This was originally published on forbes.com on September 5, 2011
The Tax Connection
There is a lot of wisdom in the body of original source tax material. I dredged up a case from 1952, when I was just born and dinosaurs roamed the earth, to show that so-called Nigerian 419 scams were ancient even then, being a variation on a scam known as the "Spanish Prisoner". That led to several pieces. The whole thing as it relates to this blog is summarized here. For the final piece I have invited Chika Uwazie, who did a video response to Fraud Has No Nationality. I came up with 150,000 reasons to like Nigeria without even counting Chika, but she should be on my list too. I think Dr. Muncie, who was the victim of what would have been called the Mexican 386 Fraud, if the internet service in Mexico had been better in 1947 and the scammers hadn't had to use snail-mail, has done enough. I'm supposed to be blogging about taxes for Forbes so I am moving further discussion of the good name of Nigeria to my bizzarro blog.
Enough about me. Here is what Ms. Uwazie has to say:
I am Nigerian
When someone mentions Nigeria, what words automatically pop into mind? As a Nigerian, it is frustrating that when I Google search “Nigeria and money” Google instant graciously completes my search terms with “laundering” before i can type the letter “m”. Apparently, it is not uncommon to see the word “Nigerian” associated with the words “corruption”, “scandal”, or “scam”. These associations between these practices and Nigerians are at best and completely unrepresentative of the true nature of Nigerians. Today, I want these words to become but fleeting thoughts as I reveal the unadulterated truth about the Nigerian people.
We are represented in all facets of life. How can we forget people like Fela, who used art and music to tastefully fight for Nigerian rights? Then there is Chimamanda Adichie a young talented writer that paints the true beauty of Nigeria through her pen. We have savvy business men such as the likes of Adebayo Ogunlesi who bought one of the busiest airpots, the London Gatwick airport. Our ingenuity has turned simple home videos into the thriving industry known as Nollywood. Nollywood has captured the hearts of viewers all over the world and is now worth an estimated 250 million dollars. It has joined the ranks of Hollywood and its films have become some of the most distributed in the world. These instances are only snippets of the creativity and innovation produced in my country, Nigeria.
Despite an uncertain economy, corrupt political leaders, and high prevalence of poverty, Nigeria is the home of a generally content population. According to a gallup poll among 53 countries, Nigeria rated 70 points for optimism. The hope that instilled in us for a better tomorrow pushes us to get through today. We work hard to get more out of life. No matter where you are from or where you may rank in the societal ladder, we all share the same mindset. We envision ourselves at the top, and the work we do for to improve ourselves every day in our developing nation inches each of us that most closer to the peak of our individual potentials. Recently, as I was driving through the crowded streets of Victoria Island, I encountered a young man selling magazines. As I declined his offer, I observed his tattered disposition in the heat of the Lagos sun as he moved to the next patron. Many would look at his poverty with sadness, but I was uplifted by his entrepreneurial spirit in a land where there is a dearth of opportunities. I was practically in the midst of an entrepreneurial convention. On the streets of Lagos, there are people selling everything from food, to magazines, even watches. In the markets at Yaba you will witness hundreds of women with barely with a sewing machine ready to cater to your tailoring needs. In Ikeja, we even have our own Silicon Valley called Computer village, where people are selling the latest software, computer gadgets or IT needs. Did you know that 67% of Nigerians have thought of starting a business and 45% of them have said to have started one? In a country of 154.7 million people, that is a lot of opportunities created for individual progress.
There is a certain type of energy that runs through the blood of a Nigerian that gives them ambition to persevere. Nigeria has it challenges, but what country doesn’t? We are some of the hardiest of individuals, and as our country continues to change by force or otherwise, we will adapt to it. When it comes to Nigeria, let us look past the few negatively biased stories and focus on the truth. We are a nation of people collectively moving forward, and I am proud to be one of them.