorance and ill-health. In 2013, I started making money again, plenty of it. I had another breakdown and lost everything. In 2015 I started making good money again and made millions of naira 2016. Towards the end of that year, I had another major break down and lost everything. How it usually happens is that once the time comes, I lose interest in people, things, and work. So I start to lose clients and equipment (mostly stolen from me or given away). I sell some things to buy medication. But I could go for several months or even a full year without doing any work and avoiding interactions. By the end of 2017, for instance, after a year of being a vegetable, I was broke and 1.6million naira in debt. I was about to lose another investment when I reached out to Isa for a pick me up and he loaned me around half a million to save that investment. Of course, I paid it back after a few months and also went on to clear my other debts. Last year, I had a major break down, four years after the one in 2016. But this time around I did not lose everything because I fought fiercely for 11months to stay sane and active. I finally got diagnosed and started treatment because I am tired of having to start building from the scratch every 3 or 4 years.
Every time I crashed, people from my social network would help me back up throwing opportunities my way and holding me until I can walk well again. All the time that I battled with this monster illness I’ve always had an open check from my rich friends. They’ve always asked me to say how much and the money will be made available. But I never asked, because I always get and I am not one to take advantage of people’s generosity. I’ve only accepted money from my good friend and collaborator, Victoria Nwogu and this was some years back when she sponsored my therapy because I couldn’t afford it at the time. Ah, Vick Legal, my dear friend, and sister to my supposed lover, Viola 🤣🤣🤣
So how did all these make me millions? Well, all the gigs that I mentioned in Part 1 of the post were gotten on the strength of the relationships that I built over years. I got to where I am today thanks to all these people. My interactions with them and the things that I learned from them from afar, plus opportunities that I gleaned from their walls (some shared with me directly). I’ve worked with NGOs and earned in dollars without applying for the gigs, all on the strength of referrals from Facebook people. I have also applied for things that I probably wouldn’t have known about if they weren’t thrown my way. But first, I had to attract their attention then turn it to respect and never abused my access to them. We disagree now and then because it is in my nature to disagree with you when the need arises. And I demand as much respect as I give. So, it’s only natural that some great friends are no longer my friends today. I still thank them for their contributions to my life.
If there is one thing that my friends know me for, both online and in the physical world, it is that I stand fiercely my convictions – whether they make sense to anyone or not – and that I keep my word. It took time but they came to find out that once I say I’ll do something, good or bad, I always did, no matter how long it took. I also earned their trust. Here’s how:
1 – Goals: they know my goals, my aspirations, and have seen my track records. I know theirs too and support them so it is symbiotic.
2 – Passions: they know and appreciate the things that I stand for: social justice, human dignity, and the documentation of our cultures.
3 – Struggles: I share my battles as much as I share my wins. All my friends have seen me at my weakest and most vulnerable state. They know that I am a human who shits, bleeds, and cries. So they trust that I will respect their sensibilities.
There, that’s what I call my Social GPS and it helps me negotiate my relationships here.
I am going to become very wealthy. When those billions arrive, let it be known that the foundation was laid on Facebook. I am grateful to everyone who’s contributed to my growth thus far. Let’s do business all over again!
I want all the money this year. Talk to me!
Tee Jay Dan