When Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab almost blew up the plane in Detroit, I raised an alarm on Facebook (like tens of thousands of other Nigerians) saying Nigeria was in a mess. My friend Sayed chided me for screaming “the sky is falling” saying “how can we be afraid that the 140 million people of Nigeria be thought of as terrorists be cause of one idiot!”. I told him I agreed with him saying Richard Reid the shoe bomber is British and they are not thought of as terrorists too. I explained my reason for the alarm was different, I was thinking about the impact the incident will have on AFRICOM (putting a US base in Nigeria/West Africa) and US having more influence and control in Nigeria.
But we were both wrong!
Two days later, a Nigerian was harassed for spending “too much time” in the toilet. That could be understandable because the incident was still fresh in the minds of everyone. But today, it has been formalized. the BBC reports that:
The US authorities are introducing tougher screening rules for passengers arriving by air from nations deemed to have links with terrorism.
Reports say people flying from Nigeria, Pakistan, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Yemen and Cuba will have pat-down body searches and have carry-on baggage searched.
This is a big shame knowing that this is just the beginning in the harassment and profiling of Nigerians worldwide. Why should the act of one man condemn the whole nation? I would gladly approve of that if it was so in the case of good things. Chimamanda Adiche gave the best ever TED talk titled the danger of a single story, why are we all not ‘condemned’ as being intelligent? The ONLY* case of Nigeria being linked with terrorism had two twists
- His father reported to the US embassy about 6 weeks before his attempt
- He boarded the plane to US from Amsterdam NOT Nigeria.
Those two should count for something before we are condemned as a terrorist nation.
My good people of Nigeria, this the time to come together as we are together in this mess. It is not Igbo, Hausa, Yoruba, Bini, Ijaw, Fulani, Tiv,.. etc that are in a mess, it is Nigerians. Under normal circumstances, our president will be interceding for us but in this case our president is said to be missing! What is the way forward? How do we clear this mess before it escalates?
I am just sad.
*The religious and Niger Delta crises in Nigeria is political and not International terrorism. It is no different from the situation in Northern Ireland.