Monday Morning In Lagos: Alayé, Let’s Do Fraud

Posted on October 29 2018 , at 08:45 am
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  • For the nth time, the blurred lines between entertainment and fraud is a problem. One that is on the way to stunting a generation.

Every morning, the Nigerian wakes up to pray for clients — the ones they will blindly rob, and thank the Lord for.

No one does Instagram captions like the Nigerian fraudster.

Why not spray the money anyhow like another man’s perfume? It’s not my money, so? Is it your money?

In obedience to the holy scriptures, he rises up early from his creaky bed, laid with the tears of the gullible and the recklessly honest, to quote the Psalm, in remembrance of the good he has reaped from the sorrows planted in the hearts of his preys, littered across the thumbnails of the internet. It is a good thing to give praises to the Able God for clients he brought our way, he slurs his words while slurping mixed bottles of codeine, alcohol, marijuana, and those other fine things of life coming in small packages or thin lines of insouciance. He is the son of an abundant giver, but, unlike his Able God, who makes rich and adds no sorrow, he makes himself rich from the sorrow of many — his God works in mysterious ways, who can question him?

But, he isn’t alone in the hotel room, with his thoughts and praises in bottles, passing the basket of good(-ness) to his compatriots in the dimly lit space, while semi-clad women hang around to receive his embrace as soon as he gets reticent in this cold world. You must think he is alone in the room with his bad energy.

Of course, he has got company: everybody be criminal!

The Nigerian streets are littered with men, women, children, in religious garbs, in filthy clothing, poorly-dressed, in Benzes, in ‘standing’ on buses, wearing the nicest of fragrance, dripping beads of sweat and body odour, dripping sauce, saucing their bland, tasteless plates of rice with blood, spittle and tears, sitting in the corner, standing on the podium, watching the sodium levels of the hoi polloi go up, while they go salty, envious of your loot, as they offer sugar to sugar babes and boys, and you go on to learn tricks to dupe the next man, guyman must do guy.

My friend, Santi, the Curator of Awa Ti Ibadan, recently told an encounter of what an old friend told him someone said to him: He told me a very rich man once came to his office and said: t’emi ba ji laaro, eni ti maa yanje ni maa n wa nitemi (I’m always on the lookout for whom to cheat). Everyone in Nigeria is out to outwit you, as you try to outsmart them on this righteous earth because if we don’t make this money in this life of sin, you are damned to die twice in hell.

One of my friends, Anthony, captured this angst with reference to Lagos — even though it relates to other places, isn’t Lagos a microcosm of the hustle of Naija?

“Another observation I have made about Lagos through my experiences in these 11 years is this mundane crave for street credibility by outsmarting or better still cheating others. So it’s common to hear people say they ‘did a Lagos’ on you.”

(Fraud) money slow to enter.

Money, like status, like the good things of life, like preserving one’s life by engaging in self-preservation by cheating the next person before s/he thinks of cheating you, is a necessary evolution tactic.

(Fraud) money quick to go.

Navigating the Nigerian life hustle-free is like driving on the Festac roads without counting potholes while counting your blessings for a life well-lived. Everybody is out to scam you, so why not scam them before they think of scamming you? Your favourite writer frauds his way to the literary prize off the naivety of an literati seeking the next who, your beloved startup perpetually keeps engineers as interns so they can pay them peanuts to go with their daily garri supply, your fantastic award-winning, globe-trotting, phallus-slinging superstar profits of the sweat of others while, without any iota of irony, accusing others of fraud, your development-focused NGO embellishes their proposals to donor organisations, only to turn around, like a Nigeria pastor showing off his wife, to develop their own lives for the greater good of humanity — we can’t have all our humanitarians die of hunger in this poverty-stricken country, who will they help when they are dead, huh? Organisations find cunning ways to avoid fulfilling their obligations to their employees — and government — little do they know employees are getting ingenious, clocking in and clocking out, using company resources to help themselves — who be fool?

I grew familiar with how mechanics and spare parts sellers exploit the trust and, in equal measure, ignorance of vehicle owners as a teenager: mechanic tells you the brake of your Benz is ‘condemned’, gets the money to replace it, sells the old part to Ezekiel, who gets his cut from the lucrative deal, then sells you tokunbo brake while issuing you receipt for new brake — everyone eats when everyone wins! Government thinks they are cutting costs by introducing Remita or what is that nonsense they call it? Wait till you try to get things done from the secretariat, you will understand why it is hard for a poor man to find nice shoes — you think im size no dey market?

 

Recently, we have been inundated with tales of babarigas stuffed with cash, ministers throwing cash around phantom projects, G-boys flaunting wads of money, preachers fighting over lost church funds rather than lost souls, politicians helping themselves with loose coins to be saved for the rainy day like Abacha’s sovereign trust fund in Switzerland. But, hardly a mention goes to the honest keke rider who speeds off with your 200 Naira change to spare you the stress of a bloated wallet, the petrol attendant who sells you short because he is a conservationist trying to save the world from dangerous gases, the yoghurt lady who sells you expired products as she’s merely helping the cleaner declutter the shelves, and make her work easier — please, be considerate.

Fraud is highly profitable, you know: you are praised by everyone, including singers. Ask Fred Ajudua how much he loved Sir Shina Peters or Oliver De Coque or Adewale Ayuba. Ask KWAM1 if the monies from the ’90s fraudsters and drug couriers, or the monies from noughties and 2010s thieving politicians didn’t stop nonsense. You think CDQ, Small Doctor don’t appreciate the generosity of G-boys, or Reminisce is not eternally grateful for the working men he namedropped on “2 Mussh”. Saint Sami Ganja perhaps considers offerings from the recently-arrested Otunba Lamba penitence or offerings to a holy saint.

Better be wise and listen to this prophet:

 

A word is enough…

Whoever said illegal was the easy way out couldn’t understand the mechanics and the workings of the underworld, granted.

Udochukwu writes from Lagos. He has written for notable contemporary and literary blogs including BellaNaija, Brittle Paper, African Writer, Sankofa Mag, naij.com (naija.ng), happenings.com.ng, olisa.tv, among others. 

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