Femi Ajayi's Outlook



The Colonists took a shot at our wealth by taking what did not belong to them when they arrived at the Coast of Africa in the early 1800. They cheated Nigerians and Africans at large.
Thursday, March 21, 2002

Dr. Femi Ajayi
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THE POLITICS OF '419':
Internationalizing Nigerian Criminal Code, Chapter 38 Section '419'


have been grossly disturbed by tens of messages on my e-mail, faxes for business transactions on oil products, gold, over or double invoice contracts, real estate, distribution of money from wills, over-budgeted money, that requires me to respond so that a large sum of money could be transferred to my account in my country. Such messages could be tempting if and when you called the number provided and someone is at the source responding to your inquiry. The temptation could be stronger when it keeps on coming with 'authentic' documents. The whole thing is like someone trying to harvest where he does not sow.

If I may share a couple of phrases that tend to tempt some feeble minds to be victims of the ''419'' Someone from Sierra Leone claimed to be a 29-year old son of one late businessman Mr. Joseph Mashow and he would like to transfer $7 million to my account. He gave all excuses like seizing his international passports and people are after his father's treasury just to assist him invests the $7 million: "So I decided to contact you confidentially. Now I urgently need an assistance of a reputable and trustworthy Foreigner like you to help me receive and subsequently invest on my behalf the sum of US$ 7.000.000.00 (SEVEN MILLION DOLLARS), which my Father kept in a vault in BENIN REPUBLIC OF COTONOU before his death"

Another individual called himself Dr. Femi Lawson and used my office e-mail to solicit for a business deal with an individual in France. The fellow in France inquired about me and wanted to know what type of business I wanted from him. Dr. Femi Lawson who lived at 6 Ikoyi Avenue, Falomo, Lagos. The oil business he wanted to deal with sounds very tempting especially this statement: "The sum of USD twenty eight Million, five hundred thousand dollars (US28, 500, 00) by this Committee (CRPAC) -Contract Awards Review and Payment Approval Committee. During the award of the various contracts this sum (US$28, 500, 000) has now been approved for payment by this committee (CRPAC) and is now ready to be transferred by the Cebntral {Central} Bank of Nigeria to the account of the account of any infdividual {individual} and or Company which the CRPAC present as the beneficiary, since the company that actually executed these contracts has been fully paid their fund and the projects have been officially commissioned". When you get messages like this repeatedly, and your Bank Account is empty, with outstanding bills for you to pay, your first instinct would be to get it and say thank God for the 'blessings and manner from Heaven'. Little did we realize that 'Manner' does not fall from Heaven any more?

Taking a look at the International practice that popularized Section '419' of the Nigerian Criminal Code, hundreds of letters, e-mails, faxes, phone calls received by thousands of people across the borders of Nigeria are overwhelming. A German businessman lost over $11 million to his 'business partner' in Anambra State; a daughter of a former Governor recently lost N1 million Naira within 30 minutes, March 4, 2002 to '419' syndicate at Jab, a satellite town in Abuja.

The fact remains that if you have a legitimate business to do with a credible business partner internationally, or locally, you won't go after a shadow business partner. In other words accepting a huge sum of money into your account shows that the victims are also guilty of illegal business. Why do you want to collect money from someone that you did not have any business transactions with in the first place?

The United States government alerts its citizens over '419' scammers. Out of curiosity, I decided to do some research on the subject, especially the source of '419' scam. During this course I ran into one of the top Nigerian Police Officers, currently on a course at the FBI location in Virginia. We were at a lunch table when the discussion about insecurity in Nigeria and the Police helpless situation came up. There was a fellow Nigerian, two Americans one white one Black, at the lunch table, and one of us asked about '419'. His response was that ''419'' is Section '419' of the Nigerian Criminal Code that deals with "obtaining property by false pretences; Cheating." Neither of us at that table was aware of this section of the Nigerian Criminal Code. That means '419' is practiced all over the world, that is, obtaining property by false pretences and cheating, and each country has a section in their criminal code that punishes offenders.

Unfortunately Section '419' of Nigerian Criminal Code has been exported to other parts of the world, connecting with their fellow partners in crime. It takes two to tangle. The internationalization of the Nigerian Criminal Code is what baffles me. Like I said both sides are guilty of Section '419' of the Nigerian Criminal Code. It is a crime for anyone to take something or anything that does not belong to him or her.

I decided to educate myself further about ''419''. I surfed on the net and found a website completely devoted to '419', with warning letters from the USA government, sample letters, faxes and messages from '419' scammers. I also came across another Legal site that deals with Criminal cases. The Legal Support Department in Nigeria finally referred me to section '419' of the Code that states:

"Chapter 38, Section 419 - Obtaining Property by false pretences; Cheating 419'. Any person who by any false pretence, and with intent to defraud, obtains from any other person anything capable of being stolen, or induces any other person to deliver to any person anything capable of being stolen, is guilty of a felony, and is liable to imprisonment for three years. If the thing is of the value of one thousand naira or upwards, he is liable to imprisonment for seven years. It is immaterial that the thing is obtained or its delivery is induced through the medium of a contract induced by the false pretence.

The offender cannot be arrested without warrant unless found committing the offence. '419'A.

  1. Any person who by any false pretence or by means of any other fraud obtains credit for himself or any other person-
    1. in incurring any debt or liability; or

    2. by means of an entry in a debtor and creditor account between the person giving and the person receiving credit, is guilty of a felony and is liable to imprisonment for three years.

  2. The offender cannot be arrested without warrant unless found committing the offence. '419'B. Where in any proceedings for an -offence under section '419' or '419'A it is proved that the accused-

    1. obtained or induced the delivery of anything capable of being stolen; or

    2. obtained credit for himself or any other person, by means of a cheque that, when presented for payment within a reasonable time, was dishonoured on the ground that no funds or insufficient funds were standing shall be deemed to have been obtained or induced, or the credit shall he deemed to have been obtained, by a false pretence unless the court is satisfied by evidence that when the accused issued the cheque he had reasonable grounds for believing, and did in fact believe, that it would be honoured if presented for payment within a reasonable time after its issue by him."
I am by no means claiming to be an expert in legal interpretation. From a nonprofessional point of view, I believe that quite a number of people are guilty of Chapter 38, Section '419', of the Nigerian Criminal Code. Other parts of the world have laws that prevent such act by the criminals. The Hobbs Anti-Racketeering Act: Federal Government to indict local or State public officials for some unethical behaviors and abuse of power in the United States.

This practice is not peculiar to Nigeria. I am not in any shape or form condoning the practice. Sometimes in February 2002 a colleague of mine received an e-mail from Development Associates, Ltd., (DAL) Beverly Hills, California. Part of the message reads: "DAL is a full service economic development and consulting firm, specializing in the areas of Church financing, assistant living, franchise acquisitions, family/life centers, foundation and grant procurement, program facilitation and urban development. DAL has become an industry leader in assisting Churches and nonprofit organizations with the rollout of their economic development and capital fund development campaigns. We can provide your Community Development Corporation (CDC) with a strategic master plan; financial workshop, asset mapping, and technical grant writing support. Simply put, "We Get the MONEY that banks can't."" It gave the phone numbers, names of whom to contact. My initial reaction to her was that, that was fake. She was excited about getting involved. When we checked the information provided, there was nothing like that in California.

March 15, 2002, National Public Radio, (NPR) Minnesota, on one its daily programs "All Things Considered" reported that a group of people in the United States is targeting African Americans to claim their share of the amount allocated to sons and daughters of slaves, called Slavery Reparation. The group claimed that it was Tax Credit for sons and daughters of slaves and each individual is entitled to between $40, 000 - $80, 000 US Dollars as part of their share. Realizing that this is the Tax season, the targeted individuals have to send their W-2 form to the group, accompanied with a signed statement authorizing the group to use their returns as part of their service charges.

Let us take look at another angle why it takes two to tangle, especially with the Nigerian or African leaders stacking their ill-gotten wealth in foreign Banks, especially in Switzerland. Thank Goodness Switzerland is ending its isolation from the United Nations. Colluding with the wealthy Nigerians or Africans at large, to keep Africans in perpetual poverty has been the cornerstone of the Western world foreign policy. Whereas those countries, regardless how they made their wealth, keep their money in their respective countries for investment purposes, hence creating jobs and greater opportunities for their fellow citizens. On the other hand Nigerians prefer to stack their money in foreign lands to boost the economy of such countries, and spend the rest resources on 'Owambe' life style. Unfortunately such countries would turn around and accuse Nigeria of recording over 55% of the corrupt practices among the top government officials. Nigerians should start purging itself from the '419' stigmas on the country. Private citizens, public functionaries have stepped up campaign to wage war against the '419' syndicates. One of the questions we continue to ask is why do we have difficulty in curbing '419'?

The National Assembly that supposed to fight against this act is not doing much on this challenge. The National Assembly refused to make its findings public on the shady characters of some of the Honorable and Distinguished members of the National Assembly who are the 'lord barons' of the ''419''.

The Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) set the salary scale for the public officials in Nigeria. According to the RMAFC, the Senate President should receive N107, 650.51, Senate Deputy President N100, 063.93 per month. The Speaker of the House of Representatives and his deputy are to receive N107, 345.77 and N95, 115.48, respectively. The Commission approved N141, 847.97, and N138, 964.88 for Senators and members of the House of Representatives respectively. Whereas the Honorable and Distinguished members of the National Assembly approved for themselves over N500, 000.00 and N400, 000 for Senators and Representatives respectively per month. Logically, by allocating themselves with such jumbo salaries, is enough to accuse them of taking what does not belong to them and cheating the public. Pensioners, civil servants, teachers, who could have been paid their remuneration, are dying in numbers because they could not get their pay.

The practice does not stop at the National Assembly; Nigerian politicians, especially the Owambe Governors, who prefer to assemble in London to celebrate birthday bashes, spending taxpayer's money, are equally guilty of Section '419' of Nigerian Criminal Code. Some of them carry bags of foreign currencies across Nigerian border, under the pretence that they are going to settle their States' outstanding bills. Today the States treasuries are empty, and the Governors are crying for help from the Federal Government. The Federal Government slashed about 40%, of up to between N145 billion and N100 billion, from the State allocations is a wake up call to the Governors. From Osun to Yobe, Kaduna to Cross River States, all across Nigeria, the State Governors are no longer at ease.

The Governors are beginning to look for ways of improving their State revenue sources. This should have been their first approach, after swearing to the Holy Books of Koran and Bible to improve the life of the people they serve. They were more interested on what they could get from the public treasury. Today the reserve is gone, the treasury is empty, no more money to spend on their campaign, even though their accounts all over the world is as fat as the 'naughty professor'.

The northern States Governors should find means of improving their individual or collective States revenue rather than wasting their energy on battling the wind of change from the Federal Government. They should emulate the 38-year old Jigawa State Governor, Turaki, who has very solid strategic plan to improve his States land use. The Governor would like Jigawa to be referred to as an Agrarian State. I am referring the Governors to one of my articles on this site: Resource Control and the North, published May 13, 2001, as to what they could do to attract developments to their States. Northern States have well trained Agriculturalists wasting off particularly in America. All the Northern States Governors need to do is to reach out to these people through its National Association, Zumunta Association, USA.

Governor Turaki of Jigawa is focused on agriculture making his State an agrarian State. He has created 13 development zones, which will divert people away from '419'. According to the report from the State, the zones would focus on agro and food processing such as vegetable oil, sugar, production of animal feed, fertilizer, poultry, livestock, tannery and leather works, sesame seeds and groundnut processing, glass and kaolin processing. I hope other Governors are taking notes instead of planning to 'deal' with their opponents' come 2003. Governor Turaki is reaching out to other parts of the world, Gum Arabic, USIAD, the American Soft Drink Association, Importer Services Corporation, Coca Cola USA, and Atlantic Gum Corporation, encouraging them to invest in Jigawa, and to improve its infrastructure; intra-State roads, water, electricity and telecommunication services.

Could we consider an unfair election as another branch of '419'? Nigerian delegates to the election in Zimbabwe considered the election as 'fair'. The 16-member Nigerian Team led by Gen. Abubakar stated that it had "recorded no incidence that was sufficient to threaten the integrity and outcome of the election, in areas monitored by the team," very logically stated and to get away from some obvious onslaughts. Nigerian team would never see anything wrong from the re-election of Mugabe in Zimbabwe. Politicians in Nigeria would do whatever it takes to 'steal' an election, because that is the norm for them to continue taking what does not belong to them, through cheating.

Another branch of '419' practice could be contract inflation. Contracts are being inflated unabated by the politicians, which is the source of their criminal activities according to section '419' of the Nigerian Criminal Code. Members of the National Assembly could not give a return on how they spent their furniture allowances. It was recently revealed that contracts for furnishing Federal Executive Council and Special Advisers to the President in 1999 were inflated by N1.4 billion.

Added to the new way of looting the treasury today, as another aspect of '419', is for the politicians to declare assets that are not in existence, that is cheating. According to Justice Mustapha Akanbi, Chairman, Independent Corrupt Practices, and other offences Commission (ICPC), he revealed the new device of looting as they "declare non-existing assets and wealth in anticipation of the planned monumental theft during the period of service."

Do we have to blame the politicians alone for '419' practices? The Military waded in and took their turn of standardizing the '419' practices. The military used their weapon at its disposal to rob Nigerians of their livelihood, taking what does not belong to them. The Military decided to go on a race of who would be the smartest public treasury looter in Nigeria abandoning their responsibility to defend the territorial boundaries of Nigeria.

This leads me to another concern that borders me while we neglect our responsibilities and stealing peoples money from the treasury. I hope the issue of Bakassi Peninsula would be settled amicably through the World Court in Hague. Cameroon, that is about half the size of Nigeria, issued a challenge to Nigeria, that it has the might, will, and desires to face Nigeria over Bakassi. I hope Cameroon is not making a mistake of measuring Nigeria of the past with the present. Nigeria is in the process of nurturing young officers now that could face Cameroon to say the least. Nigeria has a population of 126, 635, 626, with an area of 923, 768 sq. km. Cameroon's population is 15,803,220, located on 475,440 sq km. Nigerian Military comprises of the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Cameroon has Army, Navy (includes Navy Infantry), Air Force, National Gendarmerie, and Presidential Guard.

When I saw the piece of that news, I remembered of the saying that when a rat smiles at a cat, definitely, there is a hole nearby. Now David has challenged Goliath for the battle. I am praying to see a peaceful resolution of this matter through the International Court in Hague.

What actually caught my attention was Professor Ngole's statement, Cameroon Interior Minister that:

"we are serious. We have the might, we have the will, and the 16 million people of Cameroon are behind the government to defend the territorial integrity of our country. Therefore it is not a joking matter."
That is very scary to me and may be to the Nigerian Generals. This is the time to bring back the retired Generals to clear their mess.

Let us for a moment forget about the strike by the Police, The young Army officers threat to strike, the ammunition explosion in Lagos, we still have a crop of new army breed that could bring professionalism to the Nigerian Army. Let us see where the Cameroon stands.

The Nigerian legal team comprises of Chief Pius Anyim Pius, Senate President, Lt. Gen. T. Y. Danjuma, Defense Minister, Chief Richard Akinjide (SAN) and Alhaji Abdullahi Ibrahim (SAN), both former Federal Attorney-General and ministers of Justice, Mr. Tan Brownlie, member of the International Law Commission, Sir Arthur Watts, member of the English Bar, Mr. James Crawford of the University of Cambridge, Mr. Georges Abi-Saab, a professor at the Geneva Institute of International Studies and Mr. Alastair Macdonald, a former director of the British Ordinance Survey Department, Mrs. Nella Audem Ewa, the Cross River State attorney-general and commissioner for justice. Others are Mr. Maxwell Gidado, senior special assistant to the president on Legal and Constitutional Matters; Prof. Ignatius Ayua, the director-general of the Nigerian Institute for Advanced Legal Studies and Prof. Olisa Chukwurah, a lawyer. We hope that the Nigerian legal team would reach a compromise in resolving the mess created by our past leaders, so that Nigeria does not have to prove to Cameroon that '419' is not what Nigeria is all about.

Is it right for us to say that Nigerian Professionals are the producers of '419' by selling lecture papers to the students that do not have 'anything' to offer the male Professors? Are they the manufacturers of the scam? We all know that about three generations have been wiped out in the stream of professionals in Nigeria. Part of that is created by the activities of the lecturers during the Military era when they got involved in politics by accepting to be Commissioners, Ministers, and other political appointments. Our education has been marred with strikes by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), and Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP). How effective is President Obasanjo's threat not to pay the ASUU, and ASUP for the days that they don't work? This writer does not condole the act of the Government not paying salaries of civil servants, army, Police, or teachers.

The Colonists took a shot at our wealth by taking what did not belong to them when they arrived at the Coast of Africa in the early 1800. They cheated Nigerians and Africans at large. The Colonists came with their religion, Christianity, and fooled Africans to keep their eyes on the Cross, while they siphoned and stole our resources and wealth to their land. Could that be one of the reasons for African leaders supporting Mugabe of Zimbabwe, former Rhodesia? It could be. In addition, they took away the stronger males from our land and left the weaker and lazy ones behind; enticed our Chiefs, Obas, Obis, Ezes, with mirror and gunpowder. Those left behind were the greedy ones, who were concerned about their titles, walking sticks, ostrich feather in their hats, and hand fan to match. The product of those left behind is what we are witnessing today at the helms of Nigeria affairs. Islam came as well to appeal to our existing culture.

What about Nigerians in Diaspora? This is a very touchy issue to me, because I consider those of us outside the country 'the Messiah', and to have better understanding on how to approach Nigeria issue, and do whatever it takes to bail out the country instead of dancing to the tune of the Nigerian officials. Even though the Nigerian Politicians might be rotten, Nigerians in Diaspora should be able to guide them aright, because we do not owe them anything, they do not pay our bills, at least as far as I know. We should try to be good ambassadors in our host countries.

Those who imported '419' as part of their livelihood would pay the price. March 2002, an Ontario Judge sentenced two Nigerians, Samuel Osunkwo and David Iheukwu, to 2 years, 2 months, and 2 years 10 months, respectively, to a Canadian penitentiary for bilking a U.S. businessman of $400,000 through a "Nigerian-letter" scam. They are both University Graduates, married to Canadians. They would be deported back to Nigeria after their terms. Ironically the victim, Mr. Gao, is an Atlanta based businessman, who lost a total of $1-million (U.S.) to the international scheme. Those sentenced were responsible for the $400, 000. The third person, Tupele Koripamo, was given one month for his minor role.

The Atlanta based self-employed businessman, has reliable Africans, Nigerians in particular that he could transact business with instead of going to Canada. He lost his home, his business, his son's university fund, and the friends who had lent him their money after promises of returns of 50 to 100 per cent. Mr. Gao was promised $3-million if he agreed to work as a consultant to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation. According to Mr. Justice Theodore Matlow, "I want to deter fraudsters from abroad from contemplating similar crimes here, and the only way I can do that is by raising the stakes, Canada is not a favourable destination for the exportation of crime."

The '419' issue has tainted Nigerian image abroad. The immunity normally reserved for the Nigerian officials is no longer valid, how much less ordinary Nigerians. I remember my experience in the early 1990s coming from London on a research project, which I have shared before. On getting to Atlanta, my bags full of papers were thoroughly searched, whereas a woman coming from Kenya with a lot of baggage was never searched. When I queried the Custom officer, he waved my Nigerian passport, which he had on his hand and said, "I am sorry." I believe other Nigerians have their tales to tell about the shabby treatment they always receive at the ports of entrance.

Gladly President Obasanjo's entourage experienced the shock of their life when Australian authorities, against diplomatic procedures, ordered Obasanjo's entourage to individually go through immigration and customs checks. The protest from the Foreign Affairs Minister, Alhaji Sule Lamido, Rimi's protégée, felt into deaf ears. If such treatment is melted to a top government official, who am I to complain of checking my bags from top to the base?

Nigerians should start taking steps in riding itself of the '419' practices, and correcting the stigma placed on the country as if we were from another space, beginning with those of us in Diaspora. Nobody is going to fight this battle for us. I do agree with the Nigerian Minister of Tourism, Mrs. Omotayo who advised that the Nigeria media should portray the country in good light, stating that the foreign media would always want to say negative things about Nigeria. "But if we report about the beauty of our country and wonderful good things, Eco-life and the rest of them, then other people would want to come and see things for themselves. Take a situation of what we have here at La Campaign Tropicana; most people living in Lagos do not know that a beautiful place like this exists. This place is a perfect handiwork of God." President Rawlings used tourism to get Ghana out of the 'Black Book' of the West. We have to convince our immediate communities where we live that we are good neighbors. When the Nigerian officials visit us, we should have something positive to tell them so as to make some changes in the way they conduct their respective public services.

On the other hand the victims of '419' should reassess themselves as well. They should desist from doing business with those they don't know. They should start with their 'neighbors', especially those Nigerians they have lived together with for years. Those they could trust. Such Nigerians would eventually link them with the legitimate businesses at their country, unless the victims are themselves '419' cohorts.

Generally what people should do to protect themselves among other things is to research the company or individual carefully before conducting business with them. Do not provide the other party with blank letterheads or invoices. Never pay any money up front. Be extra careful when additional fees are continuously requested. Be wary when emphasis is placed on urgency and secrecy.

Good news might be surfacing from the do-nothing members of the National Assembly after all. It could be for the election purposes, which is the dividend of Democracy. At least they know that they need to show the people their accomplishments for the past three years they've been elected. Some of the news coming from the Distinguished and Honorable members of the National Assembly, and Nigerians in Diaspora, are good signs of good things to come:

  • Nigeria Police to track down illegal immigrants in Nigeria realizing the spread of foreigners in tormenting troubles acting on the direction of the local leaders.

  • The Senate proposed the establishment of a Police Tax and Trust Fund to augment government allocation in the running of an efficient Police Force. The Senate is worried by the declining fortunes of the Police and the rise in crime in the country.

  • The Senate has proposed Residency Rights Bill in Nigeria whereby if you have lived in a State for at least three years and pay your taxes you could claim residency of that State. Meaning that I can go to Enugu East for three years and contest against Jim Nwodo - Coal City State. Thanks to Oyi.

  • The Senate also moves, for the creation of special courts in trouble spots nationwide to try rioters and their sponsors of religious and ethnic clashes in the country. The law would prosecute brains behind all the conflicts and clashes in the country that have not yet been unmasked. The new Inspector General of Police has promised, "I am going to use every energy both physical and mental. With the assistance of my senior officers, we shall work as a team and carry out a crusade against crime and criminals." He has very harsh message for the militia groups as well stating "…it is only the Nigeria Police Force that is empowered to maintain law and order and prevent crime."

  • The Senate resolved to press for the recruitment of more Mobile policemen, provision of more police stations for adequate policing of the ports, borders and oil rigs in the country, so as to stop the menace of '419'

  • U.S. President George Bush has certified Nigeria's counter-narcotics performance as among 18 drug-producing and transit countries, which benefited from the certification exercise. Which means the menace of drug barons is on the decline.

  • Benue State House of Assembly in March 2002, handed over 14 of its members, the Clerk of the House, and the House accountant to the police for prosecution over allegations of "conspiracy, theft and receiving stolen property" belonging to the Benue State House of Assembly. The Speaker, Chief Mrs. Margaret Icheen, the first female State House Speaker, in a letter to the State Commissioner of Police stated that, "I the undersigned as the Speaker of the Benue State House of Assembly, and on behalf of the legislative House hereby make a complaint of conspiracy and theft of public funds against 14 honourable members of the Benue State House of Assembly and two others."

  • The most beautiful woman in the world, Miss Agbani Derego, Miss World, a Nigerian, has decided to wage war on the poor Nigeria image across the world, by promoting tourism in Nigeria.

  • The General Officer Commanding (GOC) the 2nd Mechanized Division of the Nigerian Army, Major General Okon Eket Okon said that any soldier who participated in any strike "would be tried for mutiny and the penalty is death".

  • Nigerian Government is wading into the harassment of Nigerians living in South Africa. The Nigerians living in South Africa went there during the military era. Now that the home is going through democratization, the South Africans want them to go back home, and Nigerians are not ready to go back. What a challenge to the politicians who are blocking the return of the lost professionals to Nigeria.

  • Dr. Bedford Nwabueze Umez, just collected a total of 1, 230 Africans signatures to petition European Airlines of Africans on their maltreatment of Africans on their Airline price schedule. IRS Airlines believed to be owned by Alhaji Isyaku Rabiu, a Kano-born businessman is contemplating of taking over Lagos-JFK, New York route from the Nigeria Airways.

  • Reverend Emmanuel Onunwor, is a second-term Mayor of East Cleveland, Ohio.

Nigerians in Diaspora are not doing badly after all, from California to New York running through Atlanta, the Black Mecca of the South, we have untold success stories about Nigerians. Sixteen-year-old Nigerian girl and student of Bishop Machebeuf High School in Denver, Colorado, United States of America, Miss Hauwa Mukan, Ampere, from Kanke Local Government Area of Plateau State, attended the prestigious National Young Leaders Conference (NYLC) from March 12 to 17 in Washington D.C. The NYLC is a unique leadership development program for high school students who have demonstrated leadership potential and scholastic merit.

We have a youth group in the northern part of Untied States called Linking Youth in Nigeria through eXchange (LYNX). Leading members of this group include Nneoma Nwogu, Oyere Onuwa, Ike Gbadegesin, and Oreoluwa Adeyemi. Memberships are drawn from Wellesley College, Massachusetts, Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Northeastern University, and Boston College.

In other parts of the United States, we have Chinyere Charles Anyiam, Founder/Editor-in-Chief of African Times, Africa's Media Voice in America since 1989, in LA. Professor Peter Ogunbiyi, Director, Minority Cancer Research at the National Institute of Health, Washington, D.C. Mr. Adebayo O. Ogunlesi, a former clerk to Justice Thurgood Marshall of the Supreme Court, is the new chief of Credit Suisse First Boston. Aliyu Mustapha is a silence influential employee of the Voice of America, Washington, D.C. Where am I going go stop. We have hundreds of highly placed successful Nigerians all over the world. The rest of the world should stop playing the politics of 419 on Nigerians and see the contributions Nigerians have made to their respective host countries. There are always bad eggs among nations.

Another Nigerian family, Dr. Tosan Oruwariye, and her husband Mr. Wokoma Oruwariye, in New York, Monteflore, just donated 13 dialysis machines for use in Nigeria.

Nigerian-born international soul singer Helen Folasade Adu made history at the 44th Grammy Award. With her latest album, Lover's Rock, she won the Best Pop Vocal Album prize, with the album released in November 2000. Previous recipients include Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, Irving Berlin, Stevie Wonder, Paul McCartney, her brother Michael, and Whitney Houston.

In Atlanta alone we have hundreds of highly successful Nigerians in all aspects of life: Privately we have Newspaper Publisher; Hundreds of Nigerian Medical practitioners with their private Clinics. If a woman does not know Dr. Obina Okehi, a well known gynecologist, in Macon, "you must be ugly," according to him. Charles Onyirimba, Publisher of African Quest, a Heritage Publication in Search of the Truth Untold; Chief Eto, a soil and environmental specialist, who has over six highly educated scientists at Ph. D. levels on his staff. Engineers like Professor Austin Esogbue, the first Black Professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, one of the best Technical schools in the United States. Chiropractors, such as Dr. Obata and Agu are well known Chiropractors in town. Culturally, Chief Alani Ogunlade has been on the scene for over two decades promoting African rich culture across United States.

Our women have stopped their Owambe party to form a formidable Nigerian Women Association of Georgia, under the leadership of Mrs. Dayo Keshi, Atlanta Consulate General's wife. She is being assisted by a host of the African Queens like Agatha Chukwueke, Toyin Olowofoyeku, Folashade Arowoselu, Abby Ebodaghe, Mfon Ufot, Abosede Ajayi, Joyce Anusiem, Alice Osunde, Pat Eto Nimota Adeboye, Justina Amuzie, Tami Weli, Monye, Folusho Odukoya, Ify Onochie just to mention a few.

We have also the Nigerian Youth Alliance coming together to be a group to be reckoned with in Georgia. Thanks to the trio coordinators, Mfon Ufot, Abosede. Ajayi, Abby Ebodagbe. While their newly elected young officers are doing a marvelous job. Henry George - President, Shade Ajayi - Vice President, Nwamaka Ngoddy, General Secretary, Sebolatito Bidemi Olorunsola - Public Relations, and Chibuzor Ugenyi - Financial Secretary.

Some other Associations are cropping up as well to do better things for their local communities in their native countries. Obazu Welfare Association, USA, just completed a water project under the leadership of Tony Anusiem, at the village. Tony's leadership has challenged all other organizations in the metro Atlanta what changes they could bring to their respective communities.

One major thing Nigerians in Diaspora could do, if and when they form their local Organizations, is take it to the corridors of their host countries. Do not act like one of the charity organizations that have been established for three years and now crying to the world that Nigerians have never donated to his course. Technology has made it easier to bring the world to individual living rooms. Nigerians should lend a hand to various charitable organizations in their host countries like Ibrahim Akar's charity organization that helps children in Nigeria. (http://www.AfricasPromise.org), (ibrahim@africaspromise.org). People like Akar, born and raised in Kano, whose parents are Lebanese, and other Nigerian Associations should positively utilize the technology and stop the menace of '419'. www.nigeriaworld.com and other sites like www.gamji.com would definitely promote your organizations at no cost to you.

We are thirsty for good news about the positive contributions Nigerians are making to various communities in their respective host countries, instead of the '419' politics being played on Nigeria. Once a positive contribution is made, which is more than the negative publications about Nigerians in Diaspora, we should get the message across to the public. Thanks to Zumunta Association USA for its contributions to the victims of Jos Fire, and flood in Niger and Kwara States. So also Egbe Omo Yoruba, USA, and Canada, the umbrella organization for all Yoruba organizations in North America, donated N250, 000 to the Lagos Disaster Relief Fund, under the leadership of the President of the association, Mr. Olaseni Ajao, Watch out for the sleeping giant and Darling of Central Nigeria, Kwara State Association, North America, for its efforts in making Kwara State a model for other States to emulate. The Igbo Conference is not sleeping at all. Akwa-Ibom should get on the right track to do positive things in Nigeria and forget about unproductive programs of almanacs, beauty pageants.

Nigerians whenever they may reside should continue to pursue legitimate businesses and remove that stigma of Nigerians being 419ers. The first area to start is to continue pumping some senses to our leaders, through all means possible. We should not spare them for their wrong directions they are taking Nigeria. One of the reasons we have to be hard on them is that they need to know that they were elected to SERVE the people. The leaders should be encouraged to recycle their wealth within Nigeria. Until the rotten tooth is pulled out, the mouth must chew with caution, so goes the saying. Is it not time for Nigerians in Diaspora to make lemonade out of lemon and halt the politics of '419'.

Thank you!


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