I got the news late on Boxing day. It happened when In the spirit of the season, I called a friend (in deed) to exchange more of pleasantries that gifts. The TV came through the phone. I asked what the excitement was. On the eve of Christmas 2009, a 23 year old Nigerian boarded a KLM flight in Lagos, that will take him through the busy Amsterdam Schipol Airport and then to Detroit, the one-time Automobile manufacturing capital of the world. He bombed an American plane on American soil. Who? How? Why? The friend could not answer my questions?
I later gleaned from media reports that the young man must have boarded the plane with a powdery substance strapped to his ‘Area-10’. As soon as the Aircraft descended towards Detroit, he injected some liquid substance into the powder, which led to Pop, a puff of smoke and a muted bang. Luckily, a daring and courageous passenger overpowered him, and subsequently saved 288 other passengers and crew. With this event, Nigeria has finally joined the exclusive league of Suicide Bombers, courtesy of Umaru Farouk Abdul Mutallab, the Son of Alhaji Umaru Mutallab, a successful and educated boardroom guru, the immediate past chairman of First Bank Nigeria Plc.
A few hours before the unfortunate news, I had a conversation with my Son, who will soon earn his badge as a teenager. On this particular holiday, he was bold to query my insistence that we must annually make the trip to the village at yuletide, living a life devoid of Cable and Television, the Internet and sparse Telephony. Harmonizing with our kith and Kins. For him, the village is boring, and a needless waste of his time. My response was a feeble explanation that in Nigeria, regrettably, ethnicity is a big deal. That he may unfortunately not be treated as a first-class citizen in Ibadan where he was born and bred, and where I have lived for the past 20 years. Even in later years. His response was a sharp … ‘who cares!’ The battle line was thus drawn.
As I digested the news, All I could think of, was the Senior Mutallab and my own experience with my growing Son. Many of us are guilty as charged, hence this note of caution. Papa may have been busy criss-crossing the world, riding the corporate bull, spending Sallah in Mecca, Christmas in Switzerland and New Year in Detroit, making it easy for the Talibans to get to the defenseless lad.
Papa Mutallab sent his Son to the best schools, and probably thought this was sufficient to build the character of a lad. I wager that the extremists also sent their Children to the same school, but held on to the reigns of their own children’s mind. These extremists as a bonus, also took over his son’s mind, because many of us parents today do not bother about what our children think, what they do, and how they do it. We daily forget that we have deep-rooted traditional values that are being eroded, with its attendant consequences.
There are also the Institutional challenges. How did the lad go past screening at the MMA? He probably was either given the traditional greeting … “Anything for the boys? Na here we dey o!” or better still … “Rank-ya-dede ..Please do not forget to tell daddy to plead my case with the Comptroller-General of Immigrations o!”. How did he get a student Visa to the US, when he is not longer a Student. Was any influence peddled at the US embassy in Nigeria? It would be nice if the Americans investigate this! Corruption in all its ramifications has left the nation prostrate and I wager that this act of terror is one of the side effects.
I tried to reconcile the state of the Nation. The decayed Educational System, collapsed Infrastructure, Failed Health care system, AWOL President, Emasculated Vice President, the hopeless Nigerian Child, the confused Nigerian Parent, who has adopted westernization due to multimedia bombardment, without necessary Insurance, Religious zealousness due to poverty of our mind, Pipeline vandalization, Oil bunkering, youthful restlessness and the failed amnesty program, due to insincerity … etc. I concluded that … the factory has been commissioned! We are positioned to manufacture a thousand and one more Mutallabs, within the next few years.
As a counter-measure, let the restoration fight gather steam from our various homes!! For those who think it is not their war … In the near time of tomorrow, when the Americans succeed in closing their porous borders, our Frankensteins will turn on their own people, unleashing terror on our domestic flights. That is when our majority will then say … had I known! … Before then … Let us Pray … we love to pray, we should pray … but beyond that, let us start to Work!!