Last Updated on by SCARS Editorial Team
RSN™ Insight: Understanding Nigeria – Understanding African Corruption
To Really Solve The Problem Of Nigerian Based Scamming We Need To Engage At Many Levels
We need to engage at the international diplomatic level, at the global law enforcement level, but we also need to understand the inherent corruption of Nigeria, both internally and across their region.
The following article from Nigeria paints a detailed picture of the internal societal corruption that has spawned today’s Yahoo Boys.
The Yahoo Politicians From the South-East, By Kenneth Amaeshi
This account of social and political change in Igboland is one way to understand the cultural transformation of some South-Eastern States in the last 50 years. This has been the scourge of the Igbos – a self-inflicted wound by a people who in the true quest for survival set aside the values that held them together as a good society over the years.
Although the Nigerian civil war ended with no victor and no vanquished, it left many people and families, in the then Biafra, in deep distress and penury. With the inhuman devaluation of the Biafran currency and with little to fall back on, there was no cause for joy. Sadness and gloom covered the land.
Nonetheless, “man must wack; man must survive”.
Arguably, it is this survival instinct that has continued to propel the average Igbo person, especially in a country where he rightly or wrongly feels marginalised. The survivalist finds a natural home in the market of goods and services – an arena for private entrepreneurship – outside the seemingly lucrative space of the public sector. Some Igbos really work hard to re-establish themselves through genuine entrepreneurship.
However, this survival instinct also pushes a few over the cliff of morality and reasonableness. For this few, the quest for survival gradually transforms to the wanton quest for materialism and all it brings. Success is subsequently redefined as the amount of money one has access to and control of. Eventually, this financial success through entrepreneurship inadvertently starts to question and challenge the need for schooling and the legitimacy of formal education amongst the Igbos. As such, formal education is not only subtly undermined, but also ridiculed in some quarters.
Given the vicious absence of the government in most of the towns and cities in Igboland, many of them resort to self-help to provide local infrastructure such as roads, schools, hospitals, electricity, pipe borne water and other social amenities. This self-help is often through voluntary donations and communal levies. Obviously, the money bags are usually the highest donors.
Over time, money gains legitimacy and appears to be the sole signifier of social status and achievement. It attracts worshippers. Everyone now wants to be rich at all cost – even at the expense of good education. As such, the quest for money eventually takes a questionable turn.
The Eze-ego (the king of money or money king) now trumps the teacher – a person who impacts knowledge. In community gatherings, the Eze-egos are hailed and celebrated. Musicians, who also do not want to be left out of this milieu of questionable largesse, convert to praise-singers. It is not difficult to see how the money bags are now the role models for many.
It is important to note that the yahoo boys are not only Igbos. They are not only from the South-East. They cut across all ethnic groups and regions in Nigeria. Nonetheless, the prominence, prevalence, and pervasiveness of this group is very significant in some parts of the South-East of Nigeria.
The societal tolerance of this triumph of questionable money over education is the beginning of the dismantling of good values in Igboland. People have stopped asking questions about people’s sources of wealth. They have set aside an ancient tradition of societal scrutiny and accountability. Anything now goes as far as it makes money.
It is exactly this drop in value that opened the floodgate to what is generically and metaphorically described here as the yahoo boys business. These are simply fraudsters who dupe people (their mugus) while promising them bogus business opportunities – e.g. the phantom oil wells and other dodgy transactions. They mainly target the rich Western world, but the locals are occasionally not spared of their vicious reach. The gullible ones in the global West are easy preys. Their gullibility outsmarts them and they fall on their own sword, so to speak. There are also some innocent victims of these callous yahoo boys.
A good number of the yahoo boys start in Lagos, which has good telecommunications, an international airport, and a seaport – things you can only dream of in the South-East. Lagos also offers a much better business-like environment and a convenient background to defraud the targets of the yahoo boys. It was then a fax, as much as it is now a fast, business.
The yahoo boys really make money. The time investment is much shorter than going through the odd 16 years of the 6-3-3-4 system of education (assuming the four years of university education does not