13 January 2018

Africa: PDP, APC Clash Over Trump's 'Shithole' Remark On Africa

Photo: African Union Mission to the USA
African Union Mission to the USA reacts to President Trump's 'shithole countries' remarks.

The opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, sparred on Saturday with the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, over which African leader's conduct informed a series of disparaging comments that U.S. President Donald Trump has hurled on black countries.

Mr. Trump singled out Haiti, El Salvador and parts of Africa as "shithole countries" during a meeting with U.S. lawmakers about immigration Thursday, according to the Washington Post.

The comments came during a White House meeting held to explore a bipartisan immigration deal, said the Washington Post, which broke the news.

The paper reported that Mr. Trump favoured immigrants from Norway and Asia, saying they helped the country economically.

But he wondered "why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?"

"Why do we need more Haitians? Take them out," the Washington Post quoted Mr. Trump as saying.

But the president denied describing making derogatory remarks about Haiti, and appeared to also deny insulting Africa.

This came about three weeks after the New York Times reported that Mr. Trump slammed Nigerians during a June 2017 cabinet meeting that they don't "go back to their huts" once they enter America.

The paper also said Mr. Trump castigated Haitians as people living with AIDS and Afghanistan as a terrorist-infested country.

The White House denied the comments at the time.

Mr. Trump's latest comments drew worldwide outrage this weekend, especially leaders from black countries.

Although Mr. Buhari has not officially commented on the outrage, the PDP said the president has no moral grounds to do so.

"President Buhari laid a very bad foundation for all the bad impressions people have about Nigeria as a whole," said Diran Odeyemi, the deputy spokesperson for the PDP, in a telephone interview with PREMIUM TIMES.

President Buhari was criticised in February 2016 when he described Nigerians as having reputation for crime in an interview with The Telegraph in London.

A few months later in May, Mr. Buhari said Nigeria is a "fantastically corrupt" country, effectively agreeing with the then British Prime Minister David Cameron who had earlier described Nigeria in the same language.

"It's unfortunate that we found ourselves in a situation where our leader does not understand the weight of statements he makes internationally," Mr. Odeyemi said.

"Even recently, the president said he thought he was 74 until he was told he had turned 75, meaning we have a leader that doesn't even know his age," the spokesperson added.

"So if Trump comes out to say anything bad about us, it is the outcome of what our president has said in the past," Mr. Odeyemi said, adding that "the PDP will present a candidate that understands international politics and how to talk intelligently."

But the APC has lampooned the opposition party for trying to score political points from the comments that have earned Mr. Trump serious reprimand across the world.

"Every black person everywhere, every African everywhere, every rational person everywhere is unanimous in condemning the disparaging statements attributed to Mr. Trump," said the APC spokesperson Bolaji Abdullahi.

"It is only the PDP that appears to agree with him and actually feels those unfortunate comments that have been declared racist could actually be justified," Mr. Abdullahi further told PREMIUM TIMES. "You don't need to join others to rubbish your own people because you want to play opposition."

But a human resource expert who weighed in on the matter, said both parties should see Mr. Trump's comments as a challenge for improved leadership on the African continent rather than taking cheap shots at each other.

"Instead of the political parties bickering, it should be for us to prove to the world that we can do better in Africa," said Yomi Fawehinmi.

Mr. Fawehinmi, however, slammed Mr. Trump for his comments, which he described as "unbecoming" of a leader of his status.

"It is unbecoming, even though it could be factual. But it is unexpected of him as a leader," Mr. Fawehinmi said, while emphasising that "this is a challenge for us in Africa."

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