Invictus Obi: Celebrating money for its own sake

CERTAINLY, one of the major social concerns of this age is the decline in and misplacement of societal values. The flight of discipline and moral rectitude, especially amongst the youths who as future leaders are ordinarily expected to be the defenders of social values, underscores the sordid narrative. Truth be told, there is a sense in which the spate of indiscretions observed in the country’s youths mirrors the moral decadence among unscrupulous adults. But the ease with which the youths have adopted  and adapted advances in science and technology for adversarial and ignoble purposes has taken recklessness and criminality to unprecedented heights. Ironically, technology, especially Information and Communications Technology (ICT) which has been developed to make life easier for humanity, is the instrument which some people are deploying to perpetrate cybercrimes, for which some of the country’s youths are somewhat notorious. And the society has not helped matters with its seeming adoption of the Machiavellian refrain that ‘the end justifies the means’ in literally applauding misguided youths who have made a success of this ignoble enterprise.

Last week, the United States’ Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) reportedly apprehended and charged a young Nigerian billionaire, Invictus Obi, with fraud. The young man, who is also known as Obinwanne Okeke, made it into Forbes Africa’s Under-30 rich list in 2016 and he is widely celebrated in Nigeria for his wealth. Obi was arrested by the FBI for alleged $11 million wire fraud after an account belonging to a steel company’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) was compromised. He allegedly conspired with several individuals to hack into the computers of the CEO. The case has not been concluded, but it goes without saying  that social values have dipped. The grave status of this social menace has been further exemplified by the apprehension of 80 youths by the FBI for various scams. And it is saddening  and worrying that 77 out of the alleged fraudsters are Nigerians. There are indications that the FBI team will be visiting Nigeria presently in furtherance of its investigation and apprehension of the alleged fraudsters who are resident in Nigeria and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has reportedly promised to cooperate with it.

The quest by the country’s youths to become rich by all means is frightening.  Shortcuts have become veritable substitutes for hard work and honest living. Many are seldom restrained by morality from engaging in nefarious activities, as long as they can acquire filthy lucre by so doing.  To be sure,  crookedness and desperation for quick wealth acquisition were not this common in the past when the quality of human person and the respect  accorded everyone  had no bearing on their material well-being but was based essentially on their high degree of  moral uprightness and verified willingness and ability to live for others. But today, society has become dangerously liberal and accommodative of pernicious tendencies that have started to negatively redefine good citizenship. For instance, society no longer asks question about sudden wealth.

Overnight rich men who hitherto faced the scrutiny of the society to determine the sources of their wealth do not contend with such rigour anymore. Today, confirmed shady characters that should have been isolated or even ostracised by the society are being celebrated and honoured in churches, mosques and palaces. Media attention too is overly focused on politically exposed persons, yet most of the convictions secured by the EFCC have been on fraud perpetrated by youths. It is axiomatic that society must re-order its values and go back to the lofty standards of the past when values were ordered in such a manner that nearly everyone prioritised humanity above self. Admittedly though, and sadly so, it is becoming almost impossible to make money legitimately and the government has not  led the way in doing things right. But that cannot be sufficient justification for anyone to engage in illegal and morally reprehensible acts in the country or abroad.

Unfortunately, the country’s reflection on the global stage is already beset with a plethora of negativities and the nefarious activities of these delinquent youths in foreign lands can only serve to worsen the battered image. The consequences are clearly grave and unsavoury:  legitimate Nigerian businesses and law-abiding and decent individuals abroad will most certainly continue to face undue, intensified scrutiny. Again, the trust-deficit between foreigners and their Nigerian counterparts is bound to exacerbate with its attendant toll on interpersonal/business relationships that may ultimately result in pecuniary costs. This deplorable turn of events promises to persist as long as the society continues to motivate criminal elements by giving them recognition for their exploits in wealth accumulation regardless of the sources of their wealth.

Obi and his cohorts have allegedly committed crimes in a clime where impunity is a rarity, and it is virtually a given that the law will take its course and the suspects will be served their just deserts if found guilty. Nonetheless, the veritable solution lies in the society re-ordering its values and ensuring that citizens begin to toe the line of moral rectitude again while shunning vainglorious and destructive pastimes like celebrating money for its own sake.