‘Maga No Need Pay’: Nigeria stands up to fight cyber scams

On Thursday 4th February in Abuja, Nigeria, a gathering of pop and rap musicians, led by producer and world renowned song writer Cobhams Emmanuel Asuquo released Maga No Need Pay” an amazing song which discourages the youth from engaging in cybercrime. Associate General Counsel Tim Cranton, head of the Digital Crimes Unit at Microsoft Corp, blogged on this launch –  read his post.

What I would like to highlight right now, a few days after the launch, is the excitement and a new sense of pride that “Maga No Need Pay” is generating in Nigeria, which you can see throughout the hundreds of comments already posted on YouTube. All these heartfelt messages are probably best summarised by the producer himself, on Cobham’s Facebook page : “Maga No Need Pay!!!! CYBER CRIME must be stopped. I REPRESENT NAIJA (Nigeria). Looking forward to the year I’ll travel out of this country and I’ll be able to carry my head high and not have people judging me cause am NIGERIAN”.

I was in Abuja myself last week, working on the preparation of the upcoming First West African Cybercrime Summit to take place on 7th-10th September 2010.  I was not by myself, but with a solid group of representatives from the Economic and Financial Crime Commission of Nigeria, UNODC, the European Union Delegation Nigeria, the Council of Europe, Europol, US, UK and French authorities, ECOWAS, INTERPOL and Google. One of the most burning questions for us was: what can we actually achieve if we don’t have the support of the population in our fight against scams and online crimes?

The response from people and artists of Nigeria is loud and clear: they see their future based on the respect for rule of law, and that development and recognition of their talent rely on each and every one of them. As the hip hop artist M.I puts it in the song:

See my nation’s reputation suffers much condemnation,
This’ our situation.
Are we cybercrime criminals? No!
We are the mineral resources of our fatherland,
We must rise and take the stand.
Every day heroes are born,
All stereotypes are torn.
Things we did to cause us harm,
We off that and now we on,
Hard work, positivity,
Truth, reliability
Expose your ability,
Change our reality,
That’s word!

I am very proud of the engagement of the Nigerian community and that Microsoft Nigeria supported this song and made it happen, and very proud that the Digital Crimes Unit team that I am part of here in Europe and in Redmond is part of such a landscape-changing initiative.