On January 6th, 2021, Democratic candidate for the Atlanta senatorial election, Jon Ossoff defeated incumbent senator, David Perdue to record a historic feat in the US Senatorial polls. Ossoff’s victory as well as that of his democratic counterpart, Ralph Warnock ushers in a new era for senate representation for the state of Atlanta, but more importantly, underscores the positive contributions being recorded by diaspora Nigerians.
More often than not, Nigerians in the diaspora have made the headlines for all the wrong reasons. From organized crime, internet fraud, to different shades of criminality, Nigerians have shown demonstrated proclivity to being at the tip of the spear as far as subversion of societal norm goes. This is why the Nigerian identity has somewhat been greatly discountenanced in international circles.
The level of fraud is such that Nigerian diplomats are finding it increasingly hard to explain what is happening. Widespread fraud is spreading like wild fire from Nigeria throughout the world as unscrupulous Nigerians at home and abroad further tarnish their country’s growing international reputation as a place where crime and corruption flourishes unchecked.
Criminal investigation officers in the UK have been frustrated by the fraudsters who snatch thousands of pounds from bank accounts before anyone can do anything about it. They believe that the proceeds from some of the frauds are going to finance drug trafficking.
The Nigerian government is now making an effort to clamp down on the increasingly sophisticated frauds, which often involve bogus officials and fraudulent documents claiming to be from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), the Ministry of Defence or international oil companies.
Nigerian Deputy Inspector-General Perry Osayande at some point announced on Radio Nigeria that the Nigerian police was at the time investigating more than 1,000 complaints of fraud all over the world, warning foreign businesses to be aware of the danger.
So widespread is Nigerian-related crime overseas that is put down to a “Nigerian Mafia” in US police training manuals, bearing comparison with the notorious Triad gangsters who have been exporting South East Asian criminal practices to Europe and the US since the turn o f the century. British police, however, are wary of overstating the phenomenon, describing it as “a loosely organised hardcore of criminals involved in fraud and based in Nigeria, that operate couriers and runners overseas in committing these crimes”.
One Nigerian who infamously grabbed the headlines for his infamous role in bringing Nigeria’s image to disrepute was Ramoni Igbalode Abbas, who is popularly known by his social media monicker- Hushpuppi. Mr Abbas was nabbed in July of 2020 for wire fraud summing to the tune of millions of dollars.
The succeeding months would also see a number of Hushpuppi’s associates and counterparts make the headlines for different shades of criminal activity, realities which continue to dent Nigeria’s image in the comity of nations.
This is not to say that synonymity to crime is what definitively encapsulates the Nigerian identity in the diaspora, as many Nigerians have also made highlights by deploying Nigeria’s ingrained problem-solving ability to make a difference in many facets of human endeavour.
This problem-solving capacity of Nigerians, as mentioned earlier was once again evident in the recently concluded US Elections, as the Nigerian-American Healthcare Workers Group alongside other professionals have been lauded by the Senator-elect, John Ossoff for playing a crucial role of tipping the scales during the polls.
Confirming the role of the Nigerian community to EkoHotBlog in a telephone interview, Segun Adeyina, an Atlanta based Information Technology Consultant, whose name was mentioned in the video said that a mass action championed by the Nigerian-American community was largely responsible for the outcome of the election.
“An initiative was done by an organisation called Unite Here. They put together an African voters project. They put together 500 people that will go out and canvass in Georgia and then collaborated with my organisation which is called the Nigerian-American public affairs committee”
“Unite Here, and partners, knocked on 1.3 Million doors, and the African Team was responsible for over 86,000 votes which were more than the difference in votes for Ossoff and close to Warnock’s lead” Adeyina said during a telephone interview.
The Nigerian -American Public Affairs Committee (NAPAC GA) also collaborated with other African organisations on a “One Voice Africa in bringing out the Votes.
This recent reality aptly dovetails with the position of NiDCOM Chairman, Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, who had urged Nigerians during the heat of the Hushpuppi saga not to lose hope in the Nigerian identity, as one bad apple cannot ruin the whole tree.
Indeed, this dawn of a new era which beckons right before Nigerians in the diaspora could largely be attributed to the tireless work being done by the former lawmaker via the instrumentality of the commission, Nigerians in the Diaspora (NiDCOM). During her years in the Federal House of Representatives, Abike Dabiri-Erewa had tirelessly advocated for the creation of a commission whose focal point would be to tend to the raging concerns of Nigerians in the diaspora, advocacy which ultimately became reality a little under two years ago.
A significant fraction of the success enjoyed by this commission has stemmed from the seamless and symbiotic relationship maintained by the chaperone of the commission with Nigerians living abroad, a symbiotic relationship which has greatly improved the lot of Nigerians in the diaspora and consequently, their productivity.
Beyond maintaining a symbiotic relationship with Nigerians in the diaspora, Abike Dabiri has also been responsible for the reparation of a number of severe crisis situations involving Nigerians living abroad, as evidenced by her role in assuaging the plight of Nigerians who had been on the wrong end of Xenophobic attacks in South Africa in 2018.
Reacting to the role of the Nigerian-American Healthcare Workers Group in the just concluded US Senatorial Election, publisher of EkoHotBlog who is also a former President of Eko Club International, (the umbrella body for Lagosians in the Diaspora), Otunba TJ Abass said it’s a new day for Nigerians in the diaspora as this recent contribution is merely a metaphorical representation of all the incredible contributions of diaspora Nigerians within their various fields of endeavour.
Indeed, in the light of recent developments, there would be no gainsaying in the fact that amid all the criminality that Nigerians living abroad have been enmeshed in, with the present trajectory being charted by the commission (NiDCOM), there is hope rising that Nigeria will in no time exit the pitch-black twilight of infamy to a new dawn where Nigerians are recognized for their incredible contributions to human society all over the world.
The Atlanta Senatorial Polls, Spelling The Dawn Of A New Era For Nigerians In The Diaspora pic.twitter.com/SFm6ViaW73
— EkoHotBlog (@ekohotblog) January 10, 2021