Confession: Hushpuppi asked me to design a website that will look exactly like that of a bank and connect a satellite phone to it


Hushpuppi And A Different Story

In 2002, a “big boy” I was vocationally training on the use of Microsoft Word, Excel and web applications frantically invited me to a meeting with him. At that time, I was running a small IT firm, providing services to SMEs and their owners.
My first surprise was the location of the meeting, miles away from his office & home. Once I arrived, he said: “Jide, this is your chance for us to make money together. You will make money far more than what you have been earning from your computer services.”
I was at once curious. “I want you to design a website that will look exactly like that of a bank I have in mind and connect a satellite phone to it. We will be collecting account details of customers who will be (mis)directed to the website.”
At that introductory stage of his presentation, it felt I was not just in a wrong place; I thought I was in danger. I visually, but more mentally, surveyed where we were meeting and I felt I could be in serious trouble.
But I also didn’t want more details of his phishing scheme, so that when I tell him from a safe distance that I was not interested, he wouldn’t feel I had already known too much about his plans. His proposal had presented someone totally different from whom I had thought I knew.
I eventually ended the meeting at the earliest safe opportunity. Once I had driven far enough from the place, I called him. “.., I thought you knew me. I don’t do the kind of stuff you just discussed. Please, I’m not interested. But be assured, I won’t use or share the info.”
This guy passed on a few years ago after battling a terminal illness. I decided not to disclose his name, to prevent the stigmatisation of the family he left behind. Although I later heard that he was a con artist, I am not aware he was able to execute that phishing plan.
After pondering the issue for months, I decided to do something. I registered domain and hosted on it a single web page. On it, I listed all the 89 Nigerian banks at the time. On one side were the publicly-quoted banks and on the other the private banks.
I hyperlinked the official website (URL) of each bank to its name – for those that have. Not every bank had a website at the time. My aim was to provide a web directory that would lead the public to the authentic websites of the banks. This I did as a public service.
Weeks after, a friend contacted me. He was working in the Strategic Planning division of one of the banks. He said he could adapt his weekly summaries of the financial markets – stock, fx, money market – to be published on the website as well. I agreed.
After 3 years of publishing the directory, the reports & short news stories on financial markets, still as a hobby, I received an invitation to attend the Annual Meetings of the IMF/World Bank in Singapore in 2006. I hesitated; but as God would have it, I travelled for the event.
I was a “JJC” in the circle of the Nigerian senior market reporters/editors at the meeting. Rather than integrate me, they even kept secret info about side events held by Nigerian public & private sector leaders — to maintain their influence & ensure the brown envelopes are fat.
On realising this, I settled for as many seminars of the event as possible. In the space of six days, I was initiated into the world of development and finance. That was it. I decided that, on return, I would pivot to a niche publication that specialises on the subject.
Financial Nigeria magazine started in 2008 as a monthly development and finance journal. It has been published every month since then. Many honours have come with it.
As Hushpuppi and his colleagues head to prison by embracing what I rejected, I thought I should write this to encourage people to pursue honest endeavours, fear God, do good and work hard.

Jide Akintunde

A Good Nigerian