Peter Reilly, a contributor at Forbes.com recently published a post titled Fraud Has No Nationality- Apology to Nigeria where he elaborates on the similarities between Nigeria’s 419 and the Spanish Prisoner Swindle and explains that fraud has no nationality. Of course, the fact that fraud has no nationality goes without saying and is no news to Nigerians. For years, Nigerians have suffered from the stigma of a vice that is prevalent all over the world. In fact a quick Google search of the word, ‘fraud” brings up various search results associated with Nigeria from Advance fee fraud to Nigeria Fraud…
Personally, I think the reason why knowledge about Nigeria’s 419 scams is so widespread globally is not so much because Nigerians are the most fraudulent people on earth but because the Internet helped popularize it. 419 deals originate on the Internet and the viral power of the Internet ranging from e-mail to social networking platforms helps popularize the menace and gives it more PR than the average fraud scheme. The 419 story has all the elements of what viral media should look like. A gullible/greedy (as the case may be) Westerner falling prey for the fantastic tales of a Nigerian in far-away and poverty stricken “Africa” by losing all his life savings in the hopes of getting millions of dollars.
This story has captured the imagination of the world so much that on the Internet, the word fraud is as we can see above, is now synonymous with Nigeria.
Recently, I penned a piece on expanding broadband access in Nigeria titled: Getting the next 50 million Nigerians on Broadband. As I wrote it, particularly, the title, I knew the 419 jokes from other parts of the world would be merciless and boy, was I right. Here are some of the comments I found on Twitter.
RT @zeffri Getting the next 50 million Nigerians on broadbandhttp://is.gd/r09qCj <~ nope, not money scams. Fer serious
The truth is that for many people in the world, when they hear the words “Nigeria” and “Internet” the first associations that probably come to mind are “419 ” and “fraud.” Coupled with the fact that compared to other parts of the world, there isn’t as much Nigerian content online to negate this stereotype, the stereotype continues to exist in its morbid glory.
If every Nigerian on the Internet were to start a blog and periodically document their thoughts on different aspects of Nigerian life, I suspect that over time the Internet world at the very least will be introduced to a more nuanced understanding of Nigeria. I am not saying we should attempt to put lipstick on Nigeria’s problems. No. We have success stories and we have challenges and the world needs to hear about them all.
Thanks to great blogging tools such as Blogger, WordPress and Tumblr, starting a blog is really easy. It shouldn’t take more than thirty minutes of your time to start one and you can blog as frequently or as infrequently as you like. What’s more if your thoughts are compelling enough, you could earn some extra cash like bloggers like Linda Ikeji and many others. Also, if you don’t want to go through the hassle of growing your own audience, you can share your thoughts instantly with thousands of readers on platforms like CP-Africa. See our blogging guidelines here.
I think it is an experiment worth carrying out. Let me know what you think and please pass this on