Thursday, October 24, 2013

US Senator Apologises For 419 Jibe At Nigerians

United States Senator Ted Cruz on Thursday said he did not mean to offend Nigerians when he took a jibe at the technical glitches being experienced by the website of a new US healthcare law commonly known as Obamacare.

During an appearance in his home state of Texas this week, the Republican Party lawmaker referenced what he called "Nigerian e-mail scammers."

Senator Cruz was speaking about technical glitches on a new US government website that have prevented Americans from buying health insurance under the Affordable Health Care Act, or Obamacare.

Cruz, who has voiced opposition to the measure, jokingly said, "You know the Nigerian e-mail scammers? They have been a lot less active lately because they have all been hired to run the Obamacare web site."

His comments stirred outrage among Nigerians and some political commentators across the world, as they demanded an apology from the controversial senator.

The Texas-based KTRK broadcast station reports that a spokesman for Senator Cruz reacted, saying: "The senator was making a joke based on the official term of a commonly utilised type of scam. He meant no offence."

The Nigerian embassy in Washington has called Cruz's remarks "unguided."

In a statement, the Deputy Chief of Mission, Ambassador B.E. Archibong, said the embassy views the comments as a "very expensive joke that was taken too far," VOA reports.

Senator Cruz's comments have also been criticized by the Nigerian-American Leadership Council.
In a VOA interview, Executive Director Sam Okey Mbonu said Cruz should issue a "clarification."
"It is certainly not the most responsible statement from a United States senator," he said.

"We believe that partisanship has its limits and one does not establish credibility on a national platform by running down a section of the American community."

Okey Mbonu said some Nigerian Americans would consider the joke offensive.

"It is certainly insensitive," he said.

"For a senator who perhaps has some medium-term plans for being in the public for a long period of time, we think that those kinds of comments should be well thought out."

Pastor Felix Awotula with Redeemed Christian Church of God says he fielded calls at his church throughout the day.

"I'm not too sure of the motive behind that. But anyway, the statement has been made, and it has a devastating effect in the mind of Nigerians because we don't want to identify the country with anything negative. I'm not saying all Nigerians are perfect," Awotula said.

A commentator, Dallas Jones, with Elite Change, Inc, said: "That type of dialogue is inflammatory. I think it is one that will divide us, as opposed to unite us, and I think that's what the country wants right now; they want to be united, they want real leadership that's not going to be culturally insensitive."

Some viewers say they've contacted the senator's office, asking for an apology.

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