by Stanley Azuakola
The government of Nigeria is offended by remarks made by a US senator from Texas, Ted Cruz, who said during a recent homecoming event in his state that the Obama administration’s health care exchange website which is having hiccups and being widely criticised, was built by “Nigerian email scammers.”
His exact words were: “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.”
In a reaction, Nigeria’s ambassador to the United States, Ade Adefuye told American media outlet, Politico, that Nigerians are “disappointed and shocked” by Cruz’s comments. He said that Nigerians “deplore the statement, and we demand an apology, and we demand it be withdrawn.”
The remark by Cruz was also condemned by another US lawmaker, Rep. Matt Cartwright (D-Pa.) who said Cruz made them because they appeal to a “backward” part of Cruz’s base that believes the president is from Africa.
Nigeria’s ambassador said, “It is unfair of any senator to essentially use citizens that are law abiding, to use Nigerians as cannon fodder. We recognize that we have efforts on the part of Sen. Cruz to appeal to some animus in his domestic base. In the course of doing that, to allow him to ridicule a country and its citizens is completely over the top. He should not denigrate Nigerians in order to appease these domestic constituents.”
Speaking further, Adefuye said that it was “a joke that went too far.” He therefore demanded an apology from Cruz.
“Many people from Nigeria are making meaningful contributions to American society, and Nigerians are very law abiding and making contributions to their host community,” Adefuye said.
A spokeswoman for Cruz said the comments were made in jest and were not intended to impugn Nigerians as a people.
“The senator meant no offense. He was making a joke based on the official term of a commonly utilized type of scam, referenced often by the FBI, security firms and various news sites,” Catherine Frazier said.
The FBI identifies “Nigerian letter fraud” on its website describing common fraud schemes, saying it involves a letter sent from Nigeria offering to share profits if the recipient helps a self-proclaimed government official transfer funds out of the country.