The last content I created with a similar topic like this was a video called “My Open Letter To Yahoo Boys” and it had over 2 Million cumulative views across Facebook with major blogs, celebrities and news channel re-posting it to their thousands and millions of followers. Obviously, with that much exposure on a “sensitive topic” as that also came a lot of insults, abuse, backlash and even violent threats from people whose state of mind baffles me.
You would think all those negative comments would scare me or make me keep quiet about a “sensitive” topic like this but I believe as someone with a platform, I have a duty to not only keep bringing light to the bad effect of this but also use my little resources to provide a solution.
It’s no news that Nigerians are stigmatized as internet Fraudsters. We’ve had that tittle for a while and it’s not going anywhere. You wanna know why? Well, it’s because the average Nigerian youth thinks the only way to “make it big” is by indulging in some type of illegal activity and the people who’ve “made it big” who clearly did so through internet fraud a.k.a Yahoo Yahoo are placed on a pedestal as though they are role models, they are even celebrated in songs and hit records by top Nigerian celebrities.
I have been tempted so many times by people (“friends”) to leverage my knowledge, skills and expertise in Tech into internet fraud but there’s nothing I hate more than people who make money by making others go through pain by taking their hard earned money through false pretense, So, my conscience can never make me do it even if am on my last coin.
The average John who’s trying to build a legitimate business or hustle for himself is seen as a “Mumu” (Nigerian slang for “Not so Smart”) and the average Jide who is clearly making money from internet fraud and scams is seen as a “big boy”, “true hustler” and even a “role model”.
The problem with most Nigerians is that we don’t support true values and hustle. We don’t re-post, like, comment, commend and advice people who are trying to build legitimate businesses and brands but the average Nigerian youth spends a large portion of his/her time on the pages and comment sections of internet fraudsters – praising them, asking them for money or asking them to “show me the way”.
Being a Nigerian who was born and raised in Lagos! Its not a new thing to hear people complain about how bad the government is. To be fair, they are right! A large percentage of Nigerian politicians are corrupt.
They are more concerned about how much money they can embezzle out of the nation to private bank accounts in the UK or Switzerland than they are on the pressing issues of the country and what makes this worse is the fact the most corrupt ones are the ones with the most power.
So, am I saying the government is to be blamed about the current state of internet fraud in Nigeria? Not really, but we can also throw some shade to their side. The main problem isn’t the government, the main problem in my opinion is the individual.
I have only been the UK for 3 years and I have also seen and witnessed first hand internet fraud from UK youths both black and white. (Trust me, Nigerian scammers are learners compared to the guys in the UK!).
In the same country where people complain about hardship and corruption is the same country where other people make it legitimately without having to cut corners and the same country where people call “the greener pasture” or “Land of opportunities” (UK & US) is the same country where young boys and girls are involved in internet fraud and scams. So, you see…the problem isn’t the Government or the country, the problem is the individual.
I am happy I don’t come from a rich house because if I did, my points would be termed “not valid” because most people would claim that it is easy for me to condemn the act of internet fraud because I had a silver spoon stuck down my ass from the day I was born! Thank God instead of a silver spoon, I was born into a polygamous house of 4 wives and 11 kids in the slums of Ajegunle, Lagos.
Back to my point about the problem being the individual. What I mean by this is that everyone has it hard, things aren’t rosy for everyone but the people who will choose to scam and make other people cry by taking what they worked hard for are the people who have no conscience, no values, are not smart as they think and have low self-esteem and believe in themselves.
I rather not be able to afford the luxury things in life than have to scam someone out of their belongings and money. I wont be able to sleep at night.
The problem is “entitlement”, “Laziness” and “wanting to live beyond ones means“ and all this boils down to the individual, this is why I said the problem is not the government or the country, the problem is the individual’s set of values.
How This Affects Us.
The world is going digital. This means that most of the things we will be doing would be done mostly online. That being said, trust will play and plays a very key point in conducting business or building valuable relationships on and outside of the internet.
With our reputation as being “internet fraudsters” can you see how this will affect real and serious business individuals who are trying to leverage the internet to build meaningful relationships and/or businesses? Being a creative designer, I have faced this first hand.
I started my little design service business – Presidential Ideas on my Grandmother’s dining table in Nigeria and I had some potential international clients who did not feel comfortable working with me because of my country’s flag on my profile and some not willing to pay me through Western Union even though I had done the job for them and I had a strong portfolio clearly displaying my done works for other “overseas clients”. (They feared I wasn’t trust worthy because of the news and stories they’ve read about Nigerian scammers)
Mind you, Creative design has and should have no boundaries – a designer in Nigeria can work and should be able to work with individuals and businesses who require creative design services overseas since the internet has no barriers. The only barrier is your skillset!
As if that wasn’t even enough, when I moved to London to get my Masters in 2015, I was contacted by a black owned charity organization who had paid over £4,000 to a British based Creative design agency to design their website but they didn’t do a good job so they were back on the market looking for a re-design. I happened to know one of the people in the firm and he introduced me to the team and said he would like me to come on board for the re-design.
Remember, this is a black-owned charity organization and as a black man, I loved what they stood for and decided I wouldn’t charge them as a business, rather, I would give them a huge discount as a charity organization.
So, I decided to charge them £500 as a sign of my support and I knew I was going to create a fantastic website that was on par with what they needed and wanted.
Weeks had gone by and I hadn’t heard back from the charity after I sent a proposal, so I reached out to my contact within the firm and he said this “You know how these British people are, when they saw you were Nigerian, they started having doubts about wanting to use your services”
Jesus Christ! This was one of the most annoying day of my life. I felt so bad and I really wanted to curse the man out on the phone. I actually told him I wasn’t interested in the gig anymore because I felt so insulted and my reasons were because: I was based in London and I was paying thousands of pounds to get a Masters, I have a creative design business that shows amazing works done for numerous clients on my website/portfolio, I was giving them a huge discount compared to the £4,000 they paid a “British creative design firm” that did a bullshit job, I am a black business owner just like their charity is black-owned and they had the guts to insinuate that because I am Nigerian, I wasn’t trust-worthy!
I was so freaking pissed on the phone.
The man later apologized to me when I went crazy on the phone with him about how insulted I felt about their statement but seriously, it’s not their fault. It is the stigma that has been placed on we Nigerians as internet fraudsters and not-so-trust-worthy business people. One of the worst things a legitimate business person can face is someone telling them they are a fraud.
This stigma will continue to hold people around the world who are Nigerians back from positions and deals if we do not curb this act of making internet fraud a “normal thing” and stop celebrating these lazy people giving the country a bad name.
In one simple sentence. The solution doesn’t lie in the hands of the Government. They cannot and will not create (even though they can afford to) jobs for everyone in the country! Even if they do, jobs always comes with skill requirements.
No one will employ you if you do not have some type of value you can add to the company. This is one fact that A LOT of Nigerians and people always miss. They cry about how the Government doesn’t create jobs yet they are useless themselves – they have no practical skill, no knowledge and nothing to offer a company if they are being hired.
No one will employ you if you do not have some type of value you can add to the company.
Interestingly, even if you have a University degree, that still doesn’t mean jack shit if you don’t have something of value to add to a company. Your degree can and might get you the interview or even the job, but once you have it and you are seen as useless to the company, you are going to get kicked out!
So, the solution just like the problem is the individual. People need to stop feeling entitled and get equipped with a knowledge or a practical skill that people will exchange their money for.
Money only comes when you give someone something of value – This can be a product, a service/expertise or even your time . Its as simple as that.
It is as simple as that.
The same time used by internet fraudsters to look for targets, build false friendships with their preys and then scam them out of their money can be used to acquire a skill or knowledge that can be turned into a business or service.
Lets face it, this isn’t rocket science.
Making money the legit way is hard, it takes time, patience, maybe even kissing some assess and working the long game and these things are what the person who decides to go into internet fraud has no time to face, so they go the “easy route” of internet fraud just to buy some Gucci, live a luxurious lifestyle and become social media famous.
The act of internet fraud needs to stop being seen as a “normal thing” and stop being glamorized by celebrities. Sure, the songs are catchy but the glamorization of these G boys, Yahoo Yahoo Boys and fraudsters makes the younger up-coming generation think it is cool or a normal thing to be involved in internet fraud when it is not. It also makes the legitimate business owners and hustlers feel as though their hardwork isn’t worth it when they see the riches accumulated by these guys in a very short period of time.
The funny thing about this is the fact most of these fraudsters never actually create companies or businesses that adds value to the society or creates a source of income for others. They spend their money in the clubs competing against one another, they buy expensive cars and jewelries, they tear down Gucci stores and more! It is legitimate business people who create business opportunities that creates jobs for others.
So you see, these fraud guys have no good to the society. They are doing more hard than good.
Like I said above, the solution is the individual and their personal decision to empower themselves with knowledge, information and skills that they can hold on to and turn into a source of income. I have been using my platform, skill and resources to add value to thousands of lives by empowering them with skills, knowledge and information that can be turned into a source of income. I just recently launched an online university where people can come get a practical digital skill for FREE.
This isn’t much some would say, but it is what I have and can do. I believe so much in not giving a man a fish but rather teaching him how to fish so he can go to the river anytime he wants and make a killing on his own terms.
You give a poor man a fish and you feed him for a day. You teach him to fish and you give him an occupation that will feed him for a lifetime.”
This is my personal solution and I believe regardless of the claims that most Nigerians make about not having good internet connection, they still spend enormous amount of time on social media doing un-productive things that adds no value to their lives. This time can be sued to learn a top digital skill and also how to monetize that skill.