By Wale Bakare
“Hushpuppi’s driver earns N700,000 month while you that abuses him on social media are doing houseboy work and earn N35,000 a month…Instead of you to beg Hushpuppi to hire your father as a driver,” Daddy Freeze had said. – Punch Newspapers.
The news of the arrest of Ramoni ‘Raymond’ Abbas, AKA Hushpuppi hit the social media a few days ago like a tsunami. Everywhere you turned, you were confronted with pictures of Ramoni in his ridiculous clothes, posing with cars or planes.
These pictures were then ‘collaged’ with one of him being led away in handcuffs by the police. It was almost surreal. For some reason, it reminded me of the capture of Saddam Hussein after the Americans took Baghdad. Leading up to the minute Baghdad fell, Saddam kept promising the mother of all wars and threatening to bomb the streets of New York and generally displaying symptoms of mental trouble.
Suddenly, he was on the run and after a few days, he was captured while hiding in a hole like a rat, looking disoriented and thoroughly beaten. The picture of a very sober Ramoni evoked images of that earlier event.
Who would ever have thought it. That the great Hushpuppi, the connoisseur of everything Gucci, the favoured customer of Louis Vuitton, and the icon of Icon, would swap all the millions of dollars worth of garbage he flaunted with an orange suit without so much as a whimper.
That the Bentleys and Ferraris would give way to a Dubai version of a Black Maria without a fight. Where were the millions of followers on Instagram? Where were the battalions of Nigerian ‘yoots’ who clicked Like on all his displays of crass ostentation?
Where were the minions who aspired to be him and the men of influence who graced his dinner table and had their pictures taken with him?
Where was our former Presidential Candidate? Where was the clown of a Senator? Where was that fellow who had made a name for himself insulting every Pastor in the country?
When I first encountered Ramoni on social media a couple of years ago, I was struck by the brazen display of obviously dirty wealth by him and another fellow known as Mompha. This was also a Nigerian living in Dubai who claimed to run a Bureau De Change.
They were engaged in some sort of rivalry to determine who could be more daring and despicable in flaunting their wealth. It was amazing. How stupid could you be? I had known fraudsters and con men from when I was a young man and the ones that survived the longest were those that kept the lowest profile.
Back in the 1990s, the Ade Bendels and Fred Ajuduas naturally ended up in prison while their colleagues that kept a low profile ended up in various Legislatures and other positions in government. These two seemed to have a death wish. Nigerian youths could not hail them enough. The whole thing was just crazy.
Not surprisingly, Mompha was arrested a few months ago by the EFCC. He was lucky. Getting arrested by the EFCC is a badge of honour for a con man. It was only a matter of time before Hushpuppi would follow. He was not so lucky. The FBI are taking him.
The figures being published relating to Ramoni’s activities are mind-boggling. Almost 2 million people scammed and close to N200 billion in proceeds! He was even bold enough to con $35m out of the U.S. government in the middle of a pandemic. I hear even our EFCC that had ignored him all this while have suddenly found their voice and also want a piece of the puppy.
That is almost laughable. He is going to the U.S. and he is unlikely to see a Macdonalds ever again without the use of a walking stick. I dont know if it is worth it. I have never considered a life of crime. I am however unsure how a period of about 4 years of insanely ostentatious living can be worth spending 40 years behind bars. I just cant square with it.
Which brings me to the millions of Nigerian youths who idolised this fellow, and still do despite his arrest. It tells a terrible tale about our society that an openly criminal individual would be seen as a role model by our young (and not so young) people.
We have been so drained of values that nothing matters anymore except the pursuit of material wealth. Get rich or die trying was the title of a movie by an American Rapper. That seems to be the overwhelming ethos of the present day Nigerian youth and can they really be blamed?
What other role models do they have to look up to? Their civil servant parents who would be unable to meet their basic responsibilities on their legitimate earnings? Or their Teachers who prioritise the sale of poorly produced handouts over the impartation of knowledge? Definitely not their political or religious leaders! Two sides of the same counterfeit coin. Maybe Naira Marley. Afterall, he has a legitimate source of income and is also above the law.
Pictures are all over the place showing Hushpuppi being courted by politicians like Dino Melaye and even our former Vice President.
Daddy Freeze, who gained notoriety by his no holds barred attacks on all Pastors and who pretended to provide an alternative narrative to the mercantilism that the church was gradually descending into produced a PR video for Hushpuppi in which, probably due to temporary insanity induced by the amount of dollars he was being paid, he resorted to insulting the fathers of Nigerian youths who still had the spine to call out the fraudster.
He showed that if the money was right, the mask would fall and the egungun would dance naked. It wearies the soul.
What does the future hold when the present is so diseased?
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