Saturday, 13 June 2020

Hushpuppi And The Nigerian Culture Of Silence by Alexander Ubani

I am convinced that anybody engaged in fraud and has the audacity to show off such wealth on social media is a buffoon dancing to the music of death being played by his village people. 
 
Check this out na. How can you be stealing from people and showing off the money when you have no known business that can legitimately fetch you the kind of money you are displaying for the whole world to see?
 
That brings us to the issue of Raymond Igbalodely aka Hushpuppi - the so-called Gucci king, giveaway macho, luxury car fanatic, Instagram celebrity and sweet life ambassador currently a surprise guest of the International police and the Federal Bereau of Investigation. He is alleged to be answering questions for fraud to the tune of $100 million. If you call him Mr flambouyant, then you will be damn right. 
 
Hushpuppi out of the blues, rose to social media fame by showing off incredible wealth on social media. It was just stupendous that celebrities and ordinary Nigerians turned beggars in his DM. Nigerians flocked to his page to admire his luxury living, private jet travels, designer wears & watches, luxury cars and many shopping sprees displayed on his social media page. It was an addiction to many who slept and woke up on his page for giveaways, leaving thousands of comments how they would love to live his life just for a day. It wasn't long before a deluge of poor Nigerians wishing to be like him began 'famzing' him big time and before you could call Buhari, Hushpuppi became bigger than most Nigerian musicians who have made hits after hits in the past and his fan base of hungry warriors grew rapidly.
 
Beyond all these, the mystery behind his luxury lifestyle still intrigued people. How does he make his money? What does he do? Does he have a company, business? Is he a prince bequeathed enormous wealth by his late father who must have been a rich king? These questions worried sane minds who wondered what could be the source of Hushpuppi's stinking wealth. It got to a level that he started robbing shoulders with established industry acts like Phyno, Kcee, Davido and Ice Prince who legitimately make a living from music, accusing them of wearing fake designer wears.
 
Ofcourse, it is an open secret that many believe that your favourite Instagram celebrity, Hushpuppi is a fraudster who deprives many people of their hard earned money by conjuring physical and spiritual influences in order to strip them of millions of dollars which he uses to fund his extravagant lifestyle. Things have now rightly come to a head following his arrest by Interpol and the FBI for allegedly fleecing a state in America millions meant for buying ventilators to save lives.
 
The implications of this negative media buzz created by Hushpuppi are too many to mention. It speaks of the kind of people Nigerians are. About glorifying fraud, unexplained money and supporting people even when they are doing the wrong things. The Nigerian society is so messed up that anything goes. People live for the moment and are comfortable to never practice what they preach. That is why politicians continue to steal money and get away with it. There is no culture of accountability. When you speak against fraud and the attendant calamity it brings upon victims, a deluge of comments from praise-singers attack you from all angle calling on you to mind 'your business' because in their minds 'nobody holy pass'. Just the same thing they do when it comes to prostitution. Obviously, everyone's moral compass is broken and spoilt. It is still these same shameful folks that will be the first to sit in front of churches and mosques. They believe in their tiny heads that they are God's favourite children. We are faced with a culture of silence, where nobody wants to know how you make your money, because all they want to see is you displaying wealth. No one cares about hardwork anymore.
 
Have you ever thought of what happens when someone is defrauded his or her hardearned money? Imagine you have been saving for months to pay a house rent of N700,000. You even had to deny yourself good time just to save this money and one day, someone finds his way into your account and drains it to the last kobo. The worst part is that you don't even know how the person got to your account in the first place and do not even have a trace of the person. Just like that, your N700,000 which you have been saving for months just vanished. This fellow who defrauded you, takes just hours to lavish the money you spent months saving on women, alcohol and weed. How will you feel? This scenario I just painted is the least in the kind of fraud these scammers engage in.
Many people have committed suicide, others have killed innocent people they had suspected were behind it and many others have become mentally deranged as a result of the trauma caused them after losing money they worked hard to save. Imagine you got millions in bank loan, only for you to wake up to realize that an internet fraudster has taken everything from you. Such a heartbreaking realization could make one go insane. That is the gravity of the situation we find ourselves when it comes to fraud, yet people act like it is nothing.
 
Businesses have closed up, people have fallen into depression, many have committed suicide all because of fraudsters. There is absolutely no justification for fraud. Fraudsters should be given the same treatment as armed robbers.
 
On the international stage, not only will anyone with Nigerian passport be scrutinized, there will be a lack of trust from agencies and organizations coming in contact with people from Nigeria. Not only do fraudsters do harm to their victims, they also smear the image of the country where they come from. Nigerians freelancers have for sometime expressed disappointment as it is very difficult to use a Nigerian IP address to get freelancing jobs on platforms like Fiverr, udemy and others. As a result, hardworking Nigerians are losing foreign business clients because of the bad reputation fraudsters are bringing to the country. This is even more complicated by the hasty generalization by most foreigners who because of one individual have that twisted understanding that many others from the country are dubious-minded. 
 
That stigma has finally come to hurt hardworking Nigerians, depriving them of their means of substenance. So brothers and sisters, before you start celebrating unexplained money, think twice.
 
Alexander Thandi Ubani writes from Lagos
@thandiubani

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