Are Nigerians Thieves? A Response to the Greek Ambassador to Nigeria
Presentation of Case:
Fellow Nigerians, it is with a heavy heart that I write this article to you. Nigeria is a great country, rich in mineral and human resources. We are a people blessed with everything; a country of scholars and wise people. This is not news. What is heart wrenching news however is that we have all sat back and let a few spoil our collective good name. Even foreigners (The Greek Ambassador) have gone in on the act. This is the crux of this piece.
While perusing a national daily a few days ago I came across the comments of the Greek Ambassador to Nigeria about his hosts.
Mr. Dafaranos and his wife were at the reception area of Transcorp Hilton in Abuja on July 11 when the wife found a wristwatch, which a client of the hotel forgot while checking out. She refused to hand over the wristwatch to the security personnel on duty at the reception who wanted to keep it for the owner. She said Nigerians were habitual thieves, she did not trust that the wristwatch would get to the owner. She refused to listen to the appeals of even the security manager on duty to turn in the wristwatch.
This raises a lot of questions, my fellow compatriots. Comments such as these should naturally prompt, prick or provoke those in the government machinery charged with responsibility of maintaining and uplifting the image of our dear country. But this has not happened. Why? Many days after the Greek Ambassador and his wife went “Gaga Greek” in Transcorp Hilton, no one from the Presidency, Foreign Affairs or Information Ministries has come out to rebuke or seek a formal apology from the Greek diplomat. This is not only unacceptable but an indication that we are totally agree with his comments.
This is unacceptable, I dare say again. It is true that there are a few Nigerians out there who engage in a great number of nefarious, dubious and criminal acts. But this is umbrella of castigation does not apply to the generality of Nigerians home and abroad. Besides what gives the Dafaranos family and the Greek community in Nigeria the right to judge Nigerians. There are criminals in Nigeria as there are criminals in Greece. It is strange and unimpressive that such a statement is coming from Mr. Dafaranos, a citizen of a country who has lately had a lot of negative press in Europe for corrupt politicians. Yet no one in Nigeria has branded Mr Dafaranos and his compatriots corrupt. In all sincerity I challenge the “HONEST DIPLOMAT” to DENY that he has never heard the names or news of; Alket Rizai, Vassilis Paleokostas or his brother; Nikos Paleokostas. Do these names mean anything to Mr Dafaranos? Well, fellow compatriots these are the names of the most notorious kidnapping and armed robbery duo in Greece convicted for over 16 bank robberies. See here and here. So, is it right to call Greece a country of Kidnappers and Jail breaking–Armed robbers? Or a country with an entire Police Force that is so inefficient and corrupt to allow a band of brothers’ escape from jail via helicopters. More so, over the years it has been reported that narcotics-related crime has become an increasing area of concern in Greece. Reports also suggest that Greece is an important transshipment point for illegal narcotics moving from Asia to markets in Western Europe and the United States.
Using the kangaroo court style of Mr Dafaranos and his loud-mouth- wife, it will be logical to label Greece the “Colombia of Europe” or perhaps more fittingly the “Gaga Greek Gangland” or better still- Europe’s drug dealing capital. In spite of this, Nigerians have not judged your nation. Yet the diplomat has decided to judge ALL Nigerians in what is a clear case of Western Hypocrisy. This saddens me most because I have many Greek friends and have come to associate them and their country with hospitality, kindness and a free spirit. Greece is in fact a country of the most friendly, easy going and fun loving people one will meet in Europe. -Quote me on this.
Mr Dafaranos, there is a Nigerian proverb that says; “When a man’s lips become as sharp as a knife, they will cut off his mouth” It is totally unacceptable for ANYBODY in the world to criticize Nigeria or Nigerians for criminality. There are criminals all over the world and Greece is no exception. Therefore, the court of public opinion has found you Mr Dafaranos GUILTY of DEFAMING NIGERIANS on their own soil. This is the greatest insult a foreigner can hand an African and as such the court demands that the diplomat issues an UNRESERVED apology to ALL Nigerians. Mr Dafaranos and his wife have insulted ALL Nigerians. For the record Mr Ambassador Nigerians are not thieves, and please call your wife to ORDER.
More importantly, the Greek Embassy and its Ambassador MUST offer this unreserved apology as soon as possible or have themselves labeled persona non grata within the shores of Nigeria. As for the Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Information; Nigerians have yet again been made aware of the ineptitude and cowardice of public office holders. It leaves the populace wondering the whole idea behind the “Re-Branding Nigeria Campaign” perhaps it is “shady” campaigns, schemes and programmes like these that give the foreign community the audacity to call Nigerians Thieves. The foreign community in Nigeria must realize that Nigeria is a sovereign country and in spite of its short comings; it is like all nations of the world responsible for its citizens. Nigerians will not accept such unwarranted verbal attacks and utterances on its people, pride and sovereignty. Nigeria remains a great nation, striving for peace, progress and prosperity. Arise O’ Compatriots!