By Chukwuemeka Otuchikere
“Hush- to hide information about a situation because you do not want people to know about it” -(Oxford Advanced Learners Dictionary 7th Edition. )
Hushpuppi is easily the metaphor for a nation that celebrates wealth no matter its provenance. A system structured to look the other way as long as you are not directly impacted by bad behaviour. Like one-time administrator of Southeastern Nigeria was quoted as saying “Anyone whose pear has ripened should eat with relish” as such everyone is on the lookout for the proverbial ripe pear literally speaking.
In a dramatic turn of events, in a stealth operation across continents, the collaboration between UAE police and FBI yielded another ‘big’ catch. Undercover agents blew the cover of a major internet fraud syndicate. This covert operation unveiled the fact that the enigmatic personality popularly called “Hushpuppi” was actually named Ramon Olunrunwa Abbas at birth by his parents.
However, Hushpuppi captured the imagination of many due to his audacious display of wealth on social media. He looked every inch a man eating his ‘pears’ in public view not minding who was watching. Before now one could only speculate on the source of this enormous wealth which he seemed to control with so much panache. Like they say in Nigeria ‘anything is possible’. He may easily be a beneficiary of oil well or mining license allocation. Hushpuppi never hesitated to post mouth-watering feast on his page and of course, a fleet of the state-of-the-art automobiles. His collection of machines on wheels was really high end.
Ramon Abbas as we know him now looks rather subdued with hands in handcuffs and not his usual designer wrist watches. Thanks to the FBI and INTERPOL. Before now, Hushpuppi his alter ego was flamboyantly present on social media. Often donning the choicest apparels that Gucci and Fendi could come up with, he was obviously the de facto super model of these designers. He flaunted his designer clothes like he was born wearing designer diapers.
How he managed to wear his designer clothes with a blend of aristocratic ‘I don’t care’ attitude is still a marvel. Hushpuppi is unpretentiously vain from the way he craved social media presence. He knew what he was doing all the while. There is a saying “that it was properly hidden in public view”.
Abbas, it appeared, had a coded message in his several eye-catching photo albums gone viral on the Internet. He probably had the impression that he was living it up and having the fun of his life. Material possession was his fort. He loved powerful cars and we equally saw him in private jets enjoying what appeared like unperturbed ambience. He often jetted out to the play grounds of the rich and famous carousing in casinos and resorts.
Hushpuppi effortlessly lived and defined the Nigerian dream- a life of affluent sybaritic indulgence without sweat or hard work.
Abbas operated a different set of rules when it came to managing his image or the public perception of it. He was like a well camouflaged ‘gold fish’ flaunting the proceeds of illicit gains in public view and nobody seemed to have a clue or they simply looked the other way. He was conspicuously present that it must take a nerve of steel to engage in his line of ‘business’ and still crave social media presence at the scale of a Hushpuppi. He did not only use social media, he dominated his space. He was courted by the who-is-who in Nigerian politics, as photographs making the rounds currently revealed. After it was announced that some eagle-eyed FBI operatives and UAE police had spotted some spurious transactions emanating from Hushpuppi on their radar. As his cover is busted, and the real Ramon Abbas is presented to the world, the news sent shock-waves across Nigeria’s political landscape. Many are still too stunned to believe that Hushpuppi is indeed a fraudster and not the superstar rich young man they thought he was.
Hushpuppi as a social climber, understood the language of easy-money. He made friends in high places amongst very powerful men in the Nigerian nation. Naturally many of these politicians have come out openly to deny him. A Nigerian musician captured this attitude lyrically- “… Dem go deny, dem no know you again!” but then, who wants to identify with an Abbas Ramon when Hushpuppi is gone with his razzmatazz.
The American justice system is different from what obtains locally. Wadume and Evans the billionaire kidnappers readily come to mind. The intrigues, the drama and the delays is only cultural. We certainly operate a different set of rules here. We expect that Ramon Abbas will get speedy justice and may be put away for a pretty long time. It is equally expected that Facebook and Instragram would have equally evolved to such an extent that they may also not recognize Hushpuppi when he makes parole in a decade or two decades from now. By which time it is most likely that a new ‘top dog’ will be ruling the cyber-space with his princely collection of mouth-watering dishes, designer apparels, automobiles and private jet. Good bye Hushpuppi!
Otuchikere, is a geologist, an entrepreneur & a social commentator.