These are extremely challenging times and certainly not the time for castigating the north or Islam. Nigeria long ago started the descent to the edge of the current abyss of religious fanaticism that we find ourselves today
Castigating the Americans or begging them for forgiveness is not the way forward; sorting out our plethora of social and political problems is. And the time to start is NOW. No matter how much we want to wish him away, young Abdulmutallab IS a Nigerian and he did pass through Nigeria while planning and perpetrating his attack.
However, one should not forget that Mamfo Kwaku Asiedu, one of the people found guilty of plotting to bomb London's transport network on 21st July 2005 is a Ghanaian and the shoe bomber Richard Reid is British. A notable percentage of the terrorist caught in more recent times are British nationals or have links to Britain yet none of these two countries is listed amongst nations sponsoring terror.
Nigerians are right to feel victimised as a result of being listed as one of the fourteen countries on America's terror watch list due to a solitary act committed by a misguided youth, an act that has found no support from any quarter of the country and not even from Abdulmutallab's own father. A father who took painful and embarrassing steps to report his son to the appropriate authorities, warning them of his son's extremist views.
The USA announced Jan. 3 that travellers from 14 countries described as having terrorism problems will face additional scrutiny. The tougher screenings will target passengers from 10 "countries of interest" listed as Afghanistan, Algeria, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia and Yemen and Cuba, Iran, Sudan and Syria, four nations that the U.S. has called state sponsors of terrorism.
From a peace loving nation to terrorist watch-list, the next stage of American self preservation could well be armed drones making incisive attacks on perceived terrorist bases in Nigeria.
This could then result in the "Stockholm Syndrome" as those Nigerians currently romancing with, or being force-fed extremist Islamic dogma at home and abroad, begin to sympathise with their recruiters and ultimately volunteer to serve as human bombs.
The situation calls for strong leadership from the Nigerian Government and it also provides another opportunity for Nigerian leaders to grapple with the many social and economic challenges that its citizens suffer daily. Failure to do so would be to sentence the next generation of Nigerians to a future influenced by the UK and America's vengeful counter terrorism policies.