It is heartwarming to see the rise of Nigerians across many spheres defending the good that actually exists and voicing out against categorizing a whole nation in a negative light, and calling against the flood of corruption and fraud based cases associated with the people of the nation. For one thing, I believe Nigeria has been a country that has been greatly open to criticism more than any other country in past years. We have not only accepted criticism on many issues but we have in some quarters showed that we have many who are willing to change the narrative through their exploits and accomplishments all over the world.
Unfortunately, the media has been designed all over the world to focus on negative news and not positive news as such we seem not to be moving very far even though we are making some efforts individually. With that said, it is true to a large extent that we are the only ones who can broadcast our own accomplishments in this new age marked with competition by countries to promote themselves as the best place to live. The fact still remains that we won’t be given a break to show our good side if we do not grab it by the horns and blow our own trumpets. As much as there is much truth about the rise in cybercrime, no tribe, culture, nationality or people deserves to be tagged with a single story.
The issue of tribe and geographical location being prevalent for cybercrime and fraudulent tendencies cannot be denied, yet it is important for the world to know that no culture in Nigeria promotes theft and crime if followed religiously, it rather is being promoted as a new way of living and making success as seen in many parts of the world. The impatient demand for improvement in Nigeria, has seen some geographical locations experienced an increase in good lifestyle, making way for get rich quick schemes and shortcuts to success that have promoted negative output going forward. From my point of view, no tribe is safe from the inhumane and saddening treatment to be given to any individual with a Nigerian heritage when you leave the shores of the country. Simply put either you are Hausa, Igbo or Yoruba at the point you cross borders you become a Nigerian. So for wisdom sake we should all advice our folk and countrymen equally.
Media and Music
As the Nigerian music industry has witnessed massive success in the years since the early 2000s the rise in cybercrime has also increased. Is there a correlation between them; Yes, a massive correlation. I strongly advise NBC to make a call for all stakeholders in the music and entertainment industry on the type of content and messages passed across in their songs and on their platforms, government at all levels should and must also use these music and entertainment influencers to begin passing branding messages about the way to succeed as a Nigerian. As many will agree with me that the majority of Nigerian youths involved in cybercrime are influenced in their lifestyle by the music of artists and those in the entertainment industry.
Shooting music videos showing the use of expensive items of which are rented and leased, as well as lyrics on easy ways to succeed in these songs has created a trend of must have at any cost. Even the greats such as Fela, Onyeka Onwenu, and a host of others who crossed boundaries with their music showed us that the key thing about music is the right message. Anyone who remembers will know that the goal of cybercrime is to live like those that they see on Television, the internet and other media outlets. The question to be asked is if the success of the music and entertainment should be to the detriment of our moral standards for generations to come. History has never been really kind to the Nigerian story, yet history shows that we are a nation that forgets to teach upcoming generations the true lessons that made great man rise across all tribes of the nation.
A case of Unemployment
As much as many world claim that lack of jobs is a significant reason for the increase in cybercrime I beg to differ, I strongly believe that increased sets of individuals going into cybercrime in Nigeria are fueled by greedy ambitions and peer pressure as well as a case of what they are daily exposed to in the media. I personally do not advice any youth in Nigeria to be an early morning listener and reader of news flowing across the country, as that in itself is enough to cause depressing thoughts that lead to negative choices on the way of making a success in life. That said, I hope the media and newspapers around the country can focus on more positive things to present on a daily basis, rather than fuel a generation of frustrated and desperate youths with more depressing tales.
Television and Radio stations and Media
Weekly programs on many television and radio stations geared at re-educating the population on the consequences and repercussions of involving themselves in fraudulent activities must now be the norm. The examples of those who have been caught being used as deterrents to those aspiring to be involved in the crime. Private and public media houses have a critical role to play in pushing this message across. Simply put, all our futures depend on what our ears and eyes feed on daily.
Universities and higher institutions
It is important to note that a lot of cybercrime is committed by students in higher level institutions in universities across the country. Today it has become very easy for a college student to get into Fraudulent activities, as they have access to laptops, internet and electricity in one form or the other; also the situation is fueled even more by the incessant strikes embarked on almost yearly by staff and associations in the Nigerian university system. While I respect the desire of the university unions to force the government to listen to their pleas and need for development. What i would like to recommend to Nigerian university associations and unions is to think of more intelligent ways of solving problems in the university system without resulting to strike.
Security parastatals must have Partnership with social media companies to have access to suspected profiles of those with flamboyant lifestyles and showoffs. There should also be a 24/7 hotline/ website for those in foreign countries who can confirm the identity of Nigerians through their NIMC or voters card. Solutions can also be fast tracked by implementation of New Cybercrime policies established alongside consultation of the judicial system to meet today’s standards and pass fair punishments. A further solution to cybercrime is to ensure that the repercussions are concise, clearly stated and continually broadcast across all media channels. Through CBN, policies that warrant banks and financial institutions both local and international to compare account holder’s transactions declared sources of income should be flagged and reported to security agencies when suspected. The introduction of new policies to check cybercrime based on inputs of all bodies and stakeholders in the nation should commence across the 36 states of the federation. Fraud and cybercrime should be punishable at local government, state and federal levels, meaning a perpetrator duly convicted understands, there are many jury’s awaiting you.
It is not surprising that many cases of fraudulent activities and their perpetrators are people who visit religious centers, it is not news that many of them are the biggest givers of monetary gifts and are respected by religious clergy across the nation. The failings of the country in moral standards unfortunately can be linked to our religious ideals, as some leaders have failed to instill moral knowledge on their congregation, meaning the inherent moral needs of members of the congregations are not being addressed properly. Many flamboyant celebrations are being organized display of artificial wealth at many religious centers. Many Prayers are more focused on becoming overnight successes with some not even engaged in any form of meaningful job or business venture. Members are requested to make donations without asking questions of their sources of income, while many of these members are being treated with extra attention and wealth in their religious settings, while all these happens around young men who have been told to work hard to attain such levels and yet, they do not have knowledge of the source of such wealth. Dear Clergy, as much as possible, focus efforts on promoting right living and working hard as these are the basis of Godly doctrines. Treating individuals differently on the basis of their monetary input and influence sends a negative idea to the youth.
If any country requires parents to be re-educated on the concepts of moral standards and honest living, Nigeria should be on the list. My finger has always pointed to ‘parents’ and ‘guardians’ on the need to exercise restraints on the amount of pressure they place on their wards. Some parents till date believe that only Medicine, law and engineering if studied in university can lead to success which is covered by their need to satisfy their own greed. Many parents see a university education as the only means of success of their child, not considering hidden talents their children possess, in such situations such children are bound to feel pressured from not doing what brings them satisfaction and opting for the choice of parents where in which they fail to be inspired and either opt for either suicide, crime, or resilience, of which resilience is hardest to chase. Parents through their work place and religious institutions should be admonished on a regular basis with the need to build strong moral standards in their children. There should be avenues made in higher institutions that teach moral education both private and publicly. This may be hard when looked at, but I am sure it will play a significant role in ensuring that parents are passing the right message across to their children.
If you want to enjoy a party for free, attend one organized in Nigeria. The weekly burial and weddings that goes on across the country is a testament to the amount of wealth that Nigeria loses through events and parties. The youths looking to start life early in the aspect of marriage are slowed down by the monetary demands and requirements needed to organize weddings. The rise in social status and demands of wedding activities has caused many youths to do anything possible to make it just to have a wedding that shows high levels of wealth. The outcome of this is not far from the increase in cybercrime prevalent in the economy. As much as possible we should all pass the message across that weddings can be done with the basic necessities met and nothing more. Unnecessary increase in Dowries and payments should not deter young men and women of marriageable age from marrying their choice.
Endeavor to make those back here understand that living in a country outside Nigeria does not equate to success overnight but hard work. In coming back to the country, ensure that the flamboyant life which you cannot display in foreign nations is not displayed when you come here which only causes misleading ideas and notions in the minds of our youths. We admonish you to be frank with your Nigerian relations on the hard work it takes to succeed honestly in any country of the world. And we beg you finally to be shining examples of hard work, perseverance, honesty and happiness that was once attributed to Nigerians in times past. You are our light over there and the first impression the world has of who a Nigerian can be.
Rest of the world
Dear foreigners, we may not be the best country with the highest rate of integrity and honesty. We do not claim to be corruption free or shy away from the fact that we need time to make amends. But for those Nigerians living in foreign lands with you, we ask that you do not allow the sickness of a single story to show human love and respect to those Nigerians and any nationality who has never done anything worth being afraid of. We ask that you look at us as humans first before tagging us with a title that is not dependent on race, tribe, social class or nationality. We ask that you report through your media outlets with a focus on the names of people and not their nationality as focusing on a nationality not only makes life harder for others of good intent, but can also put the lives of many in danger who live in your country, as they are then targeted unduly. Nigerians are proud of their heritage and even though they have suffered a lot in the hands of bad leaders, they have and always will be capable of great things.
Einstein said it is insanity to keep doing keep doing the same thing and expecting a different result. This I am afraid is the story we keep replaying when we fail to question our way of life. The greed by some Nigerians leading to cybercrime is fueled by many factors, which cannot be fully be thrashed in any single discussion, but there are a few which I have mentioned that play the most significant role in this affair.
These factors mentioned may not be directly responsible for where we find ourselves, but collective input from each and every one of them has fueled a negative story no Nigerian may be ready for in coming years. We may not have a new story, this year, or next, or even in the next two years, yet if we take little steps, we can have a testimony in the next ten years. For those doing good, keep doing, for those working hard every day, keep working, and know that there is pride in honest living.
God bless the Citizens of Nigeria, the Leaders of Nigeria, and the Federal Republic of Nigeria.