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I was very boring in my Uni. days. I think I still am sef. I never really engaged in anything in exciting. I always went my way and shied off from everything. My Uni. life remained uneventful until I moved into a new area in my final year. Not that things sparked for me, but I got a vintage perspective to the life of those living it up.
I had these neighbors, next door neighbors. They were ordinary like me, but not for too long. Soon their lives changed and they joined the “big league”.
Living next to them gave me a first hand expose’ into the life of “boys in the game”. My lovely once-upon-a-time average boys became overnight millionaires, living the life of exuberance that comes with it; abundance of drugs, women, cars, bling-bling. Of course as soon as they “stepped up”, they became long-term hotel residents who only came around the accommodation their parents paid for when they want to pick something or MAGA never pay.
That was almost a decade ago. As it turns out, those my boys are still flamboyant today. But their story is hardly without (a few) bad news. One of which is that a greater number of them never graduated from the University. The little fraction that did graduated with very weak grades. But who cares, they are not exactly ever going on job hunting. More bad news is that most picked up drug habits (addictions), expensive tastes and a sizeable pool of enemies(with Law enforcement agents making up a fine number in this pool). All these are difficult to disentangle from, so they may have to live with it for the rest of their life.
But who cares, they have already chosen the high road, whatever that comes out of it is fine for them.
But the (mis)dealings of fraudsters(let me call them what they are) is nothing new. Igbos have an adage that says “if a poor man is told what it takes to be rich, they would choose to remain poor”.
There is a point in the life of an individual, a people or a society when they are deep down in the abyss of lack, in desperation, they resort to something brute to propel them to success. Any form of brute they resort to, usually involves illegitimate, immoral, inhuman exploitation of others. It’s important to state that some resort to hard work though, admirably.
You will be shocked how most big men truly made their money. Well, we may not be too shocked given that many people pride what should be a shame these days. Some say America is a house built by slaves, a very pretty house I must add. History has it that Banks in England funded slave voyages, as slave trade was a lucrative venture then. The slaves were seen as merchandise for trade, without a perspective of them as victims. Victims whose life was being destroyed.
Almost in the same vein a 24 year old fraudster never sees his MAGA as a victim. He enjoys the receipts from the victims as an abundance they have to spare. Never as something their life depends on. Never something their life would be wretched if it is lost.
In the same vein a serving official would divert money appropriated for the people. Seeing the monies they loot as a chunk from the abundance of an oil-rich nation. Never from the perspective that the fund being diverted would mean that some child, somewhere would be deprived of the opportunity of getting quality education, quality healthcare. It could also mean non-development of structures and infrastructure, lack of funds for projects, research, and different forms of development etc. It’s never seen that way. All the predicator focuses on is the windfall they will reap.
To think that a 23 yr-old boy can make N3million from “one hit” and burn it all within a matter of days or hours. Also, politicians would amass so much wealth, but few years down the line, the fortune disappears without as much as leaving dew behind. People win millions of naira in lottery and grow (back) broke within a disappointingly short period of time.
But these are the not-so-smart ones. The smart ones invest from money profited off windfalls. They go “legit”, washing their hands clean of the dirty they built from and disassociating themselves from every reference to it. Unfortunately, the society looks away, and joins in the celebration of their transformation, never demanding for an atonement for the atrocities committed before their transformation.
One big irony is that sometimes, the traits that propel them to success will be the same traits that hold them back from breaking higher ground. Those who succeed in illicit trades are known to be impulsive, defiant and ever ready to kill or maim. While it takes discipline, patience, loyalty, diligence to succeed in legitimate businesses. Only very few people are able to refine themselves by weeding off the former and imbibing the latter. Those who are successfully able to do so rise up to lead empires, become godfathers who dictate what stays and what goes in a society. People who make and unmake generations. People others look up to for justice.
And we wonder why our society is broken today when we celebrate prosperity drenched in blood, pain and agony of others.
Gain made off the pain and sorrow of another can never be justified, regardless of whether it has been institutionalized or has become a culture, in whatever form in appears; fraud, corruption, slavery, etc. It only creates a cycle that traps the predictor eventually. No one escapes the vapour of the water they steamed. Our reputation in the international front already bears the brut. With consequences that is hard to escape and even harder to redeem.