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Corruption And Scam: These Are Now Officially Nigeria’s National Culture

By Olusola Osineye

I recently got an email from a Nigerian who is in an on-line network that I also belong to. The network is composed of middle class Nigerians, both at home and in Diaspora. The e-mail was titled: A Call to Arms - E-Bay and Pay-Pal Profile all Nigerian Transactions as Fraudulent?.

The summary of the content is that my friend, having registered on ebay and paypal, bidded for some equipment and managed to win the bid. When he eventually attempted to make payment the e-bay account was suspended and his pay-pal access denied. My Nigerian friend was obviously furious and made a representation to them on phone where according to him:

 “To my utter disgust, I was informed that the re was nothing they could do regarding my matter because Both Pay-Pal, and E-Bay had a policy of not handling transactions from Nigeria because of the peculiar nature of transactions from there. There was nothing I could say to convince them that I was a genuine participant, intending to carry out genuine activities without the intention of defrauding anyone”

There were a few contributions to his dilemma and since I found the issue particularly interesting, I decided to give my own opinion. This was my contribution:

For some time now I have actually been re-evaluating my stands on issues that bother most of us- the Nigerian issue.

Sometimes it can be difficult voicing opinion on issues because the ignorant ones are usually the most vocal. They go about ranting about Nigeria not being the only corrupt nation in the world, but they are totally blind to the fact that IT IS ONLY IN NIGERIA where CORRUPTION/SCAM has the official SEAL of government. Nigeria is not regarded as a scam nation because of some silly internet scams perpetrated by some small-time rogues. NO! I will give you an example.

During Obasanjo's government, Andy Uba smuggled foreign curency into the official plane of the FGN. The president of the country was in that plane. Our president and his domestic aid were caught red-handed. What happened? Nothing! The same domestic aid, Andy Uba will one day become a governor of a state. How about now? Yar'Adua's best pals are the most corrupt set of homo-sapiens that ever walked this earth. Ibori has been convicted of scams from virtually all know countries in the world yet he is the god-father of the president of the FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA. Nigerians can be silly at times. They want to go to equity without clean hands. I, Olusola Osineye will definitely double check a Nigerian before doing business with him/her. How much more a foreigner? Anyone that has lived and done business outside the shores of Nigeria would have realised that TRUST is very key to transacting business in the western world. And that trust is what Nigerians and the government of Nigeria have broken over and over again. The argument of some half-literate commentators that Nigeria is not the ONLY scam/corrupt nation is terribly pathetic. Corruption and Scam have become our NATIONAL CULTURE. Some patriots will soon come and start lecturing me that it is not so. According to Hofstede, the most quoted authority on cultural issues, culture is the "combined programming of the mind, which differentiates different categories of people from each other. It has been suggested also that this programming is usually established at the adolescent age in a person, but can also change from one generation to the other." 

 Corruption and Scams are now our culture, and they have come to stay. It is the only thing that differentiates us from other people in the world. Call me names; tell me I am a retard; I really don't care. That is just my opinion. Go to cybercafes all over Nigeria; go to our civil service offices, even our higher institutions are busy breeding future scammers.

The Solution?

Very easy and straight-forward. The middle class are the only solution to Nigeria's problem. Not the masses. The masses are just pawns anyway; they do not count in the equation. The BRIC nation's (Brazil, Russia?, India and China) revolution is being spear-headed by the middle-class-the doctors, lawyers, Engineers, bankers, economists, etc. But in Nigeria, it is the opposite. The middle class sit in the comforts of their offices expecting the pepper seller, the Almajiris, the spare-part sellers, the messengers in offices to lead them to the promised land. Stupid middle class I'll say. The Chinese and Indian progress is being driven by their combined 500 million plus middle class. It is the middle class that have a lot to lose when the country fails, not the vulcanizers or plumbers on the roadside. We, Nigerians in Diaspora and the middle-class at home have our jobs cut-out for us. We either stand up to it, or shut the up and stop moaning, including you Seyi. Cheers.

Dr. Olusola Osineye. (UK)

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