Saturday 9 January 2010

Nigeria: Identifying with Nigerian good

A typical Nigerian

Let me start by saying without equivocation that Mr. Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab [1], with whatever appellation or nickname the media might want to give him is Nigerian.

That is a fact, a truth, a reality and a detail we have to live with, his heritage is Nigerian, his father is a well-known Nigerian and until 2 weeks ago, he was a Nigerian like many of us who have sought educational opportunities abroad and made a good job of it.

In some ways, he was a Nigerian with an international outlook having studied in Togo, the United Kingdom, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen.

An unfortunate Nigerian

In other circumstances, this young man would have been a prospective employee to some organisation armed with qualifications to make a living and make a difference to his community and possibly have some influence in a wider spectrum of society.

Unfortunately, just because he failed to take that trajectory of being a nice Nigerian abroad does not automatically disqualify him from having come from where he came from, nor does it stop him from holding the passport he had every right to claim to hold.

Identifying as Nigerian

Maybe indeed Nigerians are not necessarily terrorists that go out to blow up international flights, but we would have been quick to identify with a Nigerian who discovers a new type of jet propulsion fuel that takes full consideration of global warming.

Whilst is it unsavoury to identify with this young man, the clamour to disown him for the line of study and expression he took does not change the fact that he would be identified as Nigerian by others and it becomes us to appreciate that fact and work on dealing better with the consequences of that situation.

Nigerians are not or Nigerians are?

We cannot define ourselves by what we are not and many have said we are not fraudsters, we are not drug-couriers, we are not fanatics, we are not extremists, we are not terrorists, we are not everything you can think we are.

Maybe, we are not those things, the questions then becomes, if we are not this or that, what are are?

We are Nigerians, first and foremost, we engage in legal, legitimate, worthwhile and profitable activities in our communities, societies and environment for the good of the many. Many of us are successfully in positions of responsibility doing our best in whatever calling we find ourselves.

Those of us in training, school or university, take our vocations seriously and strive to excel bring honour to all that associate with us.

We are generally congenial, friendly, likeable, humorous and enjoy the pleasures of life, we are positive leaning people, quite optimistic in our outlook and portend to have a spiritual grounding in life.

Nigerian pride in good ownership

I think those declarations speak more for who we are rather than what we are not. Whilst I can see the mass hysteria of signing up to protest and disownership pages we should acclaim our Nigerianness more positively than that by heralding the good Nigerian and good Nigerian endeavours.

If all it takes to be a fervent and passionate Nigerian is to band together against a terrorist, our understanding of our identity is in need of a clearer vision.

In closing, I declare again that Mr. Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab remains a Nigerian through and through, our disowning him does not make him irrelevant, but our identifying with people, symbols and purposes of good Nigeria would make a better statement to the world at large.


[1] Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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