A recent visit to www.nigerianscam.com sent shock waves down my spine. I was benumbed by the realization that our identity as a nation has become completely eroded of any positivity. Indeed, we have become synonymous with a nation of dupers and conmen who have gained international recognition, if not respect. While we are busy trying to sanitize our country through the re-orientation of our people, and vehement criticism of ills, the stench of our Augean stable I dare say, has permeated all nooks and crannies of the globe.
Now, I will be a great liar if I claim to be unaware of the existence of scam mails emanating from our country. What I never knew was the monstrous stage, which this action had reached. Anybody who desires sincerely to know the extent to which scam mails have gone in tarnishing our national image, should just take a trip to www.nigerianscam.com, or consult one of the perpetrators of this crime. I believe the time has come for us to carefully appraise the situation and work towards salvaging our national identity by putting a stop to this practice.
I am told that majority of the scam mails circulating the world emanate from Nigerians in all parts of the world. This is coming from a country that is speculated to make the least use of the Internet. If this skill of making extensive use of the internet to send scam mails, even as foreigners was effectively used, the current Miss World Maria Julia Mantilla Garcia, would perhaps have been no match for our own Anita Uwagbale!
Now, Internet scam mails come in different forms viz;
We need to carefully examine these forms, to ascertain the level in which we have fallen to, as a country. Indeed each of these categories of scam mails represent aspects of our national life, and indeed, the level to which Nigeria as a country has been reduced to.
The lottery and transfer form of scam operations, I am told are basically anchored on a bring-a-little-and-take-a-big-one strategy. Here, fake winners whose e-mail addresses have been extracted from the web, are announced as bogus lottery winners, or asked to come and help in the transfer of certain huge amounts of money to their accounts, for which they are to pay certain fees. The lottery and transfer modes are therefore, essentially means of survival devised by those brothers, to be able to survive in a country of scarce opportunities. Ingenious as ever, our brothers have found a means of survival, albeit a criminal one. Should we blame them? One of these brothers was even bold enough to tell me that it is the Nigerian youths’ ability to devise means of survival (even if criminal) that has given this country peace, since the average youth has forgotten about revolution, while believing that he can make it through his own ways. Thus leadership inefficiencies that would have generated revolutions are disregarded.
The ones that come in the form of appeal letters, I dare say are not criminal in anyway. The disheartening thing here is that this form of scam mails, portray us as we really are: a nation of beggars. The issue then is that the citizens of this richly blessed country (albeit a wobbling giant), have been transformed into beggars of international repute! In my appraisal of this situation, I shall in my characteristic way, not lay blames on individuals, based on the “what” of the crime. I would rather look at the “why.”
I have continuously asserted that the problem of our society goes back to that point in our history, when we decided to make money king. Thus, since the poor man, focused and brilliant though he might be, is not seen as a human being, it becomes imperative for anybody who has any sense of pride, to work relentlessly towards making money. In a land with little positive means of affluence, crime is embraced. The truth is, who cares how you make your money. Just have enough to engage in ostentatious displays, and you are respected and honoured. I told a friend of mine last week that this country reminds me so much of one book I read in my JSS Two, I think the book is by Pita Nwana and is called Ukpana Okpoko Buuru. In that Igbo novel, one notices how people are crowned “Odogwus” for being perfect thieves!
Yet can one forget the stringent economic situation of our country that has pushed many a desperate youth, about to explode, into crime? Many of those who engage in internet crimes are School drop-outs who were forced out of school owing to the inability of their parents and infact anybody else, to sponsor them through school. Cybercrime therefore becomes a means of realization of dreams-first affluence, then continuation of their aborted education. I know particularly of a youngman, the humble source of the information I am treating here. This young man was with me in the University of Port Harcourt. Unfortunately last year, his father died and with him as the new breadwinner of the impoverished family, he dropped out. Cybercrime beckoned to him, and he embraced it as a solution. Today, he is on the verge of jetting out to London, to complete his studies. Cybercrime has clearly provided him with a means to the completion of his aborted education, and also it has given him wealth.
Now, I am not laying all the blames on our society and leaders. After all, we are all components of the society, and if the society stinks, we have the right to flush it. I must lay blames on my youths too, for allowing the temporary glitter of affluence to make them ruin the image of our country. Indeed, the actions of some of these youths were prompted by greed. My hands are however tied such that I cannot freely criticize these brothers. If I ask them not to engage in cybercrime, which other alternative would I offer? The ball again returns to the court of the government, NGOs and other philanthropists who it behoves, to find alternative opportunities that limit the rate of crime. My surmise is that until such a time that lasting positive alternatives litter the streets, the denigration of our national image through Internet crime will continue.
I am told that the situation has gotten to the extent that before WESTERN UNION approves the transfer of money to people in Nigeria, extreme investigation is carried out to ensure that the transaction was not prompted by fraudulent motive. In most cases, such offers are turned down. I ask; is this how we must continue as a nation?
I realize that that by this exposition, I would have stirred certain hornet’s nests, and further made the “field” more difficult for brothers who are already complaining that the wide publicity given to their activities is making the job difficult. I beg to be forgiven by these young brothers, for while I share your pains, I detest your approach. More important is the fact that I owe it as a duty to the unborn generation to make this country a better one for them. If in the future our children are victimized because of the bad picture of our country, which we have painted through our acts, they will curse us and in our graves, we shall know no peace. Ours is the collective responsibility of reshaping the image of this country.