‘I am a Nigerian, not a criminal ooo!’ This is the explanation I owe those prying eyes behind pointy noses when I arrive at Heathrow Airport in a few weeks.
It is the story my cousin owes his classmates who keep asking him how he survived Ebola and if he lives on trees back in Africa. It is a fact that my friend has to prove to her new business partners in America; that we all are just victims of a hasty generalisation.
Just in case you missed it… Last week, President Buhari had an interview with a British newspaper – The Telegraph. There, he bluntly discussed how Nigeria has an image problem abroad. He spoke about how people are scared to do business with Nigerians because of how many of ‘our kinsmen’ are imprisoned abroad for various crimes.
He made a generalisation that we all have a bad reputation abroad which we must salvage.
Hmmm… Were President Buhari’s facts right? Absolutely! Did he have to be so open with international media? No!
What kind of father goes to a town hall meeting to announce that his son is a thief? One who doesn’t think of the future.
This was exactly the perspective ‘common sense’ Senator Ben Bruce saw things from when he started the hashtag #IamaNigeriannotacriminal. How do you call your son a thief and under the same breath ask someone who has never met him to give him money to buy kolanut from the market? It’s just common sense that one will not trust such a boy enough to have anything to do with him.
President Buhari forgot that the world has evolved to an ‘Instagram era’ where you don’t wash your dirty linen in public. Packaging is very important these days or else women won’t bother wearing ‘bum bum’ pads, waist trainers and padded bras just to appear as having hour-glass shapes when they are in fact pear or apple shaped.
Does this mean President Buhari should have given Nigeria a cosmetic facelift at that interview? Absolutely!
If you say we have an image problem and you are trying to salvage it, the first step is for Mr President to speak good of his people. Were there Nigerians in prisons abroad when the late Prof. Dora Akinyuli called us the good people of a great nation? Of course! There was a sense of common honesty it gave the Nigerian people which improved our image. Did it stop the 1% of Nigerians who actually perpetrate these evils? No.
Rather than refer to the rest of us as criminals, the 99% made up for the ugly image which the black sheep population gave us.
Mr President needs to be re-schooled in diplomacy. Nowhere will you ever hear President Obama call Americans criminals but are there rampant mass shootings in America almost weekly? Yes! I mean, a man wakes up, says he’s depressed, gets a gun, walks into a clinic and shoots sporadically then he feels better. Yet, his President doesn’t come to international media to call the rest of his neighborhood, not to even mention his country- a bunch of criminals who need to stay in the country where their services are needed.
My country people. I tire o. I am a just a passionate writer trying to change the world one piece after another. I don’t exactly go looking for trouble… I kuku was on my own when President Buhari’s trailer of criminal accusations came to jam me. Is this fair?!?
Biko, #I amaNigeriannotacriminal. Are you?