Abike Dabiri was WRONG in Throwing Nigerian Citizens Abroad Under The Bus and she was WRONG in her lopsided ‘naming and shaming’ posture

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Let me first state clearly that ordinarily I would think it’s SHAMELESS for anyone to be outraged that Nigerians who are engaged in international criminal activities abroad, and thus giving NIGERIA and other Nigerians a bad name abroad , are ‘named and shamed’. However, in this case there are several issues that would make me want to join others in expressing outrage at the announcement from the otherwise highly respected govt official.

1. In this case, I sincerely think Honorable Abike Dabiri, the Senior Special Assistant to President for Foreign Affairs called for the outrage against her for not being consistent in her ‘naming and shaming’ policy .

Honorable Abike knew, or should know, that NIGERIA is a very ethnic sensitive nation and you just can’t name people when it involves one ethnic group and then not name them when it involved people from some other Nigerians ethnic groups. especially if some of those unarmed belong to YOUR OWN ethnic tribe . In such a scenario, No matter how you try to explain lack of ethnic bias, it smells and those screaming have a right to do so! (For all it’s worth, I personally don’t think Abike Dabiri is an ethnic jingoist, she is far too exposed for that, but in public issues, appearance is often more damaging than the reality)

2. For me, on a more sublime level, I think the outrage against the esteemed honorable should actually be more about her, and the Buhari govt, for NOT having the backs of citizens of their own country who are facing prosecution or distress in another country. The role of the embassies abroad are clear, and its NOT to pass premature judgements on their own citizens no matter how reprehensible the crimes they were accused of.

3. Beyond the inconsistent policy of naming and shaming, I think the better debate we should be having is why should our own govt, as represented by Hon. Abike Dabiri in this instance, be throwing its OWN CITIZENS UNDER THE BUS for being arrested, but not yet convicted of crimes, in another country?

Lest we forget in our emotional disgust at the incident of alleged robbery by some of our own brothers in Dubai, the role of Our foreign affairs advisers or foreign embassies and officials is to PROVIDE THE BEST ASSISTANCE to Nigerians in distress abroad, no matter how heinous the crimes they may have been accused of.

Also to be crystal clear, Lest I be misunderstood and accused of defending armed robbers by the mischievous or the less than discerning, I want to state clearly that I do NOT defend these guys at all on the issue of robbery, and if they are indeed found guilty they will deserve everything coming to them including maybe getting their hands cut off according to whatever law is in Dubai for thieves and armed robbers.

That aside, From my own point of view, I think Honorable Abike Dabiri, our paid adviser to our President in foreign affairs matters, was WRONG in going out of her way to ‘name and shame’ these Nigerians arrested in Dubai since they have NOT yet been convicted.

The understandable public condemnation of the actions of these guys in Dubai by most Nigerians aside, The JOB of Hon Dabiri, as Senior Special Adviser on foreign affairs is to advise the embassies to provide as much Govt assistance to Nigerians in distress abroad including making sure they were treated fairly, protect their identities during the legal process, and also in making sure they get good legal assistance when accused of crimes( and yes, that would also include those arrested for serious crimes!)

Of course I am not defending any criminals, but we should all be careful, ESPECIALLY OUR GOVT OFFICIALS with responsibility for protecting interests of Nigerians abroad, about condemning people who have only been arrested, and yet to be tried.

If these guys were American citizens, their consulates would not be doing any ‘naming and shaming’ yet, and their staff would actually have gone to see them in jail and ensured they were being treated fairly, even if they would ultimately be convicted and jailed for life.

You can’t build a nation with peopel ready to die for it like America has done without the govt also making it clear thy were ready to go to war over any of its citizens, including the bad ones, if there was any unfairness.

You develop national pride among the people by showing them that the govt will be there in GOOD AND BAD TIMES. This is a larger issue many of us are not even thinking about.

Many Nigerians are not patriotic when push comes to shove becos they KNOW their nation does not have their backs! It’s only in nigeria that our govt would lock the door of our embassy to a nigerian running for his life. That to me is condemnable too!

There is a reason American children would fight their parents to go join the marines in Times Of war while Nigerians would probably take their own children and run to their villages when it comes to making sacrifices for nigeria.

The apparent facts or seemingly damning circumstances of this case aside, Pride in a Nation and nation building goes both ways!

Govt officials responsible for our foreign affairs should not be passing judgement on its own people even before the foreign law courts have found them guilt.

While I am all for ‘naming and shaming’ CONVICTED crooked Nigerians abroad or at home, I also think our Govt officials should be consistent in its announcements of such incidents to avoid distracting debates as to whether the govt actions in publicly ‘naming and shaming’ the arrested Nigerians were ethnically motivated or not in an ethnically sensitive country like NIGERIA

When you use the words ‘some Nigerians’ when talking about crimes involving people from other tribes like Yoruba and Hausa, and then publicly provided the names of those who happened to be Igbos, it’s hard to blame the Igbos and objective people like me for being outraged at the appearance of ethnic bias

We all know, rightly or wrongly, that many Igbos have for long nursed the suspicion that the other tribes love to be unfair to them and It is exactly this kind of thoughtless and inconsistent actions from an otherwise highly respected govt official like Abike Dabiri, that reinforces that feeling of tribal persecution by the igbos

Afterall the fact remains that many people involved in fraud abroad are also Yorubas and even Hausas. So, it’s patently unfair to name peopel when it involved one ethnic group and not name in others. It’s either you are going to be ‘naming and shaming’ at all times or you are not.

So instead of us just dismissing the outrage of those reading ethnic stereotyping into the lopsided public ‘naming and shaming’ thing, we should also be counseling Abike Dabiri to be more sensitive in future and to read up on the role of embassies abroad.

Bottom line, I personally would prefer ‘no naming and shaming’ until they are convicted but if you are going to do it, then do it for ALL , whether Yoruba, Hausa, Igbo, TIV or Calabar.

Ope Banwo

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