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Lagosians don’t cheat

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…or do they?

Honey came in and she caught me red-handed
Creeping with the girl next door
Picture this, we were both butt-naked
Banging on the bathroom floor
How could I forget that I had
Given her an extra key
All this time she was standing there
She never took her eyes off me
– Lyric excerpts from Wasn’t Me by Shaggy

In 2012, Durex, the condom manufacturer, in a global survey they conducted, said that 62% of Nigerian women cheat, making them the largest group of unfaithful women in the world. Ouch! What a damning indictment! How did they get the data? That could not be possible! So the furore among Nigerians hit the roof. We are God-fearing and are strong Christians, they argued. But Durex said that the Nigerian women admitted they cheated. And we can argue that because of their sincerity, they became the largest group of women in the world who have been unfaithful to their partners.

Flowing from that revelation by Durex, a digital media company, Insider Monkey decided to douse the noise created by Durex’s controversial survey, which, by the way, is done annually, with Nigerian women topping the list up until 2019. Insider Monkey identified professions that accounted for the most cheaters, the top two being trades businesses (artisans) and IT professionals. Another revelation by Insider Monkey revealed that women are most likely to cheat the soonest once they get married. Graciously, Nigeria is relegated to fifth place from its top position with the United Kingdom taking the icing.

The busy nature of Lagos city and the willingness of her residents to dance to the rhythm of boisterousness places it on the default fast track. Little wonder why people in Lagos, new to the city or omo onile, are said to be always in a hurry. While people scurry about in the day to make a living, they create time for fun and pleasure later on. Most of them end up cutting corners from time to time and it has become a radically endorsed tradition. A look at some of the aspects which have suffered from this tradition categorises them into five broad areas. Now, the questions are; why is there so much office and workspace privilege without much consideration for the duration spent at work? Why do Lagosians cheat in relationships, whether married or dating? Why has internet fraud taken over the hustler narrative? Why do Lagosians consciously overcharge or underpay for goods and services? Lastly, why is the proliferation of academic malpractice highly encouraged?

A walk around the city to get people’s opinions on these issues evoked some raising of the eyebrows. One would wonder how acts that should ordinarily qualify as cheating can be easily discharged as acts of assistance. This calls to question about when to show empathy or to be in solidarity and threatens to overstep the boundaries of morality.

In a survey among a cross-section of Lagosians, we found that the average Lagosian – man or woman – denies cheating. Most swear they were never involved in it, even though a few were able to speak candidly about how they have gotten away with their indiscretions. But it makes us wonder how the international data companies really got their facts. An interesting twist though as provided by MBG Relationships, is that the man who jumps queues, breaks laws at will, tells lies, justifies success no matter the illegitimate way he gets there, thinks that he comes first before all others; essentially, a sociopath, psychopath, or narcissist, is most likely to cheat, especially in marriage.  

We went to town and spoke to a few people to get their perspectives on being cheated or cheating themselves.

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Lagosians don’t cheat

Frank Usunobun is a brand strategist with a leading PR company in Lagos. He explains how he has expended years of service in the corporate circle with little to show for his extensive toil. Usunobun feels cheated. Not sexually though. Among other factors, he identified workplace privilege as one of the reasons he has been unable to meet up with the expectations of hitting it big in his industry, given his many years of service. He cited a particular case, one which he termed painful, as the promotion of a junior colleague. He had worked in a particular firm for a few years before other people were recruited to work as marketers under his supervision. He says it was expected that the new employees would spend some time working and gaining experience before being promoted but that was not the case. According to him, “it was not as if this particular girl applied for a managerial position, she was employed as a marketer which was what he applied for and in two months, she got promoted”. When asked if he considers the promotion as meritorious he affirmed in the negative, stating that there were other people who performed better as marketers under his supervision.

However, some Lagosians seem to have a different definition for such workplace privilege. Reacting to Frank’s claim, Laju, a hairstylist in Mende, says the female colleague was simply lucky or really walking in grace. In her words, “no be who first reach police station dey always win case.” She explains that the new staff may simply have found favour in the eyes of the right boss and that it doesn’t qualify as cheating. Cheating would have meant denying Frank a position that was originally his and giving it out to someone else, a qualified person or not. Since he didn’t have his name written for that particular position, he wasn’t cheated.

Going by the number of agony aunt blogs on social media, it has become clearer that people in relationships go all the way out to seek extra comfort and companionship besides having it from their partners. Some people justify their infidelity. They argue that they only assist people in sexual needs, going by the response of some residents whose opinion we sought. 

Lanre is a businessman who thinks that having other women besides his girlfriend is just “an act of charity” as the population ratio makes men entitled to more than one woman. He is of the opinion that “women should be taken care of by men, whether they have a steady relationship or not. What goes on in the process is only reciprocity of the assistance they give and it is not cheating.”

As a married man, Fidelis claims he is doing his wife a favour by getting other women to satisfy his cravings. According to him, “she cannot handle the weight of my demands. When I say demands, I mean sexual demands, attention and everything. I love attention too and she may not always have the time to give it to me”. A better excuse which he presents is the fact that Mrs Fidelis keeps a job and also has to tend to domestic duties which do not afford her the luxury of time to attend to him fully. This makes his other affairs nothing like cheating but an activity that helps to keep his family together and in peace.

Akorede Oyindamola, who is a postgraduate student, thinks women cheat because of the situation in the country that is characterised by a high rate of poverty. In her words, “A lot of women cheat because their husbands do not give them enough or because they see men that offer them what they actually need to survive in exchange for sex”. She hopes that empowerment schemes that would consider women first will be a good way to curb cheating as a busy and seeming self-sufficient woman will not be easily enticed by little gifts.

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Idris Omotayo runs a retail fashion outlet in Lagos and he has something simple to say about cheating in relationships. He feels people cheat for satisfaction as most relationships lack something essential that a partner hopes to find in another person. He thinks cheating is avoidable given that both parties ought to know each other very well to understand their deficiencies. He further drives home his point by putting in the Yoruba adage: nkan ti o ba lee je, ma fi run mu, which loosely means what you do want to eat, do not bother trying to smell it.

For Sultan Adeboye, people do not properly weigh the odds before going into a relationship and when it becomes obvious that they don’t get what they want, it ultimately leads to cheating. He simply tags cheating as a result of misplacement because, according to him, “people cheat because they are where they are not meant to be in the first place”. It is just not about sexual relations, it also involves sharing emotions with someone other than with the person you call your partner.

Look at yahoo-yahoo in Lagos

Internet fraud is the hotcake of this generation. With an iPhone or a laptop, youngsters can have access to sites where they meet unsuspecting individuals and swindle them of their money. Their modes of operation comprise a range of options from dating, fake business deals, foreign exchange to outright hacking. Flash is a teenager who had learnt to fix android phones at Ikeja. He says that what people call fraud is smartness and that smart people rule the world. According to him, “In one way or the other we have tried to play smart on other people just to make extra money. There is nothing really wrong with it as long as you did not kill anybody”. He explains that yahoo-yahoo, as it is popularly called, is a common trade carried out by both young women and men and has helped to liberate a lot of families from poverty.

Temiloluwa Adeyemo is a jeweller in Yaba who thinks that hopelessness is the major reason why people take to fraud. “I actually support it to like 50%. If you can do it instead of being idle, engaging in cultism or killing people, I feel they should go and do it”.

As a young man who is relentlessly making efforts to hit it big, Smart Ojonugua says he doesn’t consider fraud an option because it is not proof of genuine hard work. In his words, “Yahoo-yahoo is a very stressful shortcut to making money and I wonder why some youths give their energy to it. It is wrong on all levels because it causes some form of emotional damage to the victim”.

As far as the end is getting a certificate, why not?

The academic space has been littered with various accounts of malpractice and it has become a culture with no known permanent solution. Every year, schools churn out tons of graduates with a good number of them having taken part in one form of malpractice or the other.

As a social media enthusiast who chronicles her real-life experiences on handles, Agazie Ijeoma confessed her misconduct during an examination in a Facebook post. She had lived more of her life in Lagos and gone ahead to attend university in the east. According to her, she had a seating arrangement with her friends during examinations that enabled them to help each other with answers to exams questions in the examination halls. In an interview with her, she explained that “bringing in any external tools that are related or unrelated to the examination counts as malpractice while asking a question to get a reminder can be forgiven”. She went on to add that the high expectations of some lecturers are a major reason for examination malpractice because some either set strange questions or expect a certain pattern of answers which are difficult to follow unless one were a computer.

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Dr Aderonke Lawal-Are who is an associate professor of Marine Ecology at the University of Lagos explains that malpractice has been a major scourge on university education as she has encountered students engaging in it since she joined the tertiary teaching service in September 1998. She believes that when a student tries to outsmart the invigilator or the lecturer-in-charge during an examination, the undertone is an act of malpractice that is totally unfair to other colleagues, who are candidates for the same examination. Since it is established that the act is unfair, it qualifies as cheating. She went further to state that malpractice manifests in varying forms, which include bringing in chips to the examination hall, impersonation or writing answers on the body just to outsmart invigilators.

She attributes students being distracted as a major reason why they engage in malpractice during an examination. The advent of social media and gadgets like headsets and smartwatches have made it easy for such malpractices to take place. However, she believes that some misdemeanours like asking questions in the examination hall, which count as malpractice and attract heavy penalties should be pardoned. In her opinion, sitting for an examination comes with a lot of tension and anxiety and asking questions that can aid recollection ought to be allowed once it is not abused.

At the Department of Mathematics, in the University of Lagos, where we met with Dr. Adeniyan Adetunji, a comparison between what the educational system in the 70s and today was made. He explained that students did not have any excuse to cheat in the olden days as the goal was to work hard and make good grades, although a few of them got around with certificate forgery and they were found out and flushed out by the Owoson’s Panel. Nowadays, laziness has become the order of the day and the performance level of graduates is really disappointing. He explains that “some lecturers are to blame as they either set questions that are not based on what they have taught or they are not consistent with their question setting patterns” and because writing an examination is just a test of knowledge and not the most practical means to measure performance it is important that lecturers set questions according to what they have taught.

Whether it is infidelity or trying to outsmart an unsuspecting fellow of their hard-earned prizes, or making efforts to outshine colleagues, cheating is one act that traditionally identifies as malevolent even though a lot of people do not consider it so. Being averse to its realities may mean conspiring with popular opinion to erase the age-long tradition of loyalty and honesty in today’s world. To make an excuse for any such obnoxious and unfair behaviour is to agree with the crazy notion that indeed Lagosians don’t cheat.

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