BUHARI SAID: “Some Nigerians claim that life is too difficult back home, but then again some Nigerians have also made it difficult for Europeans and Americans to accept them because of the number of Nigerians in different prisons all over the world accused of drug trafficking or human trafficking. I don’t think Nigerians have anybody to blame. They can remain at home. Their services are required to rebuild the country. If their countrymen misbehaved, the best thing for them is to stay at home and encourage the credibility of the nation.”
WHAT I WISH BUHARI SAID: “Yes, Colin, it is legitimate for them to do so; as legitimate as it was for a number of Britons to use the Atlantic route to come to West Africa 400 years ago claiming to be bringing civilization. I think what human history shows is that people – Nigerian or British, black or white – tend to go, borders or no borders, wherever they feel life would be better, hence, once upon a time, the UK itself exported a mass of migrants to places like America and Australia. How legitimate was the treatment meted to the original inhabitants of these places so your own settlers could be accommodated? In our case, our settlers are arriving at your shores, not with guns and chicken pox, but with a genuine desire to live in peace with you, to work hard and contribute to the development of your society. This is not something I thing should be wantonly criminalized in a world that claims to be modern and humane. Now, this is not to say that we, on the other side, are standing at our borders, gleefully herding our citizens into rickety dingies heading for Europe. No. But neither is our vision of the modern world that of a collection of prison states, where the role of African governments is to act as wardens, whose primarily responsibility is to keep their wards out of Europe.”
(2) Do you think that Nigerians have an image problem abroad?
BUHARI SAID: Certainly. But we are on our way to salvage that. We will encourage our countrymen to stay at home, work hard and make a respectable living at home.”
WHAT I WISH BUHARI SAID: “I think Nigerians are a creative, resourceful and highly energetic people, and a day and a night in any Nigerian city, Colin, I am certain will prove this to you. But unfortunately there are these negative stereotypes of Nigerians that the West seems to have grown quite fond of. But my government is committed to working hard to remind the world that Nigeria is also the country that gave it Chinua Achebe, Wole Soyinka, Fela Kuti, Jay Jay Okocha and your very own Chuka Ummuna. And, believe me, there are a lot more where those came from. So, tell me, is it too hard to ask you to judge us for the care workers and dentists, the athletes and teachers that are getting up every day, going to work and contributing their quota – alongside the many upstanding members of other nationalities – to keep multi-cultural cities like London ticking?”