Earlier this month, I posed a question on values in the context of Nigerian society. I wanted to get a sense of what values the readers would describe as 'Nigerian'. It was an interesting exercise to say the least. I continue to hold the opinion that too many people have disregarded the difference between what is right and wrong. To me, this disregard connotes a devaluation of previously understood and shared value systems. And this opinion is reinforced by the fact that, in Nigeria, there appears to be a growing trend amongst a few who choose to dupe and betray their own flesh and blood.
WHATEVER HAPPENED TO FAMILY?
I recently heard a story about a kidnapping that happened earlier this year. Now, for disclosure sake, let me confess something. Whenever I read a news story about an individual being kidnapped in Nigeria, I don't bat an eye. For some reason, I am immune to such news. I simply acknowledge the information and move on with the strong belief that the victim will be released in no time as long as certain 'conditions' are met. Thank goodness, I haven't been proven wrong yet.
So it was with a relative share of nonchalance that I was told a story of a kidnapping in Nigeria by a close friend of my mother's. He recently traveled to Nigeria to visit friends and family and also help his son's philanthropic organization. During this time, he discovered that his son's friend, a Nigerian American playing in the NFL, got a frantic phone call informing him that a family member had been kidnapped. The kidnappers wanted a hearty sum of N2 billion.
Well, it turned out that the kidnapped family member was actually taken by a cousin! The NFL player was being betrayed by his own flesh and blood. But that wasn't the only story I heard about individuals being duped by their family members. In fact, from what I am learning, that is becoming common fodder for many Nigerians.
WHAT IS GOING ON?
But, since when did it become acceptable to dupe a family member? How did this practice become so common and why? Stories of family members asking for money to feed their children but then using that money to build lavish houses are far too common. Many readers have of course heard stories of others taking money from relatives who live abroad and instead of using that money on an assigned task, they usurp that money for their own private use.
Now, I am not claiming that this behavior is limited to Nigerians. That would be absurd especially since history has proven that merely sharing DNA is not enough to prevent bad people from doing bad things to their relatives. Nevertheless, how do we quell this growing trend before it becomes uncontrollable? Or, is this issue one that is already beyond the point of return? I sincerely hope that is not the case because I cannot envision a future where taking advantage of relatives, or any person in particular, is a common practice.