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RIGHTSView, By EMMANUEL ONWUBIKO: No place for Africa as US Republicans Debate

By News Express on 15/08/2015

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I will take the liberty of my poetic licence to quote verbatim from the August 6 2015 edition of The Washington Post, the story written about the recently held presidential debate by members of the Republican Party in the United States jostling to emerge as presidential candidate in the 2016 presidential election.

The report is as follows: Businessman Donald Trump struggled to explain when, exactly, he became a Republican, during the first major Republican debate on the forthcoming election. “When did you actually become a Republican?” Moderator Megyn Kelly of Fox News asked Trump. His answer moved from a mention of Ronald Reagan – “I evolved on many issues over the years,” just like Reagan – to an attack on President George W. Bush, whom Trump said was a “catastrophe,” which didn’t explain why he now belonged to Bush’s party.

Thursday’s main-event debate veered between two broad subjects: America and Trump. At times, the other nine candidates on stage debated serious policies: Immigration, the nuclear deal with Iran, government surveillance, the future of Social Security. And then, at times, the debate turned to Trump himself: a sharp-edged candidate who can say things that would torpedo anybody else on stage.

The above narratives were the trends that most newspaper reports of the maiden Republican Party presidential debate – by over one dozen presidential hopefuls took – less than two weeks ago. The emphasis was basically on this maverick politician, Mr Donald Trump, and his missteps and gaffes about certain sensitive topics such as women and the United States’ relationship with the Middle East. Africa was obviously conspicuously missing, even as a mere mention on the positive side. The debates, as clearly captured in the mainstream American press, were more or less series of personality attacks on some key Democrats, such as Mrs Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama. Mrs Clinton, obviously, is the top-rated Democratic presidential hopeful, which explains the reason for the heightened verbal diatribes in full display during this debate that clearly was an anti-climax, from what most international observers had expected. To even think that this was an event watched by millions of non-Americans outside the shores of the United States. The exercise could be said to have been a huge flop, given the total absence of learned debates around international issues that have global relevance.

For instance, the incessant killing of Black youths by the American-White-dominated police, as witnessed these few years, didn't occupy any prime position in the debate. The issue of ending poverty in Africa and what the party intends to do to surpass what was, and or would be done in the days before the presidential election next year by the Democratic administration of President Barack Obama, was none of their core thematic area of debate. Although the issue of immigration became heated during these conversations, but these debaters seemed not to have looked in on the emerging, but seriously disturbing phenomenon of modern-day slavery tendencies. The issue of African boats people rushing into Europe in search of economic liberation with thousands perishing in the Mediterranean Sea in hot pursuits for the elusive greener pastures and freedom from wars, never really mattered much to these presidential hopefuls under the banner of the Republican Party; which produced President George Walker Bush Jnr that invested massively in the area of committed campaigns and actions in Africa, to check the menacing and ravaging effects of Human Immune Deficiency Syndrome and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome  (HIV/AIDS). These debaters didn't speak to the issue of terrorism nor did they turn their attention to the threats posed to African nations by freelance armed fighters and terrorists affiliated to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. The issue of the extensive plots by some rich private individuals in the United States of America to penetrate and infiltrate the African continent to plant gay and/or same sex marriage didn't come up. These people were busy engaging in character assassination of each other so much that they found little or no time to debate on what to do with and to Africa, so the continent can join the league of developed and advanced societies; by way of rapid use of scientific inventions and research and the practice of good governance in the 50 or so African nation states. Even the effects of climate change in Africa mattered very little, just as the environmental pollutions created by the dangerous activities of western-dominated multinational crude oil countries in Africa wasn’t debated.

What about the suffocating threat of corruption and capital flight engineered by economic crimes, and other manifestations of organised social crimes by political office-holders, who flood the economies of these developed countries in Europe and the United States of America to hide these stolen commonwealth of Africans? It’s surely none of their business. These debilitating social evils keeping Africa on its knees, and denying our people development, didn’t come up in the first debate by Republican Party. Will they have a fundamental shift of focus away from attacking themselves in the next debates to talk about issues of how to make the world a better place for all of humanity? Only time will tell. Barack Obama is almost rounding off eight years of the first ever historical Africa American-led administration without making much impact to the African motherland. The hopes of an African renaissance may surely not lie with this Republican Party, which has started by not putting Africa on their scale of preference.  But as humans, we will remain optimistic that they will come to the realisation that as long as a part of the world remains in darkness and underdeveloped; and so long as human movements aren't perfectly restricted, then they won't be insulated from coming to terms with the hard reality of lack of expanded and liberal economic freedoms afflicting Africans who live in the African continent. No human society is isolated from each other – if you like call it First, Second or Third World Countries – we are all united under one banner of humanity. It is imperative that both the Democratic and Republican parties have ample and visible programmes of development for Africa,  just as Europe was rebuilt through ‘Marshal Plans’ set out primarily by the United States immediately after the First and Second world wars. Africa must be reconstructed so we humanise our continent once more. Africa was destroyed by western powers through slave trades and colonialism many years back and, till now, not a penny has been paid as reparations. But these Republican politicians in the richest nation on earth, which prides itself as the bastion of modern civilisation and democracy, doesn't give a damn.  At least, not yet.

RIGHTSVIEW appears on Wednesdays and Saturdays, in addition to special appearances. The Columnist, popular activist Emmanuel Onwubiko, is a former Federal Commissioner of Nigeria’s National Human Rights Commission and presently National Coordinator of Human Rights Writers’ Association of Nigeria (HURIWA).

Source News Express

Posted 15/08/2015 7:20:42 PM


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