I have tried to remain silent in the face of the trending and really silly hashtag #IAmANigerianNotACriminal created and spearheaded by Senator Ben Bruce. While I respect the man – not necessarily as a politician, I think he goofed on this one and of course, unfortunately too, his huge fan base have done him no favours by amplifying the stupidity of it all.
I had to read up as many articles as possible on the issue to see if the furor generated by the hashtag was justified but surprise, surprise, no where in the article did President Buhari label all Nigerians as criminals.
According to the Telegraph, President Buhari said;
“Some Nigerians claim is that life is too difficult back home, but they have also made it difficult for Europeans and Americans to accept them because of the number of Nigerians in prisons all over the world accused of drug trafficking or human trafficking,” he told The Telegraph.
“I don’t think Nigerians have anybody to blame. They can remain at home, where their services are required to rebuild the country.”
If we can accurately accuse President Buhari of anything, it is his open bluntness with the truth. Are we just hearing that Nigeria and Nigerians have a bad reputation on the international scene for the first time? Have we not heard of the drug cartels in London and South Africa in which many Nigerians are involved in? Have we not heard of Nigerian human traffickers in Italy and other European countries? Have we not at some point, received mails from fraudsters with one bogus story or the other about some Nigerian prince whose deceased father just left a huge sum? How many times have we heard about plans to execute Nigerian fraudsters in Malaysia and other Asian countries?
One of our many problems in this country is our uncanny ability to exist in denial. I could not believe my eyes as i read comments from people who I believed to be exposed denigrating the President for expressing a frank opinion; something we all know to be true.
Of course, we have Nigerians too all across the world countering the negative perception foisted on us by a few bad eggs by excelling in various notable areas but it doesn’t change the sad fact that we are generally viewed as dubious – and the staggering corruption we have witnessed in governance over the years has not helped at all.
In all, President Buhari capped it by admitting that “We (Nigeria) have an image problem abroad and we are on our way to salvage that,” and recent efforts by his administration attests to this.
The honest way to solve a problem is to first admit to the existence of the problem and this is what President Buhari has done. Unfortunately, Ben Bruce and his minions would prefer to live in denial and drove themselves into a frenzy with the hashtag on Twitter that essentially and unwittingly brought Nigeria’s image problems back to the front burner and it is rather ironical that this is what they accuse the president of.
If we are really serious about laundering Nigeria’s image, trending silly hashtags on social media does not cut it not even by a little. An image change starts with the man in the mirror; refuse to engage in activities that will bring your personality to disrepute whether someone is watching or not. Speak out when you see such as much as possible and encourage others to follow suit and maybe, just maybe, we can become ambassadors of a better Nigeria.
See the original article below.