BBC Africa have asked other Africans and people from all around the globe to say what comes to their mind immediately after they hear about Nigeria. Legit.ng has gone through thousands of comments and emerged with the overall picture of how our country is being perceived in the world.
A lot of Nigerians commented on how much they love their country and are proud of it. Multiple observers from foreign countries also professed their fondness of Nigeria. They said its sheer size, thousands of years of culture and traditions, human and national resources, language diversity all make Nigeria a unique country. Nigerians are described as warm-hearted, hard-working, hospitable and resilient not deterred by whatever challenges they are facing, and many believe it will further grow and develop.
The overwhelming majority of non-Nigerian respondents, however, shared a very different view of Nigeria.
To many, recent news of Nigeria's economy surpassing that of South Africa's and becoming the "leader" on the continent means absolutely nothing since average Nigerians still have to survive on just a few dollars a day.
"The first things that come to my mind when I hear Nigeria are fraud, forgery, fighting and extremism. I am sorry, I know there are nice people in Nigeria, but that's a larger picture we (that live outside Nigeria) are given by most Nigerians we meet, and the Nigerian news stories," one respondent said.
"Most of Nigerians whom I met have painted a very bad picture of their country, and news coming out of Nigeria everyday sound like the country is at war," added the other.
The opinions below perfectly reflect the general view of hundreds of respondents on the prospect of Nigeria emerging as Africa’s leader:
"You couldn't possibly pay me enough to live in Nigeria. Much of society there is verging on evil: witchcraft, anti-gay laws, Islamist insurgency, a large and constant source of (Internet) fraud, obscene wealth next to mass extreme poverty. The fact that it's even a candidate for leadership position says more about the hopeless state of the rest than it does about Nigeria's leadership qualities."
"Lead Africa? Where to? Billions upon billions of dollars disappear every month and they still beg. Their reputation travels ahead of them all over the world. To have that reputation and be the most corrupt nation in Africa is an incredible achievement. True leaders."
"Having done business in Nigeria many, many time, I can say a clear NO. Corruption is endemic at all levels. The security situation, especially in the Delta Region, is very poor. Until those two matters are addressed, it will never prosper."
Some mocked Nigerians at being notorious for scamming and defrauding unsuspecting foreigners:
"Don't forget the rule number one: Whenever you're with a Nigerian, never tell them your email address. Otherwise 10,000 new mails will pop in the next day with the common message of 'I am the daughter of the late chief blah blah who left his fortune in a Swiss a/c, please help me retrieve the money using your bank a/c .'"
"Every kind of phishing, credit, card and other online fraud originates in Nigeria, yet their government does nothing to prevent it. Why should they when it is lining their corrupt pockets? The Army is underfunded with obsolete weaponry and terrible pay. They are too demoralized to tackle Boko Haram. If the military are not receiving the money who is? "Goodwil" and his corrupt cronies of, course."
A commentator from Kenya had this to say: "I know Nigeria is battling Boko Haram, corruption, bad governance, etc. Here in Kenya, we are battling with Al-Shabaab, corruption, bad leadership, endure ethnic violence, etc. But it's still ironical how the two countries are somehow doing well economically in Africa!"
Here's what our fellow African from Botswana has to say: "The first thing that comes to my mind is crooks. In Botswana, security agents deport them every day."
"A country full of fake prophets," one commenter said. "Terrorism, corruption are on the increase. I wish I could remove these countries off the map of Africa: Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Egypt, Somalia, Kenya, CAR and Congo D. R."
Many say any African country would be capable of "leading" the continent, citing Nigeria's ethnic and religious differences as the main obstacle to union and understanding. Leaders "like Mugabe, Idi Amin, or Taylor" also drag Africa down, preventing it from developing.
The commentators note that corruption is not exclusive only to Nigeria. One observer says it is a common picture to see in a former African colony (he particularly spoke about Ghana) when "armed guards protect luxury mansions in walled compounds on top of hills while further down the slope you will find folk lying about on the ground sleeping under groundsheets."
Western countries are as corrupt as African ones, but they are "better at covering" their shady business. Moreover, as one commentator has maintained, "All that money pumped into Africa has just been a means to keep it dependent without allowing it to grow up. Eventually, it will start to wean itself off. To the rest of the world, a strong, first-world Africa is scary. It's been convenient to keep it down.
Many have suggested their own strategies of improving the situation both in Nigeria and in Africa, some of which were quite straightforward and radical: "What Africa needs is a significant drop in birth rates to lower the swollen population, and probably needs many countries boundaries re-drawing along ethnic and religious lines."
This Briton, however, suggested a much more peaceful way: "If I understand, some of what you say it speaks of hatred in Nigeria/Biafra and the lunacy of 'tribal' war. In England, we've been through the same and are now 'matured' into a more peaceful community. How? We realized that hate was not the way. It was not easy. It starts by holding your neighbour's hand, inviting them to your table, trusting them. As I've sayid, it will not be easy but it's the ONLY way."
Our esteemed Nigerian readers, do you agree with the criticism and the portrayal of our country? Our dear foreign friends, feel free to express your own views regarding Nigeria!