A culture of scams

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By Wednesday Columnist

There’s a gradual drift of our youth from the culture of decency to the culture of the brazen and indecent with the new gale that has taken over the mix of our mass psyche with its obscenities and moral questions. This whirl storm elevates all that’s absurd and discourages all that’s decent. Breeds of lazy youths are its off springs. They embrace a culture of laziness viz the desire to be on the fast lane without a commensurate level of work or a means of an income.

This emergent culture among the younger and older generation is pervasive in our clime. Some parents are complicit in the nurturing of this breed by perceiving the new norm of scams as a veritable fiat to economic freedom. So, they give motive to their wards and children through fetish and other means to surf the net for possible preys to unleash their cunning and criminal intelligence on. What this has engendered is a culture of scams. In Nigeria, a country with a rich cultural heritage and abundant natural resources, the pervasive culture of scams has become synonymous with both the governments’ ineptitude and the activities of Internet fraudsters, known as “yahoo yahoo boys.”

This culture of scams, deeply rooted in various facets of Nigerian society, highlights systemic failures at all tiers of government and perpetuates a cycle of corruption and distrust. Understanding the modus operandi of Internet fraudsters provides insight into the broader challenges faced by the Nigerian governments and their failure to effectively address them.

At the heart of Nigeria’s struggle with scams lie governments plagued by inefficiency, corruption, and a lack of accountability. From the federal level to local administrations, instances of embezzlement, bribery, and nepotism are rampant, eroding public trust and confidence in the governments’ ability to deliver essential services. The mismanagement of public funds and resources not only deprives citizens of basic amenities but also creates an environment conducive to fraudulent activities.

Internet fraudsters, often portrayed as emblematic of Nigeria’s scam culture, exploit the vulnerabilities created by governmental ineptitude. Their modus operandi encompasses a range of tactics, from phishing scams and identity theft to advance fee fraud schemes. While these tactics may vary in complexity, they all capitalise on the same underlying issues: a lack of regulation, enforcement, and accountability within the Nigerian governments.

One of the most notorious scams associated with Nigeria is the advance fee fraud, commonly known as “419 scams.” Originating from Section 419 of the Nigerian Criminal Code, these scams involve promising victims a significant sum of money in exchange for a small upfront payment or personal information. Despite efforts to combat this form of fraud, including the establishment of anti-corruption agencies and awareness campaigns, 419 scams persist, highlighting the governments’ failure to effectively address the root causes of the problem.

Moreover, the proliferation of Internet fraud reflects broader socio-economic disparities and youth unemployment rates in Nigeria. With limited opportunities for legitimate employment and upward mobility, many young Nigerians are drawn to the allure of quick wealth offered by Internet fraud. The governments’ inability to provide adequate education, job training, and economic opportunities exacerbates this issue, perpetuating a vicious cycle of poverty and crime.

In addition to financial scams, Nigeria’s scam culture extends to other areas of governance, including politics and public services. Electoral fraud, voter intimidation, and political corruption undermine the democratic process and erode public confidence in the governments’ ability to represent the interests of the people. Furthermore, the provision of essential services such as healthcare, education, and infrastructure is marred by inefficiency, mismanagement, and embezzlement, leaving citizens disillusioned and vulnerable to exploitation.

The prevalence of scams in Nigeria not only reflects the failures of government but also underpins the need for comprehensive reforms across various sectors. Strengthening institutions, enhancing transparency and accountability, and promoting socio-economic development are essential steps towards addressing the root causes of fraud and restoring public trust in governance.

To combat Internet fraud effectively, the Nigerian government must prioritise law enforcement efforts, enhance cyber security measures, and collaborate with international partners to dismantle criminal networks operating both within and beyond its borders. Moreover, investing in education, job creation, and poverty alleviation initiatives can provide viable alternatives to young Nigerians tempted by the allure of fraudulent activities. Also, addressing systemic corruption and promoting ethical leadership are fundamental to fostering a culture of integrity and accountability within the government. Implementing strict anti-corruption measures, prosecuting corrupt officials, and fostering a culture of transparency can help rebuild public trust and confidence in state institutions.

At the same time, civil society organisations, the private sector, and the international community have roles to play in supporting Nigeria’s efforts to combat scams and promote good governance. By advocating reforms, providing technical assistance, and promoting ethical business practices, these stakeholders can contribute to building more resilient and accountable governments.

It’s pertinent to recap what this culture portents. The pervasive culture of scams in Nigeria is symptomatic of broader governance failures at all tiers of government. The modus operandi of Internet fraudsters exploits the vulnerabilities created by corruption, inefficiency, and socio-economic disparities, perpetuating a cycle of crime and distrust. Addressing these challenges requires comprehensive reforms, including strengthening institutions, enhancing law enforcement efforts, and promoting socio-economic development. Only through concerted efforts and collective action can Nigeria overcome her reputation as a hotbed of scams and realise her full potential as a vibrant and prosperous nation. Parents who encourage their children and wards to pursue a ‘carreer’ in scams are products of warped values. They, by this act, have forfeited the moral authority as custodians of our great future.

The youth who indulge in the culture of Internet scams as a way to financial freedom are clever by half. Posterity will never be lenient to this breed that taints their character, and by extension, the corporate image of this great country with their schemes in Internet crimes. Conscience, according to Othman Dan Fodio, is an open wound. Only truth can heal it.

Last line:

“Today is a sad day in the history of Benue State; to line up caskets like this is unacceptable. I am so sad and my heart is heavy to see this kind of spectacle that shouldn’t have happened.”

-Benue State Governor, Rev Fr Hyacinth Alia, said at the mass burial of 17 victims of armed herdsmen’s killing.