Abdul Mutallab: The Pains and Gains of Nigerian Moslems

In addition to working in American clinics, Nigerians had infiltrated America’s science, research, technology, education, business, entertainment, sports and security arenas, just to mention a few. On the international scene, the Nigerian Army remains a formidable peacekeeping force on the African continent that has helped restore peace (and sanity) in nations that are ravaged with war, while back home, another war is raging on, and the end, for now, is not in sight.

As unfortunate as it seems, the illustrious image of Nigerians had failed to yield expected results as the nation’s economy is built around the problem prone oil of the Niger Delta region, an age- long consistently lost battle with corruption and a palpable groaning of the masses under the heavy impacts of bad leadership.

Nigeria’s history has shown that the nation’s government and security outfits are extremely incapacitated and evidently unable to control, contain, contend with and checkmate sectarian and religious violence that are synonymous with the nation, especially the northern part of the country, the region where the new-kid-on-the-block, the Nigeria- born brutish bomb boy- Umaru Farouk Abdul-Mutallab, is from.

While many think the decision of the American government was as an aftermath of Mutallab’s faulted suicidal attempt on Christmas Day, evidences prior to the day point to the fact that the nation (Nigeria) has been under the watchful eyes of the American government since only God-knows-when, Obama and Mutallab just made it popular.

According to Obama, like several other past American presidents, he took an oath to protect Americans in every part of the world, in addition to American interests- businesses and otherwise. It is therefore not out of the duty of the American president to be interested in how US experts and US owned oil companies are faring in different parts of the world.

While the tales of American exploits in other parts of the world including the Middle East and Asia are good, American oil expatriates in Africa, especially in Nigeria, are consistently sharing reports that are not favorable for the American oil business community.

International oil prices consistently rise anytime Nigeria’s oil rich Niger Delta region erupts in bouts of violence, or when the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) decides to forcefully take its share of the oil revenue by kidnapping foreign experts including Americans, vandalizing oil infrastructures, or acts of militancy while the government of Nigeria seems to be haplessly helpless in resolving the conflicts. This is a negative signal to governments with investments and personnel in the region, who are often the victims of the failure of the Nigerian government to convincingly and conclusively address such issues. This however cannot be directly linked to terrorism like what happens up north since Moslems are the minutest population in the southern part of Nigeria, the region where the oil rigs are.

As recently attested to by the apex northern Nigerian council, The Arewa Consultative Forum, the north has become a heavy burden to the nation. The region is characterized with frequent uproars which at sunset leave hundreds of people dead, thousands homeless and millions of lives shattered. The reasons for the uproars in most cases are laughable, ludicrous and highly ridiculous, making one ponder on the sanity, or otherwise, of the gladiators and perpetrators who gallantly boast of their shameful acts.

On a recent tour of northern Nigeria, the numerous avenues that are available for Al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations to infiltrate are quite enormous, the first being the unimaginably high illiteracy level.

After almost 50 years of independence from British colonial rule, northern Nigeria is still several light years away from recording fairly adequate school enrolment as young herdsmen and farmers outshine and outnumber the book aficionados. The northern Nigeria culture, it seems, plays so much relevance on success via means other than education, which makes those that refute western education (Boko Haram) more highly respected hence more audacious. In the real sense however, uneducated children and youths are like loose canons; pre- packaged bombs ready for detonation and potent tools in the hands of terrorists organizations like the Al Qaeda. All Al Qaeda needs to do is to convince a few marabouts, Imams, Sheus, Alhajis, and Alfas, and all their disciples will fall in line. This has been used in fomenting trouble.

In times past, there have been reports of terrorism indoctrination in some worship centers where worshippers were being compelled to see western countries like the US as enemies of Islam, while the Jewish Israel nation should be wiped off the surface of the earth. In a serious country with a serious government, steps should have been taken to curtail this arbitrarily nomadic theological spread considering the potency of religion as a trouble fomenter in Nigeria. The Nigerian government however in recent and past times had kept mum, and has swept some cases that were public secrets to the international community under the tattered green-white-green carpet. Who are they deceiving? USA? I don’t think so.

The attitudes of some Nigerian Moslems are also overtures that could have warranted the US terrorism enlistment of Nigeria. At every avenue to denounce and speak against terrorists and their acts, most Nigerian Muslim leaders give excuses for such dastard inexcusable acts. Their presumptions, assumptions and conclusions connote that the perpetrators of terrorism have the support, directly or otherwise, of Nigerian Muslim leaders. America will not condone that.

The complacency and silence of the present Nigerian government on issues of terrorism also played a vital role in presenting the nation to the international public as not totally against terrorists and terrorism. During the last Jos religious crisis in Plateau state for example, the Nigerian president didn’t make any bold statement condemning the act, the same attitude was shown by President Umaru Musa Yar’adua during the ridiculous Boko Haram uproar in Bauchi and other adjoining states. He also fraternizes often with heads of governments of Islamic countries that are known to be in support of terrorism.

Aftermaths of Mutallab’s effect will surely bring about stricter measures on Nigerians, especially the Nigerian Muslims who have become overnight terrorist suspects. While many Nigerian Muslims see this as another unnecessary Big Brother World attitude of US to make other countries of the world subservient to the American nation, there are however numerous ample opportunities available to Nigeria if its leaders will oblige and act right.

Any antiterrorism action plan by the Nigerian government will certainly receive boost and support from the international community, including the United States, which could help provide experts and machineries to help the nation fight terrorists and terrorism from all sides. As previously shown, the high illiteracy level in the north which has further complicated security could be reduced if the northern Muslim elites are ready to take it upon themselves to motivate fellow northerners to enroll their wards in schools.

On the overall, Nigerian Muslims are the ones that will decide their fate in the new twist of events. To be taken serious, they’ve got to come out of their hidings, take bold steps and make clear statements on their position. This is not a time to defend Mutallab or make excuses for Taliban. A Nigerian proverb says you cannot carry the problem of another individual on your head while yours is lightly dragged along; it’s time to reprioritize. Nigeria is thousands of miles from the Middle East; hence Nigerian Muslims should be more interested in Kano issues than those of Tehran, and of Jos religious mishaps than what happens in Istanbul or Kabul.

Mutallab effect is not a stigma, but an opportunity for Nigerian Muslims and government to show which camp they truly belong to- pro- or anti- terrorism. Nigeria has a lot to gain if the right steps are taken and more to lose if wrong or no decision is made, a situation that is unacceptable in serious countries and by good governments. To prevent this, U.S. has given steps to be taken to delist Nigeria, and make the world safer.

These steps include promulgation of laws that would criminalize all forms of terrorism activities in addition to being vocal in condemning any terrorist act in the world. The Nigerian government is also required to deploy Air Marshals aboard all US bound flights from Nigeria, as well as improve the security at its airports starting with the use of full body scanners. As bossy as America’s list might sound, it is evident that somebody’s got to say and do something! Let’s face it, every nation, not just Nigeria, ought to have these in place. The ball is now in Nigerian government’s court; let’s watch them play.

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