Yahooism As An Alternative Career Path in Nigeria: Prospects and Regrets

Gabriel Akhabue Iruobe

“Yahoo Boys”, the name attached to Nigerian internet fraudsters, is gradually growing into a formidable industry of jobless people compelled by poverty and greed combined, and attracting youths brave enough to cast off their moral rectitude and social decency.

It is the lowering of moral standard for a romance with cash.
Those youths who started the ” Hammar Business “, especially those who didn’t show any mastery of any business skill or educational qualification, were looked at with disdain by those with comparative decent family or social backgrounds. But today, what looked like sacrilegious activities is growing in patronage and becoming an acceptable means of survival in an impoverished social system. The anomie created by poverty cum the lowering of moral standard has impacted heavily on the moral consciousness of the youths who are daily toiling and tormenting under a crushing economic condition where hopelessness about rational method of escape or deliverance abound.

The innovation of Yahooism can be situated within the framework of R.K. Merton’s (1938) theory of deviant behaviour. He emphasized the relationship between culture, structure and anomie. He also argued that deviance is most likely to occur when there is a discrepancy between culturally prescribed goals and the legitimate means of obtaining them. Wealth or survival is desirable by all. But there are socially prescribed way of getting it. But not everybody can follow that path of integrity to obtain it hence the creation of alternative means of achieving the same thing. Yahooism is a way of achieving survival and affluence irrespective of frowned against means. Public means is therefore substituted for personal private means of reaching ” what everyone likes” – wealth.

People therefore have gone into nonrational means to obtain for themselves what cannot be obtained legally or rationally. To them, nonrational means is ideal in itself and is a form of alternative rationality scheme. It cannot be equated with irrationality for its peculiar approach or drive. “Irrationality” is “senseless”; but “nonrationality” is rationality not yet accepted as such. It is only accepted by a few deviants as ideal.

In a situation of massive unemployment, hunger and desperation for survival, the morality of brotherliness is often set at bay. The initial conviction to engage in defrauding fellowmen arises out of frustration. Continuing in it as career or business has a different persuasion.

Moreever, the temptation to continue in “Yahooing” beyond the “Survival Yahoo drive” is almost inescapable upon every successive “hammer” – the explosive and extravagant fraud capable of turning a pauper into an affluent monster, snob and social tyrant.

The possibility that a Yahoo boy can regain affection for humanity is often challenging and remote just like it is difficult for a notorious armed robber to “down arms” in the name of conscience. Conscience is often smothered at the outset of a breakeven in the “Yahooing Career”. In fact, the next victim to be scammed is the dream and aspiration of a Yahoo boy that has tasted the juice of fraud closely related to that of a politician pocketing money meant for Constituency Projects. The mysterious access to quantum patrimony of others often affect their psych and distorts reasonableness and prudent spendings. Waste is often the order of the day.

Those that have enjoyed some level of good resources in the past (especially those received from family background) can still reason “less-intoxicatedly”, but not Yahoo boys running into fortunes his generations have never seen.

With a “Yahooing” successful experience comes the air of attainment as most celebrate their loots in beer parlours with the most glamorous and “happening girls” in town. Some have also directly and indirectly insulted their parents and elder brothers who have been carrying around their certificates without employment. They also deride their erstwhile mentors who may be in employment but have never had a good life to boast of. The Yahoo boy amuses himself with accessories that dazes these struggling elders who have not left regular prayer conferences or breakthroughs seminars. The few that still listen to elders get the wisdom to invest in real estate while others dine away their sorrows in the hottest eatery in town.

The Yahoo boy suddenly stops going to church (if he had been) since he no longer needs God to redeem him from poverty. In the same vein, he does not want anyone to condemn his craftiness since that appears like a return to poverty, or a free slide into Second Missionary Journey into misery.
As the Yahoo boy enjoys his heaven on earth, the placation and “mal-labels” as infidels don’t bother them one bit, since they can buy virtually everything desirable. They can even buy law enforcement agents when the need arises. Even at elders table, they are capable of turning the hand of justice to their favour; provided they can lavish some funds on them, overtly or covertly.

Parents that used to frown at indiscrete and unscrupulous behaviour mellow down because of a new lease of life afforded by Yahooing adventures.

In the mouths of the most beautiful girls in town is the desirability of catching or getting hooked to Yahoo boys as they tactically shake their boos and backside before them. None of the reigning girls wants to languish under a struggling civil servant or an educated pauper only brandishing certificate and speaking Queen’s English. Students don’t also have a chance of acceptance unless they can pose as Yahoo boys – torn Jeans and dreadlocks. To remove all doubts, they could add tattoo and an earring.

In their consciousness and the society tolerant of the Yahooism, Naira and Dollar speak better truths than the most morally conscious and humanistic individual. It is the reign of “moneytocracy” or simply monetary terrorism! It is a reign where those without the big pockets shout without being heard while the money bag’s whisper deafens.

Erstwhile deviant behaviour grow to become normative behaviours of youths whose appetite for luxurious cars have reach a sublime height where they share corridors with corrupt politicians – the mystic dance of the god of mammon.

The greed distilled and instilled by “Yahoonization” crystalizes and turns society into similitude of hellish dungeon turning men into predators. Yahooism turns men into humans hardly distinguishable from sheer monsters. The uncontrolled slide in human conduct and morality has led to a higher yahoo model know as YahooPlus (Yahoo+).
In the first order Yahooism, returns appear limited, and the probability of getting victims to be scammed grows slimmer. Therefore, the urge to engage in a higher yahoo model is often impinging. But it has some blatant consequences many wouldn’t gladly embrace. It has been speculated to be involving human sacrifices. Some are said to have used their girlfriends, fathers, mothers or any other person for money rituals. It is believed that the higher the sacrifice (how painful the sacrifice is to the person involved) the higher the financial returns without labour or sweat.

Some proponents have however attributed the increase in Yahooism to the brand of Prosperity Preaching prevalent in pulpits in Africa. It also associates it with the erstwhile Traditional Religious practice in which sacrifices are precursors to ancestral assistance. It appears therefore as hangovers from the erstwhile traditional religious background. Whatever the source, the fact is that the supposedly young and energetic working population now jettison legitimate means of livelihood and survival in pursuit of quick gains and “labourless” affluence.

However, Yahooing is not completely “labourless”. A lot of scheming, deception, hacking, lying and investigation goes into it. To some, it is serious hard work; only that it is not legitimate; for it is not easy to have victims empty their accounts on false premises. Several consistent and logical lies must be told to encourage the scam target to be off guards. It can therefore be argued that Yahooism actually involves a painstaking plot to defraud victims. It is not an easy enterprise. It take a lot of strategizing to scam people. For months, they can be on an individual who have been careless with their ATM cards and bank account details. They also dangle free funds or other fascinating offers too good to be true.

Talking about the seriousness of those involved in it, some Yahooing involves networking with syndicates outside the country that give the victim confidence that the purported business is legit. There are a number of phishing sites out there waiting for victims who would put in their bank details into their sites without knowing that they would end up being scammed. So, Yahooism is itself a tedious task sometimes constraining the scammer to be online for weeks and months targeting a prospective victim. And in Nigeria where power supply is epileptic, they are constrained to burn fuel in generators to meet a target. They also learn to talk like the person they want you to believe is on their telephone line.

After the Yahooistic exploits comes the reality of “airs of success”. The dramatic transportation of the pauper into a “Controller General” of rare affluence comes the pride of supremacy, untouchability, and fearlessness.
Some have driven this ecstasy to absurdity as it is often not difficult to know a Yahoo-boy on the wheels. The tradition of reckless driving is their regular trade mark. This incidence has sent many innocent pedestrians to their untimely graves.

Yahoo boys have also tempered the vehemence on the pulpit of some “money-conscious” and “money-reverencing” pastors as sermons are tailored to make services “inoffensive” or conducive to their “prosperity” brides. Yahoo boys, to some people are destiny helpers, helping to raise money for capital projects of the church or community.

When the federal government declares returns in foreign exchange, some of it is actually dividends from Advanced Free Fraud, but must be diplomatically concealed for political expediency. After all they have an excuse that corrupt politicians often line the banks of the “victim nations” with the spoils from the African continent.

Families that have also been “redeemed from abject poverty” see Yahooism as answers to their prayers latently, a people who daily pray for the “forgiveness” of the known and unknown sins of their Yahoo Messiahs due to the massive Yahoo exploit recorded on account of the “redemptive work to family subsistence and sustenance”.

In a situation of an alarming anomie of social and economic frustration, the somewhat lucky discovery of a stupendous leap into financial Eldorado impels a relabelling of an act hitherto regarded as immoral now as an “excusable immorality” model. The conditions of the existence of a survival need giving rise to the quest to defraud another, for them, make Yahoonization excusable, and ultimately, pardonable.

Then come those that still have consciences and those that have “crossed their minds”.
Most often, the ones still with human conscience can only “take” a little from a retiree’s pension and gratuity and leaves a meagre sum for the owner’s survival. But those that have “crossed their minds” defraud both poor and rich”. Those who commit suicide on account of being scammed don’t often receive any pity from these victorious Yahoo boys. YahooPlus is worse. Some use their own private parts for money rituals and those that should enjoy their wealth with them are often excommunicated or emasculated from their loot or spheres of influence, or sacrificed altogether.

While the Yahoo boys feel contented with their exploits, youths who believe in the industry as the most lucrative of all times, appeared unperturbed about the “sermonizations” around the immorality of the act of the Advanced Free Fraud, which, in the Nigerian parlance is also known as “419′. Stealing therefore is enjoying some modicum of legitimacy in Africa upon the new mask it wears. Even youths who have not yet enjoyed any “hammer-dividend” of any kind often pretend to young girls/ladies as “a Yahoo boy” – a label fast gaining recognition and reputation. Because some youths need to be accorded the same respect as Yahoo boys, they tend to dress and behave like a typical Yahoo boy, full of vulgar language and posing with Dollar and flashy car on their social media pages, or getting on neighborhood beer parlours amid garnished pepper soup cuisines surrounded by physically endowed half-dressed girls. These are the new heroes of our modern society.
The way it is now in Nigeria and other African societies, Yahooism is fast becoming an alternative system of thought, a new morality excusing or absorbing itself of blame over blatant and colossal robbery of the innocent and unsuspecting victims, and simultaneously, sufficiently wooing the elites into permissiveness and gross glosses and overlooks. They can’t fight it because they don’t have any attractive alternative to offer as consolable detractor from the pursuit of survival without conscience and weird brute, a consequence of an unimaginable and impregnable appetite for vanities, or the immoral lust for affluence and power.
Since wealth is within the boarders of cravings for power, the Yahoo boy feels a sense of achievement and high social status attainment. An irresponsible society also helps to confirm their superior position when it implicitly endorses their credentials as Yahoo boys. Yohooism is therefore a product of the society where it exists and is maintained through the celebration of the material wealth attained in dubious formats.

About Gabriel Iruobe

I have a background in Sociology from the University of Ibadan. Although, an industrial sociologist, my interest in rural societies have grown over the years. The sociological insight gained in my school days have had me define development in a fashion slightly different from an orthodox orientation. Studying or researching on rural life is quite easy for me since I spent my early life in a rural setting, viewing all the attractions often overlooked by the urban elites. If the rule of sustainable development is to be followed, no aspect of the world's cultural heritage is to be ignore or neglected. This is my obsession.

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