#SagaCity | Fraud is the new normal

I feel the need to slot in a disclaimer before I proceed with what I want to say today:

1. I am not here to rejoice over anybody’s misfortunes. Neither am I here to play judge and jury.
2. I admit that there are three sides to every story and at the moment no one knows the complete truth.
3. I understand that in a court of the law, everyone is innocent until proven guilty.

Now that we have got that out of the way, make I continue. It is a common and universally well known joke that fraudulent behaviour is embedded into our DNA as Nigerians. From the scammers aka Yahoo Yahoo Boys who surprisingly still get away with enticing unsuspecting bored and lonely women abroad, to the crop of politicians we elect into office. It is a joke that we laugh at brazenly because the evidence available appears to support it as a fact. It is no wonder that  Kelly Hansome had such a huge hit with everyone singing Maga Done Pay and shouting hallelujah all over the place.

As we continue to see some of our favourite musicians get arrested abroad for fraudulent activities, I would like to present to you an issue that is far bigger than fraud. Something that is higher up on the totem pole of vices and is the root cause of so many of our problems. Perhaps it is avarice not fraud that is embedded into our DNA. Too many people fighting for 30 billion for their accounts oh without wanting to put in the work, jumping from one get rich quick scheme to the next. All for what? To draw attention to ourselves and make people believe that our lives are lit.

avar|ice

NOUN
extreme greed for wealth or material gain.

As the news broke about Dammy Krane, the first thing I did was to check his instagram page for confirmation or denial. I was met with images showcasing a lifestyle of luxury. So much so that I wouldn’t blame you if you thought he was Dangote‘s son. I had so many questions. How many records has this guy sold? How many sold out shows? What endorsement does he have for him to be living so lavishly? Who is his booking agent? Where is he even going with all these trips on private jets? Provided he is paying for these flights himself, why can’t he fly business or first class and invest some of this money in his future?

His attempt to classify the news of his arrest as rumours via Twitter was a waste of time as the miamidade.gov website has him listed as Case Number: F17010832. Anyone can perform an inmate search. TapJets, the company he allegedly defrauded also released a statement via their social media accounts and then gave an exclusive interview to @instablog9ja. I presume the moment they realised that he was some sort of celebrity, they chose to make an example out of his arrest.

Outside of what Dammy Krane may or may not be guilty of, scroll through social media and a lot is revealed about the mentality of the average Nigerian. It is sad to see how many seek to normalise this kind of criminal behaviour. There has been some condemnation but side by side, there have been calls to #FreeDammyKrane led by Davido with commentary from his hype man @specialspesh who threatens to deal with @instablog9ja for making the news public. He also went on to make the damning statement that we are all scammers cheating our way through life, looking for an opportunity to “make and gain extra”. I would like to implore him to speak for himself but he seems so far gone. There are people who actually believe this. As if this was not enough, in comes @hushpuppi who was asked by a follower whether the same fate could befall him. It struck me that he didn’t adamantly deny being a fraudster instead he pointed out that unlike Dammy Krane, he makes all his purchases in cash. Take from that what you will.

One fan posted on the TapJets instagram page: “…Dammy is a celebrity and we love him, what can be done to reduce his jail term? If this crime was committed in Nigeria, he won’t spend more than a month in the jail… If he’s guilty of the crime, can he be granted bail? If he spends like 15 years in jail, that will be the end to his career…” What about the fact that if proven guilty, he did something wrong? Another one said: “…I hail all the brothers scamming for a living. Continue to scam till death do you part. The government didn’t provide anything reasonable for us to do so why wouldn’t we scam?…”  It is scary that we have become so desensitised. Contrary to the title, FRAUD IS NOT NORMAL. IT IS A CRIME.  

There is so much that I could say about this need to show off; the desperation that so many of us have to be admired by our peers and to be seen as demigods almost. However in the interest of balance, I will refer you back to some other well known Nigerian persons, who have shared some great insight in the last few days:

@its_lynxxx: (days before this news hit the net) “It would be a shame if your Instagram Life is of better quality than your Real Life”
@djxclusive83: “Don’t be fooled by what you see on TV.. Remember its called “SHOWBIZ” for a reason!! Don’t go broke trying to look rich. Act your wage Don’t let social media determine your life. Nigerians respond only to money. They don’t care how you got it. Even if you have no clear means of livelihood, once you are flossing, chairman ni e.”
@daddyfreeze: “Young people, please don’t bow to societal pressure to conform, be yourself, money is not the only currency you can spend so don’t engage in fraudulent activities to get it!”

@officialEFCC even chimed in: “Ladies and gentlemen, please do NOT mortgage your future in exchange for the transient thrill of ostentatious display.” When asked by a follower to break it down in pigdin for the average lay person they said: “No dey live fake life unto say you wan flex for the gram. Notin concine bicycle wit petrol station. Respect your name. Maintain your level.”

I will leave you with this. Everyday you post a picture with the intention of making your friends believe that your life is oh so fabulous and your swagga is too much, when the reality is you have borrowed clothes or borrowed money, you are no better than what you perceive Dammy Krane to be. So many of us spend so much of our time coveting what we don’t have instead of being thankful for what we do have. We live under the strain of false pretences and make believe. We beg, borrow or steal to fake it until we make it. If you are reading this, you are blessed! Stop looking at images on instagram and feeling down on yourself because you think you are less than. Instagram is not real life!

I am not here to knock anyone’s hustle but imagine for one second that freedom is what it truly means to be rich. Imagine you were free from the need to conform. Free from false pretences. Free from lies and deceit. Free from wants when your needs have been met. Free from sickness. Free from the need to please. Free from the burning desire to be perfect. Free from the debts accrued while trying to acquire material things. Free from mental slavery. Free from jail. What use is money with no peace of mind? True wealth is so much more than currency. Imagine that even as you hustle for a better life, that freedom was your end goal and not the acquisition of wealth. Would that change the way you live? There goes some food for thought for you. Its all love on the menu.

Welcome to SagaCity. A social commentary column by @wurathepenwarrior, for 9jaBreed. May you receive sense. Or better yet, sound off below with your thoughts.

sa|ga¦city
NOUN

the quality of being sagacious.
synonyms: wisdom · insight · intelligence · understanding · sense · sharpness · depth  · erudition · learning · deep knowledge
antonyms: stupidity

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