Connect with us


Niyi Ademoroti: On Yahoo Yahoo & the Nigerian Culture

We celebrate those who have ruined the Nigerian infrastructure, have them sit in VIP sections and invite them onto gilded altars, inside these four walls. The ineluctable guardians of our culture, the pastors, own private jets and hold so much power that they lend them to the government.



In Chief Daddy, Nigeria’s highest-grossing movie of 2018, we see an ostentatious display of opulence and wealth. Chief Beecroft, otherwise referred to as Chief Daddy, is dead, and his large family—thanks to his undiscriminating libido—is left to squabble over his wealth. That’s it. That’s the entire plot. Sure, there are a few side attractions—there’s a love story lurking in there somewhere, and something about a fledging music career—but the movie’s hopes to hold on to your attention hinges on that alone: the want for wealth.

I want you to imagine ten Nigerian songs. Any ten will do, as long as they’re Nigerian. Seven of them will involve money. It could be about impressing a love interest with money, or, more likely, simply about getting money. Think about it. The biggest song on the radio today probably is Burna Boy’s Dangote, or is it Killin’ Dem? Either way, the former details his hustle for money—even Dangote, the richest African, still dey find money, he sings; who is he not to?—while the latter includes the line, apropos of nothing, Where the money, where the money nana nana.

These two (film and music) are, by far, the biggest expressions of Nigerian culture. They are a representation of the daily Nigerian life, its mundanities and impulses.


It seemed, last month, that the internet would not stop debating over the wrong-or-rightness of internet fraud, popularly known as yahoo-yahoo. My brother, friends and coworkers, brought it up: how incredulous it was that people were justifying it, that a major news publication opened a debate asking who their readers supported.

Here’s how it all began:

Singer Simi made a live video on her Instagram condemning internet fraud. It is wrong, she said, and, when a fan told her to “leave yahoo boys alone” because they are the ones who listen to her music, bravely, she declared that they not buy her music.

The reactions were quick. Singer Naira Marley put forward an argument that is oft repeated: if Simi was aware of slavery, she’d know yahoo yahoo isn’t a crime. Davido‘s comment was short but indicative of the Nigerian psyche: “Nobody holy.” Ruggedman, reacting to Naira Marley’s reaction, said something in the vein of “You can do yahoo all you want, but do not disrespect the part of the black race that were sold into slavery by trying to use it to justify cybercrime.”

The purveyors of our culture, ladies and gentlemen.


Is it necessary to clarify why exactly defrauding people of their hard earned income is wrong? Or why the notion that no one is “holy” hence no one should condemn the crimes of another is silly. Imagine a society running on such principle, a society where no one is punished for a crime because everyone is assumed to be criminal. A post-crime society, hence a post-justice society.

And fraud as reparation for slavery? One would think it a joke upon hearing it, the workings of an indolent mind. Yahoo boys as tools for justice, making the white man pay for his crimes against the black man, against humanity. And, how exactly, is this justice being carried out? Through the emptying of the accounts of not only white folks, but black people, too, and people of all races. Through the siphoning of the lifelong savings of their country people.

Ruggedman’s stance is that of a man who is aware of the wrongness of a thing but is unaffected by it, so he is unbothered to dredge from inside himself empathy for those who are. “You can do yahoo all you want.” This often ends one way alone: First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out…

See, let’s call a spade a spade and not a big spoon; all it comes down to is greed. I know more than a few yahoo boys, went to school with them, hang out with them at Christmas. They are not the undereducated and underserved plebeians they’d like you to believe they are—not any more than you and I are as Nigerians, anyway. They are people who could better apply their industry to something less pernicious. But it’s easy and it’s fast. What else could you put in the same level of labor and reap rewards that quick? How many start-up CEOs drive Benzes, shut down clubs? Please, let’s reject the deodorizing, accept that these are people doing bad things because of greed.

But that’s not what this is even about.


While speaking with a friend recently for the series Big City Living, about what she’s learned thanks to settling in Lagos, she said Lagos showed her that there is more. It’s a comment I’d heard before, how in Lagos you find that there are people with more, and if you just try harder, you, too, can have more. I asked if this meant the city encourages discontent. We discussed how the striving for more isn’t a striving for excellence, but a striving for financial success. And financial success for the sake of what exactly? Perhaps our arts and culture can help?

Let’s go back to Chief Daddy. He’s dead, but perhaps his life will tell us something. He owned a foundation, but only passively, which, if we look around, we’ll find is pretty characteristic of the wealthy Nigerian. If they don’t own one, they make a show of donating to one. Where, though, does the bulk of their wealth go? Where does the bulk of Chief Daddy’s wealth go? His large family, made up especially of wives and mistresses and their offsprings. So, a wealthy Nigerian man spends a bulk of his wealth on acquiring women who then give him children?

The theory is backed up by Nigerian music. Davido’s FIA begins with the line Shawty want a million dollar. On Assurance, he sings about giving his girlfriend “lifetime insurance.” And on Wizkid‘s Manya, there’s: “Oya take all my money put am for your head oh.”

But Nigerian music tells us even more about how we spend this money. Lil’ Kesh, on Logo Benz, sings about wanting to buy a Benz (the song also contains the frightening lyrics “If money no enter I go do blood money o,” and tells the story of Nedu, who steals a woman’s underwear to buy a Benz). On Flenjo, featuring Duncan Mighty, Lil’ Kesh sings about getting money and ballin’.

Davido, on Tire You, wants fire to burn his enemies, and wants to “gum body” with Femi Otedola. On MotivationVictor AD‘s biggest motivation to getting money are those “wey dey hate,” those who told him he’d never make it.

So, according to Nigerian music, the reason for men getting money is to assure women, buy Benzes and alcohol, stunt on haters, and rub shoulders with other wealthy people.


The case for culture and its people is often a case of which came first, the chicken or the egg? Are the people the way they are because of what they see on TV and hear on the radio? Or is what is on TV and the radio what it is because the people are who they are? Bottomline is, our music and film are representative of who we are as a people, what and how we think, what we value. And people who ascribe a premium, above excellence and honesty and integrity, on financial success, as we do, will indubitably find themselves in the position that we do.

It’s the same with churches: prosperity is the sermon, even when it isn’t. Perhaps only otherwise seen in Middle Eastern countries, our churches are a cultural centre. Our people learn from inside those mammoth walls how and what to think. And inside those walls they’ve been told that God wants them to be rich, made to believe wealth is the earthly reward for serving him. We celebrate those who have ruined the Nigerian infrastructure, have them sit in VIP sections and invite them onto gilded altars, inside these four walls. The ineluctable guardians of our culture, the pastors, own private jets and hold so much power that they lend them to the government.

Perhaps unfair isn’t the word, but isn’t it a little ridiculous, then, that we’re surprised by the level at which yahoo yahoo has permeated our daily lives? If all the culture we consume instructs us daily to aspire to wealth—easy wealth, wealth not for the sake of progress for all, but wealth for the sake of stunting, buying Benzes and Gucci—if the culture tells you, as our cultural centres do, that wealth will not only get you celebrated, but will also leave you above reproach, even from God, even when you’ve destroyed the lives of others, maybe then we shouldn’t be so surprised.


  1. Didi

    May 6, 2019 at 11:28 am

    Longggggggggggggggg. sheesh!!

    • by_stander

      June 19, 2019 at 9:05 pm

      The man needs to learn to summarize, keep things short and sweet.

  2. Eniola-Giwa

    May 6, 2019 at 1:17 pm

    What is bad is bad!

  3. Funmilola

    May 6, 2019 at 3:25 pm

    I’ve always said it, its not the poor that do yahoo yahoo. Greed is the principal factor responsible for fraud.

  4. mayowa

    May 6, 2019 at 8:46 pm

    bross government is the main cause of Yahoo.don’t blame Nigerian musicians for nothing sake.Why did our government make Nigeria unbearable for us?school fees and unnecessary dues increased.bross shey na 30k dem go use pay two children school fees for eksu? parent no go shop? pple who are not involve in Yahoo have another means of surviving and besides the leaders build tomorrow for only their children.

  5. Aare

    May 6, 2019 at 11:26 pm

    Like you mentioned, it has nothing to do with the media. It could be because we want to live in an unequal and stratified society, that is why democracy is just crazy demonstration to us. Finding a way to be better by hook or crook becomes part of the cultural landscape. The politicians or wanna be politicians see position as a status symbol to ingrain themselves at the top of the heap. Yahoo yahoo is just a a branch of that mentality which is to put yourself in a better position than the other person. The outcome of the fraudulent income of most yahoo yahoo personalities is to purchase materials things to show they are rising or at the top of the heap.The worst thing of course is that they end up purchasing foreign products inadvertently sending half or more than half of the money back to the source.

    • Deji

      May 14, 2019 at 3:33 am

      Well said. What is wrong is wrong, no sugar coating

  6. Koko

    May 20, 2019 at 11:27 am

    Our politicians are the big shot when it comes to local yahoo.. Go preach to them first and EFCC should confiscate all their illegal or illegitimate millions and mansions. It should be sold and the money to be paid to all Nigerian youths or household.
    Go F*ck start from there. All you broke N*ga

  7. by_stander

    June 19, 2019 at 9:41 pm

    So i took time to read this article(could have been shorter). i dont think it addresses the underlying issues.

    its probably the way most people think about Nigerian problems, and why they never get fixed.

    Internet fraud or any type of fraud is an infringement on inalienable rights and its not a surprise its a crime.

    Internet fraud has nothing to do with slave trade based on the argument naira marley is trying to make.

    Slave trade was made “legal” by Lawyers & Accountants at the time it was mainstream. But because Africans never learn anything from their history, today there is another type of slavery that has been put in place by Lawyers & Accountants, which infringes on your inalienable rights and right to earn a living.

    they’ve done it once again through laws and regulations.

    The fact that Nigerians’ right to earn a living are being infringed upon by rent-seeking laws(which is another type of fraud) the country has stagnated and continues to stagnate.

    basically this means that only a few people (rent-seekers including lawyers and accountants) have the monopoly on prosperity. doesn’t matter what you do.

    this professions are also outdated and offer no real value or useful contribution to humanity that equals cost of their existence. i go as far as to say they create even more problems just so they can say they have a solution. The legal industry is the only industry that regulates itself, without any consequence for causing a mass disasters.

    Basically the summation is a -ve. That is why you have the country you have today.

    Nigeria has been lucky, in the sense that the oil was offsetting that -ve for a while, but as oil becomes less and less relevant in the world the true cost of that -ve will start to show.

    Nigeria isn’t getting better, its getting worse – all the things you associate with “good” are other nations’ prosperity – i.e things you import.

    You will never hear the architects and beneficiaries of doom (that is the rent-seekers) discuss what they have done or are doing in the open.

    Internet fraud along with a lot of other problems including the new ones, can be linked directly infringement on inalienable rights of human beings and right to earn a living.

    The last calculation showed that more than 100 millions lives have been made uncertain or affected by laws and regulations that infringe on the right of Nigerians to earn a living for the financial benefit of Lawyers and Accountants.

    We need more people outside the fields/professions of Lawyers and Accountants research our laws and regulations, compare them to that of US and UK.

    We need more independent panels to investigate the rent-seeking pyramid scheme that has stagnated our nation for years.

    most importantly we need to stop giving or voting for Lawyers and Accountants into any positions of authority.

  8. by_stander

    June 20, 2019 at 1:33 pm

    I believe you said it all when you said:

    “The worst thing of course is that they end up purchasing foreign products inadvertently sending half or more than half of the money back to the source.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Tangerine Africa

Star Features