Many Nigerians are still seething from the seeming disgrace of the recent FBI arrest of 80 Nigerian internet scammers. Nigerians are hanging their heads in shame of this seeming “betrayal” of “our good name.” Amazing! Is it not? Moreover, this “shameful” situation bred an array of image fixers: multiple propaganda videos—presumably cooked up by the Nigerian officials—surfaced on the internet touting the great achievement of Nigerians and asking Nigerians to share the videos and to be proud of their heritage. Indeed!
There is no doubt that Nigerians are great people, great achievers, and given the chance or even half a chance are capable of great feats. Nigerians, spread out across the world, in situations where they indisputably are the underdogs as foreigners, have achieved great honor and leadership positions which is a credit to their hard work and dedication to duty, in countries where the opportunity to thrive is available to them. Within Nigeria, there are people who if given the opportunity will be great innovators. Nigerians are achievers!
The Nigerians arrested by the FBI for their infamous acts are only a symptom of a disease: They point to a diagnosis. As long as the disease is undiagnosed, the appropriate treatment will not be rendered. Treating the symptom and not the disease is a sure way to succumb to a disease.
The sudden race by the Nigerian government to produce a positive image among Nigerians in the face of this “bad news” is somewhat surprising. Better still, it is laughable. Can they not see the great shame brought on Nigeria by the ravaging corruption among Nigerian government officials? How do Nigerian leaders think they are perceived when they go to foreign hospitals for their healthcare? Does the British prime minister go to Germany for his healthcare, or the French president to the U.S? The underlying reason why Nigerian leaders continue to go outside the country for treatment is the underlying reason for the negative image of Nigeria: corrupt leaders.
Every day one hears Nigerian leaders talking of conquering one prevailing vice or the other in the country, be it hunger, poverty or insecurity, and yet they turn a blind eye to corruption or pay its extermination lip service. However, no sustainable progress can be made in Nigeria until corruption is arrested. All the programs in a country need money to achieve and to sustain. When funds continually disappear from the state coffers, these worthwhile aspirations can never be achieved.
So is it shameful for these Nigerians to be scammers and be arrested by the FBI? You bet! But, far greater is the shame from the perpetual stealing by Nigerian leaders that leaves Nigeria open to scorn and keeps her citizens living in abject poverty and deplorable conditions. In 2016, the erstwhile British Prime Minister called Nigeria “fantastically corrupt.” There is an Igbo adage that says that you do not want to resemble the insult you are given, but that is where Nigerian finds itself today. Because of the shameful corruption among the Nigerian leadership, the incessant looting of the country, Nigeria is indeed looking like the insult she has been given. Is it not shameful when such a richly endowed country has not a single hospital capable of treating its president? Is it not shameful when Nigerian leaders, leaving their country underdeveloped, go all over the developed countries buying mansions without considering that the leaders of those countries do not come to Nigeria to buy mansions? Is it not shameful when according to the U.N, Nigeria—the richest country in Africa by GDP—accounts for 19% of the world’s maternal deaths, and TIME magazine Feb. 18/ Feb.25, 2019 issue captions Nigeria “the world’s worst country to give birth?”