Opinion

Why Won’t I Want to be an American

By Jude Atupulazi

Last week, we got news that sounded too good to be true. It was the successful operation launched by the United States Government to rescue a citizen of the country who had been kidnapped earlier in neighbouring Niger Republic by Fulani herdsmen. The United States Government deployed the US Air Force Special Operations to rescue the kidnaped American citizen from the jaws of death. And thus, the Navy Seals flew to Nigeria and rescued Philip Watson, the son of a missionary.

Philip Watson, the kidnapped American rescued by his country in Nigeria

The full story had it that the young man was kidnapped in neighboring Niger at his farm by Fulani herdsmen armed with AK-47 assault rifles but was smuggled into Nigeria through our border that was supposedly closed by our government.

The story also had it that the Fulani herdsmen demanded for $1 million from Philip’s dad who has lived in Niger for 30 years.

The CIA provided intelligence leading to Walton’s whereabouts, while the Marine Special Operations elements in Africa helped locate him by tracking the kidnappers’ phone.

The report of the rescue had it that on that morning, about 30 US Navy commandos parachuted into the remote area in northern Nigeria where the kidnappers had taken Walton to. They hiked about three miles until they came upon the captors’ small encampment.

An intense but brief gunfight followed in which one captor escaped.

Walton was not harmed and whisked from the camp to a makeshift landing zone where a U.S. helicopter brought him to safety.

According to ABC, all but one of the seven captors were killed in the mission, described as a ‘precision’ hostage rescue.

‘They were all dead before they knew what happened,’ a source told the network.

Now, after reading the account of the brave and risky rescue, would you not like to be an American citizen? Do you think our president can spare any time to care about the safety of a single citizen when he has not cared about the safety of hundreds?

Indeed, this is why I think that every talk about liking Nigeria is a sham. I have since stopped respecting the National Anthem as it means nothing to even those leading us. Remember what happened at Lekki Toll Gate when soldiers were said to have shot at Nigerian citizens draped in the national flag? Before then we were made to understand that no Nigerian soldier or security agent would ever shoot anyone who covered themselves with the national flag.

The victims must have heard and believed that too. So on that day, some of them were clad in or had the flag draped over them, secure in the knowledge that nothing would happen. But how wrong they were! They were shot at and our flag, their symbol of protection, was drenched in their blood.

When our president finally spoke on the state of affairs in the country, he spared no words for the victims of that shooting or those of other shootings across the country. To Buhari, their lives did not matter.

The same Buhari had been around while hundreds of his compatriots perished from the blazing guns of terrorists, particularly, the Fulani herdsmen. As I write, not one of them has been arrested or charged to court. So much for a country that expects her citizens to love her!

But while Buhari looks the other way and does nothing as his people are being butchered or gunned down, America is ready to go to war to protect the life of a single citizen. America isn’t alone in this. Much earlier, Israel had raided the Entebbe Airport in Uganda and rescued her nationals who were held hostage in that country. That daring operation has since been known as ”90 Minutes at Entebbe”.

Back to our discussion. In rescuing Citizen Walton, America undertook a risky operation thousands of miles beyond her shores and succeeded. Now tell me if Citizen Watson will ever hesitate to show respect and love to his country tomorrow.

Footage of American Navy Seals in action during their rescue operation in Nigeria recently

Compare Citizen Watson to one Okonkwo killed in Nimbo, Enugu State, or one Ali killed in Benue. What about a Duamlong killed in Jos, Plateau State? Did they enjoy the same attention enjoyed by Citizen Watso? Your guess is as good as mine.

 

Can you now see why I’m beginning to detest anything Nigerian? Indeed, I’m only stuck here because I cannot get out, mainly because it is too late in the day. Why remain in a country that frustrates you, kills your dreams and treats you like you don’t exist?

This is a country that places no premium on the lives of her citizens. It is a country callously disdainful of the welfare of her people. Currently, the people of Obigbo in Rivers State have been complaining about brutalization and spilling of innocent blood by soldiers on the alleged orders of the state government.

Though I cannot begin to lay blames now since I am not there, I nevertheless expected that the federal government should have intervened by trying to find out what is happening in a section of the country, especially as many people have been crying out from that place about their bitter experiences in the hands of soldiers.

It is callousness like this that makes the citizenry develop ill feelings for the government and whenever the opportunity calls, they vent their anger on the government. We saw this in full dose during the recent EndSARS protests that nearly ripped the country apart.

People directed their anger to people or institutions they saw as having oppressed them in the past. Thus ex-convicts attacked prisons and set free the inmates. Some others went after police personnel, as well as police facilities. The hungry ones went after palliatives stored in warehouses, while others blocked the roads and extorted money from motorists. They all showed their anger in different ways against a country that has failed and continues to fail them.

Until Nigeria ceases to embrace mediocrity and go for excellence; until she begins to cares less about where one comes from; until the country sees every citizen as being part of the entity, we will continue to crawl when we are supposed to walk.

And now this…

Not too long ago many Nigerians watched a group of young men and women brought together under one roof in what we have come to know as Big Brother Naija. These people did all manner of irresponsible acts while in that house, only for the winner at the end of the day to walk away with millions of Naira.

Mind you, it was arranged in such a manner that every member of that house must get something; whether they won or not. And so it was that even those who were evicted early got no less than a million Naira.

The winner was splashed with a cash reward of 25M, a car, and a house. He was also given free travel tickets to overseas countries. And this was just for whiling away his time before millions of viewers.

Now, some one month after, a student in the country won a national competition. What was he given? A paltry N200, 000. Tomorrow how would anyone convince that student that intelligence or hard work pays? Wouldn’t he prefer to be a Big Brother Naija star/hero who walks away with millions of Naira for idling away his time on TV to being a poor student who gets next to nothing for winning an academic exercise?

Big Brother shows, like others of same type, can be aired for those who like them but all I’m saying is that we should be mindful of the negative impacts of such shows and the messages they transmit. Such shows should not attract big money but should rather be for entertainment.

More money should instead be channeled to endeavours that will ennoble society and produce youths who can effectively take over the mantle of leadership tomorrow.

The danger of such shows like Big Brother is that they will produce more Yahoo Boys and quick fixers who will grow up believing that hard work holds no promise.

We are already seeing today how our youths have started toeing the easy path. Hard work and industry are anathema to them. They want it ready-made and failure to have it so pushes them to the extremes.

The immediate future scares me as I have not seen any signs of things getting better. Instead, we are hatching a new brood of vipers that will ultimately go after us tomorrow. Egwudikwa!

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