Abimbola Akinsanya Clement known as Bebe Clement is a wealth creation coach, preacher of righteousness and lawyer. She is a woman with an uncommon passion to see to the liberation of the weak and downtrodden. She was in Nigeria recently to facilitate a workshop of believers on wealth creation when Church Times Nigeria met with her taking advantage of her visit to shed light on her exploits in teaching people wealth creation and what believers can do to stay away from poverty.
Clement who has lived the better part of her adult life in the UK, having spent 30 years in that country tells Church Times her various exploits and how God has used her ministry to impact lives. Find below excerpts of the about 40 minutes chat.
You have been in the UK for 30 years now. Did you have your high school there?
No. I was born in the UK but brought back to Nigeria for my primary, secondary and university education before I travelled back. My father was from Shagamu, Ogun State while my mother was from Delta State. I grew up here in Lagos. I went to Omoleye Primary School, Girls Secondary School Bariga for my secondary education and also did advanced level programme at the Federal Government Girls College Shagamu before I proceeded to study English at the Ogun State University and thereafter travelled to the UK.
Why did you study English?
Well that was the closest to what I wanted to study. I actually wanted to study law. But that was not possible because of the competition for that course. I thought I would change my course in my second year but it was difficult. So I had to make do with English. But then when I travelled out of the country I still had to study law to fulfil my childhood ambition.
You studied English and the Law. But these two course have nothing to with your passion to teach people how to create wealth. How did you come about the passion?
Well maybe it’s the Igbo blood in me that makes me to have passion for entrepreneurship and wealth creation. But then I had always believed that salary job can’t make one rich. There is this deception about salary that makes you think you’re getting along but in the long run you will soon discover that you are giving out more than what the salary is giving you even if the salary is much.
I have taken the pain to watch people and I have realised that nobody becomes rich with salary. I always had that at the back of my mind. Salary sometimes makes you vulnerable and redundant. It does not bring out the best in you in some instances. So I had always believed in my heart that even if I work for somebody I would not do it for long. And that I would have to do something by the side.
So how did you venture into the world of entrepreneurship?
I remember my husband and I started off by importing specialist pasta from Italy to UK. It was during the time the British people were experimenting with various pastas. It was a growing business. We were gaining some mileage. All of a sudden we got a big order from an Airline. The airline had a 90-day turn around. You had to provide the goods and they pay you later. Unfortunately we did not have money to do that. We approached bank and they were asking for collateral. That was when I began to understand business in the real sense of it. I learnt collateral is important. And we had no collateral. That prompted me to begin to go into property business alongside my law practice. I was into employment law advice providing Human Resources services just to raise some money. But then there some domestic issues I had to attend to. I got to a point I needed to give attention to my children. So it became necessary for me to reduce my running around. But then my husband and I still do a lot of things together. We were into employment law, property, human resources and we also publish Law Digest magazine for African lawyers globally. Every year we do an award night. We also do workshops on asset recovery helping government on asset recovery and recovery of loot.
Talking about asset recovery. How do you go about that?
The problem on ground is that many politicians steal money in third world countries and dump in the UK and other developed countries of the world. But governments of these developing economies find it difficult to track the loot. What we do basically is to provide a forum that would facilitate the recovery of loots. We were providing the forum where the agencies like the EFCC, lawyers and stakeholders in the asset recovery business would come together and help track assets that have been bought with stolen funds in foreign countries with a view to returning them back to the owner countries. We also provide professional services on financial matters for people from other parts of the world.
You talked about stolen money in foreign land. How serious is this problem?
It’s a major problem. In the UK there is a street called Bishop Avenue. It’s like Nigeria’s Banana Island. There are houses in that avenue that had been locked up owned by Nigerians. Some of those houses were used to launder money. In fact some of the owners have not been there. They were properties that were bought on their behalf. When you see things like that you just wonder at the level of greed and corruption in Nigeria. The corruption is not a recent thing. It’s a sad narrative.
So what do you think should be the solution from your experience in the field?
Honestly I get overwhelmed by the cheer magnitude of the corruption in government. I think until something drastic is done we will not get round the problem. It’s a big challenge. One thing that can be done is if the western world refuse to take the loot; but then they are not stupid. They also need money to run their own economy. So it’s a big challenge and it will take some real drastic measures to curtail it.
Coming back to your wealth creation seminars, how did it start in the real sense of the word?
I was in a friend’s house outside of the UK and was reading an article and it began to dawn on me the wealth of information in that article and the need for people to know some of the things I was reading. It was at that point that the Lord spoke to me to go and teach wealth creation when I get back to UK. That instruction came to me as a shock because I was not equipped for such a task. I began to give excuses like Moses gave when the Lord asked him to go deliver the Israelites from Egypt. I never had a background in economics and felt ill-prepared. But God told me he was not interested in my qualification.
But then I was wondering how the whole thing would begin. I was not a pastor and did not have a platform. When I got back to the UK, I approached a close relative and asked for permission to come and teach in her church. She asked me to give her some time. But then she was not forthcoming. While waiting for her response I bought books on finance and wealth creation and began to train myself. The Lord began to give me details on wealth creation and direct my paths on certain technical terms like human resources and personnel management. I began to read as being led by the Holy Spirit. This happened towards the tail end of the economic boom in the UK. There was money in the UK. Things were going on fine and I was just wondering who will need my lectures in the UK on downsizing and wealth creation. It was like asking Noah to build an ark when there was no rain. But as time went on recession hit UK and the trainings began to be relevant. My relative later invited me to teach in her church but in a midweek service. That was where the whole idea of training began and we have been moving around a lot.
I remember going to give legal advice to a client and the client asked if I was a preacher of the gospel. That came to me as a surprise because there was no outward sign that I was a preacher. She later invited me to come and preach in her church. God spoke to me to teach wealth creation at the meeting. I got there and found about 200 people sitting to listen to me. I taught them and the Lord honoured his word. Now I am being invited to many countries and parastals to teach wealth creation. I have had opportunity of training the Nigerian Army and different corporations.
So what in concrete terms is it about wealth creation?
I believe God wants us to be rich. There are two kinds of people in the church. There are those who believe God is a las vegas machine who doles money anyhow to his people. And there are people who think that God is not interested in us prospering. But just to remain holy and come meet him in heaven when we die. These are two extremes. In the first place I am convinced that the prosperity message the way it is being preached on many pulpits is a corruption of the Body of Christ. It has made many to become lazy and incompetent. There is no holiness in the way the prosperity message is being preached. And some preachers are not sincere. I can’t imagine that some members of my church will go hungry and the lead pastor will be flying a jet. I can’t comprehend that.
The other extreme like I said are those who believe we should not touch wealth at all. But I don’t buy that either. When I think of John 10v10 which says Jesus has come to give us life and to give us in abundance, I believe God wants us to live in abundance. I also do believe that God wants us to prosper. But the money should not be the goal of the believer. It should just be a tool.
I think the kind of prosperity message many preachers preach is self-serving. Young people no longer want to be diligent. They don’t even want to serve in another man’s business. They are in a haste to make it. When a believer approaches me for a job and the person tells me he is a believer my guard is up because people now hide under the cover of being a believer to commit crime and seek for undue advantage. You see the problem? We always want to get the short cut.
Apart from people having half-hearted attitude to work there are many financial illiterates in town. If you give money to somebody to come and start a business without financial education the person will lose the money. So it is not about having money alone it’s about being well educated on how the financial world runs.
What is your assessment of the Nigeria and the UK work environment?
The environment in the UK makes it difficult for people to be lazy. But here people have a care free attitude to work. Employees do their job without a conscience. They are only interested in their pay not necessarily in the growth of the organisation. The church is not helping. Surprisingly some Nigerians in the UK seems to have imbibed this carefree attitude. They are like the children of Israel who came out of Egypt but who still carry the Egypt mind. We are into short cuts. Some Christians in this generation are simply appalling.
But when did you have this God consciousness. How did you become born again?
I had always had a knowing that I would serve God. But then I did not fully give my heart to God for fear of losing what I used to enjoy in the world. But then the Lord still had His way in my life. I got to know the Lord when the youth revolution began in Nigeria. Then a lot of people were getting born again. I was initially running away. But one day my cousin came visiting and she shared the gospel with me. I was ripe then and was ready to accept the Lord. I knew if I died without Jesus I would go to hell. So I had to surrender my heart to Him. That has been the best decision I have ever made.
In trying to inspire people to create wealth where do you start from?
God is the starting point. One of the things I found out is that everything we need as humans is already within us. The gift in the life of every man is enough to determine the prosperity of the people. Everybody has something within that is capable of changing their story. But unfortunately we always look outside for help when we should look within. When I began this training people were encouraging me to take it to Nigeria and I felt I did not have contacts in Nigeria. My pastor was preaching one day and said some of us were saying we do not have anybody to give us contacts and help us, we forget that Jesus is our contact. Immediately he uttered that word I was blessed and I apologised and I began to pray trusting God to make a way for me concerning the speaking engagement in Nigeria. Then I realised that I was connected with the owner of the universe and should not despair. Days later I got an invitation via email to come and speak to Nigerian Army in the area of leadership. I went to do the training in Jaji and found out that participants were the top echelon of the Nigerian Army. I was intimidated. But the Holy Spirit reminded me that my gift would make way for me. That day I was able to deliver and I made lasting impression on them. The number of people I had been in contact with ever since have been a marvel to me.
So I tell people discover your ability. People should first appreciate that they have an ability within them to do things. The starting point is to ask: What would you do with joy even if you’re not paid? That is your passion. A young man came to me and was saying he could do a lot of things only if he could get some money. I asked him to tell me one of the things he could do. He kept saying a lot of things. He could not mention one thing. He just wanted the money.
Investors want to make something with their money. Nobody wants to throw money away. So they are not going to give it to people who are not clear concerning what they want to do.
But there are people who never had this financial education yet make it in business?
I have an uncle who began by selling meat. Today he is into so many things and doing well financially. We confuse financial education with being able to read and write. Though that is important. It is more than that. Some of the so called illiterates we see out there have more financial education than educated folks. They learn many things on their business. Financial liberation and education have nothing to do with formal school. The uneducated are more daring because they having nothing to lose. They take a lot of risk and don’t care about the consequences. The amazing thing is that sometimes it pays off.
Why do Christians face financial hardship when they are supposed to be better off financially because they have the mind of Christ?
What we must understand is that the devil wants to frustrate our finances. He will not want a situation where the believer will have a lot of money because he knows what can be done with the money. So the devil factor is there. The devil frustrates those who have good heart.
But where we have problem is that we also don’t help matters. The devil is doing his own but we are also lazy and lack financial education to beat the devil at this game. I read the books of Solomon (proverbs Ecclesiastics and the stories in 1Kings) and was amazed that he was a first class business man. A young lady was the one who first brought that to my attention at a workshop. I began to discover to my surprise that Solomon’s business acumen was unparalleled. He was into horticulture, animal husbandry, into shipping and people came from far and near to tap his wealth of wisdom for a fee. We should be ready to invest in learning and educate ourselves about opportunities.
A brother wanted to go for a training and he believed in the training but he had no sponsor. He had to look for money through the help of his wife and he went for the training and the training in the long run was a blessing. It was a training on property business. He did not enjoy the fruit until after about eight months after the training. Today he is doing well financially. The way to wealth is to invest in knowledge and wisdom. Unfortunately People are not willing to buy wisdom.
So for how long have you been in the business of wealth creation?
Since 2011. I practice law and do the speaking engagements by the side. My passion is to see people leap out of poverty. The client that brought me to Nigeria is passionate about liberating people from poverty. She invited me to come and do wealth creation training for her church members. She told me that the atmosphere in her church had changed since we had the first training. That is why I had to come again. She used to be in the UK. When she moved to Nigeria she realised that many are under the burden of poverty. She discovered that many young people are doing nothing and asked me to come and teach them. For all we care, if a handful of people key into what we teach it would have just been okay by us. But the impact has been phenomenal.
What do you think is our greatest problem as a nation?
I think it is greed. Even the poor are greedy. We don’t understand the essence of delayed gratification. We want short cut. We don’t want to wait. This is why some fake pastor can exploit us and this is the narrative that you find both in government, church and business circles.
To book Bebe Clement for speaking engagements send email to firstname.lastname@example.org