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Questions are also being raised about airport security in the Netherlands and why Amsterdam and Nigeria did not detect the explosives on Abdulmutallab.
Tosin Banwo, a Nigerian MBA student at Wayne State University said he received calls from his colleagues following the incident that “Nigerians have done it again.”
“This incident shows the power of how one person can damage the image of a whole country,” Banwo said. “Considering the challenges and problems we have it is going to take a while before we can redeem our image.”
For a young man like Abdulmutallab, who came from a privileged background, Banwo said he doesn’t understand what could be the motivation for the terror suspect’s actions.
Meanwhile an Al-Queda group in the Arabian Peninsula has claimed responsibility for the airliner attack, saying it was in retaliation for a U.S. military offensive against the group in Yemen where Abdulmutallab is said to have lived sometime in 2005.
Profiling is back in the spotlight with some analysts suggesting that individuals with Muslim, ethnic or foreign sounding names should be thoroughly questioned during travels, something that would be met with stiff resistance from the civil liberty community including the American Civil Liberties Union.
“We have to be vigilant and work harder to portray the good image of Nigeria,” Banwo said. “No one should label all of us as terrorists.”
In a nation where northern states like Kano are governed by Sharia Law, many fear religious extremists might be seeking sanctuary in Nigeria.
That is why Eze said the Nigerian government failed to respond appropriately to news of the Detroit incident. He said his nation dropped the ball in tackling this latest public relations disaster on the world stage.
“Silence and delay are never golden in an image crisis,” Eze said. “Imagine what could have happened if the Nigerian government had held a truly international press conference within 24 hours of the dastardly incident, condemning the wicked act in the strongest possible terms, pledging full and active cooperation with U.S. security agencies, and harping that such a wicked act is not reflective of overwhelming majority of Nigerians who are peace loving in their core.”
The relations between Washington and Nigeria, the world’s eleventh largest oil producing nation and fifth largest supplier to the U.S., is unlikely to be severed by the terrorist incident.
In responding to the crisis, President Barack Obama was determined to instill confidence in the public that the nation will utilize all of its power to fight terrorism.
Naming Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen and Somalia as places the U.S. will tackle terror, as well as anyplace else, Obama never mentioned Nigeria in his speech in which he called for more airport security.
Yet, according to Eze, “Despite its poor image, the Nigerian nation has been a force for good in the world with its active participation in UN and African Union peacekeeping missions and Technical Aid Corps Scheme that has benefited many Third World nations, among others.”
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