15 January 2018

Nigeria: #Shithole - Group Urges Nigeria, AU to Rise Against Trump

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

A Nigerian civic organisation has called on both the Buhari administration and the African Union to immediately take a fierce stand against U.S. President, Donald Trump.

The Revive Nigeria Group in a Monday morning statement to PREMIUM TIMES said Mr. Trump's recent comments in which he reportedly derided countries in Africa, Haiti and El Salvador as "shithole" must not be allowed to stand.

"There is every reason to expect more of this ad hominems, but they should not be left unchallenged," the statement, signed by RNG spokesperson, Chinwe Anyawu, said.

"While making its position known on this issue, Nigeria must push for a collective response and reprobation by the African Union and must seriously put in place an African position to respond to what is shaping up as an extremely hostile US administration under President Trump."

Mr. Trump reportedly described Haiti, El Salvador and parts of Africa as "shithole countries" during a meeting with U.S. lawmakers on 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 help 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 venting.

But the president denied describing any race as coming from "shithole countries" in a Friday morning tweet.

"Never said anything derogatory about Haitians other than Haiti is, obviously, a very poor and troubled country. Never said "take them out." Made up by Dems. I have a wonderful relationship with Haitians. Probably should record future meetings - unfortunately, no trust!" Mr. Trump said.

The controversy 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, saying Mr. Trump did not slander any country.

At least two Republican senators came out in defence of Mr. Trump in separate TV interviews on Sunday, saying they were at the meeting but did not hear Mr. Trump use the derogatory quotes attributed to him.

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

Mr. Trump's critics also played up statistics that show how African migrants in the U.S. have a higher number of bachelor's degree holders than Americans themselves.

"The language of @realDonaldTrump that the African continent, Haiti and El Salvador are "shithole countries" is extremely unfortunate," said Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo in a tweet Saturday afternoon. "We are certainly not a "shithole country". We will not accept such insults, even from a leader of a friendly country, no matter how powerful."

The AU swiftly condemned the statement as racist and demanded an apology.

On Monday, reports emerged that South African authorities summoned the U.S. diplomat based in the country to explain the comments credited to their president.

In Nigeria, the controversy has also pitted the two major political parties against each other. While the opposition Peoples Democratic Party sees Mr. Trump's alleged comments as a consequence of President Muhammadu Buhari's disparaging comments about Nigerians abroad; the ruling All Progressives Congress says all well-meaning citizens should unite in their condemnation of Mr. Trump.

Weighing in on the matter Monday, the RNG said Mr. Trump's alleged comments were a reflection of his deep-seated disdain for the black race.

"In the same breath as he was unleashing on immigrants from "Shithole Countries ", he was gratuitously asking for Norwegians to emigrate to the US. Race and nationality were prime considerations in his unguarded comments. This collective and demeaning denigration of a broad collection of nationalities and continents was unnecessary and unacceptable, even for Trump," the RNG said. "He may not know himself, because such emotional outbursts usually come from inner recesses filled with xenophobia and racism."

Ms. Anyawu reminded Mr. Trump that he turned to a Nigerian-American, Adebayo Ogunlesi, to be a member of his Economic Advisory Council shortly after assuming office in January 2017.

"He also fails to remember Dr. Bennet Omalu, a Nigeria-American Neuropathologist, who first discovered Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) that affects many past and present players in the NFL, a league that has several Nigerian-Americans playing in.

"Nigerians are excelling, profoundly, in Academia, the NBA, Collegiate sports and Hollywood. Revive Nigeria Group, RNG, recognizes Nigeria's diaspora population in the US who continue to make us proud in their continued strive for excellence," Ms. Anyawu said.

The RNG said the relationship between Nigeria and the United States had been mutual in the areas of economic and strategic defence cooperation since the 1960s.

"Trump's stance on Nigeria is an aberration borne out of ignorance of international issues and the importance of decorum and mutual interests, compounded by his visceral dislike of non-European countries and people."

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