Promoting Internet Fraud through Music!

by Bayo Olupohunda

I write to express my dismay at the growing damage some Nigerian music, their promoters and recording labels are doing to the current fight against corrupt tendencies and internet scam among the youths in our country. The lyrics and message of most of the songs that are aired on our radio and television stations across Nigeria will further worsen the current campaign against internet scam by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and other anti-corruption agencies.

This is even more hurting taking into consideration that internet scam and their perpetrators known as yahoo boys are mostly youths. Pop culture has become a fad among youths so it is expected that the message churned out in the lyrics of hip hop songs will affect their behaviour and belief system either negatively or positively.

I have listened with concern the lyrics of a certain hip hop song currently enjoying massive air play on our radio stations. The lyrics of the track ‘yahooze’ sang by one hip hop musician called Maintain has been making waves among our youths and adults alike! There is even a dance now known as yahooze! The song is currently being played at occasions like birthday parties, weddings and other social gatherings and you will be surprised at the frenzy at which adults and youths, including teenagers do the ‘yahooze dance’.

And predictably, given the marketing wizardry of the record label on which the song was released, expectedly, the spread and acceptability (?) among youths and adults have been massive. The song is a big hit among youths and therein lays the danger considering the toxic and corrupting influence of its lyrics.

In this particular song, the young musician sang that when he ‘hammers’ his dollars from the yahoo network, (obviously proceeds from internet scam), he will buy a Hummer jeep! It came as a shock to this writer that this song was played at the Eagle Square during the hosting of the victorious Under-17 World Cup champions in Abuja and was repeated at the dinner at the Aso Villa.

The song is fast becoming a national anthem of sort among youths who now believe that some day, in the not too distant future, they will ‘strike gold’ or ‘hammer’ the elusive dollars from Monday to Friday (working days!) of intense ‘hustling’ doing night browsing and sending scam mails in a cybercafé.

Ordinarily, one should not be concerned when a musician is exhibiting his God given talent for humanity, more so when he can earn a living from his creative talent. However, questions must be asked when such talent is used negatively to corrupt the audience for which it is meant for. Isn’t music meant to glorify and uplift the soul?

I suggest that people should listen to the lyrics of the song which has glorified internet scam in its entirety. It is a pity that this kind of music is being promoted even up to the seat of power in the presence of President Umar Musa Yar’dua and other dignitaries. What kind of people and music label will deliberately promote a song that corrupts youths and endorse internet scams? It’s a shame! We cannot underestimate the power of music to influence beliefs systems and behaviour especially in the minds of youths. Are we as a people giving tacit approval to internet fraud that has damage the image of our country worldwide?

Nigeria music labels should scrutinize the kind of music they release for public consumption and their youthful audience. Already, the music scene is replete with obscene lyrics and music videos with half clad naked girls wriggling their buttocks obscenely to dirty lyrics. Why are we still talking of the rising incidence of rape in our society?

The musical videos produced and aired on television will definitely increase the growing incidence of rape, sexual violation of minors and violence on girls and women in our society. The music videos we see these days on our television stations is an affront to the eyes and are constituting a permanent damage to the psyche of our youths at home who watch the videos. Which agency is responsible for the activities of music labels?

Influence of good music spreads like wild fire and so do corrupt lyrics affect the psyche of our youths. Sometime last year, the Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria (BON) banned the music of Nollywood actor Nkem Owoh also known as Osuofia for glolifying the menace of Advanced Fee Fraud or 419. That particular song is still being used as a reference song track for any documentary on the Fraud scourge in Nigeria. The American ABC television network even referred to the song as the official scam song from Nigeria.

Let it be noted that I absolutely have nothing against music promoters, recording labels , the label under which the musician sang the yahooze track. One of the positive advantages of the boon in the music industry is the unleashing of talents and employment the industry has created among our youths. But good morals should not be substituted on the platter of platinum sales of songs. What is the use of making so much money and fame when platinum songs corrupt the society and the youths that listen to them? Music can still preach strong and positive morals and yet attract huge sales.

The type of music we want our youths to listen to now is the one that condemn all forms of corrupt tendencies, glorify hard work and dignity in labour. We have enough decadence on our hands already. Nothing has changed. Are we still surprised that the 2007 Corruption Perception Index places Nigeria at 147 of the 180 most corrupt countries of the world? Will this position ever change? With the majority of our youths who form the bulk of our population and the future believe that hard work does not pay and that fraud is the only way out? To change this, the youths have a role to play. They need role models. No corrupt lyrics.

To win the current fight against corruption, all hands must be on deck. The Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria and other regulating agencies should begin to take serious sanctions against the type of music and films being aired on our radio stations and television. Who is regulating the activities of the recording labels? As we celebrated our 47th Independence Anniversary, the youths who form the future of our country should be shielded from all corruptive influences (including lewd and unwholesome music) that will mar the future of our nation.

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