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1.1 Background information
The positive perception of a country‟s image is an important standard for judging her standing in the international community. A good image translates to respect, influence and prestige. To ensure that this respect is accorded to any country, governments initiate policies that would ensure economic growth, reduction in unemployment and improvement in the quality of life of the citizens. While, a bad or negative perception of a country‟s image indicates that such a country lacks respect, influence and prestige in the international community. The factors that can determine a nation‟s image (for good or bad) can be both internal and external. Internally, a succession of regimes of bad policies and practice can lead to this. Externally, it could be through participation in foreign military and humanitarian missions (Egwemi, 2010; Adeleye, 2009). An image problem usually occurs when there are both internal and external factors that sway the pendulum towards a bad/negative image. Whatever the source of an image problem. Many countries would to do all that is possible to overcome such an image.
In Nigeria, since the inception of the present democratic rule in 1999, the country had been struggling with image problems. These problems range from corruption in high places like bribing of highly placed officials before one can secure a job, start a business and run it peacefully, lack of transparency, fraud, electoral manipulations, political assassination and others. This situation has been so aggravated by the activities of Nigerians who have taken to crime such as cyber crime, 419 and these people operate in all the sectors of the country‟s economy. This situation is captured by Ishiekwene (2004:1) when he notes that:
Those of us living in the western world, Europe and America in particularly, would testify to the humiliation and embarrassment suffered daily in the hands of bankers, potential employers and even ordinary neighbors because they have Nigeria links. And it is not only the whites that
stigmatize Nigerians, even Africans, including Ghanaians, Cameroonians, South Africans , Zimbabweans and a host of our surrounding neighbors in west African look on Nigerians as crooks, liars, thieves, drug pushers, 419 – kidnappers, assassins and social miscreants of various shades.
Really, Nigeria has many large numbers of criminals giving the country a bad name across the globe. We seem to be in a hurry to make money and for many Nigerians, the money must be made at all cost and through any means. Even those elected into positions of trust, amass wealth by stealing from government coffers mindlessly by using many crooked means, such as falsification of contract papers, initiation of jumbo projects, and outright conversion of government money to their private use.
This situation is not helped by a growing level of poverty, which has now debased most Nigerians. There is too much poverty, unemployment and underemployment in Nigeria. At the face of these developments, various governments including the present government now embarked upon programs to help improve the image of the country, such as the N600 Million Naira image laundering program of the Obasanjo regime, the creation of EFCC, the re-branding programs and the heart of African project the splashing $1.2 million on a U.S public Relations and lobby firm, Levick, to help change international and local media narrative”.
In 2013, the Federal government as reported in Premium Times paid flesh man – Hilliard inc. $ 60.000 to help arrange interviews with foreign channels including CNN. . These programs were initiated by these different governments to help improve the image of the country in spite of the worsening un-employment problem which has worsened the crime situation in the country. This study therefore, intends to investigate the effect of unemployment to the realization of the image laundering project of the Nigerian government.
1.2 Statement of Problem
Since the commencement of this democratic era in 1999, a very big problem that has confronted the country remains the problem of tarnished image of the country. This problem of negative image developed as a result of the involvement of Nigerians in the perpetration of crimes such as cyber fraud, 419 activities (obtaining by tricks), money laundry, kidnapping, assassinations, armed robbery and the monumental corruption perpetrated by government officials. Due to the effect of these problems of poor image; Nigeria which should be a model for the rest of Africa has lost its pride of place because countries like Ghana which seem to have taken the initiative are occupying the front row and have left the back bench for Nigeria.
Also, Obama‟s non recognition of Nigeria during the administration of Yar‟Adua and the non-invitation of Nigeria to attend the G20 summit in London in 2009 (Ameru 2009, Nigerian compass, 2009; Akuta, 2009).
This image problem is also covered by the level of unemployment in the country necessitated by the high rate of corruption and government‟s poor policies. To address this image problem, the various governments from 2006-2015 initiated various image laundering projects such as the „‟re-branding project‟‟, the spending of N600 Million Naira by the Obasanjo regime in image laundering, “Heart of Africa Project‟ and the. Splashing $1.2 million on a U.S public Relations and lobby firm, Levick, to help change international and local media narrative”.
In 2013, the Federal government as reported in Premium Times paid flesh man – Hilliard inc. $ 60.000 to help arrange interviews with foreign channels including CNN. These projects have gulped Billions of naira, and at home, unemployment which is the main root why crime in the country has worsened. This study therefore, intends to investigate the effect of un-employment on the image laundering projects of various governments in Nigeria.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
This study aims at assessing the influence of un-employment on the international
image of Nigeria, vis-a-vis Nigeria‟s image laundering projects (2006-2015). Other
(1) To determine the various types of unemployed induced crimes involved into by
Nigeriansthat have negatively influenced the country‟s image.
To critically examine the extent unemployment has affected
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