That Life May Go On

Youths at the venue of the NDLEA recruitment test in Port Harcourt

Nigerian youths adopt various strategies including crime in order to survive the harsh economic environment in the country

|  By Ishaya Ibrahim  |  Feb. 11, 2013 @ 01:00 GMT

AFTER failing in three attempts to pass the Unified Tertiary and Matriculation Examination, UTME, the qualifying examination for  university admission,  Felix Ugbe, {not his real name}, has changed tactics to make sure he passes this year’s UTME which incidentally, would be his fourth.  To achieve this, Ugbe has located a special centre in Oko, Anambra state, where he was asked to first do all he could to make the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board, JAMB, post him to that centre where he will pay for guaranteed high scores without sweat.

A suspected pick-pocket
A suspected pick-pocket

But one hurdle before Ugbe is how to find an accomplice that will help him execute his plan.  This has been his major preoccupation now. In the last one month, he has been calling and asking friends if any of them knows how the deal is done. As at press time, he has not found any accomplice that would assist him in the plan.

People like Ugbe, are the reason some youths who consider themselves specialists in fixing exam grades for lazy students are still in business.  A number of them who make a living from fixing exam grades are not even afraid or ashamed to say it. For instance, the streets of Lagos are filled with enticing adverts of examination malpractice consultants who promise specific grades for their clients. One of such adverts in Ikeja, Lagos State, reads: “Exams made easy. 7 credits in SSCE and WAEC and 280+ guaranteed at Citadel Academy. 08022974109”.

Another person who is in the same business feels that the best way of getting his own clients is to advertise on the internet telling people to call him: “If you need a special centre where you will write and clear all your papers once and for all call me. It is free of charge, you don’t pay anything to anybody. We are doing this to help students so that they too can help others tomorrow. My brother, don’t blame me, our politicians pass through the same malpractice before they got there. ”

A cart pusher
A cart pusher

Of course, politicians are partly to blame for the level of decay in the educational system which has now given rise to the business of paying for grades.  But the neglect of hard work as a means of achieving success has accounted for many of the unethical practices among young people. Examination racket is just one of the odd things young people do to survive.  Chibueze Ezugwu, guidance and counselor and deputy director of Global Agenda for Total Emancipation, GATE, an HIV awareness outfit, said: “The cause of all these is because youths are looking for an easy way out. Those special centres are still the offshoot of corruption in the system.” According to him, there is collusion between exam authorities and the owners of the special centres because corruption has permeated every system. “The problem is with the parents because they always set standards for their wards. In order to achieve the standard, anything can happen. The same thing goes for those writing external exams. Most of the parents today want their children to make their papers at first sitting and also want them to study medicine, law, engineering and other professional courses. And they will go to any length to make it happen. So it is a vicious circle, everybody is involved – the parents are involved, exam regulators are involved and the students are involved. What makes these centres special is the money people pay to pass exams. These situations have reduced the urge of the students in reading their books”, Ezugwu said.

Apart from exam malpractice, another way young Nigerians, make money to survive is through internet fraud, known as 419 and now popularly referred to as yahoo-yahoo. Many victims of internet frauds have committed suicide after losing all their life savings to the fraudsters. However, since more people are aware of this crime over time, young people involved in internet frauds have now resorted to the use of juju to facilitate the swindling of their targets. The juju-enhanced fraud is called yahoo-plus.

President Goodluck Jonathan promises fresh air for the youths
President Goodluck Jonathan promises fresh air for the youths

A repentant yahoo-yahoo boy, who pleaded anonymity, explained the various strategies used in conning their victims. “The whole thing about yahoo-yahoo is to present false information to victims who could be either Nigerians or foreigners. Mostly, foreigners are the majority of the victims because of their naivety of such falsehood and easily fall for the deceptive game.” he said.  Recounting when his group conned a Swiss with the picture of a sexy and pretty lady, the repentant internet fraudster said the picture was sent to the man’s mail as if the beautiful girl sent it herself, claiming to be a Nigerian ex-beauty queen.

He said the man became interested and established a communication with the supposed beauty queen. Shortly after, the man exchanged phone numbers with the yahoo-yahoo boys believing he was dealing with the supposed beauty queen. Unknown to the Swiss, the fraudsters got a lady to frequently answer his calls for them. After the yahoo-yahoo boys sufficiently aroused the interest of the Swiss for his dream lover, they started requesting for funds to enable the lady arrange for a visa and pay for her flight to meet him in his country. He fell for the trick and transferred money to the fraudsters.  After withdrawing the money, the yahoo-yahoo boys blocked further contact with him.

This trick and many others used by the yahoo-yahoo boys have become known all over the world. This is the reason that the boys have gone spiritual.  “Herbalists are consulted to use their spiritual powers to make foreign and Nigerian victims fall for their antics. The charms come in different forms like rings, concoctions, calabash, amulets and other spiritual articles which demand rituals to be performed after days of interval. In some cases, body parts of children are demanded for the rituals.

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