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A shaky future

By Owei Lakemfa
ALL  through the New Year season, the Nigerian Government was  apologetic to the United States (US). It continued to cry that the insane Christmas Day attempt by Nigerian born Umar Farouk Abdulmuttalab to blow up an American airliner over Detriot  is unNigerian.

Apart from profuse apologies, there were near-panicky assurances that the government would co operate with the Americans in the investigations. As expected there were the theatricals provided by Information and Communication Minister, Prof. Dora Akunyili, who addressed press conferences as if she were the spokesperson of the Abdulmuttalab family.

At a point, Aunty Dora  added the illogical;that Farouk “sneaked” into Nigeria from Ghana as if he needed to address a press conference that he is travelling to his country. How do you accuse a citizen who was not a fugitive of sneaking into his country?

Rather than weep that the accused  is a Nigerian, we need to accept the fact that  terrorism is a global challenge. From all accounts, the accused was neither educated nor recruited here; his indoctrination and training was not in Nigeria.

All these were in Europe and Asia. This case again emphasises the fact that the world is a global village and that what happens in any part of the globe affects all parts. Also, the incident is not a Nigerian failure but a global one. The Nigerian security apparatus had been informed by Farouk’s family that he had turned fanatic and was a security risk.

Yet, he was not accosted or specially searched for when he came in and left the country. The American Embassy had been alerted and briefed by the Abdul-muttalabs that their son  constitutes a danger, but the Americans were too busy running after Talibans and Arab faces to be bogged down by the complaints of a Nigerian family.

Rather than bow my head  in shame that Farouk is a fellow Nigerian, I hold my head high that a Nigerian father would do what most fathers in the world,  especially of the elite class would not do; go to his country’s security and the embassy of a terrorism-jittery super power, to report his son and warn them that he seems a time bomb waiting to explode.

Ordinarily, Abdul mutallab senior should have been happy that his son is sticking to his religion, but he could discern that the young man had become so extreme that he constituted a danger to the rest of humanity. Secondly, he had the courage to report his son despite the possibility of a backlash from his son’s preferred associates. Thirdly, he faced the danger of being regarded as a CIA agent for exposing an international agent of terrorism.

The father might also have been concerned that the family name might be soiled by Farouk if he is not stopped. So the father having done his best to his son by sending him to the best schools and bringing him up in the beliefs of his religion, also did his duty by undertaking the painful task of reporting this same son to local and international governments.

These are the principles we should enunciate rather than weep that Farouk is a Nigerian. Even America which sowed and watered the seeds of the harvest called al Qaeda has not apologised for this grave error, its continued occupation and massacres in Afghanistan or its proxy war that is turning Pakistan into a failed state. So why should Nigeria be apologetic over Farouk?

We need to be clear-headed and confident even as we join hands with the rest of humanity to fight terrorism in all its manifes-tations. Simultaneously, we need to struggle for a just world where the strong will not trample the weak into the dust or children would go to bed on empty stomachs. We need to fight for a better, economically balanced world not the dog-eat-dog system to which we have enlisted our country.

A world where two types of justice exist; one for the citizens of the powerful countries who are untouchable and another for those of poor countries, cannot be at peace. An international system in which American citizens cannot be tried for crimes against humanity -like the Blackwater criminals who massacred unarmed civilians in Afghanistan only to be set free by American courts – cannot produce peace on earth.

But Nigeria cannot play any meaningful role in the world if our government lacks confidence and cannot even command the basic trust of its citizenship. We can be of no use to the international community or ourselves if we cannot exercise something as basic as an electoral choice.

For instance, the  US which already has the biggest world economy and the strongest military apparatus in 2007 chose for president one of its brightest, youngest (at 47) and fittest politicians, even if the man is African- American. In contrast, we went for a man with medical challenges who needs to take care of his health.

The result  is that while America has largely repaired its troubled economy, maintained its leadership of the contemporary world, is restructuring its health system and is skilfully engaging the future, Nigeria  is bogged down by a weak government which cannot even account for the exact location of the President nor brief the populace on his current health situation.

For the New Year , the promise from government is not the implementation of its agenda, but that in 2010, fuel shortages will be curbed, epileptic electricity  supply will be improved and the amnesty gains will not be allowed to be washed away. This is Nigeria’s     pitiable state in our fiftieth year of independence!


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