I am an experienced Social Media practitioner with a strong passion for connecting with customers of brands. As part of a team, I presently work on the social media account of a leading European auto company. On this job, I have brought my vast experiences in journalism, marketing, search engine optimisation and branding to play.
By Morak Babajide-Alabi
It is safe to say that Nigeria is always in the global news. Being in the global spotlight should be a good thing, at least, that means someone somewhere in the country is doing something (right). But often this is not the case.
However, we Nigerians have been “writing” the content of the news stories aired or published in the western media. Unfortunately the news stories we as are “wiring out” are not impressive at all. Therefore being in the news do not mean there has been any positive development.
THE DOCTORS SENT IN THEIR REPORTS
It’s been a while that any good news about Nigeria has featured in the Western media. The only memorable “positive” news about the country in 2014 was when Nigeria was declared Ebola free. Even with this, a section of the Western media was still cautious of its reporting, instead “played safe” and focussed on the collapsing health system in Nigeria, especially the Doctors’ strike at the height of the Ebola scare. In this wise, the striking medical doctors wrote a perfect story for the international media.
NO BLAME PLEASE
No one can blame the Western media. We need to look inwards and reappraise ourselves. In doing this, we tend to ask, has there really been any news coming from Nigeria worth celebrating? I doubt very much. This is why we have to understand the plight of the Western media when they struggle to report Nigeria. You cannot blame them when they report lack of stable electricity, poor road network, falling educational standards or insecurity in the country. These are what their “on the ground staff” are witnessing and reporting. And these are the stories we Nigerians and the government are “filing in” for them.
MADE IN THAILAND
Towards the end of this year, 2014, a new wave of international reporting pushed Nigeria up in the news level, at least on the social media. There was “breaking news” from Thailand, written, reported and acted by Nigerians.
I bring to you “News of Nigerians in Thailand”. Warning: The actors (and actresses) in the clips are Nigerians like you, who decided to “sacrifice themselves” on a platter of “death” via execution for drug trafficking in a country that has zero tolerance towards drugs.
I bet you have seen one of these video clips I am trying to describe here. There seem to be some sort of coordinated releases of these clips from Thailand on social media networks in recent times.
If you have been so preoccupied and have not seen the video clips, please do yourself a favour and book a “box office ticket” to them on YouTube or Facebook.
The settings are the same – a dingy police interrogation room, one or two Nigerians on spotlight, shadows of Thailand police officers and a video camera with a flashlight on the faces of these “actors”. There is no introduction, rather it is straight to business.
I must state here that there has been no media coverage of Nigeria that equals these video clips. The actors are real Nigerians who tell their stories by themselves. And in doing this they show how desperate some of us have become in the face of unemployment or opportunities back at home.
These video clips show Nigerians arrested for drug trafficking, who despite their knowledge of the death penalty for drug trafficking in this country still risk their lives to “hawk the stuff”. The clips are painful to watch as the arrested Nigerian criminals crumble under interrogations. It is more painful watching them trying to justify their involvement in the drug business. They struggle through their sentences in thick Nigerian accent. Some beg for mercy while some with straight faces lie through their ordeal.
SHAME OF CRIMINAL MINDED CITIZENS
A 419 Nigerian pastor was featured in one of the clips, visibly and audibly trying to pull the wools over his interrogators’ eyes. Every time this guy was caught out in his lie, he quoted copiously from the Bible to support his lie.
This disgrace is further accelerated by the booming voices of the Thailand police interrogators. They shout at these criminals, trying to put the fear of the law into their hearts. The officers, making no effort to hide their hatred of Nigerians (maybe for their criminal activities) ask in grandstanding styles what part of Nigeria these criminals are from. It is obvious the Thai officers have very good knowledge of the geography of Nigeria. Maybe from experience, they have a belief that it is citizens from a particular tribe in Nigeria that is giving them the greatest headache in drug trafficking and 419 business.
The point here is the disgraceful act of these Nigerians who have put a general condemnation “curse” on every Nigerian living in or visiting the country. No matter how educated you are or your area of competence, as long as you are a Nigerian in Thailand you are regarded as a potential criminal, drug trafficker and a scam artist. To shake this tag away takes a lot of explanation and personal uprightness.
It is not only in Thailand that a citizen’s pride as a Nigerian is curtailed. There are many more countries all over the world where these set of hard core Nigerian criminals have rubbished their countrymen. From downtown Soweto to the affluent part of Accra or the streets of New York City there are Nigerians who have little or no regard for the country’s pride.
These latest wave of video clips from Thailand calls for intervention from our government. There is need for education for young Nigerians who risk their lives by trafficking drugs in these no drug tolerance countries.
Do we still wonder why the western media reports us negatively? We write the stories for them.