Every country has its fair share of security challenges. However, when these security challenges continue to grow with each passing day, then there is a need for urgent action. The introduction of these three major inventions; the computer, the internet, and the mobile phone as a new stream of communication technology has contributed to making the world a far smaller place to be and as often mostly quoted a “Global Village”.
But for all the good this new stream of communication technology has contributed to human development, it is very evident that criminals and fraudsters leverage the anonymity provided by the internet to commit fraud on various unsuspecting victims. In Nigeria, the current social, economic, and political trends have left a sour taste in the mouths of youths. Coupled with the growing unemployment rate in the country, statistics show that a whopping 13.9 million Nigerian youths are unemployed. The NBS ( National Bureau of Statistics) also reports that forty million Nigerian youths are eligible to work out of which only 14.7 million are currently employed. To put this in context, Nigeria’s unemployed youths of 13.9 million are more than the entire population of Rwanda and several African countries.
It’s no secret that a high youth unemployment rate can lead to increased insecurity and poverty, thus increasing the number of youths perpetuating in cybercrime. Cybercrime is of different categories in Nigeria, ranging from; internet fraud, software piracy, hacking, online scam, ATM and credit card fraud, celebrity blackmailing/ impersonations, cyberstalking, and cyber defamation. The most prevalent amongst youth in Nigeria happens to be Internet Fraud. Internet fraud is one of the dominant forms of crime that is widely being perpetrated by youths in Nigeria. Indeed, the recognition and the growing acceptance of internet fraud otherwise popularly known as yahoo – yahoo amongst Nigerian youths have compelled the federal government to formulate policies and measures to curtail trends at different points in time. The problem has, however, remained pervasive despite past efforts put in place to curtail it.
Although cybercrime is not an exclusive preserve of Nigeria as it is a global phenomenon, yet the current unprecedented and massive involvement of Nigerians, especially the youths and mostly University students makes it a serious problem that requires urgent redress. It is quite alarming that eighty percent of internet fraud perpetrators in Nigeria are students in various higher institutions. You do not have to travel far across the country to see a generation of young people lost in the world of internet fraud and ostensibly inspired by the likes of Hushpuppi (a notorious cybercriminal apprehended by the FBI over a year ago).
Another reason for the increase in internet fraud is often said to be a consequence of an erosion of societal values arising from a glowing negative influence of corrupt politicians who rise to wealth suddenly through appropriating state resources for private properties. This get-rich-quick syndrome is a huge influence as young people try to make it at all costs, including crime.
However, as much as a lot of youths these days turn to cybercrime to enhance their chances of getting rich quickly, this also creates an equal downside for other youths in the country. The prevalent use of cybercrime has tarnished the image of Nigeria as well as its citizens who are not involved in cybercrime in any way. Most youths are now perceived as possible internet fraudsters both at home (by local law enforcement agencies) and abroad. Local police tend to harass youths all over the country without proper authorization and this was one of the major reasons which sparked the popular End Sars protest in 2020. internet fraud has also affected the image of Nigerian youths abroad in the following ways;
1. Tarnishing the Country’s reputation.
Without any doubt, internet fraud has tarnished the image of Nigeria as a country as well as its youths in the international scene to an almost irreparable level. cybercrime has created a bad image for Nigeria which is now listed by Transparency International as one of the most corrupt nations in the world. Nigerians get mentioned in Hollywood for their involvement in cybercrime as most people are getting aware. Therefore, Nigerians are treated with suspicion in business dealings and transactions.
2. Lack of trust and confidence hinders profitable transactions
Nigerians are not trusted when it comes to business transactions in most countries abroad. The major reason for this is the level of internet fraud committed by citizens of the country therefore foreigners find it increasingly difficult to trust Nigerians in business dealings because of the fear of losing their money and goods. in many cases, online transactions would be made but the buyer won’t receive goods paid for. That’s why most online shopping sites abroad blacklist Nigeria in their list of countries for delivery e.g eBay.
3. Denied opportunities for Nigerians abroad
The situation of Nigeria’s image is in direct comparison with the famous saying “one bad apple spoils the bunch”. This is because Nigerians who do not have the slightest idea of what it takes to be a fraudster are suffering as a result of the bad reputation umbrella of those Nigerians caught. Nigerians are hardly considered when they seek to relocate to foreign countries. Also, cybercrime threatens foreign investment as well as misrepresents the country among other nations as being corrupt. This, therefore, leads to the stigmatization of Nigerian-owned businesses as they would be placed under different restrictions when carrying out their legitimate businesses.
4. Inimical to the progress and development of the country.
Foreign direct investment is one of the major forms of economic development for a country and the refusal of foreign companies to invest would hinder economic growth and progress. Fear of fraud is major deterrence for foreign companies and the inevitable cycle events this would lead to if not curbed would be “No investment, no development, no employment, and no progress”. As one cannot work without the other, no investment will hinder development which in turn hinders employment and subsequently hinders progress.