By Olawale Olaleye
Seeing a video of one of the suspects in what has been described as America’s biggest fraud case at a baby shower, it was clear to me that no one who works hard would spend in that manner, not even Alhaji Aliko Dangote. It must either be stolen or cheap money.
The unfortunate thing, however, is that we are all being tarred with the same brush of fraud and indecency. It is that bad now.
Two weeks ago, at the US border in Toronto, going to Atlanta to connect to Newark in New Jersey, I was stopped for over one hour and subjected to a thorough search by the immigration officers.
With the look he gave me the moment I appeared before him, I knew I was in for a long one, although nothing to fret about. The questions were nearly endless and the demeanour was subtly unfriendly. Strictly professional!
The moment he demanded to know where and where I had been and where I was heading from there and I told him, his countenance changed the more, gazing at me in a “koikoi way”. I guess it was the point he resolved to put me through a rigorous search.
“From Nigeria to London, Paris, Greece, London, Atlanta, Toronto, New Jersey, London and back home”, I said, hoping that with that itinerary and the profile of a well travelled journalist as evidenced in my passport, I would be viewed differently. I was wrong.
That only elicited more suspicions especially, when he further demanded to know how much I’d put into ticketing. Not just that, the fact that I didn’t stay for more than two days everywhere I went stunned him and decided to seriously check me out, perhaps, thinking ‘these yahoo boys have come again’.
Apart from passing me from officer to officer, they recalled my checked-in bags and taken to a TSA corner, because everyone with the Nigerian passport is a fraud, supposedly. No thanks to these folks of ours.
I eventually missed my connecting flight from Atlanta to Newark for being a diligent Nigerian reporter? I waited another two hours to be put on the next flight in Atlanta.
This is so unfair and nothing, no matter how bad the country or leadership is, can justify this nonsense by these lazy fools, who delight in seeing others in pain. It is shameful and utterly disgraceful.
Therefore, do not get it twisted. You too should be worried, because we are all being tarred with the fraud brush and this is not an ethnic engagement. Every ethnic stock in Nigeria has such bad eggs.
This is why in the sight of other nationals around the world, an average Nigerian has that tendency hence we must be united against acts that bring us collective shame and horrible stereotypes.
Olaleye, a journalist wrote in from Lagos.