On-line Business In Nigeria: Scam, Ruse, Reality

First, I’d easily classify myself as a local home boy.  I mean, home is Nigeria.  I am not very likely to want to relocate and take residency elsewhere outside of Nigeria.  Rugged place to stay I must say, but I think that there is something that blends the home psychology with individuals and makes it so home and draws the bond and connection. 

Besides the psychology, there is just so much to do here.  Economy is far cry from what and where the rest of the world is going; the socio-polity has so much room for creativity; and the business economy is a gaping gap that requires filling.  I do have some patriotic fire in me, but not sure if that is the key drive.  I‘d score the business drive more. I have this funny assumption that you do not need to be too smart to do well in business in this part of the world, the gaps are all too many and do create market potential – my plain simple thought.  Local, as I am, I do however have such strong desire to play in the international business place, that’s why I use the internet and buy overseas.  Now this brings me to the issue for the brief today.

I was reading online entries on a trade site and there was this ‘trade expert’ advising on doing business with Nigeria and Nigerians.  This ‘expert’ had posited that as much as possible, Nigeria was no go area for any kind of business, as everyone there is either a scammer or a fraud.  He was such an expert and had so much to say about doing business with Nigerians.  There were several contributors, a lot of these saying the same things. A few entries dissented from the view and gave instances of their business dealings with Nigeria and how it went well.  I spent a great deal of time on the site and didn’t know whether to laugh or to cry. 

Some experience also hits one below the belt too.  I severally needed to make some on-line purchases, and when I want to enter country of origin, I see that there is no provision for Nigeria.  I started off transactions and only to be declined when the supplier get to know that I’d be buying from Nigeria. I push a transaction up to a point and then the supplier tells me that they don’t know how to do business with Nigeria and if they are indeed permitted to sell to Nigeria.  At other times, Supplier would plainly tell you that all payment must clear into an account before they could despatch.  In some cases, Nigeria originated letters of credit are not accepted.

 By the way, I got a card from my bank not too long ago, and I went on to do a transaction online, and gave the card details. Everything went well, or so it seems, and then days later, I got a note saying payment was declined!  Another Nigerian scammer they would say! Fact though, is there is a lot that is true about what they are saying.We‘ve got a lot of scammers and fraudsters here.  The internet use is not well regulated.  Identities of online scammers are not easily trace-able.  The legal and judicial systems are not doing enough to address these issues and on and on. 

But there are far more genuine business people here than there are scammers!   Chaos is not the norm; there are some levels of orderliness here! We do still track down some of these criminals and so many have been brought to book.  I admit we do have a lot to do.  We have a lot to do to get things in order, and putting things in the right perspective.  We do have a lot to do in the area of criminal justice.  We have a lot to do in the area of effective payment systems and guarantees. We need a lot to do educating ourselves locally and our overseas customers and clients. 

Our banking system have to find more ingenious ways of partnering with overseas businesses, bankers and financial institutions to shield them from the menace of financial crimes and criminality originating from Nigeria.  Our Government must understand that the world is moving and we cannot be scum of the earth and that they should be in a hurry to institute legal and judicial systems and processes that actively and effectively combat these crimes.  Our society must step back and treat criminals and those who benefit from criminal activities with scorn and have them repent.

 We must teach our younger ones that there is a lot of value and dignity in hard work.  We must collectively show disdain for the wrong and stand for the right!   We must individually choose to do right.  By the way, I will pass the payment through whether with card or with bank transfer because I believe I should pay for services rendered to me and tell a good story as well.

Besides the above rhetoric anyway, tell me, isn’t there something some smart savvy business person can do?  Can’t we find out how we can creatively provide a clearance system for Nigerian originated businesses which can be a channel and a clearing house for all payments, so we do the confirmations and give guarantees?  Can’t we do something?  Do we need Government for everything?  Can’t the banks get together and provide some platform for overseas trade that is credible and the banks can rely on? Can we set up something that checkmates crimes and criminality by applying the full wrath of the law?

For those who have been hurt in these scams, I must say sorry, so very sorry.  Interestingly, I get such scam letters too.  But we do have very good Nigerians and Nigerian business people.  We have people with genuine intentions and passion to have things move forward.  Good people who wouldn’t take gain that is not theirs.  People who mean well, they abound, they actually form the bulk majority of the Nigerian people.

Take a listen to Vanessa William’s ‘Colours of the wind’, especially the line that says, “ …you think the only people who are people who look and think like you …”  we have real good people, I can’t help but say it!

Akin-Longe, Business consultant and Managing Director of T&D Presss Ltd, Port Harcourt.

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