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BUHARI'S COMMENT: My Perspective. By Victor Oladokun

As a young graduate student in the United States, I remember the words of a Vice President who interviewed me for a prospective job. The memory of the words he spoke 27 years ago, still remain today. In a passing comment he remarked, "All Nigerians are crooks!" I was stunned and almost leapt out of my chair. My gut instinct was to offer him a few choice words, especially considering that he was from a Latin American country with a not-too-palatable reputation. But my head said, "stay calm, you need the job!"
This was just one of many indignities myself and millions of other Nigerians in the Diaspora have had to stomach as a result of massive corruption back home and the objectionable character of a few bad eggs who continue to blight the country's image. The reality though is that in every sphere - academia, science, medicine, media, business, government, sports, entertainment, and faith, there are an incredible number of great Nigerian brand ambassadors. Sadly, the actions of the few bad eggs tend to drown out the voices of the many who represent well.
Reading PMB's comments in the UK's Telegraph struck a raw nerve with Nigerians, and it has nothing to do with politics. The thinking I guess is that foreigners can be excused for making offhand negative comments. You hear them and you simply go - "No be your fault, na condition make crayfish bend." But when words that can easily be misconstrued are spoken by your President in a foreign nation, then the nerve that is struck gets rawer still.
The blogosphere has been on fire the last 24-hours. Many for whatever reasons have not taken kindly to President Buhari's not-too-nuanced response.
On balance, I know President Buhari means well. At his age, he is not going to steal. His antecedents tell us so. He desperately wants to clean up the cankerworm of corruption that has eaten deep into the fabric of Nigerian society. And he genuinely believes Nigeria can be better. For this,  I commend him.
I trust and hope that the President and his media team have learnt valuable lessons about the viral nature of modern media; the need to accentuate our greatest assets and diplomatically deflect questions from journalists that reinforce negative perceptions about Nigeria/Nigerians; and the pressing need to be THE Brand Ambassador of the new Nigeria we all want to see emerge.
Words are a powerful creative spiritual force. They heal. They destroy. They bring death. And they breath life and hope. As leaders, we must choose our words well.
I wish President Buhari success in all his future endeavors. I also pray for the emancipation of millions of Nigerians who wallow under the scourge of poverty and corruption.
God bless Nigeria!

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