In eastern Nigeria a few years ago, a secondary school dropout bought out a chair which a professor was “chairing” to coordinate a wedding ceremony. Many people clapped; “money na power”! The professor carefully left the scene. In Osun state, cocoa farmers would return after harvest, give Police money to deal with their “enemies”; “money talking”. Indeed, across Nigeria, we worship money. That is our national problem.
But the FBI arrests of many Nigerians (especially men from the southeastern part) take this to a new level. It is very shameful, and all of us should be ashamed of how we have gone this low as a nation – at home and abroad. There are consequences to all these things: the lowest among us sets the denominator on how people see us. Who told you that a New York company will hire you to serve as its CFO after Invictus Obi mess even though you were in the game a few days ago?
As you know, irrespective of your status, Delta airlines will not allow you to fly from the U.S. to Nigeria if you do not physically present the credit card you used to purchase the ticket at check-in. Mainly Nigerians face that experience. But you cannot blame Delta because Nigerian consular offices in the U.S. do the same. In short, the consulates will ask you to upload card statements just to be sure the card is yours. Yes, people steal credit cards to apply for Nigerian passports and visas depending on their situations.
I do not have much to write – our contributors have made the case. One thing I will add here is this: there are consequences when international media project a nation in this way, with hard facts. Today, a U.S. investor planning to invest in a startup in Lagos pulled out after reading the Jumia mess. The investor, an American and a former schoolmate, has lost confidence in the numbers which the startup had shared.
I visited the startup last time I was home. But unknown to the three founders, there is another force that will take that opportunity away: a mess in Jumia. Yes, we are all connected, directly or indirectly. We can all swim together or destroy this nation called Nigeria. Our value system must change: money cannot be our god. It must not – and Nigerians must live to that in ways we behave and act!
This week events will block opportunities for many Nigerians in America. Yes, everyone is a victim, and that is why we must reject unfounded wealth in our communities at home and abroad.