ON Saturday, October 31, 2020, news came that the United States of America had successfully carried out a military operation in Nigeria, rescuing and flying home an American citizen.
The mission was carried out by the US Navy’s elite SEAL Team 6 which was conveyed to the action spot by the US Air Force Special Operations. The lucky victim, Philipe Nathan Walton, was abducted from his farm in Massalata village in Southern Niger Republic by six men armed with AK-47 guns and taken to Northern Nigeria where the rescue took place.
The abductors had demanded ransom. Though ISWAP-linked terrorists had reportedly killed six French aid workers and their Niger citizen guide around that vicinity in August this year, there was no clear evidence that it was terrorism-related.
US President Donald Trump who was on his campaign trail at the time temporarily paused to praise the rescue as a “big win”.
Also, the United States Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, had thumbed up “the extraordinary courage and capabilities of our military, the support of our intelligence professionals and our diplomatic efforts”.
The Federal Government reassured that Nigeria fully cooperated in ensuring the success of the mission. However, America has been known to carry out such missions even if the host country appears unwilling to cooperate, once they are sure they can succeed without harming their citizen or exposing the special operatives to unwarranted risks.
It is very relieving that Nigeria played a catalyst’s role in ensuring that the rescue succeeded. We had no reason not to. Though America no longer buys our oil (because they are now energy independent) she is still a valuable strategic economic, diplomatic and military ally. Nigeria still needs the goodwill of the world’s biggest military power if our terrorism woes are to be eventually overcome.
The lesson for us is the elaborate ends to which advanced countries, especially America and Israel, are willing to go in rescuing their citizens caught in the grips of international felons and rogue governments.
There is nothing that spurs citizens’ feelings of national pride more than the realisation that their lives and constitutional rights are valued and protected by their country irrespective of which part of the world they find themselves in.
This is a major driver of patriotic willingness towards sacrificing themselves or loved ones to preserve the greatness of their country if need be.
Our own lack of regard and value for the lives and rights of our citizens is a major reason Nigeria appears to be failing. Life is cheaply taken, and the rights of the citizen do not matter.
This must change. No nation can be great unless it is able to extract the love and devotion of its citizens through acts of total commitment to citizen wellbeing.