The Overview of the Outrageous Exploitation of the Internet in Nigeria;
Café Culture and Heresy of Yahooboyism in Nigeria.
The advent of Internet technology has significantly improved the state of human existence. In fields as far-reaching as educational research, public administration, commercial and business transactions, industrial production and biotechnological development, and global networking, the Internet offers limitless opportunities. Indeed, affirming that global society can no longer function adequately in the absence of the Internet is an affirmation of the obvious. In spite of all of its benefits, however, the Internet is also used in a destructive, antisocial manner by individuals often referred to by such names as hackers, cyber fraudsters, web criminals, and so forth. In Nigeria—a notable haven for such criminal disposition-they are known as yahooboys.
The Internet has altered the patterns of cultural cleavages, the process of socialization, and identifiable social institutions across varying human societies. However, unlike traditional criminal groups, both males and females are involved in what has been termed yahooboyism in Nigeria, albeit with differing degrees of specialized functions. The culture of fraud and corruption prevalent within larger Nigerian society is believed to have facilitated the institutionalization of yahooboyism as a subset. But such a level of “modernization of criminality” among Nigerian youths has been enabled solely by the Internet; an intrinsically insecure space in which nobody knows who exactly you are.
It has been observed that a café culture is prevalent among contemporary Nigerian youths, especially those living in the cities or in semiurban settlements that off er easy access to modern technologies such as the Internet. Café culture is indicative of an emergent way of life in which involved youths conceive of the Internet as their “everything,” from a school (where they can practice and polish their acts of deceit) to a money-making venture (where they can fraudulently eke out a living, thereby escaping the poverty doldrums prevalent in the country and, ultimately, government and society).
In their café culture, these individuals live practically a virtual life and are more familiar with the developments via the Internet than those unfolding within their immediate “real” society. In a research study by a psychology student (Rukayyah Abdulrahman) at the University of Ilorin; titled influence of excessive internet use on self esteem. It was discovered that many youths use internet excessively that it gradually damages their psychological wellbeing. Despite being one of the most endowed countries (in terms of human and natural resources) on earth, Nigeria remains one of the poorest nations in the world, where the state of the human condition has continued to deteriorate over the years (United Nations Development Programme, 2009).
Unemployment, lack of social support, and the deteriorating condition of the country overall has made the country’s youths a ready tool for the conduct of cogent nefarious activities such as those easily attainable through the Internet. Meanwhile, technological advances such as the Internet have brought astonishing alterations to Nigeria’s institutional and cultural cleavages. Nigerian youths have accepted the Internet as a way of life with unusual speed.
Specifically, the Internet has not just imprinted a potent amendment on the Nigerian culture, but it has irredeemably affected the behavioral patterns of Nigerian youths, evidence of this was revealed in the research study: influence of excessive internet use on self esteem. Ostensibly, yahooboyism has emerged as a result. The phenomenon of yahooboyism could be said to represent a state of “cultural lag” within Nigerian society; that is, inferring from the conceptualized two aspects of a culture: the technological (i.e., the material aspects such as the Internet) and the sociological (i.e., usually theoretical or ideological aspects such as norms and beliefs).
The period of maladjustment when the nonmaterial culture is still struggling to adapt to new material conditions is deemed a cultural lag (Ogborn, 1922). With regard to Nigeria, the cultural lag created by the introduction of the Internet to Nigerian society has provided a platform for the emergence of the infamous café culture, which is set to unproductively alter the developmental process of the country’s youths. Within the larger social superstructure in Nigeria, especially among the political class-wealth, often ill gotten, is worshipped.
In assuming political positions, leaders overemphasize the place of money. Upon assumption of office, individuals flagrantly embezzle public money. As such, the provision of services to the citizenry, such as the training of youths, is neglected. On the other hand, among most Nigerians, money from any source typically is the most potent yardstick for determining the level of existential attainment.
Money rather than a quality education, productive leadership, scientific discovery, or solid career development is the yardstick against which people are measured. Hence, society is exposed to youths who have been disillusioned and have not been taught the good virtue of genuine hard work. Such youth have had no trouble immersing themselves in the Internet phenomenon of yahooboyism. If, as outcomes of cogent observations suggest, the Internet continues to spread and becomes essentially ubiquitous in socioeconomic relations, then Nigerian society will indisputably become increasingly dependent on a fragile and insecure information structure.
As such, our youths’ future is in avoidable jeopardy: The cultural patterns of yahooboyism are bound to be transmitted across generations if nothing concrete is done to regulate its spread and usage in Nigerian society. Of course, the Nigerian nation has been described as a largely unordered society in which rules are sacrificed, integrity is nonexistent, brutal selfishness is appraised (because leaders who embezzle public properties are respected and celebrated) and shame no longer exists for despiteful acts. Conspicuously, shameful acts are celebrated and success is redefined as wealth becomes more significant than the means of attaining it (including self actualization)
Instant wealth, regardless of its source, is usually celebrated among the Nigerian populace. In fact, it is usually equated with smartness and is rarely rebuked. In Nigeria, corrupt practices are characteristic not only of the political leadership but also of other types and levels of leadership. As such, values of integrity and honesty are despised, as there is total disregard for rules and regulations across all strata of society. For instance, at both the household and community levels, respective agents of socialization often tend to inculcate in the children and young adults the value of hard work and integrity, but most often, it is at odds with what they observe the elders themselves doing and appreciating.
The yahooboys use the Internet as a platform for engaging in online fraud. Examples of the yahooboys’ objectionable engagements include selling fictitious goods/services and buying what they will not pay for (or paying in no real value); money laundering; hacking; and engaging in credit card scams, pornography, and unconventional sexuality. Ironically, the yahooboys’ criminal applications of the Internet in Nigeria can be directly linked to the failure of a political leadership (Adeniran, 2006).
Yahooboyism is the activity of online youth fraudsters in Nigeria
This is also linked to lack of regulatory entity that focuses on the cyber space. This is however a changed story with the existence of an innovative organization; ProInSafe which focuses on regulating online business activities in Nigeria. With adequate support of the government and cooperation of credible businesses and reputable organizations, ProInSafe being a lucrative initiative will promote internet safety (therefore business scam will significantly be mitigated) and foster rapid growth of credible businesses. Obviously, ProInSafe exists to empower entrepreneurs. Another great benefit of ProInSafe is that it serves to provide numerous job opportunities, reduce crime rates and facilitate community development through their sustainable empowerment projects.
Out-of-school students (who are not in school because of distortions in the school calendar) and unemployed youths constitute a considerable percentage of the yahooboys in Nigeria. Indeed, they ignorantly but proudly claim that their involvement in cybercrime is a way of getting back at such an unjust social system in a “nonviolent” way. This was discovered in the study on investigating the roles of the failing national leadership and the insecure Internet platform in the emergence of the yahooboys phenomenon in Nigeria.
Jaishankar, K. (2007). Cyber criminology: Evolving a novel discipline with a new journal. International Journal of Cyber Criminology.
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