Thursday, October 24, 2013

US senator’s bad joke angers Nigerians

INTERNET PUNCH illustration

Nigerians have expressed their dissatisfaction with the United States lawmaker representing the State of Texas in the American Senate, Ted Cruz, for blaming the glitches plaguing the Obamacare website on Nigerians.
Many Americans had been experiencing error messages and long waits in trying to sign on to, the online insurance portal under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, often called Obamacare, which offers health insurance plans to millions of uninsured US citizens.

Cruz, played a major role in the showdown in Washington over the rollout of Obamacare that resulted in a 16-day shutdown of the American government.

The Senator, who had attempted to defund the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act at a “Welcome Home” speech in Houston, the largest city in the State of Texas, said rather jokingly that President Barrack Obama had hired Nigerian scammers to run the website.

In the video which circulated on YouTube, Cruz said, “I’ve spent the past month in Washington, DC. It is terrific to be back. You may have noticed that all the Nigerian email scammers have become a lot less active lately. They all have been hired to run the Obamacare website which is malfunctioning.”
But many Nigerians are angry with Cruz over the statement and have condemned what they describe as an “expensive joke.”

According to them, Cruz’s statement is not only unguarded and undiplomatic but a “racist” comment.   A YouTube user, Olu Omole, lamented that Cruz should have expressed himself during his speech to his constituents without bruising diplomatic relations. He said the US lawmaker’s statement was an insult to the generality of Nigerians.
Omole said, “Can’t he (Cruz) express himself without insulting others? Some people are just pathetic. Crippling his nation, the US, does he think it’s the best thing to do? If he is angry with Obama winning the last election, then he should face him and not insult Nigeria as a nation.

“This comment is unguarded, irresponsible, undiplomatic, and unethical. What do we say of home grown American terrorists, American criminals alcohol smugglers, scam artists, the pedophiles, serial killers, and, of course, the usual school shooters? Then would it be right to tag Americans as killers and criminals?”
Another enraged YouTube user, Moses Ogbeide, after watching the video, explained that it was regrettable that a member of the upper chamber of the US congress will utter such a fallacious statement.

“Scammers are just everywhere and in the US too. If some kids did it, it doesn’t give you (Cruz) the impetus to malign a whole country. Former President Bush’s invasion of Iraq doesn’t make me call all Americans terrorists.”
Commenting on, an American political journalism portal, a Nigerian with the name Fairlady, also noted that the Republican senator, who has been in office for 10 months since his election last year, goofed for singling out Nigerians in his attempt to get back at Obama.

She said, “I am Nigerian and I am black. I am not an e-mail scammer and I don’t know any Nigerians that are. However, there are Nigerians who are e-mail scammers just as I am certain, there are some American whites and blacks who are e-mail scammers.

“As a matter of fact, there are some people of any nationality that are e-mail scammers. Given this fact, what motivated Ted Cruz to single out Nigerians in his comments on e-mail scammers? Why did he not refer to e-mail scammers in general, regardless of nationality?

“There is no need for name calling; the level of intelligence of a good leader is apparent in his/her public discourse and in his/her interactions with people of like and unlike minds, similar or dissimilar ideologies. There is a huge difference between a church goer and a true Christian.”
However, some Nigerians who may have also been slighted with the senator’s comment said the development should be a wakeup call for Nigerians and its leaders to set the necessary machinery in motion to build a good name for the country.

One of such commentators, Red River, on popular online forum,, argued, “If you are outside of Nigeria, the vibe that we as Nigerians send to the rest of the world is that we are scammers, kidnappers, corrupt elements and bombers. Of course, we got millions and millions and quadrillions of so many great sides to our great nation.

“So if an American decides to see only a few negatives in us, just ask yourself: Is he making those stories up or is he correct? He reads more stories of Boko Haram than he reads of Chinua Achebe’s successes, he gets more CIA report on how many plane crashes in Nigeria than he reads that the best graduating student from Stanford University is a Nigerian.”

Culled from Punch

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