Are Nigerians Thieves? A Response to the Greek Ambassador to Nigeria

by Bemgba Nyakuma

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.

Public Indictment:
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.

Final Verdict:
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!

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Alexis February 8, 2010 - 10:22 pm

My Nigerian friends.

I am a Greek from Thessaloniki, Greek Macedonia, too and I am APPALLED at our Ambassador’s wife’s behavior. I am sure that the Nigerian Police did not intervene because of these persons’ diplomatic immunity.

The stupid woman should hand over the watch to the hotel’s concierge and go mingle at the party.

I APOLOGIZE on behalf of my fellow Greeks. There are many racist Greeks, but most Greeks are not like that. Please do not think bad of Greece just because of some stupid Greek woman with an attitude.

I have great respect for your country and its people, the rich art and history from the days of the Yoruba kings; the rich world-class music of Fema Kuti and Sade; the amazing literature of Soyinka, Achebe, Okri, Saro-Wiwa… Please do not think bad of all Greeks. Thank you.

th Savidis October 15, 2009 - 7:50 pm

Dear felows Nigerian.

I as a Greek are very disapointed with the resault that the wife of the ampassador ”call” the Nigeria people. I leeve in Makedonia Greece and ! yes as a Greek know that we have here coruption from people who do not have needs from that, but we Greeks love the african people like we love all peole on the world , with exeption some non educated greeks act with out thinking . we love africa and we love Nigerian people many families leave here, in my city you se on the streets 1000 of nigerian and african person with a back to trade ther product and make some money wich acoording to the news are manny million euro, tthis make many shops to complaine but these people is tsil on the streets,in other countries the treetmen is heavy and stop but here they are steel here , this mean we the problem and accep them , if we are rachist we were not alow them to be in the streets , we se thme every day and we give buy what they sale.We love these nigerians and we suport them . the ampasador make a mistake and i am sure he is looking for merci from the Nigerian people .

Ajede September 13, 2009 - 10:12 am

I am not surprised at all, that the utterance came from a Greek. I have interacted with them before, both mainland Greeks and Cypriotic Greeks; I have even worked with a mainland Greek. My experience with them is that, they are very ‘racist’, incredulous when you tell them good things about Nigeria, an African country where nobody is dying from largescale hunger. They seem to be jealous that Nigerians are well educated and that Nigeria is a country with great potentials.

Neither am I surprised that there was no official protest against that negative characterisation of Nigerians, in Nigeria. Nigerian officials do not care about Nigeria’s well-being; majority of them are cowardly and servile to anybody with white skin and straight hair.

I am also surprised that the Greek woman was not arrested by the police for taking property not belonging to her.

Bemgba Nyakuma August 2, 2009 - 11:28 am

I couldnt agree more, Julius. That explains why I was absolutely furious about the issue. We as a citizens must protect and uphold the pride and honour of beloved nation irrespective of the inherent inadequacies therein. I still await that apology from the Greeks. Grts

Julius August 1, 2009 - 11:12 pm

It is not surprising that the Nigerian government did not react at all, their souls have been sold to corruptions so they can never see anything wrong in this. You can imagine an ambassador doing that here in the US, he or she would probably be on the next flight out of the country.


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