We all know it; fraud, “Yahoo Yahoo”. As a society, we have become excessively desensitized to illegal methods of making money. We even refer to it affectionately, glorifying it in music and television programmes.
How? Nigerian youths have legalized fraud as a viable means of survival, whereas the fact is the contrast. Students who spent four to six years in universities and graduated with first-class honours can not secure a legal means of survival. Why? And how wouldn’t he venture into the National hobby of Yahoo Yahoo!
A scene in a widely-followed television show accurately represents this problem.
A simple dialogue occurred between a young adult and an older counterpart. When the internet came up, the youngster’s immediate reaction was, of course, to promptly ask if the latter was referring to “Yahoo Yahoo”. The older adult, quite disturbed, passively dismissed the suggestion.
How accustomed Nigerian society has become to fraudulent activity! Fraud is now obtainable in all parts of society, from the “Yahoo Yahoo” of the street to the large-scale embezzlement of national resources. Fraud has become as widespread and frequent as power outages in our society.
Studies estimated that five million scammers operate in the city of Lagos. Nigerians lost about 12.7 billion to internet scams in 2013 alone. Internet fraud has become more widespread, predominantly among Nigerian youths. A stupefying 90 percent of University students who live lavish lifestyles are involved in internet scams.
Last year, a Nigerian celebrity insinuated that the term “Yahoo boy”- which colloquially means “fraudster” – is not an insult. When Falz, a Nigerian rapper, spoke out against music that glorifies fraud, he faced heavy social media backlash. Have you forgotten so soon the causes of the #EndSARS protests in 2020? One of them was the excessive restriction of police on young men supposedly engaging in Yahoo Yahoo.
Why, my people, have we become so desensitized to fraud? How do we defend and promote it even when we do not engage in it? Why are we also easily attracted to material things, with little or no concern for their origins?
Therein lies the problem. It frustrates us that the politicians are guilty of fraud, but we are utterly desensitized to its occurrence in our daily endeavours.
As a people, we must do better. We must feel offended by the “Nigerian internet scams” stereotype and stigma because our refusal promises more consequences than the coronavirus. It is spreading already. Many people have fallen to scams from the comfort of their homes through phone calls, Facebook, WhatsApp and SMS.
We must do more to fight it, stop those involved in these atrocities and lead by example. We should strive to show that we are a population of honest, hard-working people and that individuals and governments abhor fraudulent activity of any kind.
Faruq Ibrahim Olaoti is a 200-Level student of Political Science. He is the Social Director of NACJ, UDUS, doubling as the Publicity Secretary of Pen Press UDUS. Reach him through 08146986379 and firstname.lastname@example.org.