The recent arrest of Raymond Olorunwa Abass, popularly known as Hushpuppi, and his gang for cybercrimes has yet again raised serious moral question in the country. Hushpuppi, a social media sensation, was arrested alongside his gang members in Dubai and they have been extradited to the United States where they are facing trial.
Hushpuppi enjoyed massive following on social media as he flaunted his ill-gotten wealth, including fleet of cars and designer clothing.
He was even seen taking photographs with powerful politicians, business leaders and celebrities and was perhaps posturing to become a national role model, going by the accolades he was receiving as a “hardworking” young man.
However, when the long arm of the law caught up with him, he was deserted by his “friends”. But before Hushpuppi, some other young Nigerians who were also engaged in cybercrimes also enjoyed same celebrity-like status until they were busted. Aside Obinwanne Okeke popularly known as Invictus Obi and Ismaila Mustapha Mompha, the media has been awash with stories of Nigerians who have been arrested or are on a watchlist for cybercrime.
Without doubt, while the actions of these young Nigerians who engage in cybercrimes as a means of livelihood remain despicable and worrisome, we are, however, quick to note that they do not by any stretch of the imagination represent the myriad of hardworking, fruitful and honest young Nigerians who have proven their integrity within and outside the shores of this country. Apart from the high-flying performances of young Nigerians in the business and entertainment sectors, their sterling performances in the global academic space are well known.
Nevertheless, we acknowledge that the seeming rise in the tendency for some misguided young persons in Nigeria to engage in cybercrimes often called “yahoo- yahoo” for livelihood remains regrettable.
This tendency, we believe, brings to the fore a crisis of sorts with our moral code as a society. It would seem like the days where unexplained sudden wealth was an aberration to members of the family and society at large are gone. What is observed is a glorification of wealth with scant regard for how it was acquired. If not, it remains befuddling how those young Nigerians got such a large reception and following by society and even leaders, without hesitating to question the source of such massive wealth.
This is unlike in the past when children were mindful of reprimands from their parents and family members if they acquired wealth they could not defend. Similarly, the society would also frown at such actions. But it would seem like such consciousness is no more as the virtues of hard-work, patience and growth in building a well-rounded member of society is increasingly being replaced with a mind-set of instant gratification and a mentality of the end justifying the means no matter the cost.
We are also not unmindful of the challenges before today’s youth in Nigeria. For a country that has, over the years, paid little attention to youth empowerment through sustainable job provision and the basic infrastructure for entrepreneurship, the Nigerian youth is indeed faced with a tasking ordeal. Nevertheless, this newspaper insists that lack of job opportunities cannot and must not be a justification for involving in cyber fraud. On the contrary, in our view, unemployment should provide avenues for creativity and ingenuity. The situation where it exists ought to provide an opportunity for one to launch out and display innate talents that are beneficial to the person, his or her family and the society at large. In our opinion, it is indeed a lazy argument when anyone uses joblessness as an excuse to indulge in anti-social behaviour.
It is instructive to note that a new narrative is needed to tackle the menace of cybercrimes among our youths. As it stands, a constructive and inclusive engagement needs to be made over the issue. By this, we call on the custodians of our moral laws to step up to the task in the interest of posterity.
While we urge young persons to embrace decent and legitimate means of livelihood, we implore leaders in society to equally set the right examples as well. There is also the need for religious, educational and social institutions to deliberately and consistently glorify the virtues of honest living while pointing out the consequences of illicit acquisition of wealth. We also believe that relevant government agencies, like the National Orientation Agency (NOA) should take up the task of sensitizing Nigerians on this issue.
While the place of security agencies in tackling this menace cannot be overemphasized, we also believe that it is equally expedient that sustainable jobs and basic infrastructure as a way of addressing the issue can equally not be overemphasized