Over the past few days, Nigeria has been entangled in a number of controversial headlines. From the arrest of a popular Nigerian entrepreneur for fraud to the Jumia internal staff fraud scandal and the indictment of 80 Nigerians in the US for fraud and cyber-related offences, Nigeria has faced immense fraud-related negative press coverage. Over the years, the country has earned for itself a negative reputation as a stronghold of cyber-crimes and fraud. Even though internet fraudsters constitute a small minority of the population, the rate at which fraud is reportedly perpetrated by Nigerians is becoming increasingly alarming.
Poverty or high unemployment, as many Nigerians will suggest, is not entirely responsible for the surge in fraudulent behaviour by citizens. Among the 80 Nigerians arrested in the US, almost 20 of them have been living in the US for more than a decade with citizenship or permanent resident status. In our opinion, a widespread decadence in morals is the major reason for the rise in fraudulent behaviour. Unfortunately, society ranks monetary worth more highly than honesty or humanity.
Although the reputational damage which Nigeria has suffered over the past days cannot be monetized, we think the series of negative headlines might have dire consequences for Nigerian businesses seeking partnerships abroad. Only recently, an international technological firm – Dynamics Intelligence announced its exit from the Nigerian market over alleged fraudulent practices by employees and contractors working for the firm. Nigerians may be getting more visa denials.
Also, more companies may start declining cards coming from this part of the world and alternative payment processors could completely block Nigeria from their networks. Paypal already started the trend by limiting its services to Nigerian residents for fear of being caught up in a messy fraud.
While we acknowledge the fact that there are some Nigerians involved in fraudulent activities all over the world, we are also aware that there are many Nigerians who are excelling in the fields of science, art and technology all over the world and are honest citizens contributing immensely to the well-being of the countries they reside in. As a nation, we believe there is a need for collective efforts to change the narrative and restore the image of the country which appears to be approaching its lowest ebb.
More than anything else, the government needs to provide a conducive environment that will enable its youthful population to exploit their talents and maximize their potentials. Overall, we believe the collective efforts of parents, teachers, government and the society at large is of crucial importance in stemming the tide of the growing number of young talents engaging in fraudulent activities and changing the narrative.
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