Obamacare: US Disowns Senator Who Blamed Nigerian Fraudsters
The United States government yesterday dissociated itself from a comment credited to Republican Senator Ted Cruz that Nigerian fraudsters were the brains behind the failure of the Obamacare website. This was just as the senator has told LEADERSHIP Sunday that he was misquoted by journalists.
The senator who represents Texas State in the Senate was quoted as saying at the end of a Tea Party in Texas on Monday that fraudsters from Nigeria who majorly operate via electronic mails were responsible for the technical problems which he said had prevented users from registering online for Obamacare.
But reacting on the controversial issue, Mr Will Stevens, the spokesperson at the Department of State, told our correspondent that the Obama-led administration would not have anything to do with Senator Cruz's comments which had referred to Nigerians as fraudsters.
According to the White House official, the US Senate is an independent branch of the US government, and the government would not associate itself or comment on whatever comments that had been attributed to the Republican senator.
When contacted on Friday, Senator Cruz, who, according to the deputy director of his Dallas office, Mr Michael Flusehe, had directed him to speak with our correspondent, said that he was misquoted by the journalists that carried his Monday's comments. He said that he did not have anything personal against Nigerians or Nigeria, adding that he had always known Nigerians as people of high level of integrity.
The Republican senator said that the comments he made 'jokingly' had nothing to do with Nigerians, stressing that he did not refer to Nigerians or citizens of any particular country as the fraudsters behind the problems that the Obamacare website is experiencing.
Asked if he actually thought that Nigerians were behind the problem of the Obamacare, Cruz's aide said: 'No, the senator was not referring to Nigerians as fraudsters but we know that there are e-mail scammers in Nigeria'. He noted that the senator had said he was quoted out of context.
Also, when contacted, a staff of the Republican's office in Washington, DC, who simply introduced herself as Lauien, said that the senator's comment was strictly his own opinion and not the unanimous comment of the party. She stressed further that the Republican Party would not involve itself with the controversial comment. She dropped the line before our correspondent could ask any further question.
In a reaction sent to our correspondent via an electronic mail, Nigeria's ambassador to the US, Professor Adebowale Adefuye, said that Senator Cruz was not aware of the reaction of Nigerians and friends of Nigeria to the controversial statement credited to him.
Adefuye said: 'Our immediate reaction at the Embassy is to assume that he was wrongly quoted and that the statement would be denied. We are however surprised that this has not happened. We have no choice than to assume that the statement was deliberately made by him. For a start, we are shocked that a high-profile senator of a country which is at the forefront in building a peaceful and stable world in which nations and peoples treat each other with mutual respect could be engaged in an act which offends the sensitivities of an important component of his constituency.
'I am sure he is sufficiently familiar with the constructive contributions which Nigerians have made to economic, social and political lives of Texas, especially in the Houston area. Every country has its own share of law breakers. To use the activities of a few as an opportunity to cast aspersions on the integrity of a country and its people is not only unfair but also excessively offensive.
'It is not the practice of any Nigerian diplomatic mission to interfere in the domestic affairs of our host countries. But we will not sit back, fold our arms while a politician assaults the integrity of our country and people in the process of appeasing the base instincts of a few misguided elements in his constituency. The least we can say is that Nigerians feel offended by him. They demand an apology.'
The deputy chief of the Nigerian Mission in Washington, DC, Ambassador B.E. Archibong, told our correspondent that the comments by Senator Cruz was unguarded, noting that the slip of tongue which his comments were regarded to be was least expected of a distinguished serving senator of the United States of America.