Nigeria: Celebrating 419 Reasons to Like Nigeria

Nigeria marked 51 years as an independent sovereign state on October 1, 2011. At 12 midnight on October 1, 1960, the sun of British imperialism faded and the dawn of a new moon, destined to radiate over the African continent and the world emerged.

419 Reasons to love Nigeria

However, half a century after a metastasis has almost distorted the identity of Nigeria and Nigerians. The advance fee fraud or 419 (the number “419″ refers to the article of the Nigerian Criminal Code dealing with fraud) according to @feathersproject:

Is a label that many Nigerians would wish not to be identified with. Unfortunately, the tag of fraud seems to be the ‘definition’ of Nigerians and Nigeria. From a clutch of a few clowns who yarn up fantasies about funds: luring the similar minded to bait by advancing some money to make more money.

Nonetheless, the 419 Positive Project, created by Rosemary Ajayi (@rmajayi) is determined to clean up this smear on Nigeria:

If you could tell the world one remarkable thing about Nigerians or Nigeria, what would it be? The 419Positive Project invites Nigerians and friends of Nigeria to Say Something Positive… in an ambitious search for four hundred & nineteen positive attributes of Nigerians and Nigeria. We're also embarking on a journey across Nigeria; to document a selection of attributes in words, pictures & on video.

Peter J Reilly attests that fraud has no nationality and is therefore preposterous to stereotype an entire country because of the misdeeds of a few:

The case stuck with me and when I thoughtlessly insulted Nigeria, I realized that is what I could use it to apologize. I came up with the rather pithy phrase “Fraud has no nationality.”  Now as noted in some other places I am not the first person to remark on the similarity of the advance fee scams to the classic Spanish prisoner fraud.  And I have even read that the derivation of the advance fee scam might have nothing to do with the Spanish prisoner or possibly like the synoptic gospels they might both derive from some even more ancient common source.  Nonetheless Nigerians have been suffering from the fallacy of the undistributed middle.

And already the project is getting a great deal of support. Some of the Nigeria’s best are championing this call:

@Chude – You push a Nigerian to the wall, he’ll break through that wall and find a way. It is a positive trait. It is the trait that will eventually redeem us, if only we can channel it right.

@gbengasesan – I have travelled across Nigeria, and met Nigerians around the world and I have noticed a kind of ‘Nigerian energy’ about them — the ability to get things done under unbelievable circumstances. It may be related to the challenges they have had to endure, but no one can deny the fact that when a Nigerian sets their mind on a goal, little can discourage them.

@OkeyNdibe – Joy, that’s the one word I associate with Nigerians. Not happiness, joy (for happiness is a tad different). Life in Nigeria could be bleak, challenging but Nigerians never surrender their sense of joy, their resonant laughter, and that boisterous spirit that announces: Tomorrow is pregnant, better than today. lists some other entries as follows:

Nigeria – Unity in Diversity

401. Our togetherness is legendary. With over four hundred tribes, yet we remain united and even merge into one through the beauty called marriage…

Nigeria – Tourism and Sports

380. Nigeria is an amazing tourist haven. The beaches along the Lagos, Port Harcourt and Akwa Ibom coast lines, the cattle ranch at Obudu, the water falls at Gurara, and the high peaked Shere hills in the Jos Plateau, are proof enough…

Nigeria – The Resilient Spirit

321. A Nigerian is a go-getter and makes the best out of every opportunity that comes knocking. Leave a Nigerian in the desert and he will find a way home…

Nigeria – The Music, The Movies, The Dance, The Art

117. Entertainment is the heart of the Nigerian culture. We boast the funniest and most hilarious entertainers in Africa. Tired from a long working week, a Nigerian entertainment/comedy show will crack you up, relaxing every nerve…

It has not been all rosy for @rmajayi:

… Twice now I've received death threats for ‘promoting’ 419. Time will tell!

Nonetheless going by the support from Nigerian bloggers, the 419 Positive Project is worth all the trouble. Besides, these words of the grandfather of Nigeria letters, Chinua Achebe should serve as one more reason never to give up:

Before I am accused of prescribing a way in which a writer should write, let me say that I do think decency and civilization would insist that the writer takes sides with the powerless. Clearly there’s no moral obligation, I think, to ally oneself with power against the powerless. I think an artist, in my definition of that word, would not be someone who takes side with the emperor against his powerless subjects. – Chinua Achebe (2008), Foreword in Richard Dowden’s Africa: Altered States, Ordinary Miracles).


Join the conversation

Authors, please log in »


  • All comments are reviewed by a moderator. Do not submit your comment more than once or it may be identified as spam.
  • Please treat others with respect. Comments containing hate speech, obscenity, and personal attacks will not be approved.