Yahoo: Nigerians caught in the web




“The most comfortable thing is to live within your means and damn the consequences” – President Muhammadu Buhari; a simple admonition for financial prudence and self discipline, admonishing young Nigerians to live within their means and shun unaffordable luxuries which are usually acquired fraudulently. But the Nigerian blogosphere was awash with criticism and malevolence and there was a great gush of vitriolic attacks on PMB; translating his elderly advice to an ill advised caution to youth, robbing them of ambition, fame, and fortune. Innovation and creativity is the new gold and the creation of wealth and mega business empires of the 21st century has been largely due to youthful endeavors that have taken information technology to a whole new level, digitising virtually all kinds of entrepreneurial businesses. Nigerians have found themselves at the crest of this wave, excelling and gaining global acclaim for exploits in IT, medicine, finance and a whole lot of other sectors of the global economy. Chinedu Echeruo is Nigerian born and schooled who went to Harvard, and later on developed the Hotstop.com software for 300 US cities to find direction in subway stations. Apple bought the company for $1 billion. Echeruo has come back to Nigeria to invest in our economy to create jobs and provide a platform for greater creativity. 
Echeruo’s story is a total departure from the Invictus fairytale of the preceding week, where Obinwanne Okeke who was named in 2016 by Forbes as one of the 30 under 30s to watch, only to now turn out a fraudster, who specialises in hacking email accounts of multinational companies executives’, and fleecing their companies of millions of dollars in the name of fictitious orders made and paid for by his victims. The FBI is currently prosecuting him for over $11 million fraud. From heavy equipment to shoe manufacturers, Obi was hacking their accounts, placing orders and making fraudulent payments. For six months, the FBI investigated Obi and his six other accomplices before he was finally arrested in the US. The FBI did highlight in its affidavit that the EFCC, Nigeria police, and the Nigerian Ministry of Justice helped the agency in its work, which saw to the arrest of the fraudster. Hot on the heels of this arrest were another 77 Nigerians charged by the FBI with fraud and money laundering in America. A 252-count federal grand jury indictment charged them for internet fraud, with 14 arrests already made, while another two were in police custody before the charges and arrests. Most of the fraudulent transfers were perpetrated via the BEC (business email compromise) and romance scams. The FBI gave a run down of the fraudsters and their nicknames/cyber names and other e-identity handles. The EFCC too has in recent times arraigned over 60 youngsters popularly known by the banal term ‘Yahoo-Yahoo’ boys. They cloned apps from Google play to change their voices so that they would not be identified if caught. An alleged $1.1 billion has been fraudulently taken away from unsuspecting Americans, especially the elderly, and most of these scams have been traced to Nigerians. 
Domestically, we have been ravaged by a constant and virulent attack by gunmen tagged ‘Fulani herdsmen’ by our brutally unethical media, who have orchestrated a campaign of slander and ethnic profiling against the Fulani tribe, evidently sponsored to do so, for political gain. A pastor of Igbo extraction was abducted recently and the media reported it in unison as the act of Fulani. Several withdrawals were made from his ATM and his accounts were emptied. The perpetrators were caught and it came to light that the abductors were not Fulani but his kinsmen. None of the media houses retraced their steps and retracted and corrected the previous erroneous headlines and news briefs. A lady still came on Channels TV and continued with the acerbic Fulani taunting on the same story despite recent revelations from police investigations. 
We have suffered years of poor governance, deficiencies in leadership capabilities and patriotic zeal from successive governments, where corruption has thrived as an inferno to public wealth. We have had retarded growth and development and our massive oil wealth gains do not compare with the status of our development and our social welfare. It is no wonder that the youth find ready industry in local crime as kidnappers, and internet fraud as yahoo boys. 
The FBI presser spoke about Nigerians and did not specify whether they were Igbo or Fulani. The dent and the shame, and its ensuing repercussions affect Nigerians as a whole, both at home and abroad. In 2013 when FFK’s ethnic profiling was centred on Igbo, Oby Ezekwesili spoke out and even suggested that the authorities back then, should arrest him for his bigotry and ethnic slander. True, as it was bound to cause chaos, especially with the high tension lines between Nigerian tribes. Now he has turned at the Fulani and she is quiet, amounting to double speak. We must rise unequivocally at all times to stem out ethnic slurs and bigotry.
As the current government is grappling with scarce resources to repair flailing infrastructure (including power, of course), resorting to crime, both home and abroad, by Igbo or Fulani is not going to help our situation. Worse still, is the ethnic profiling of Fulani over kidnappings, and Igbo over cyber crime. Like it or not, we are all Nigerians and identified as so, world over, wherever we go. Even Kenya now shakes down Nigerians for a $50 fine for not carrying a yellow-card, which is sheer discrimination. But that is against us all as Nigerians and not against a particular tribe.
Our actors come on stage, pose, churn out ethnic and religious bile, pretend to be ambassadors of either religions, or one of the tribes, make noises, and end up settling for monetary pacifiers or lucrative appointments. ‘We’ the ethnic or religious following are left high and dry, all riled up from the tensions they’ve drummed up. Another government comes in power and its step 1, 2, 3 all over again, yet we never learn. Our struggle for ‘economic sovereignty’, and industrial boom is to the disdain of the world’s developed countries, and as far as they are concerned, we must remain that harvesting ground for natural resources. So whether we want to identify as citizens of Odua republic, or as citizens of Biafra republic, the world knows you and I as Nigerians and will forever remain so. Whichever passport you flash, the white  immigration officer will refer to you as from Nigeria. The earlier we are ready to settle and salvage our country from the doldrums of poor governance, the better for you and I. Tahir is Talban Bauchi 




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