Hushpuppi’s case is sadly not the exception, but the norm in a society that has gone numb to the proliferation of cybercriminals. For years, cybercrime has plagued Nigerian society, first under the moniker – 419– derived from the section of the penal code that prohibits advance fee fraud, then evolving into what it is now known as – yahoo yahoo. What should normally be a sacrilegious act has become widely accepted by society. Hence, its growth, such as during the pandemic, when Nigeria ranked 16th among countries worst affected by cybercrime, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Sadly, the involvement for some is as a result of the overwhelming pressure, some as a means of financial gain – and others, both.
Unfortunately, the impending consequences of the increase in cybercrime on teenagers and young people cannot be overemphasized. If nothing is done, we risk birthing a generation that embraces and encourages cybercrime. As such, questions such as what can be done and how can the threat of cybercrime be eradicated, particularly among teenagers, need to be asked and answered.
Cybercrime and the culture of acceptance –
Cybercrime as an entity has existed in Nigeria for a long time. It first gained prominence in the early 2000s when young Nigerians pretended to be African princes and claimed to offer wealth in exchange for a fee. However, a new wave of acceptance is sweeping through the country. This new wave is not unconnected to growing poverty, inefficient financial watchdogs, and an overwhelming pressure that has continued to lead more youths and teenagers into cybercrime. These days, the numbers are high. The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) reported a whopping 80% of its 2021 arrests as cybercrime and fraud related—a sad reality.
Head of Communications at Tekisite, Oluwatosin Adeyemo commented thus, “Cybercrime is now the major crime to be tackled in the society. The acceptance is worrisome, it’s now a popular culture that youths must engage in cybercrime as a means of survival. Teenagers are getting pressured by their parents and immediate family to engage in cybercrime”.
Digital Skills and Cybercrime –
Cybercrime has silently taken over Nigerian society. It is not enough to speak against a vice, especially one as absolute and as engrained as cybercrime. It is more important to provide
teenagers and the next generation with an alternative. One that provides great economic and societal advantages.
With the world in a full-blown technology frenzy, Nigerian society must take hold of the opportunity to provide teenagers and young Nigerians with tech and digital skills. These skills will serve as an alternative to cybercrime and also help prepare Nigerian youths to compete with other countries moulding a tech-savvy generation.
The skills will help keep kids out of vices and provide a viable opportunity and pathway to a legitimate source of livelihood. Moreover, since the world is increasingly becoming dependent on the internet and technology, the importance of digital literacy will only continue to grow, especially as job opportunities continue to increase for skilled individuals. With the global workforce projected to absorb 149 million new technology-oriented jobs between 2020 and 2025, the endless opportunities in tech are barely debatable.
TEKISITE – The Future is Now
Technology is the future, and the future is now. Understanding the importance of digital literacy in today’s world and the future, the idea behind Tekisite is to create weeklong bootcamps that will see teenage secondary students get immersed in the basics of digital skills. These bootcamps will expose the students to career opportunities in technology, and even go a step further to provide them with the basic knowledge to pursue a career in tech. Thus, with digital skills, these bootcamps are poised to help eliminate the threat of cybercrime — one teenager at a time.
Banking on the world’s increased dependence on technology, The Founder of Tekisite, Abass Oyeyemi while stating the essence of the project states, “Tekisite bootcamps will see teenagers escape the vice of cybercrime, learn how to gain valuable employment, and also gain great human values that put them out of the reach of increasing societal pressure. Thus, birthing an army of tech-savvy young Africans, ready to take the world by storm. Eradicating cybercrime, making the world a better place, and creating sustainable employment opportunities”.
The Project Lead of the Tekisite Project, Salawu Faizat while narrating what to expect from the next Tekisite project said, “we are targeting about 900 schoolchildren in Ogun State, who will come out as tech bros after two weeks of intense training in our strategic locations at Ogun East, Ogun West and Ogun Central. Software development, Product Design, Graphic Design would be the core areas of learning for the teenagers. Aftermath of the training would be a statewide competition among our learners which would come with several opportunities for them”.