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By Olugu Ukpai
It was Ralph Waldo Emerson who signifies that “Character is higher than intellect.” Similarly, Professor Chinua Achebe wrote that “one of the truest tests of integrity is its blunt refusal to be compromised.”
I am writing to commend the Senate, especially the Deputy President, Ike Ekweremadu for moving the “failed motion” and “nine others” for supporting the motion to reward Dr. Umar Abdulmultalab. The Senate has taken the right step in line with the candid opinion of the writer. The Senate ended up honoring Mr. Umar Abdulmultalab with “Official Commendation Letter” for putting national interest first, as evidenced in setting aside blood bonds to report his son’s newfound religious extremism to the U.S. Embassy in Nigeria.
Since the December 25th 2009 pandemonium caused by the failed attempted air bus bomb by Farouk Abdulmultalab (Jnr), the writer has been at the forefront in condemning the act as un-Nigerian as well as canvassing for a Global Citizen Award and National Merit Award for Mr. Umar Abdulmultalab both in national and international media as an exemplary Nigerian. It is a step in the right direction towards re-branding Nigeria and sending a strong message across the globe on Nigeria’s position on terrorism for those who are yet to know. For instance, on my various policy opinions to honour Mr. Umar Abdulmultalab with a national award, see “Is Nigeria the New Den of Terrorists? And “Is Overseas Education Still A Safe Haven For Nigerian Students? published by Nigeria Masterweb Daily News on December 31st, 2009, and January, 7, 2010 (available at http://www.nigeriamasterweb.com/paperfrmes.html). Also see international publications, “Nigerians Parents Fear for Students Studying Abroad” published by New America Media (NAM) (San Francisco, CA), January 5, 2010, (available at http://news.newamericamedia.org/news/view_article.html?article_id=62b8df9b177f3e999bd3cbb52305b8d4; and has been subsequently republished in Dubai, Egypt, Togo, and Germany. Orlando Advocate (http://www.orlandoadvocate.com/j15/discussions) has also carried the article as well as Muslim Media Network titled “Study Abroad Holds Peril for Nigerians” (MMN), January 7, 2010(Farmington, MI, US) http://muslimmedianetwork.com/mmn/?p=5627.(The Muslim Observer, 12-2, International, Volume 12) as well as africapchome.com; to mention but a few.
Re-branding does not exist in a vacuum; it is not in spending tax payers’ money in frivolous seminar talks. But it lies in practical demonstration, encouraging and rewarding good deeds, integrity and honesty that others may learn and follow suit. What the information Minister, Professor Dora Nkem Akunyili is doing is not only disappointing but regretting. As the information Minister, Professor Dora should have been at the forefront in the campaign to reward Mr. Umar Abdulmultalab with a national honuor. She could have seized that window of opportunity to capitalize on Umar Abdulmultalab’s singular act of honesty as a practical symbol of her re-branding project and to re-present Nigeria to the world. The 21st century world has gone beyond rhetoric or abstractions to everyday examples. ( Continues below….. )
Photo Above: Undated photo of Abdul Mudallad (on a school trip to London), Nigerian accused in the failed blow-up attempt of Northwest Airlines Flight 253
Given this lackadaisical and laisser-faire attitude, I can at best describe Professor Dora as a paid town crier or better put, a paid piper. It is said that he who pays the piper detects the tune. Her once reckoned integrity as a NAFDAC boss is rather fast going down the drain as she hurriedly joins the cronies as evidenced in her mouth-watering “Nigerian Re-branding Project.” The first of such white elephant “re-branding project” cost taxpayers 1.05billion in 2004; 750million in 2007 and 300million in 2008. Dora should submit why she should not be relieved of her job as information Minister for failure to inform Nigerians what she has done with taxpayers’ money. Reprieve came to the way of the writer when a renowned World Evangelist, Rev. Dr. Uma Ukpai described Dora’s “Rebranding Nigerian Project “as [an] other funny paper work” as reported by the PUNCH newspaper of Nov. 7th, 2009. Responding to the question “Do you believe in the campaign to rebrand Nigeria?” this highly respected and a balanced international gospel minister who has been described as belonging to the “class of Elijah the Tishbeth” retorts:
“If you want to rebrand Nigeria, where do you start because we are so neck deep in corruption? If we are going to rebrand Nigeria; I want to hear of one man who stole government money and returned that money to us. I want to hear of somebody who gave false accusation and send somebody to jail to rise up and say I told lies. I want hear a man who put his sister in-law in a family way to rise up and say, I did something I shouldn’t have done. I want to hear a woman say the child I am carrying does not belong to my husband. I want to hear the Police say we locked up somebody not because he was guilty but because he insulted us. Until the source of the spring is clean, the main river will never be clean. To me that is the beginning of rebranding. You cannot conquer what you cannot confront.”
Then I will add, I want to hear of father who will come out and say that his son has joined a terrorist network and poses a security threat to the world. Noble Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka said “I do not know of any other country where a parent has done what the father of Farouk Umar Abdulmutallab did in advance” for reporting his son to both the United States and Nigerian security agencies in hope to avert a possible danger. If neither professor Dora as a parent nor any of the members of the Senate who “killed the motion” for a national honour to be bestowed on Mr. Umar Abdulmutallab could not do that, I am still calling on the Senate to reconsider honouring him with a national merit award before other countries does that. Teslim Folarin’s statement that “It is good that Nigeria take the lead by giving him a national award now [because] many countries are planning to reward Farouk Umar’s father (Dr. Mutallab) for the information he gave out to security agencies about his son’s activities.” should be taken seriously. He is an exemplary Nigerian whose act of integrity should be rewarded and recognized. Charity begins at home. This might help fight terrorism by encouraging others who might have similar useful information.
Nigerian founding fathers saw very clear. On the 8th December, 1982 at the U.P.N. Congress (28 years ago, when Nigeria was only 22), VINTAGE AWO appears to be referring to the Dora’s “paid-paper work” of “Re-branding Nigerian Project when he said:
“Our current leadership is totally bereft of new ideas, and utterly incapable of evolving or devising solutions to our problems. It is also incapable of appreciating effective solutions or of how to apply them, even when these are presented to it unsolicited and on the platter.”
“Our Government is a source of despair at home and a disgraceful laughing-stock on the international scene. “We are regarded as a chicken-hearted giant with jelly-like physique. Africa has waited in vain for years for this giant to be conscious of its destiny and give the desired leadership: the world has also waited for it to realize its unique potential strength and make its influence felt in wholesome directions: but the world has, so far, had to wait in vain.”
I want to ask, if Mr. Umar Abdulmutallab was to be an American citizen, can someone ever imagine what would have happened? He would have been relocated to CNN media house for every ten minutes live telecast to the world and white house for security sake. He would not only have been honoured immediately, but turned a celebrity overnight. He would have been presented to the world as America’s new face on the war against terrorism.
Should President Obama (US) fails to recognize and reward Mr. Umar Abdulmutallab with a Global Citizen Award, it will not only be contradictory but also amount to a less commitment to the statement put forward by the five-man committee that selected President Obama for the 2009 Peace Noble Prize. The Norwegian committee said in a statement that: "His [Obama’s] diplomacy is founded in the concept that those who are to lead the world must do so on the basis of values and attitudes that are shared by the majority of the world's population." [my emphasis].
Mr Umar Abdulmutallab’s demonstrated “value and attitude” of “truthfulness” and “integrity” speaks loudest here and should be rewarded as a model by the world’s number one citizen and current Peace Noble Prize holder. Here, it may be necessary that I quote Mr. President himself: “I don't care whether you're driving a hybrid or an SUV. If you're headed for a cliff, you have to change direction.” I am wondering if Mr. President himself is “headed for a cliff” for ignoring to recognize Mr Umar Abdulmutallab’s deed? The President further said that, “Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time.” I left it with Mr. President to answer whom he is waiting for to bring about this long overdue change; to change the way that America treat other race in a condescending manner. If I am wrong, let Mr. President tell the world what his action would have been had Mr Umar Abdulmutallab had been an American citizen! Again, should every parent have the courage to report their children’s act of terrorism or crime like Mr Umar Abdulmutallab, would Mr. President in particular and the world in general have any terrorist and crime to fight in general respectively? A word is enough for the wise my father would always whisper into my ears.
I cannot end this essay without the words of Henrik Ibsen when he said “A tree is known by its fruit; a man by his deeds. A good deed is never lost; he who sows courtesy reaps friendship, and he who plants kindness gathers love.” I pray that may Mr Umar Abdulmutallab’s deed of “truthfulness” and “integrity” never lost.
*Olugu Ukpai is a Ph.D student, School of Law, University of Reading, sent in this rejoinder/commentary from UK, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
*Tags: Terrorism, Terrorist, Africans, Abdul, Mudallad, Abdulmutallab, World, Nigerians, Masterweb
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