Many of us have often argued that when it becomes imperative to set a prototypical nation to direct our exploration for a better nation, it is wise to set a modest target that is achievable and continue from there at the right time rather than starting with a towering goal that will not be attainable. By that, we feel that nations of the BRICS are just ideal enough as models. People are, however, more satisfied jumping over a lot of nations, in-between, to land in the United States of America (USA) – in their minds, they have built a view that the US is the sole land of impeccability.
In Nigeria, it is sad to note that our mountains of woes, rather than decline, are some what on the increase everyday. While we remain upbeat for a president that will swoop on corruption, for instance, the expected messiah comes around to grant amnesty to the few cases of successful prosecution of corruption. While we remain optimistic for a leader that will come around to banish mediocrity out of the perimeters of our nation, he comes around to base his appointments purely on the criteria of who will help him to win the next election.
One problem for which Nigerians have waited for a President to heal is the problem of 4-1-9 (scam). It is an issue that has eroded the reputation of the country remarkably that folks around the world perceive every Nigerian squarely through the prism of deception.
Recent experiences of mine have demonstrated that the issue of organized swindling is not unique to Nigeria however. Criminals are everywhere around the world, just that the intensity of crimes varies according to the nature of determinants in different locations. I have come to realize that Mr. Impeccable is not excluded, that he is not all round, after all.
Sometimes in September 2012, Adams, my brother, told me about an investment opportunity online and in the US. It goes by one of those flashy names like Earth and Heaven Millionaires, 1 Million% Royalty, Just-Been-Quenched, etc. Adams as my referee was to be rewarded with a certain percentage of any investment I make. It was the reason he worked hard to encourage me to join. I too will be paid that referral commission (as it is called in that world of cash illusion) for any individual I introduce to the millionaire makers.
I had just finished paying an old bank loan and was, hence, eligible for a new loan. The new loan I intended to use in roofing my house that I have started building with the previous loan. There was a strong temptation to invest that money; the commission they gave will double my investment in just a month. I will withdraw the capital and my dividend becomes the new capital -too good to be true but very tempting. When the loan was finally issued, I went ahead to use the money for the initial goal it was meant to accomplish so that the online investment in far-away lands became the opportunity cost; something in me kicked against the use of that money in an investment with the character of fantasia.
I however went ahead to take another loan of N100, 000.00 ($630) from the thrift in my workplace. I went through a complex chain of processes and finally invested the money. That was after agreeing to the company’s disclaimer that made it impossible for me to find any illegal redress in the event of any “unforeseen” outcome.
A few days before my investment was due to mature, I logged in to the company’s website but was re-directed to a formerly unknown website. The owner of the company had “retired” and had subsequently sold the company. At that point, the dilemma was either to agree to the terms and conditions of the new company or forfeit your investment. The terms and conditions were, perhaps, the only thing that has not changed from what the old company offered. To cut a long story short, I never withdrew a nickel from my investment but had to pay my loan issuer.
While I was waiting for my investment to mature, I was introduced to another company also in the US that offered better a percentage of your investment as commission. I sold my electric power generator and invested the money in this generous company; electric power supply had become fairly stable along my street and the power generator was dormant. The investment turned out to be the worst. The “business relationship” was just one directional in every respect as they had no phone lines with which to be contacted and never responded to any emails until all investors got tired and gave up. We invested in the bogus companies because there were people who were already reaping from their investments made as soon as the companies became known.
In December 2012, I was awakened by an annoying phone call in the middle of the night. The voice from the other end of the line introduced himself as the Head Consultant of a book marketing company in the US. His company had seen my book on Amazon. He was calling to propose the marketing of the book. I accepted. They waited for three months to allow me raised the money with which I paid an initial installment to enable the book marketing, by email campaign, to commence. This was not without regular calls to ensure I was working to fulfill my pledge of buying their “service”. Sadly, my email campaign couldn’t commence as previously agreed. Since I was certain that was the agreement, my will to pay what was left was severely damaged.
Recently, I discovered with shock, a forum campaigning against that very company for ripping authors around the world. I then sent an email to them with a link to that forum and requested an explanation. It turned out to be the first time they have refused to respond to my mail. Except when I sent my email during the weekends, my mails were always responded to within twenty-four hours. It is gone two weeks now.
In Nigeria, 4-1-9 thrived as a result of a chronic legal compassion, nourished by generations of laid-back authorities or perhaps because those who live in a glass house should not throw stones. During the era of Nuhu Ribadu as the boss of Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), he meant business and scammers left the country to operate from neighboring lands. Since Ribadu also caused nightmares to authorities, some members of which had been arrested and put in the dock, the subsequent administration of late Umar Yar’adua ensured that Ribadu did not continue as EFCC boss. Now “yahoo-yahoo” boys have returned to Nigeria, operating alongside their counterparts in the Presidency, Senate, House of Reps, Ministries and agencies in all tiers of government and also the private domain.
Across the Atlantic however, the law is remarkably alert and without sympathy. It is the reason some individuals have developed sophisticated legal armors. Those that have failed to develop these complicated ways of evading the laws are, without doubt, the ones in prisons and penitentiaries across America.
In 2012, Rod Blagojevich, the Governor of the American State of Illinois was jailed for fourteen years over issues bordering on financial crimes. I learnt two things from this: firstly, that despite the tough laws, the manic-desire to make money by hook or by crook also dwells in the US. Secondly, I have also learnt that the law, in the US, is over and above everyone; it could not even spare a serving governor.
With my credit card and from the heart of Africa, I have bought many things successfully from the US. The few cases of gall and wormwood have however taught me that America is not as flawless as many of us have often thought and I will have to be cautious with some Americans.
The online investment companies may have found safe indentations where the laws cannot venture into but while they hide in those recesses however, they are also working to diminish the attractive image of the US in addition to eroding the absolute trust with which the world has held America.