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Profiling the Nigerian As a Terrorist – The Cultural Issues
Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab by his misguided and deplorable attempt to blow up an airline on Christmas Day in the US, thrust all 140 million Nigerians onto the global stage for scrutiny once again for another socially unacceptable behaviour.
That Nigeria has a bad image on the global scene is no longer news. Before him, the 419 scam generation had succeeded in earning us the shameful label of the Scam Mecca of the world. Then there is our unfortunate political evolution that has entrenched corruption and bad governance as synonymous with Nigeria.
Sick display of ill-gotten wealth by military dictators and supposedly democratic politicians further confirmed us as a nation of questionable values. Throw in the Niger Delta militancy, incessant religious crisis and gross bribery scandals spanning three continents and some mega conglomerates and you could safely conclude that the Nigerian nation is a safe harbor for all anti- social behaviour.
Surprisingly however, such a conclusion could not be farther from the truth. In spite of the seemingly endless list of criminal and anti-social characteristics of Nigerians, one of the most definable traits of a Nigerian is a passionate love for life. This trait transcends ethnic, religious and cultural divides and can safely be assumed to be written in the Nigerian DNA.
By nature, a Nigerian abhors death because our cultural orientation presents death as a defeat of destinies. If a Nigerian dies at less than 70 years old, it is a family and communal tragedy. Young deaths are believed to be untimely and thus a stigma that could affect the status of such a family as other families avoids any relational interaction with the one who loses its members untimely.
The Nigerian by nature does not commit suicide. Suicidal tendencies are immediately concluded to be demonic or extraterrestrial influences on such persons. Suicide is not a psychological imbalance to the Nigerian society. It is a satanic oppression which is dealt with by prayers and other spiritual antidotes.
Depression is not a mental state in the Nigerian context. It is a spiritual attack that only God can overcome; not anti-depressants. A Nigerian who attempts or commits suicide stigmatizes his family and generations for life. Nigerians don’t marry into a family with a suicide or mental depression case as it is assumed that the tendency could be hereditary.
That is why, as the world tries to unravel the Farouk Abdulmutallab phenomenon, it would do well to search for his motive in everything else but his Nigerian lineage. It just did not come from there because it does not exist there.
It would also be an error to profile the Nigerian along terrorist parameters as it would be a sad waste of time and resources as the Nigerian lacks the moral fibre to hold ideological or religious beliefs at the expense of his life.
Simply put, the Nigerian could cause others harm as long as it does not affect himself or his family but to blow up a plane with him as one of the victims is definitely not Nigerian.
The Nigerian’s aggression only goes as far as his life is not threatened. The minute any resistance or activity becomes life threatening, the Nigerian backs off and prefers to live with the injustice than lose his life.
This is what is responsible for the continued oppression of the masses by the political class. The politicians know this trait and capitalize on it to keep holding on to power in corruption, election rigging and bad governance. If the Nigerian valued life a little less, maybe a sustained resistance would have rid us of the incessant politicians whose primary aim is to loot the treasury.But the Nigerian’s passion for life has become his stumbling block for progress as he would rather live in oppression than die for principle.
That is why Farouk Abdulmutallab may be Nigerian by birth but definitely not Nigerian by orientation.
The Nigerian culture has high social and communal collateral. In Nigeria, no man is an island. It is absolutely essential to the Nigerian that he be accepted within his social circle. It is this need for acceptance that is the root motivation for scams and criminal activities. The influence of peer status is very heavy on the average Nigerian mind. If a peer is affluent, there is unspoken pressure on his contemporaries to rise to the challenge; thus the trend to cheat, steal or scam to gain social status and acceptance.
In the converse, it is this same social collateral that keeps majority of Nigerians morally upright as it is a stigma for you or your children to be morally corrupt. That is what informed Umar Farouk’s father to act proactively by reporting his son’s questionable lifestyle even before he did anything wrong.
Even the obviously corrupt do everything to hide their real activity thus the tendency to have cover-up businesses or live abroad and only come home sparingly so no one can scrutinize their activities.
The Nigerian spirit is one of resilience not revolution. The Nigerian spirit is self preservation and not sacrificial. It is the trait that condemns us to our present state of underdevelopment in spite of abundant resources. Nigerians don’t sacrifice anything for a common good or goal, especially not our lives. No Nigerian runs towards death in ideological oblivion. It is not in our character.
The natural emergence of supposed ‘experts’ on the global scene claiming to understand and profile the Nigerian due to Abdulmutallab’s botched attempt at terrorism could mislead the world into chasing shadows like Bush misled Americans to chase non-existent weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Looking for an Al-Qaeda base in Nigeria will be an exercise in futility as the cultural environment is too hostile to their ideological motivation.
The world will do well therefore to concentrate its efforts at defeating terrorism on nationals with enough moral fibre to hold ideological views enough to die for it.
We Nigerians don’t die for anything or anyone. If the Lord Jesus Christ was a Nigerian, the world would never be saved from sin.
Nigerians would rather live than die for anything. The less than one percent with questionable character may find smart ways to defraud the world but even they want to live to enjoy their loot.
Simply put, Farouk Abdulmutallab does not represent the spirit of Nigeria because Nigerians don’t die for anything.
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