A few weeks ago Obinwanne Okeke, the CEO of Invictus Group, was arrested by the FBI for cyberfraud amounting to over $20 million.
A week or so later the FBI arrested 80 Nigerians in the U.S for cybercrime.
Much was made about it as the furore it generated covered the airwaves.
It put Nigeria in bad light and most of our compatriots who are social media savvy underscored this at every opportunity.
To be clear, it was scandalous, just like every other travesty being perpetrated by Nigerians anywhere around the world, but there are also lots of great things the majority of Nigerians are doing around the world.
These great things are being done in Nigeria and being done even much more by thousands of people of Nigerian descent all around the globe.
The likes of the 80 caught by the FBI and the Invictus boss do not describe the enterprising and hardworking spirit of the majority of Nigerians.
But it does describe something.
It describes the systemic failure that has led to so many industrious and talented people using their resources in such a manner.
But it also points out that there is a far greater rot that has moved surreptitiously under the radar while we focus on the low hanging fruit.
This rot begins from the head and almost always seems to afflict the majority that find their way in and around the head.
Before 2010, elements of the cabal that controlled the then Federal Government signed a deal with an Irish company, P ID, to defraud and further impoverish their own country. Just like the Malabu oil deal it was something that was hatched from the inside to rip off the country on a grand scale.
Those that put pen to paper in both those deals are more dangerous than 80,000, never mind 80, Yahoo Boys who scam on the internet.
If Nigeria loses that appeal against P ID just imagine what will happen to the already depleted foreign reserves if $9.6 billion is carved out of it in this present Nigerian Economy.
For context, under General Gowon, the economy grew at up to 7% per annum, in President Jonathan's time it was an average of 5% per annum, and even under Abacha it was over 3%.
In 2016 Nigeria's economic growth record was -1.4% (minus one point four percent), in 2017 it was 0.8%, and in 2018 it was 1.98%.
Yet, the country is growing at 3% per annum which amounts to 12% over 4 years (14 times the GDP growth).
Meanwhile, according to the IMF half of the fastest growing economies in 2019 will be in Sub-saharan Africa.
Ethiopia 8.5%, Côte d’Ivoire 7%, Rwanda 7.8%, Senegal 6.7%, Ghana 7.6%, Benin 6.3%, Kenya 6.1%, Uganda 6.1%, Burkina Faso 6%, Guinea 5.9%, Tanzania 6.6%.
One thing the majority of these above listed countries have is a reasonably good Youth development program.
When we contrast the above statistics with the Nigerian economic growth rate we will understand the urgency of the work at hand. With the thriving youth population who make up over 60% of the entire population calling this situation untenable is an understatement.
The numbers of young people being arrested for all kinds of criminal offences as recorded by Nigerian news media are alarming, and like never before Federal Ministries, Parastatals, and Agencies that have to do with Youth Empowerment and Education must be declared super ministries because of the enormity of the responsibility they should have.
Cuts must be made in frivolities and leakage blocked so more funds can be allocated to such Ministries; the very best technocrats and experts in these fields should be recruited regardless of where they are on the globe, and the government must take all their activities very seriously.
If Nigeria will get it right then the next generation should be invested in like yesterday.
~ Ugonna Emechebe