Media reports recently on Nigeria across the globe show that certain Nigerians who engaged in internet fraud and drug trafficking have brought negative perception to other innocent Nigerians in pursuit of greener pastures and leisure outside the country.
Hence,the unveiling of 78 Nigerians by FBI and killing of another 12 brought a major setback for the country.
However, the positive perception of any country’s image is an important gauge for judging her standing in the international political system. A good image translates to respect, influence and prestige. On the other hand a bad or negative perception of a country’s image indicates that such a country lacks respect, influence and prestige in the international system. As a consequence, all countries endeavour to build, maintain and enhance their images in relation to other countries. The factors that determine a nation’s image (for good or for bad) can be both internal and external. Internally, a succession of regimes of bad policies and practice can lead to this. Externally, it could be through participation in foreign military and humanitarian missions
It is obvious that many of the 190 million Nigerians are not aware that some of their fellow countrymen have earned them the dubious honour of becoming the world’s number one globalizer for fraud. That bad image of Nigeria has become of greater concern to Nigerians and Nigeria’s president bemoans the negative image of this country, which is smeared by 419 Advance Fee Fraud, internet fraud and corruption.
Before Nigerians start to clean their image they should decide which negative image is addressed, the bad image Nigerians have of some corrupt Nigerians? Or the bad image that most foreigners have of all Nigerians and are reminded of every day?
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is Nigeria’s specialized law enforcement agency to fight these crimes and is quite successful for Nigeria. Considering the local circumstances, prosecution for stealing from the nation’s coffers is going reasonable well and it secured a good number of cases. Even though one could wish more of the same, the EFCC is at least enabled for steady professional progress
Sadly enough the good work of the EFCC doesn’t reduce the bad international image that proud Nigerians want to get rid of, because the foreigners that are lured to send money under false pretenses to Nigerians everyday, couldn’t care less about Nigerians stealing from the coffers of the state. As long as those victims don’t get any form of recognition and the fraudsters are not prosecuted for Advance Fee Fraud, every Nigerian will potentially be profiled as international fraudster .
Nigerians can change their tarnished international image by punishing publicly Advance Fee Fraudsters and recognizing the millions of victims. By taking on that relatively small but vital group of criminals that smear their name every day, the over 190 million honest Nigerians would finally send a strong signal to few criminals among the 200million population.
Another way of improving the image of the country on the international scene is one of the recent commendable moves by the EFCC of repatriating stolen funds to the countries where such monies were fraudulently received and finally getting such to the victims.
It is therefore necessary for all stakeholders particularly religious and social organisations to improve on sermons and lectures that will reduce financial crimes and drug trafficking.
Hence, associations And professional bodies should emulate the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN) follow the path of honour by withdrawing certificates of indicted person on financial crimes and drug related offences.