The back-and-forth between Ghana and Nigeria over how Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab got on a plane he tried to blow up is all so typically African. Instead of attacking our problems headlong, we like to pass the buck and needlessly beat around the bush. The Nigerian government says the guy who strapped explosives to his testicles started his murderous mission here in Accra.
The Ghanaians, on the other hand, say that doesn’t negate the fact that he’s Nigerian and that it was in Lagos that he boarded the flight to Amsterdam, en-route to Detroit where, thankfully, he only succeeded in grilling his nuts.
And our government here in Ghana even likes to go a step further. Deputy information minister, Samuel Okudzeto-Ablakwa, has the nerve to point fingers at the Americans and Britons, accusing them for failing to share information with our intelligence agency.
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Whether the Americans shared the information with their Ghanaian counterparts or not is of little consequence now. Where and how he boarded the plane is common knowledge and so there is no need debating who should bear the most blame.
What’s most important is for us to find out what he came to do in Accra. Thank God our government has been honest enough to admit that the idiot spent two weeks in Accra.
What in heaven’s name was he doing here? Who did he meet? What did they talk about? And what does all of that mean for Ghana (and Nigeria) in this crazy world of terrorism where a guy born with a silver spoon in his mouth will want to leave with world by killing hundreds of innocent human beings with explosives strapped to his balls.
These are the questions we should be asking ourselves.
For once, the BNI has been presented with a very good opportunity to do some real intelligence work – away from their usual brutish harassment of people and the flagrant violation of people’s rights. Instead of making sure that they get down to it, our government has chosen to play ostrich – sadly, with a sizeable proportion of the citizenry, blinded by senseless nationalistic fervour in tow.
The Nigerians have their questions to answer. To begin with, almost every Nigerian is being placed on America’s terror watch list. The fact that the failed bomber hails from that country, taints their reputation enough. How they deal with it is up to them.
It is imperative, however, that our government works closely with Abuja to get to the bottom of this matter. It will help us deal decisively with an emerging threat to the very foundations of our nations.
The fact that the idiot with the bomb around his balls spent two weeks in Accra should be a matter of concern for every Ghanaian. Will it too far-fetched to suggest that he might have come here for further instructions after graduating from the Terror University in Yemen? It could be that al-Qaeda has some sort of presence in Ghana and that’s why he chose to come here.
We live in a country which does not keep a record of all the people who enter and leave. Few of us have forgotten about the case of the drug dealers who came from Venezuela, opened a lingerie boutique, bought houses and got married. When we found out what they were actually up to, they fled the country and there was nothing to show that they had ever stepped foot in this country. This was by no means an isolated instance.
So I won’t be surprised if al-Qaeda planted a couple of kingpins here to make sure that the Abdulmutalab had the bombs properly strapped to his balls. Instead of playing ostrich and engaging in fruitless game of buck-passing with the Nigerians, our government should be hard at work investigating whether al-Qaeda has set up an office here in Ghana. They well might have because I don’t think Abdulmutalab came here just to buy a plane ticket.
If the terrorists are being chased out of their dens in places like Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq, they would need safe havens to operate from and countries like ours and Nigeria are perfect candidates. Policing is weak here and our intelligence agency is nothing but an instrument for harassing and bullying opponents of the ruling party.
It’s very easy for al-Qaeda to take roots here. Maybe they are here already. Maybe they are not. Whatever the case may be, we need to know why Abdulmutalab spent two weeks in Accra.
Until then, let’s not gloat over the fact Ghana is not on the list of countries whose citizens have been marked for thorough searches around the world. We may not be on the list. But we’d be looked at with suspicion at airports around the world. Not even another visit by Barack Obama will change that.