By Uche Nnadozie
Last week, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) announced the arrest of scores of Nigerians who the United States agency claimed were wire fraudsters. Investigations had been on for a while. And some of the biggest names in the trade were nabbed in parts of that country in what seemed like a sting operation. They have been taken in and FBI announced that this is the largest arrest they have made for such a crime in history. Some of those arrested have their accomplices at home; so there are even more arrests to be made here. Extradition hearings will hold and some people who have been living off others, especially elderly Americans in a well organized crime ring shall be exposed.
More painful are videos making the rounds on the internet. You can see some of the young men in a party or two. In one of the videos, they claim it is a “baby shower.” Yes baby shower is the new fad in town. Heavily pregnant women are celebrated while they are almost due. It’s a pre-party before the birth of a child. What is more, the lavish waste of money is so obscene in those videos that you begin to wonder what they were thinking. Nobody who works will flaunt, spray, march money in that manner. And they were marching the greenback. This is the way of fraudsters. They make everyone else who work hard look stupid.
The idea by motivational merchants about working smart has caught up with us. They and their faith twins are the same. You hear things like: “I pray for unmerited favour” and such jargons every day. How do you want something you do not merit? Truth is: you are unbeknownst arming a degenerate society which younger people feed on to give us what we see with the FBI 77. It is nauseating. The craze or quest for favours unmerited defines our reward system today. Kids do not have need to read to pass their examinations. Their parents have “sorted” those out. We don’t fear or have respect for process. People are ready to pay to make a first class and we think it’s funny. No invention or innovation in cheating ever created anything. From the television to radio, light bulbs, electricity, the computer, aero plane, motor car, train, press, printers, telephone, the internet etc are products of thinking not unmerited favour. Not prayers, not yahoo yahoo.
You can only yahoo yourself into consumption. Think about it, you can’t produce by cheating. Production is a process. I am not aware of any country where citizens believe that skipping process will solve their development, policing or traffic problems. It won’t. This is the major problem with the shame of the arrest. Make no mistakes about this, the shame is palpable. All the arrested and wanted alleged criminals are Nigerians. It is ridiculous. We cannot afford to hide away from this. We have to swing into action and begin to look at our problems in the face and tackle them.
Value re-orientation is the best way to start because to solve this problem we cannot resort to sprinting, it’s a long distance race. Our value system is warped. I repeat: events of last week have nothing to do with lack of opportunities and bad governance. Yes, those are issues but I bet you they have nothing to do with the problems we see today. Those men arrested in the US would have told how bad things are in Nigeria. They would have sought better opportunities abroad and they got the visa. They got to the land of opportunities, what did they do? They shunned the opportunities of work and chose to waste. They created a crime ring and began to feed off that. There are jobs in America, why didn’t they choose the jobs?
We need to start from the schools and we need to take this serious. Teachers must stop collecting money to grade students, period. This is how it begins. When a child knows that he or she is not required to light the midnight candle in order to pass exams, she/he continues like that until she leaves the university. This is after she or he must have seduced or indeed offered “kind” to her teachers; offered gifts and truly gets her or his marks upgraded. Teachers should stop making demands of their students. Do they not have any shame? Kids put under your care are subjected to your groin and pocket greed. Why? When will government and ASUU help flush out such characters from our system? There must be punishment for bad behavior in our land.
There is more.
In Nigeria is like a palm oil stained finger , If it is not your friend, it is your relation or neighbour. Even governors, ministers have relationships with the FBI 77. Pastors pray for yahoo boys, imams do the same. Traditional worshippers add theirs and parents worsen this. They sell their properties to buy laptops, modems, phones and subscription for their wards. They take their wards to different prayer houses to succeed in their nefarious activities. Because money rules this land, it is the kid with the money that earns respect, both at home and in the streets. They buy the big Mercedes cars, live in high-street hotels and fraternize with the police. We see them every day, but look away.
We can do better. We can de-emphasize money for those who are still in school. How do you as a parent task your 16-year old daughter to buy you a medium-end phone, buy flat screen television set and even pay your house rent? She must be hanging out with different yahoo boys or is an “azaman”…the receiver of stolen cash! We know these things; hopefully this scandal will not fade away soon. Unfortunately! On the other hand, I expect government to use this as an opportunity for advocacy; aggressive advocacy. But not yet, apart from the response from the Diaspora Commission, no other engagement on this issue by government, well not in the public space. Yet again, we have fine people: industrious, reflective, welcoming and honest. They abound even in the US. The best of professionals of Nigerian ancestry are all in the US. These loafers cannot define us. But we must accept that we bred them not because of lack of opportunities but because of greed.