By YAYA ADEMOLA
FROM pre-independence till 1980 (before 1960-1980), our value system was basically operational. Money was the proceeds of labour, productivity and services rendered. At this epoch, nobody, either as a private citizen or public figure in government, could amass stupendous wealth in a jiffy without attracting questions and resentment from the society. In the recent period however, things have gone haywire! Money is no longer the proceeds of hard work and services rendered but of stealing, corruption, scam and criminality. A Yahoo boy and a politician are two sides of same coin in this show of shame. Yahoo is a man/woman who carries out (internet) 419 frauds. Yahoo is named after the internet company – Yahoo – whose free e-mail accounts are oftentimes used by scammers. Yahoo boys use e-mail or message with the goal of tricking their victims or targets into providing valuable data such as login credentials to be used later to steal money or more data.
Ramon Olorunwa Abbas also known as Hushpuppi is a striking example. This young man was born in Lagos on October 11, 1982. He was raised in Lagos with a humble background and was struggling, selling second-hand clothes (Okirika) in Lagos before he relocated to Malaysia and finally to Dubai where he was arrested in June 2020 for alleged cybercrime by Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Before his arrest, Hushpuppi was known for his flamboyant and luxurious lifestyle which was a major influence on youths who aspire to be like him. He was always flaunting designer clothes and shoes like Gucci, D&G, Fendi and Nikki. In addition to Range Rover Sport, Mercedes Benz G-Wagon, Brabus G-Wagon, Ferrari 488 GTB, Mercedes Benz Maybach S650 all in his garage, he acquired a Supercer Cullina, the first SUV ever produced by a British manufacturer worth over N126 million; Rolls Royce worth over N100 million; Bugatti Veyron worth N250 million; Ferrari 458 Italia estimated to be N150 million and Lamborghini Aventador worth N115 million. His net worth was said to be over $35.5 million (N17 billion).
For a lot of factors, a very large number of Nigerian youths have taken to Yahoo. They are easily profiled by their appearances like wearing earrings or ear studs, braided, locked or dyed hair, use of I-phone and always found with PC. The appalling thing is that when their scam doesn’t succeed for a relatively long time and they get broke as they live ostentatious lifestyles, patronising night clubs and squandering huge money on drinks, smokes, drugs and women, they take to what they call Yahoo-Plus which simply means other crimes and criminality aside cybercrime like ritual killings, kidnapping for ransom, armed robbery, etc.
It is same for most of the politicians. In fact, theirs seems to be worst. Most of them emanated from humble background to stupendous wealth within a very short time. They get so rich by cornering into their private pockets wealth and resources meant for development of the society placed in their care. Meanwhile, every money a politician steals retards society and pushes poor people children into the street, as harsh economic reality created by the greedy and shameless politicians will make parents lose their capacity for effective parenthood. As Yahoo boys use online to scam people, so the politicians use thugs, rigging, vote buying and other electoral malpractices to trick people to obtain their mandate to rule and loot. October 2021 revelation by Pandora Papers of secret assets and businesses of some of our politicians in power should still be very fresh in our memory. Pandora Papers are led by International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) .The law of the land prohibits public officers from running private businesses except farming. Although, they have continued to deny, they are alleged to be running highbrow businesses and buying castles abroad from our collective wealth in their care. They have continued to steal money while pretending to be doing us favour by executing some projects which are statutory.
Just like their conjoined twins, the politicians spend money lavishly on posh cars, women and other vanities. As yahoo boys engage in yahoo-plus, so also do politicians engage in drug trafficking, rituals, etc. Have you forgotten Okija shrine palava some 15 years ago? The regrettable aspect is that these young men and women see these shameless politicians as role models to make money at all cost. In this melee, our value system has evaporated with mass of parents losing their parenthood due to harsh economic condition that has made lives miserable for the majority as hyper inflation, mass poverty and unemployment have taken over as a result of bad leadership of majority of the politicians. Although, the day of reckoning is at hand, as long as these thieving politicians hold sway in our politics and run states affairs, sorrow, tears and blood will continue to be the portion of majority of the people.
Fasting and prayers alone cannot salvage the situation. What is additionally required is the practical determination of the mass of the poor people who are the majority in the society. Henceforth, the poor people should not take electoral bribe of “vote and cook a pot of soup.” How long will N5,000 collected from politician to sell your vote last while you hand over your lives to him for four years? As we are moving to another electoral year, we must collectively shine our eyes and kick out the thieving politicians and replace them with conscientious ones who will grow our society and make it a better place for majority, where hunger, poverty and misery in the midst of plenty will cease to exist.