There is this catholic stereotype that an average Nigerian is a fraudster.
Globalization and technology have
pushed the frontiers from mundane crime to high-tech like money laundering, credit cards, banking and Internet related frauds.
This stereotype is like a fresh palm oil stain on a white ‘agbada’ on a Sunday morning to all well meaning Nigerians from all walks of life at home and abroad today.
It is a redundant cliché to posit that the Green Passport which represents the Nigerian identity commands minimal respect at immigration points across the globe.
These days, it hurts so much that one http://www.homebasedbusinessreviews.com
has a section on Nigerian Scams
alleging “Nigerian Scams are one of the most prevalent reports I receive, for some reason there are a lot of financial fraud activities that originate in Nigeria, it has been reported that there are training programs in Nigeria
that do nothing but teach individuals to commit financial crimes.”
Is this not comparable to claiming Iran or Libya has training cells for terrorists? Close, I guess. Mary Mensah of Daily Graphic, Ghana’s foremost daily newspaper wrote a headline story titled ‘Bank Fraud: Five Arrested, One on the Run’ in the Monday, July 18, 2006 edition of the newspaper. “Five persons, including a Nigerian, who forged the Western Union Money Transfer slip and fraudulently attempted to cash at different branches of the Prudential Bank in Accra, have been arrested by the Accra Central Police.” How do you read Mary Mensah’s … including a Nigerian ? Bad press?
On Saturday, July 15, 2006 of the
same newspaper, Albert K Salia with a news article titled “8 Held for Defrauding Russian” wrote, ” Eight people have been arrested by the police for allegedly defrauding a Russian of $225,223. A ninth
suspect, Chukwudi Kalu, a Nigerian, who is believed to be the kingpin ofthe gang, is, however, on the run. The suspects, 7 Nigerians and a Ghanaian, are Thankgod Adegor, Erasmus Tetsola, Charles Olatunji Ebere alias Charles Obule, Ochico Okpaka and Issaka Vicent Isaac alias Richard Williams, all Nigerians. The Ghanaianwas identified as George Adatsi. They
all claimed they had no employment and no permanent place of abode .” Nigerians, again!
The dust is just settling on the CCN programme on identity fraud, “How To Rob a Bank” aired in May 2006. Although Federal Government swiftly reacted and news web portal and forum like our own Nigeria Village Square and Business Day online fought CNN back for vilifying Nigerians, the impact is like dipping a keg to fetch water from the Atlantic.
Different nationals choose what they believe about Nigerians depending on their encounter or interaction directly or indirectly.
“Now Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith unto him, We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus
of Nazareth, the son of Joseph. And Nathanael said unto him, ‘Can there any good thing come out of
A recent news story reported that
circa 300 out of the 4,766 foreigners from all over the world wasting away in prisons across South Africa are Nigerians. These foreign convicts include people from North and South America, the Middle East, Asia, Europe and Australia. It was, however, stated
that Nigerians are the second most commonly accused, usually for drug-related crimes.
Is the Nigerian really a fraudster?
I do not think so. When the vendor
delivered my July-August 2006 (it was a special double issue) edition of Harvard Business Review magazine on Monday, July 10, 2006 and saw that one Vincent Onyemah co-authored one
of the articles titled “How Right
Should the Customer Be?” with Erin Anderson, I felt a personal sense of fulfillment that a Nigerian name featured on such a prestigious global publication. I dashed to Page 60 to read his profile that he is an assistant
professor of marketing at Boston
University’s School of Management. I do not know Vincent Onyemah. I have
never met him. He could be an
American citizen, no doubt. However, there is a Nigerian in his name Onyemah. And, in this I rejoice greatly.
Yes, there are millions of Nigerians all over the world contributing to the development of human race in diverse fields of human endeavours. There are Nigerians living today in Africa, Americas, Asia, Europe and far away
Australia who are building human
capacity and expanding the frontiers of knowledge in Science, Technology,Medicine, Literature, Arts, Music, Education, Religion, Sports,Intelligence, Military and Space Exploration.
With all modesty, a Nigerian will be one of the few human
survivors who will make it to the Mars or elsewhere in the space if the planet earth is destroyed by a nuclear war or an invading all-conquering alien army.
So, why are the Nigerians a target of ‘character holocaust’ in this century? Why do the world, western press andlocal press, etc malign over 120 million innocent, honest and hard working Nigerians in their peaceful villages, at home and abroad contributing to the growth of their communities and constituting .02% of world population because less than 5%
of its people are fraudsters?
Is the world envious of Nigerian’s
natural resources? Will the world be happy if all Nigerians suddenly
disappear from the face of the earth leaving its geographical landscape for the highest bidder?
Why does Nigerian receive so much bad press from both local and international newspapers? Is the average Nigerian really this horrible? Coming home, Nigerians (individuals, families, political leadership and the government) must join forces together tackle the bad elements in its fold.
A one time Nigeria Police Force slogan freely translated admonished the citizenry that robbers are not spirits. They are human beings. They live among people. Expose them. The
population of fraudsters and criminals among us should be less than 5% of the population of the country. Why should this minority keep onembarrassing all of us?
There should be no hiding place for a Nigerian fraudster who gives the rest of us bad names. Like a farmer while hunting game puts smoke in the hole to suffocate and chase out a rodent for capture in the farm, we should all collaborate as Nigerians everywhere to make our communities hot and unfriendly for Nigerian fraudsters, and smoke them out. If a family member is eating cockroaches without its accompanying antidote, his restlessness at night will result to compulsive vigil for the whole family.
We do not need the world or press
(western or local) prompting to live a decent life in a decent environment where the laws of the land uphold justice and punish wrongdoers.
Let us carry the basket containing our few bad eggs into the evil forest and smash the basket against the stone breaking all the bad eggs. It may appear that the international communities are conspiring against us, western press prejudiced and the average Nigerian a fraudster. We cannot do anything about their prejudice. We can reorganize the ways we live our lives. We cannot change the decision of the international communities about how they see us.
We can change our society by reintroducing values that engender human ethics, decency and
morality. We cannot impose our
wishes on the western press and
influence what they say about us. We can re-engineer ourselves socially that when they come visiting or see us, they will find less negative story to cover when they come.
Can we develop our country with a
raging orthodox perception about
Nigerians as fraudsters? Can the
funds in the Diaspora and on the
continent estimated at about $600
billion be tapped and channeled into productive investments that would benefit Africa and Nigeria in particular if we continue to suffocate from the ‘character holocaust’ threatening our
existence as a decent people.
The Nigerian is strong. He (and She, and elsewhere He is used as a pronoun depicting Nigerian, the
women are also included, please.) is ingenious. He is intelligent. He is intellectually deep. He is smart. He is enterprising. He is hardworking.
He is creative. He is Black and Beautiful. He opens the window when the door is shut. He creates opportunities when others mourn their handicap. He is strong. He is the beauty of creation. He is the gift of Providence to the world.
The world is waiting for the Nigerian Gift.
Author: Babatunde Ayoola Fajimi
Accra, Ghana, Tuesday, July 18, 2006. Sourced from http://www.nigeriavillagesquare.com/articles/babatunde-fajimi/the-nigerian-gift-to-the-world-22.html