By KENNETH DARENG
NIGERIA is fortunate to have produced many stars that are making waves as musicians, sportsmen and women and young entrepreneurs who are making the country proud all over the world. Yet there are equally a good number of Nigerians that are busy disgracing the good reputation of others who have travelled abroad through hard work and merit and are making their marks felt in different spheres of life either as students, businessmen or citizens residing in different parts of the world.
The negative tendencies being exhibited by some Nigerians outside the shores of our country however has so much eroded the report and goodwill that is supposed to be accorded all Nigerians. Simply because of the increased involvement of some Nigerians who have found solace in criminal activities such as drug peddling, cyber crime, armed robbery and other associated crimes.
This negative trend is affecting the good image of Nigeria and as it has turned out to be, internationally, no one wants to hear the name Nigeria. Even in Africa, Nigerians are treated with disdain while the country is seen as a pariah nation. These days Nigerian visa applicants and citizens are treated as beggars and dirt, thereby making travel a nightmare and life abroad a misery.
According to Job Mahannan, a Jos resident who just completed his studies in one of the universities in Ukraine; baring his mind to the SUNDAY STANDARD, he laments the way and manner some Nigerian students have become a nuisance and terror to some neighborhoods because of their involvement in either illicit drugs or are dealers of hard narcotics as well as cyber crime popularly known as; “yahoo yahoo boy”.
“Some of our citizens are just making life miserable for their fellow people. Infact, if not for constant electricity, good public transport, good health and good schools and access to decent pay for decent jobs which are unfortunately absent back home in Nigeria, life is not worth staying where there are many of such Nigerians”.
The ugly trend of criminality involving Nigerians is fast hitting the bar as there are daily reports in both local and international media of the case of some Nigerians facing criminal charges in countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia, China, Vietnam, Singapore, Saudi-Arabia and Dubai. And back within the continent countries such as South Africa, Ghana, Benin, Togo etc.
Perhaps disturbed by the rising cases of some of these criminal cases involving some of his kinsmen in the heat of the lynching of a Nigerian in Asia for alleged criminality, Mr. Fredrick Nwabufo an indigene of Anambra State took to the social media and wrote;
“I appeal to my people to de-emphasis the culture of profligacy, decadent opulence and vanity which fuels the pursuit of crime by their own sons and daughters.
“ I therefore suggest the need for value orientation – a task that must be actuated by all group – the age grades, unions and traditional institutions.
“In August 2016 an indigen and igbo drug dealer was guillotined in Indonesia but his funeral in Anambra was a rambunctious shin-dig. He was even described as a “hero” by his people”.
“I have skimmed through the list of all the alleged online fraudsters indicted by the FBI, in what is regarded as the biggest scam burst in history, and I could see familiar names.
“It is heartbreaking for me. The refrain that criticizing your own people for shortcomings is an act of santimony is obtuse. CRIME has no ethnic face but does that simply imply condoning or rationalizing a persistent ill?
“ I have said it before, we have a problem. Out of the 21 Nigerians on death row for doing peddling in Indonesia, 20 are igbos from my state, Anambra. Personally I feel violated by this.
“A few months ago, some armed robbers launched an attack on a bureau de change in Dubai, but were arrested and found to be Nigerians. Instead of those guys exporting the durable products of Aba, we are exporting crime and violence”.
Tony Marinho, a veteran writer once quipped that; Nigerian youth, the pride and future and mega resource of the nation are forced to flee the country. “In 2019 most young men and women embarked on perilous high risk ancient trans-saharan slave trade routes and trans-Mediterranean voyages in sinking boats to escape the political failures in Nigeria.
“These, our youth try to enter countries which force the survivors of these death journeys to fortress-Europe to become prostitutes, domestics servants and criminals. A journey that has claimed over 10 to 20 thousand documented and undocumented lives in the past five years is filled with destruction, disease, desperate dangers, kidnapping for organs and slavery and outright murder with drowning at 20-40% Nigerians involved”.
According to recent media reports monitored by the SUNDAY STANDARD, South Africa which is a great beneficiary of Nigeria’s support against apartheid and Ghana, considered as sister countries now hound Nigerian citizens whether they are good or bad.
According to Fredrick Nwabufo, “Nigerians are a pariah in South Africa is partly due to the activities of some Nigerians who have constituted themselves as drug cartels.
“There was a case sometime ago when these drug gangs returned to the South East a bazaar of bloodshed which led to a massacre at a church in Ozubulu, Anambra State.
“The killings were linked to a drug war between rival gangs in South Africa. The gangs took the battle back to Nigeria.
“And now out of the 77 names listed for online fraud in the USA, 74 are Igbo. We have a problem by living in denial.
“ I agree, there are millions of us doing great things in our fields, but we must condemn the activities of these criminals among us, because they do not represent us, but their actions are capable of making execrable impression of all of us”.
According to Nwabufo, the argument that the people from a certain section of the country are making is that they are being marginalized and are deprived because of the civil war, so very few of them are forced into crime. “This is a terrible excuse to nationalize a problem that dents the image of the entire country. There is no excuse in crime” adds Nwabufo.
The SUNDAY STANDARD gathered that there are reports recently in the social and traditional media that Saudi Arabia was about to execute 23 Nigerians for drug trafficking while there are similar reports of Nigerians whose lives are hanging in the balance and awaiting execution in China, Indonesia and Malaysia for drug related offences.
Similarly, the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) has said its collaboration with America’s Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) against internet fraudsters “yahoo boys” is yielding results.
According to the Lagos zonal head of the EFCC, Mohammed Rabo, who addressed the press on behalf of the Acting Chairman of the Commission Ibrahim Magu, said the EFCC and the FBI were jointly working on 80 cases of cybercrime at the moment.
Rabo said though the EFCC campaign against the “yahoo yahoo boys” was well predated the collaboration with the FBI had resulted in tremendous success.
He said the collaboration had already yielded 28 arrests and the recovery of $314,000 and N373 million stashed in various banks by internet fraudsters.
Rabo said; “As you are aware, we had independently launched massive and intensive investigation against the infamous yahoo, yahoo boys culminating in various strategic raids and onslaughts on their hide outs.
“From 2018 to date, the EFCC prior to the collaborative efforts with the FBI had launched a sustained operation on perpetrators of various computer-related frauds, which resulted in over 200 arrests, 130 convictions and the recovery of exotic cars and properties suspected to have been acquired through the proceeds of crime.
“Meanwhile, the recent collaborative efforts with the FBI have yielded 28 arrests, out of which 14 suspects have been charged to court and convicted, 9 are currently undergoing trial and 5 are still under investigation”. However when asked whether EFCC would help in the arrest of 78 Nigerians recently indicted for internent scam in the U.S by the FBI, Rabo said investigation was still ongoing but he could not say much in order not to jeopardize it.
He urged the media and Nigerians to continue to lend their voices to the fight against financial crimes, saying, “no one has the monopoly of knowledge on how the fight should be fought and won”.
In the recent past, some politicians in Nigeria have been indicted for crimes bothering on financial fraud and drug trafficking by European and American countries some of which nothing have been heard of when the alleged culprits escaped back to Nigeria.
Back home in Nigeria, the craze for materialism has forced many young men and women to undertake desperate and self-help measures in order to make it in life. For instance, the daily and reported cases of ritual killings, kidnappings, armed robbery banditry and other evil vices are mostly traceable to what Mr. Fedrick Nwabufor described as a culture that glorifies money crime and the culture of money grabbling and worship in the Nigerian society.
“It is a situation of money answareth all things, which is not limited to the people from the Eastern part of the country but has permeated all other regions of the country.
This ugly trend has now affected the psyche of an average Nigerian. Inuwa Gambo a trader in the Jos metropolis also spoke with the SUNDAY STANDARD and laments the trend where people without any meaningful sources of income are seen parading affluence at weddings in church or Muslim programmes without questions being raised as to the source of such wealth. “Imagine clerics and traditional rulers even praising such people and in some cases bestowing them with titles and the same society accepts them. So what do you expect of the upcoming ones? They too have found role models.
Meanwhile, SUNDAY STANDARD gathered from the latest row over Governor Emeka Ihedioha’s relationship with one of the FBI suspects. The social media is buzzing with the photo of the Governor and one Chika Augustine Odionyenma, a Nigerian indicated for alleged fraud in the United States by the FBI.
Another issue that is trending is the photograph of Barrister Festus Keyamo, the newly sworn in Minister of State, Niger-Delta whose photo with another FBI suspect Mr. Jerry Ikogho who is also facing criminal charges on financial fraud went viral on the social media platform.
Although, in the case of Keyamo, he confirmed that he is a friend with Ikogho based on the fact that both of them were childhood friends and were born in the same town and their parents were longtime friends and that they both attend the same church.
Keyamo noted that; “I cant deny him, he is a family relation from birth. He is from a decent family. He left for the U.S a decade ago and the photograph taken was at the burial of one of our friends”.
In the case of Governor Ihedioha and Chika the FBI suspect, some sources within the media circles have insinuated that “Is it true that the indicted businessman was one of the highest donors to Governor Ihedioha’s campaign purse? And his relationship predates the 2019 election…?
Although the Governor refuted the allegation about the funding of his campaign by Chika, he also described the allegation as “false and malicious”.
Meanwhile, 80 of the alledged fraudsters under investigation by the FBI are said to be bossom friends and associates to many top Nigerian politicians. However some Nigerians have received the latest indictment of some of these Nigerians by the FBI with disbelief, given the kind of respect being accorded them by the society.
The lesson from the tragedy that has befallen the nation according to Jide Oluwajuyitan in his commentary titled: ‘Weep not for the Igbo’, is to rijig our value system.
“We currently have over 50 million Nigerian youths who believe it is possible to be rich without work. This fallacy has been reinforced by various institutions of the society.
”Our orthodox churches that promise salvation through the sale of grace, the Pentecostal prosperity – prophets that have placed Christ’s message of prosperity through miracles and our young artists that celebrate nothing but vanity, money, women and sex.
“Our youth neither read nor write in order to articulate the problem of our nation. Neither do they vote during elections except in Big Brother Naija (BBN) reality show which celebrates decadence, sex, and illusion of life, leisure without work for winners of N60 million in a game of chance. This is similar to the miracle the churches and other institutions promise”.
Besides the negative trend surrounding some Nigerians abroad, Nigeria is considered as a nation with vast human potentials that are capable of placing the country on a high pedestal of credibility and decency in all aspects of human endeavour.
Perhaps it is time to answer those that think that, “Nothing good will come out of Nazareth that we have all that it takes to command respect in the eyes of the international community. Nigerians are today celebrated across the world in the medical profession, engineering, sports, music and so on and what readily comes to mind is the Dangotes, Otedolas, Adenugas, Alakijas etc.
What about Amina Mohammed who occupies the seat of UN Deputy Secretary General, Dr. Akimwumi Adesina, President of African Development Bank (ADB), Dr. Oluyemi Badero, world class cardiologist and Jelani Aliyu, acclaimed World’s best car designer, Anthony Joshua, former world Boxing Heavy Weight champion and the list goes on.
Therefore, the challenge before Nigeria as a nation is for the governments at all levels to provide the necessary job and other social security to the people in order to reduce the desperation and temptation of our citizens resorting to self help measures in order to make a living.