Nigeriaâ€™s Information Minister Dora Akunyili speaks during a news conference in Lagos. Farouk Mutallab, originally from Nigeria, had travelled widely, returning to Nigeria just before the jet attack.
USAfricaonline, Commentary, Chido Nwangwu, Posted: Dec 28, 2009
The most unlikely person has snatched Alhaji (Dr.) Umaru Mutallabâ€™s relatively mild-mannered public persona from him: his own son, Farouk Abdul Mutallab.
Farouk is the alleged terror-executor who on Christmas Day reportedly fumbled his own plan to blow up Delta-Northwest Airlines flight 235, minutes before landing in Detroit, the economically troubled American motor city.
The events in Detroit merely played up, to a global canvas, the contrast of the two individuals.
The older Mutallab, a conservative Muslim, was born in 1939 in the north central state of Katsina (home of the current, ailing President Umaru Yaâ€™Adua).
A USAfricaonline.com count found that Umaru Mutallab was chairman of more than 36 blue chip companies inside Nigeria and overseas.
But while the older Mutallab sought and gained multiple millions dollars in rewards for his core, long-standing interests and skills in business especially in financial services, the younger Mutallab, by his own admission, sought to be a foot soldier for Osama bin Ladenâ€™s al-Qaida.
A highly respected conservative man whose friends cut across states, religion and gender, Mutallab is soft spoken and very intelligent and industrious.
Having reported and followed key aspects of Umaru Mutallab and Nigeriaâ€™s military and civilian elite, I know that the older Mutallab benefited from his deft positioning across an immense network of family, geo-ethnic and professional layers of interests.
Consequently, the man has had a near permanent presence on Nigeriaâ€™s economic landscape as a government official, banking investor, facilitator or shareholder – working the levers of power- all through civilian and military governments in Nigeria for more than 35 years.
Alhaji Mutallab is one of Nigeriaâ€™s most respected technocrats and administrators, having also served as a Federal Minister of Economic Development & Reconstruction. He is a Fellow of the Association of Chartered and Certified Accountants (FCCA), Institute of the International Bankers Association (FIBA, USA), the Institute of Bankers and the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (FCA).
Mutallab was appointed director of First Bank on March 8, 1996 and became chairman of the Board on March 18, 1999. In mid December, Alhaji Umaru Mutallab – after his massively rewarding decade at the helm of the First Bank Plc – fully retired as Chairman. He was succeeded by Oba Otudeko, a billionaire chairman of the Honeywell Group of Companies and immediate past President of the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE).
Mutallab has been in strategic board positions of the banking sector for decades as CEO and/or Chairman of various financial institutions including United Bank for Africa (UBA).
â€œThe man is amiable and always at the forefront of any economic revival committees and boards of government, the alleged link of his son to the alleged terrorism plot left many of his friends and associates devastated,â€ notes Obinwa Nnaji, USAfricaonline.com bureau chief in Lagos. â€œOther Nigerians still argue at their homes, various places and across USAfrica multimedia blogs that they still do not believe it to be a stock in trade of Nigerians to be found planting bombs in aircraft.â€
The Alhaji, from some indications, has been concerned about his sonâ€™s radical Islam associates, including potentially violent views. He reportedly, but yet unconfirmed by government and independent sources, visited the U.S. embassy in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, to alert its security of the sonâ€™s growing liaison and engagement with al-Qaida-type characters, especially in the radicalized country of Yemen.
In a Dec. 12, 2001 exclusively commentary for USAfricaonline.com, I raised a red flag and forewarned in the critical insight which focused on al-Qaida, rag-tag Taliban and Nigeriaâ€™s security situation.
Farouk attended college to study engineering in London, and lived in a posh, upscale apartment paid for by his father.
But one of the areas where the older Mutallabâ€™s skills and services did not yield much if any significant value for Nigerians was his tenure as chairman of the troubled and woeful former National Electric Power Authority (NEPA).
As a key member of the Nigerian ruling groups, he bagged the chairmanship of the Vision 2020 Business Support Group of Nigeria. He is a key shareholder and chairman of the very successful Spring Waters Nigeria (SWAN), and a host of other investments.
Evidently, even the luxury and resources amassed by the older Mutallab could not dissuade his 23-year-old son Farouk from being a jihadist and fighter for Islamic fundamentalism through the violent, toxic mechanisms of terrorism, as alleged from his actions on Christmas Day.
Chido Nwangwu is the Founder & Publisher of the first African-owned, U.S-based professional newspaper published on the Internet at USAfricaonline.com, The Black Business Journal, CLASSmagazine, PhotoWorks.TV, AchebeBooks.com, USAfrica.TV and several blogs. Nwangwu has been honored by the Washington, D. C.-based National Immigration Forum for utilizing multimedia to fight authoritarianism and foster freedom of expression.