By Imo Eshiet
There are many Nigerians who would easily connect with the magistrate in J.M. Coetzee’s Waiting For The Barbarians who remarks that,“ when men suffer unjustly…it is the duty of men who witness the suffering to suffer the shame”. Many decent Nigerians trying to earn honest living at home and abroad agonize interminably as their country and those who run its affairs seize and invent every opportunity to rubbish their image. To their anguish they watch as Nigerian generals and other officials turn diplomatic pouches to the service of drug pushers. A military president and his wife were not only rumored to preside over a lucrative drug smuggling ring but were also alleged to have brazenly sent a letter bomb to silence a famous journalist who was on the trail to expose the felony.
All attempts by human rights attorneys to bring the culprits to book not only failed but the said general audaciously refused to appear before a board of enquiry set up later by another government to mimic the South African Truth and Reconciliation Committee.
Following the insidious examples of leaders who plunder and pillage their national treasury without qualms, some misguided Nigerians have turned fraud into a fecund international business. Many, including clerics have used the internet to wreak financial havoc on unsuspecting victims across the globe.
Taking aim at the notoriety and flourish of underhanded activities by Nigerians, Colin Powel, a former army general and US Secretary of State not too long ago benchmarked Nigerians as natural scammers. Though he was instantly shouted down and demonized, General Powel, however, ought to know. Nigeria’s most rabid dictator, General Sani Abacha who turned the nation’s central bank into his personal property and stashed billions of dollars from it to foreign banks consulted him before he staged a coup General Powel wisely advised against. Again, the latter along with Madelaine Albright, another US former secretary of State, has monitored Nigerian elections where the votes were so voided as to be dismissed as the most rigged election in world history.
The attempt just one Christmas by Umar Farouk Mutallab, a Nigerian of Muslim extraction, to bomb a US airliner bound for Detroit not only made Nigeria’s cup of despicable deviance full, pressed down and overflowing, but also inducted this scandal ridden nation into the ultimate hall of infamy. The shock value of Mutallab’s action, a man from the oligarchy in Northern Nigeria, caused the sickeningly corrupt Nigerian senate to crank up its propaganda machine.
Mutallab’s behavior was unNigerian, the rough-and-tumble senate squawked! Meaning though Nigeria is drenched in sectarian violence where Muslims routinely slit the throats of thousands of other non-Muslim Nigerians who refuse to be bullied into converting to Islam, terror was yet to be exported outside the Nigerian shores! Meaning the horror of terror only impacts when internationalized!
The US government wasted no time seeing through the asinine and disingenuous argument. It countered that by failing to effectively prosecute criminals who proselyte by the sword, Nigeria made itself amenable to the breeding of terror. Of course the US knows more than it has openly stated.
It knows for instance, that as the world’s fourth largest producer and exporter of oil, Nigeria has no business being so beggarly. 80% of its population live on less than a dollar a day. Could the money stashed away in the US and Europe by Nigerian politicians escape the eyes of US agencies? Do these politicians think that the US does not know that if that money was invested in Nigeria the officially orchestrated poverty there would not exist? The US also knows that the predominantly Muslim and arid northern Nigeria has traditionally perpetrated electoral fraud in order to retain power to unimpeded access to the oil rich but revoltingly impoverished Niger Delta. It knows that the north leeches to the oil for money to feed its greed and, weapons to spread fundamentalist Islam. It knows that the acrimony arising from this feudalist imposition had once spawned an unimaginable horror in which two million lives were lost between 1967 and 1969 in Nigeria. This overarching greed is also the cause of the restiveness in the Niger Delta. It knows that the globally condemned crime of 9/11 was resoundingly celebrated in many states in northern Nigeria and the Nigerian government did nothing about that signal outrage. It knows that posters of bin Laden are routinely displayed on walls, trucks and public places in these and other states where Muslims do business. It is no secret that immediately after Mutallab’s act of war a survey was conducted by CNN in Nigeria’s north and 43% of the people interviewed glibly sang panegyrics in support of Mutallab. The US knows Nigeria is a failing state. Right now the Nigerian state is a ship without rudders as its chronically sick president clings on to power even as he lies prostrate in unknown locations in Saudi Arabia. On occasions both the current US president and secretary of State have spoken out on the terrifying human rights record and dysfunction in Nigeria. An imploding state is fertile grounds for terror to breed. Somalia and Sudan just to mention fellow African countries are mordant examples. Those who think the US inclusion of Nigeria in its terror watch list is a sledgehammer reaction to the outrage committed by Mutallab ought to know that a squirrel stupid enough to miss its way in the forest must eat rotten nuts.
The threat by the impotent Nigeria senate to sever diplomatic ties with the US if it did not delist Nigeria from the terror watch list is a stark demonstration of the idiocy of those who have ruined and turned Nigeria into a theater of the absurd. When the US shrugged off the arrogance as an elephant would the ranting of an ant, the Nigerian senate rough-housed with blackmail and played the oil card! The US, it said in an attempt to rally its poverty stricken citizens, was bullying Nigeria because it was turning to China for business in oil. The hunger harassed citizens who have never heard of China doing any good in Nigeria were unimpressed. They had more urgent things to worry about. There are the real and concrete fears of kidnapping, armed robbery, a hulking and stalking corruption and diverse other rankling anxieties than disingenuous lies told by the government. How could they trust a senate that has so grievously betrayed them that 40% of a population out of 140 million walk unemployed while senators Nigerians like to call “legislooters” compete with their American counterparts only when it comes to monetary earnings.
The sanction against Nigeria must remain until reasonable change is visibly effected in that country. That Moslems militants are even now embarking on their insurgency against Christians in the country when the underwear bomber is still recuperating from the burns he sustained from his own explosives and serving time for his act of terror, is indeed a very bad sign that Nigeria is yet to get its definition of terror right.