The Identity Guard Commercial and Nigeria’s Image

by Bayo Olupohunda

There seems to be no end in sight to the battered image Nigeria has suffered internationally with the release of another stereotype commercial in United States targeting our country’s infamous advanced fee fraud industry known as 419. The present commercials play on Nigeria’s perceived international reputation as scammers’ haven.

The commercial, released by Identity Guard, a United States Company safeguarding internet users in the US against online identity theft and currently playing on CBS, a frontline US television broadcast is also being circulated on the internet especially on You tube and other television network.

Here is the scenario: The commercial begins with a lady, supposedly from the US state of California, placing an online order for Houte Sandals. The commercial then proceeds to Lagos, Nigeria where it shows apparently a Nigerian man (and potential 419 fraudster?) reading “New Activity” online detailing the lady’s order, contact details, and credit card information.

This man then hands off the details on paper to a boy who then runs quickly to hand off the paper to another man who goes on to “process” the details. The whole time, the video is obviously playing on the image of the stereotypical 419 fraudster from Nigeria.

This latest assault on our already battered image could also be considered a blow on the government rebranding campaign and is coming on the heels of the Neill Blomkamp movie District 9 which shows Nigerian prostitutes dating alien customers and the gang leader Obasanjo (the name of our former President) trying to cut off and eat the arm of the film’s protagonist.

District 9 expectedly drew the ire of Nigerians and the Federal Government banned the movie and labeled it racist. Already Sony Pictures Entertainment has apologised for its involvement in the movie release after the harm has been done on Nigeria’s image. It is not clear what the reaction of the Nigerian government would be to this present Identity Guard commercials currently the rave on TV across US and the internet.

With the release of this new Identity Guard commercial, it seemed there is no end in sight to the continued image battering blitz from international media corporations, companies and individual feasting on the reputation of Nigeria as a major fraud destination and hurting Nigerians at home and in the Diaspora It is a pity that the activities of a minority who major in swindling unsuspecting and greedy foreigners have led us into this sorry pass.

The truth is that hardworking and honest Nigerians are hurt and deeply pained by these “Nigeria battering” that never seem to stop. Everyday, tales of Nigerians being humiliated and striped in various international airports and border post drives home the truth that something has to be done about our country’s image abroad and at home.

But the fact is that what needs to be done is not the type of image laundering that is being wrongly spearheaded by our Minister of Information Professor Dora Akunyuli. The present rebranding campaign has failed and will not stem the tide of the international battering of Nigeria’s image.

This rebranding campaign is a huge distraction to the real solutions that need to put our country on the path of good governance which is presently lacking. Professor Dora Akunyuli is rebranding a country with broken infrastructures, a country that is one of the most willfully corrupt in the world. It needs not be emphasized that even ordinary Nigerians at home perceive the country’s leadership as equally corrupt.

This is a country where leaders deliberately plunder the country’s resources without recourse to ordinary citizens. Professor Akunyuli is rebranding a country based on a warped Federal System. How can we rebrand a country where the State House in Abuja is run on generator?

Nigeria has been without a president running to a month now and a faceless cabal is presently running things. Only recently, the Guardian Newspaper reported that the country is said to be the but of comedian jokes in international engagements. Professor Dora Akunyuli should save herself this shadow chasing and engage her colleagues in the task of rescuing this country in its journey to perfidy.

What is needed is an urgent need to fix this country. Needless to say that Nigeria is ranked amongst the poorest in the world despite our human and material resources. Corruption still thrives in this country. All the indicted officials in the last administration including former governors are still walking free of the law.

It won’t be long for Nigerians to learn of the massive corruption currently going on long after this administration completes its term. These are bad times for ordinary Nigerians, and it has always been worse in the last two decades where Nigerians have suffered untold hardship in the hands of visionless and corrupt leaders.

What do we expect outsiders to do? Foreigners live in this country and they know nothing works. The 6,000 mega watts of electricity promised Nigerians this December is now a mirage. Do Nigerians also need a soothsayer to predict that the Vision 20-2020 is also what it is, a promise? And in our country, promises to citizens are never fulfilled.

In spite of the efforts of EFCC, scores of 419 mails are received daily by victims in other countries cementing Nigeria’s image as the source of these spam mails. It is difficult to transact any form of activities online as an honest Nigerian. Online payment cards are not accepted if the source is from Nigeria. Online enquiries for opportunities are ignored or blocked once they know the source is from Nigeria. Yet the PDP government boasts it wants to be in power for a next century. How low can a country sink?

The continued international damage to our country’s image will never stop unless we put our house in order and the present leaders commit themselves to good governance which will address the root cause of this negative image. Now it is the Identity Guard advert now making waves internationally further sinking our already battered image, whence comes another?

You may also like

1 comment

daga December 26, 2009 - 7:47 pm

We have to stop asking why and instead how… There are no Nigerian ‘leaders’ running the place. We keep assuming that such people are making a mistake in running the country into the ground. Have we stopped to think that MAYBE THAT IS THEIR VERY INTENT. TO RUIN THE PLACE IRREVOCABLY AS LONG AS THEY ARE IN POWER. It’s time we stopped looking upward for change and becoming the change ourselves. We can wait until Nigeria’s resources have completely dried up and all the wealth looted and things will just go from worse to irretrievable…

Only until we are ready for a revolution and making it happen will we bring about the change that we keep hopelessly hoping for…

Madness is repeating the same behaviour and expecting a different result each time…


Leave a Comment