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Thursday, 9 March 2017

Trump, the world is your stage now!

US President-elect Donald Trump gestures before being sworn in as President on January 20, 2017 at the US Capitol in Washington, DC. / AFP PHOTO / Mark RALSTON

I respect Professor Wole Soyinka of Nigeria to the point of veneration. Apart from his achievement as the first black African to have won the Noble Prize in literature, Soyinka distinguished himself to me as a non-tribalistic Nigerian who spoke out in defence of the Igbo-speaking people of the then Eastern Nigeria after the Igbo came under coordinated mass killings in the streets of Northern Nigeria in mid 1960’s.

Soyinka did not only protest against the gruesome killings of pregnant Igbo women, elders and children by riotous but well-motivated Northern youths, but he suffered many months of incarceration for persistently speaking out against the deliberate bombing campaign by the General Yakubu Gowon-led military junta of Nigeria against the then newly declared Biafran Republic.

Biafran Republic which lasted throughout the thirty months-old fratricidal war saw the elimination of over three million Igbo. 
Soyinka went ahead to pen a masterpiece whilst serving term in the prison because of Biafra which he called The man died.

But my love for Soyinka did not stop me from fundamentally departing with him on the issues around the candidacy and emergence as the President of the United States of America of the Republican Party’s Mr. Donald Trump, the American super billionaire.

Soyinka hates Donald Trump to such an extent that he has chosen not to visit the United States from January 20,  2017 when Trump was sworn in as the United States president. 

Soyinka threatened to tear apart his green card meaning that he would never visit the United States at least for the next eight years during which Trump could preside over as the United States president.

The Nobel laureate, who threatened to destroy his green card last year, confirmed he did it as an act of protest before the 20 January’s inauguration ceremony, so reports The Guardian of United kingdom. 

After threatening to do it a week before the U.S. presidential elections last November, Soyinka confirmed he had destroyed his green card because Trump won.

Soyinka, the first African writer to be awarded the Nobel Prize in literature, was jailed twice for his criticism of the Nigerian government during the 1960s, famously composing protest poems on toilet paper from his cell in solitary confinement. 

In 1994, Soyinka’s passport was confiscated by the de facto president Sani Abacha after he urged Nigerians to not pay taxes, as their money would aid the military. 

After years of living in voluntary exile and teaching overseas, Soyinka eventually sought refuge in the United States that same year, with the help of former U.S. president Jimmy Carter. He later received a death sentence in absentia in 1997, from the regime under Abacha.

On November 2, six days before the U.S. election, Soyinka told a student audience at Oxford University’s Ertegun House that he would hold his own, self-described “Wolexit” if Trump won, and destroy his green card. “If in the unlikely event he does win, the first thing he’ll do is to say [that] all green-card holders must reapply to come back into the U.S. Well, I’m not waiting for that,” he said at the time. “The moment they announce his victory, I will cut my green card myself and start packing up.”

In an interview with The Atlantic only recently, Soyinka confirmed he had followed through on his pledge to destroy his green card if Trump won as he celebrated Thanksgiving with his family in the U.S.

Soyinka, who has returned to living mainly in Nigeria since Abacha died in 1998, said he had made his green card “inoperable”. He did not expand on how he had destroyed it, but said: “I don’t have strong enough fingers to tear up a green card. As long as Trump is in charge, if I absolutely have to visit the United States, I prefer to go in the queue for a regular visa with others. I’m no longer part of the society, not even as a resident.”

Soyinka described the act as cathartic: “I delivered myself from uncertainty, from discomfort, from internal turmoil.”In an interview with Nigeria’s The Interview magazine in November, Soyinka said he would destroy his green card in preparation for Trump’s inauguration on 20 January and that he “felt disaster in my marrow” as he watched the election results come in. “Trump’s wall is already under construction,” he said. “Walls are built in the mind, and Trump has erected walls, not only across the mental landscape of America, but across the global landscape.

The Nigerian literary guru is not alone in his rejection of Donald Trump. Several American celebrities boycotted the inauguration ceremony of Trump. Trump and a reputable black civil rights leader had a clash following the criticism Trump suffered at the hands of that statesman. Trump’s jibes with John Lewis the respected Civil Rights leader nearly took racial undertones.

Ironically, this verbal warfare happened in the very week that the United States has dedicated to remember the memory of Martin Luther King jr, the great American Civil Rights leader who worked and paid the supreme sacrifice to gain voting rights for millions of black Americans.

The defeat of the Democrats sent shock waves around the globe particularly because of the nationalistic tones of Trump. From January 20, which marks Trump’s presidential inauguration, the whole wide world became his own stage as he automatically became the strongest world leader because the United States of America is the number one super power nation in the globe.

Trump expressed shock that despite the quantum of American cash paid out to the Nigerian authorities to wage the counter-terror war, the 300 Chibok school girls kidnapped since over two years by Boko Haram terrorists are yet to be found. Trump has also drawn criticism for his unclear commitments towards checking the effects of climate change because he believed that it is completely fake. If Trump makes good his disdain for climate change accord the Paris Climate Change accord signed by his predecessor and many nations including Nigeria could suffer global set back.
Onwubiko is head of Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria.

This would be catastrophic for Nigeria which stands to gain for the funds for remediation of the effects of pollution of the Earth by the world’s industrialised countries such as Japan, China, United States amongst others which would be paid to Third World countries. 

If Trump pulls out the technical, military  and financial assistance that United States gives to Nigeria because of the issues of corruption by government officials in Nigeria, if therefore follows that the threats posed by armed Islamists and other terror networks would be exacerbated and this would have telling effects in the economic and social wellbeing of Nigerians and Africans in general because if Nigeria remains perpetually unstable, then Africa is unstable. The fact is that if Nigeria collapses then the continental stability is endangered. 

Also, the expressed determination of President-elect Trump to make the United State a greater nuclear power could see his administration focusing so much on increasing its defence budgets thereby leaving very little money for foreign assistance to poor and developing nations such as Nigeria. 

It would also mean that the refusal of the United States to sign on to the Rome treaty which brought into existence the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands would become a permanent feature. 
Already countries such as Russia and a lot of African nations are pulling out of the Rome Treaty on ICC.

If the International Criminal Court fails, it therefore follows that the overflowing cases of impunity and lawlessness that characterise most African nations including Nigeria would further expand. 

This would mean that with the deliberate snail speed nature of criminal justice system in Nigeria and the clear lack of will power to prosecute mass murderers such as Boko Haram and armed Fulani terrorist by the Nigerian government under Muhammadu Buhari has come to stay meaning that the over 30,000 innocent Nigerians killed by these terror gangs would have died in vain.

As an ardent supporter of Trump, may I appeal to the United States President not to abandon the third world nations even as he desires to make America great again. 

Trump should please sign on to the International Criminal Court’s treaty and hold on to the Paris Climate Change treaty which his predecessor has signed on to so the global community can become peaceful and so the political leaders who carry out horrendous crimes against humanity are marched to the global crimes court to face their day with the international humanitarian law. 
Onwubiko is head of Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria.

Vía The Guardian Nigeria

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