Cybercrime and advanced fee fraud is growing at a very disturbing rate almost everywhere in Nigeria. I read recently in the news that two lecturers of the Kwara State College of Health Technology were arrested by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission over alleged involvement in Internet fraud.
Matter of factly, what I consider fundamentally wrong is how Internet fraud has become normalised and institutionalised at the family and community level, so much that they now provide cover for them, goad them on and aid them in the most obnoxious manner. While, it is true, that Internet fraud is perhaps not new to our national lives, it is impossible not to be astonished by the way Nigeria’s young people now go about it unabashed and unperturbed.
Well, to think internet fraud used to attract public opprobrium and condemnation, it is now completely sad to see how people now hail and cheer fraudsters, like it is some heroism of sort. They flaunt and display unexplained wealth particularly on social media unrestrained, they move freely, own their ‘hustle’ and rub it in our faces like a badge of honour.
It has never been this bad, our values are collapsing before our very eyes. What happened to our creed of dignity in labour? When my brother Rilwan Bello said that the absence of real economic values led to the near collapse of moral values, I felt that strongly. I reckon that ours is a deeply unjust system, that serves the interest of only the elites, rich and powerful. We are sitting on a keg of gunpowder if the only hope young people can find is internet fraud and cybercrime, government has failed its young people and I am afraid that the outcome may soon begin to unravel before our eyes.
Where there is injustice, poverty, unemployment, inequality and lack of real economic opportunities it is not unlikely that internet fraud will be a popular crime, but if we do not interrogate this current system that is promoting fraud and cyber crime, it may be the end of all of us. Aside, from the damage it has done to our national image, it is also the major reason for the constant undermining and stereotyping of our nationals across the world. Sadly, our educational system which should promote moral probity and character development is almost as good as non-existent.
For me, I believe the challenge at the moment is for young people to re-engineer the political system so that it can work for their interest and not just a few who have proximity and access to political power. Those who have access to economic opportunities should never be the norm, everyone must have a fair chance at real economic opportunity and empowerment, provided they have the requisite skill and ability.
We must also focus on revitalising our education so that it can provide our young people with emerging skills. The future of jobs and skills is fast evolving, our educational system must reflect these changes if we would be able to provide jobs and employment opportunities for our young people. Beyond the skills, our education must also establish character development as an important aspect.
To save our country from what has become a national embarrassment, we must therefore redouble our fight against Internet fraud and clampdown on all the criminals who are involved. Lack of economic opportunity will never justify this wave of obsession for fraud and resort to cybercrime.