Monday, June 12, 2006

CNN's 'How to Rob a Bank'- a Nigerian Image Killer

The CNN aired program on identity fraud in May: "How to rob a bank" generated a lot of hot and bad blood amongst diasporic Nigerians, particularly those of the Houston-Texas stock. The Nigerian news web portal and forum- the Nigeria Village Square and a Nigerian business news website- Business Day Online; have posted write-ups disparaging the CNN for putting Nigerians in bad light.

I haven't watched the documentary yet, but I read the transcript (link below) to understand what the beef was all about. If the contents of the transcript were indeed accurate, I have failed to find anything offensive or "stereotyping" in it, and would not understand why anyone should feel offended.

While I understand the nationalistic zeal and fervor of those that have protested the CNN program, I'm sorry to state that their actions are baseless and slanted in so many ways.

The program did not focus solely on Nigerian fraudsters; other Americans tricksters were also showcased. The "40 percent of Nigerians in Houston were fraudulent" statement that cause much of the brouhaha- was made by a Nigerian fraudster serving time for his crimes. Since Houston-Texas is home to the largest concentration of Nigerians in the U.S; anecdotal evidence (here in the U.S and in Nigeria) suggests the "40%-stat" is not beyond belief. Some even drew parallels between the corporate fraud e.g. Enron, identity theft, credit card and mail fraud. Would Enron and its executives be where they are today if the company operated in Nigeria?

The issue presented by CNN aside from being- somewhat a consequence of bad governance- is also fallout of Nigeria being a complexly heterogenous entity. The rot and worm in several bad apples are now putting other good apples at risk, and it is simply silly, condescending and unpatriotic to choose the path of rhetoric over commonsense.

Commonsense demands throwing away the bad apples, are we ready to do just that- identifying the bad and rotten ones in our midst and handing them over? Until we Nigerians are ready to do what is morally right, we should learn to keep our mouths shut and live quietly with our shame, and it simply doesn't matter anymore that Nigeria has produced a Noble laureate, top-notch scientists and world-class technocrats- the nation can be tagged simply but erroneously as one full of rogues and thieving "Yahoo-Yahoo" boys.

Related links:
How to rob a nation, CNN transcript:

CNN Attacks On Nigerians In Houston & Why Nigeria's Image Matters, Nigeria Village Square:

Diaspora Nigerians hit back at CNN on bad image, BusinessDay Online :