Every other day (that’s no exaggeration) my English colleagues, SugarDaddy and Teddy, receive emails from Nigerians desperately needing their help. Last week SugarDaddy received an email from a man called Nuhu Ribadu from the EFCC asking him to invest in a billion dollar project to fight corruption in Nigeria. On a $300,000 investment, he was guaranteed a return of $1,000,000. Yesterday Teddy received an email from an elderly Nigerian woman battling breast cancer. She had $35,000,000 tied up in an American bank account which she needed to offset her medical bills. Problem was the bank wouldn’t release it to her unless she paid a $3,000 admin fee. She promised Teddy that should he be compassionate enough to hand over the admin fee, he would be rewarded with 10% of her tied up cash. Do the maths.
Each time a 419 (fraudulent) email find its way into SugarDaddy’s inbox, I hear a chortle followed by a shout of ‘MEE, your mates are at it again!’ SugarDaddy is notoriously politically incorrect. Plus, we have the sort of relationship that gives him the right to take the piss out of me, no holds barred. When the story of Tobechi Onwuhara went viral, I had to show it to SugarDaddy. I needed him to know that some of my ‘mates’ were professionals at what they did. They weren’t all ‘bloody amateurs’ as he likes to call them. We had a good laugh reading the article and it wasn’t till I got home that night that it occurred to me to feel bad for further tarnishing the image of ‘my mates’ in SugarDaddy’s eyes.
Luke O’Brien who wrote the article for CNN (http://bit.ly/dLOUsW) did a fantastic job. The article reads like a Nollywood script directed and produced by Martin Scorsese. My friends cast Don Cheadle in the lead role but I reckon he’s a wee bit puny. Chiwetel Ejiofor on the other hand, has the kind of swagger needed to make it thunderstorm. It is the best-written article I’ve read in ages.
A few years ago, I met a guy who had 419 inscribed on his forehead. I go to know him quite well and was surprised to find he wasn’t a monster. He was actually a good friend…kind, thoughtful, considerate, warm and generous. Very generous. His generosity was what ended our friendship. Every time I let him buy me a pizza or a cinema ticket, my conscience wouldn’t let me forget where the money came from. My refusals to let him pay for anything became an issue. He wanted to know why and I didn’t have the guts to tell him it was because he was a thief. I avoided him and eventually, he stopped calling. A mutual friend of ours thought I was crazy. Why on earth would I let what he did get in the way of our friendship? According to her, as long as he didn’t involve us in his activities, we had nothing to worry about. I wasn’t convinced.
On that note, my book recommendation for this week is “I Do Not Come To You By Chance” by Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani. The central character is a young man who finds himself drawn into a life of fraud.
As before, read and tell me what you think!