This is not a brief for the Igbo people of eastern Nigeria. However, it is imperative to note that it will do us no good to say that because we are not Igbos, the negative publicity generated when officials of the US recently indicted 80 people, about 77 of them Nigerians of Igbo extraction, for fraud and money laundering offences amounting to $46m; doesn’t concern us. This is because out there we are all simply Nigerians, and it doesn’t matter whether one is Hausa, Yoruba, Igbo, Gbagyi or Nupe and so on.


It is understandably sad that the high-profile financial crime investigation involving minority of individuals have succeeded in tarnishing the reputation of the whole country, a country of about 200 million. In fact, our situation has plummeted to the level that they now refer to internet scam as the ‘Nigerian scams’. 


The world now sees us as criminals. The recent xenophobic attacks in South Africa in which many innocent Nigerians were brutally killed with little or no remorse on the part of the South African government was also an indication of how little others value us and how much they don’t want us around them. The South Africans labelled us drug dealers and criminals, and you won’t be far from right to assume that other African countries also feel the same about us. 


Still, it is not right to say that because it is the Igbos that are involved now, we are not concerned. One of the most disturbing aspects of what is happening is that apart from the fact that other nations can hardly identify us by our different ethnic groups, they are also gradually beginning to blur the line between these criminals and honest working Nigerians abroad. One of such honest Nigerians who is struggling to put food on the table for his family in America recently complained bitterly that it feels as if everyone is looking at him with suspicion. 


The truth is that most of our people in the diaspora have no choice. Some of them are out there simply because our country is not working. Surely, if we get our act together, our economy is flourishing and everything is in place, most of our people abroad will come back home. This is because no one loves to be a second class citizen in another man’s country when his own is doing well. Therefore, before we begin to heap all the blame on the Igbo’s, let us first point accusing fingers on our leaders who have succeeded in turning our blessed nation into a living hell. 


Nigeria is arguably one of the worst countries to live in today. The hospitals lack basic amenities, roads are bad, and it is bedevilled by insecurity. Little wonder that except on official or diplomatic assignment, nobody wants to come to Nigeria. And that is also why no matter how our government tries to convince investors to come and invest in Nigeria, no one is willing to give it a thought. Our problems are just too many, and even if an investor braves his way to Nigeria, he is more likely to fold up soon. If epileptic power supply and its negative impact on businesses doesn’t drive him away, then the general poverty will. Yes we have a very big market by the reason of our population but it is comprised mostly of people living in abject poverty with little or no purchasing power to patronise any investment whatsoever. 


The heartrending reality is that we are now reduced from a nation that everyone wants to associate with to one that nobody wants to associate with. In one of those glory days we meted the same treatment on Ghanaians, when insisted that they were a nuisance to us and demanded that ‘Ghana must go’. Unfortunately, we are now receiving the same treatment from other nations. It is a clear indication that we are not doing well at all, a sign that we’ve retrogressed. If you see what Nigerians are willing to do, just to get resident permit from their host nations, you will know that indeed things are not palatable in their own country. This desperation has made some of them to marry foreign citizens and to endure all manner of indignities all in the hope of getting a green card. 


It is high time we knew that this ethnic card we like playing can only take us backwards. The world only knows us as Nigerians and not as different entities. Therefore, if the verdict out there is that Nigerians are criminals and cannot be trusted, then they will see us all as such and not only the Igbos. It is therefore foolhardy to think that we can convince the world to see us differently. It is said that somebody recently tried to convince the South Africans that it is the Igbos that are involved in criminality and not the Yorubas. Such nonsense can only be accepted around here, the world knows better. As long as we have agreed to remain together, then the focus should be how to enhance our collective interest instead parochial ones. For we cannot, individually, be better than the whole, at least, not in the eyes of the world. 


Consequently, when the Igbo man commits a crime, the world sees us all as criminals. And if we detach ourselves from what is happening, we will all soon be victims. It means that some of our innocent children who may want to study abroad would be treated as criminals also. Therefore, we must all tackle the menace as one people, and the best way to do it is by first fixing our nation. Make Nigeria great again and no one would want to go abroad. In fact, if we can fix our present infrastructural decay, deal with insecurity, and improve the well-being of our citizens, more Nigerians would prefer to stay behind, and foreign investors would find their way down here without wasting our time and resources trying to convince them to invest in an economy that is not working.