Now Your Suffering Continues
I have been thinking a lot over the past few days about the ABC news report and its gross misrepresentations of reality in Nigeria. Today reading Adaure’s December 9 blog entry which narrates her conversation with a supposed scammer- and it made me even angrier with ABC and Brian Ross- because they had the perfect opportunity to present a completely fresh and unbiaised perspective on the world of the scammers. It could have gone something like ‘Profile of a Scammer – Why Bright People turn to Scamming’ Rather than call Lagos ‘a disgrace of a city’ Mr Ross and his crew could have gone so far as to research what the major attraction is to Lagos (one reason could be because it is regarded by many as the gateway to success) and why young people decide to scam.
I agree with anyone who says that it all comes down to greed…without a doubt it is a contributing factor in the world of the scammers (and the scammed)…another factor could also be frustration. And believe me there are lot of young people who are out there that they would do anything…not that I am justifying scamming but just trying to put things in perspective here. Reading Adaure’s conversation with the scammer, one can’t help but notice that he is so well-informed and educated to quite an advanced level.
Think about the life of the average graduate in Nigeria who graduates from one of the nation’s universities and then goes on to serve his country in the mandatory one year paramilitary service which is required of all graduates under a certain age. In my time, NYSC stood for Now Your Suffering Continues. It actually stands for National Youth Service Corps – and is a great opportunity for graduates from one part of the country to get to know about the life and cultures in the other part of the country a sort of North meets South, East meets West sort of arrangement. People called it Now Your Suffering Continues to highlight the fact that the time between when you receive your call-up letter and have your passing out parade could be viewed as a make or break period .
Best case scenario – Make – You get a job lined up after service either with the firm, organization, etc that you are assigned to in the first place which retains you for permanent employment and you begin your life.
Worst case scenario – Break – You don’t get a job…and worse you are one of those ‘corpers’ who came to Lagos from one of the neighboring cities – you are staying with a relative who has already told you not to expect too much from him or her and in fact he would like to use the room in the boysquarters that you have been staying in for the past year or so. Worse still, once your allawy for the month runs out- Heaven alone knows where you are going to get money from. Going back home is out of the question…nobody goes to Lagos and comes back empty-handed…you have to show the world that you have made a success of yourself.
Post NYSC, your so-called suffering could begin in what could either be a downward or upward spiral in the life of the graduate. Situations sometimes change and some graduates find themselves making ends meet one way or the other. Swallowing your pride and embracing humility takes on a new dimension and I remember someone I went to school with selling pure water in a kiosk in front of his uncle’s house shortly after youth service – he had a BSc Economics and during my conversation with him, he told me that he was still planning on going back for his MSc…he did and he now has his own successful business. Some of the ladies, throw caution and morality to the wind…and take up the ‘sugar-daddy’ lifestyle…creating a path to a number of different opportunities and in many cases exposing themselves to a dangerous lifestyleOne example of a make or break situation has stayed with me since I heard the story. A few years ago a friend of mine was narrating how he came to Lagos armed with his degree in Banking and Finance from OAU Ife and two traveling bags – (one with clothes, the other with enough food to last a short time) to serve. He landed a job teaching Mathematics in a primary school for his youth service but he was determined to stay in Lagos and make something for himself in the Banking world…after service ended…the teaching job that he had was no more and there were no banks banging down his door offering him a position…he remembered that he was always nifty with the camera and he became a cameraman/video man in the numerous owambes that Lagosians seem to always have the time and money for…he described how when time came for spraying and he was trying to capture these moments…some of the ladies would even throw a few naira notes his way – Cameraman i wo na gba (Cameraman you too take) and he managed to keep body and soul together doing just that. I don’t know how long he did this for, but by the time I met him, he was working in a bank and studying for his Master’s at the same time. His story could have been different, he could have turned his frustration to greed rather than something worthwhile and become a scammer…a lot has to do with peer pressure, character, upbringing and a whole set of factors which have combined to make our boys (and girls too) popular in the world of online scamming, bringing shame on themselves and by extension the nation