Before 23 year old Umar Farouk AbdulMutallab attempted to detonate an explosive on an America bound Delta Airline, Nigeria had never featured on the radar as a breeding ground for terrorists.
The news of AbdulMutallabâ€™s attempt therefore came as a rude shock. However, while Nigerians were still trying to grapple with the circumstances which may have led to this isolated incident, the US state department released a list of 14 countries including Nigeria whose citizens will now be subjected to special but mostly humiliating screenings at airports.
The State Department listed Cuba, Iran, Sudan and Syria as state sponsors of terrorism. Other countries whose passengers should face enhanced screening include Afghanistan, Algeria, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia and Yemen.
While we sympathise with the US government at this trying time, including Nigeria in such an inglorious list is tantamount to criminalizing about 150 million people over an isolated incident.
The US government must realise that not only was AbdulMutallab radicalised outside the shores of this country, Nigerians and the Nigerian government have always exhibited a predisposition to cooperate with it on matters of security.
Perhaps the senior Mutallabâ€™s effort to alert the US embassy about the possibility his son may have been radicalised weeks before the attempt to blow up the aircraft underscores this predisposition in more eloquent terms. What purpose would be served by alienating the country at this point in time?
The recent action of the US government also gives the impression that the Nigerian state runs a hapless government incapable of administering governance that underscores the protection and projection of its interests and nationals.
While we condemn terrorism and violence in all its ramifications,Â and indeed the alleged attempt by AbdulMutallab we implore the US government to de-list Nigeria from this inglorious list, nevertheless the Federal Government should come alive to its responsibilities by ensuring we are spared the humiliation that awaits.