Posted by News Express | 1 June 2019 | 953 times
As a kid growing up in the rusty but sleepy town of Kafanchan, Kaduna State, North-central Nigeria – currently the epicentre of the unrelenting spectre of Moslems versus Christians’ fratricidal war – I became fascinated by the effervescent stories of the greatness of the United States of America. As a voracious reader, I learnt then that the USA is a country made up of diverse nationalities. And to cap it up, we were told that the motto of that great nation of hundreds of millions of beautiful and humane people is “God's own Country.”
As time goes on, while still in the public school system in Kaduna State, the United States of America remained a model of distinction as one place in the world where the institutions of democracy have made life worth living, in such a fashion that no one is above the law. I read then a certain story that a fugitive from the law wanted in one of the 50 states in USA was arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), after nearly 18 years on the run. That story gave me the impression that the law is king in USA.
Also, as someone from childhood who became fascinated with current affairs, I often read books of different issues of the socio-cultural settings of not just the United States, but also other developed Western societies, such as the United Kingdom and Australia, that can as well stand as examples of great political entities that brought together nationalities of diverse areas of the globe.
Additionally, the United States of America was typically and dramatically presented in both graphics and real time intellectual works, as one place that is the most important model of constitutional democracy, almost in the same mode like how the Athenians (of old) practised democracy.
Now, as a grown adult with fascinating records of international travels, the United States of America is still a bastion of freedoms, human rights and respect for the rule of law.
The constitution of the United States of America appears very small in size, but contextually, it is the most important piece of document supporting democracy to have been written by man.
However, the arrival on the political scene of Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States of America, a couple of years back, has seen a lot of conversations around the thorny issue of migration and race relations.
Trump emerged from the outside of mainstream politics, and is not a product of any of the few formidable political dynasties like George Bush or the Kennedys or even the Bill Clintons of this world, although he is from a very wealthy background.
Trump is originally a business man and promoter of social entertainment, in which he has been lucky to have become enormously wealthy. His original line of job brought him very close to persons of diverse racial backgrounds. But his political profile does not seem to tally with his urbane or global business outlook, because he is basically focused around what he stylishly termed “make America great again” (MAGA). Already, his largely White followers are known for adorning their red caps inscribed with the four letters MAGA.
In his quest to restore the military, economic and political leadership profile of the United States of America, Trump has implemented certain policies that are not friendly to migration. He has demonstrated a disturbing level of aversion and an altogether unwelcome tendency for migrants; which sadly has seen his hitherto global appearance as an entertainment mogul demystified and muddied.
He has not only spoken out against migration but has practically done things that are targeted at making the United States of America to look like an isolated island from the rest of the world.
His economic policies of instigating trade wars with China in order to re-industralise the USA has graphically painted America today as the modern version of the Biblical Ark of Noah in the Old Testament.
Writing on the theme “A Biblical Theology of Flood”, Richard M Davidson of the Andrews University said:
“The word berît ‘covenant’ first appears in Scripture in connection with the Flood (Gen 6:18; 9:8-17), and the covenant motif is an integral part of the Flood narrative. The Noahic covenant comes at God’s initiative, and demonstrates His concern, faithfulness, and dependability. He covenants never again to send a Flood to destroy the earth. This covenant promise flows from the propitiatory animal sacrifice offered by Noah (Gen 8:20-22; Wenham 1987, 189-190).
“Unlike the other biblical covenants, the Noahic covenant is made not only with humankind but with the whole earth (Gen 9:13), including every living creature (Gen 9:10, 12, 15, 16), and is thus completely unilateral and unconditional upon the response of the earth and its inhabitants. The sign of this everlasting covenant is the rainbow, which is not primarily for humankind, but for God to see and ‘remember’ the covenant He has made with the earth (Gen 9:16).”
My reason for associating president Trump’s idea of “making America great again” to the biblical-time Noah's Ark, is because in the case of the story in the Bible, the Ark was opened and all kinds of people were let in on their own volition.
Those who accepted the open invitation by the Bible personality did so because they hoped that their action would save them from the consequences of the flood.
Today, President Trump has closed the doors into the United States of America and stopped migrants of all genres from gaining entries into the country, as if to say the USA is now the new Noah's Ark; meaning that those who reside in there are insulated from the consequences of the floods of conflicts, terrorism, economic perils and warfare that have torn apart many countries of the world. But that is a fallacy because as we were told: if America sneezes today, the world catches cold. This means that USA is an integral member and a part of the whole, which is the world. A part can, therefore, not be insulated from the whole nor is it much bigger than the whole.
Statistically, America under President Trump is booming with jobs. The May 25th-31st 2019 edition of The Economist has expertly treated the theme of the emergence of the great jobs boom, not only in Trump's America but also in some other Western economies.
The Economist observed: “In America, the unemployment rate is only 3.6 per cent, the lowest in half a century. Less appreciated is the abundance of jobs across most of the rich world. Two-thirds of the members of the OECD, a club of mostly rich countries, enjoy record-high employment among 15-to 64-year-olds. In Japan 77 per cent of this group has a job, up six percentage points in six years. This year, Britons will work a record 350bn hours a month. Germany is enjoying a bonanza of tax revenue following a surge in the size of its labour force. Even in France, Spain and Italy, where joblessness is still relatively high, working-age employment is close to or exceeds 2005 levels.
“The rich-world jobs boom, if partly cyclical, the result of a decade of economic stimulus and recovery since the great recession. But it also reflects structural shifts. Populations are becoming more educated. Websites are efficient at matching vacancies and qualified applicants.
“And ever more women work. In fact, women account for almost all the growth in the rich-world employment rate since 2007. That has something to do with pro-family policies in Europe, but since 2015 the trend is found in America, too. Last, reforms to welfare programmes, both to make them less generous and to toughen eligibility tests, seem to have encouraged people to seek work.
“Thanks to the jobs boom, unemployment, once the central issue of political economy, has all but disappeared from the political landscape in many countries.”
Under Trump, America has repudiated several global treaties, such as the Paris climate change treaty and other bilateral military treaties with Russia and Iran that could have made the world a safer place.
The coming of president Trump which positively and constructively had seen certain good and humane developments such as the moves to ban abortion and check the extreme evolution of certain suspected unnatural sexual orientations, would have to be balanced with a changed attitudes towards immigration.
The idea of closing up America and only accepting egg heads, maybe nationalistic, but in the long-run, the global harmony among humanity is imperiled, since those who are left to confront existential challenges of our times, including threats of terrorism, will in one way or the other have negative consequences for USA, as no single nation is a successful island.
Trump must moderate his aversion for foreigners and adopt more efficient means of enforcing immigration laws of the United States of America.
Right now, Trump’s policy of migration is bellicose. For instance, recently, the United States Embassy announced stiffer and stricter visa application processes for Nigerians. The embassy said in a statement that henceforth, all applicants, including frequent travellers who used to enjoy the drop-box method, would now have to appear for interviews each time they applied.
It, however, said diplomatic and government officials could continue to enjoy the status quo.
The statement read: “Effective at the close of business today, Tuesday, May 14, 2019, the US Mission to Nigeria is indefinitely suspending interview waivers for renewals, otherwise known as the ‘Drop-box’ process.
“Visa applications will no longer be accepted by DHL in Nigeria. Those who have already submitted their passports via Drop-box to DHL for processing either at the US Embassy in Abuja or the Consulate-General in Lagos, will not be impacted by this change.
“All applicants in Nigeria seeking a non-immigrant visa to the United States must apply online and will be required to appear in person at the US Embassy in Abuja or US Consulate-General in Lagos to submit their application for review. Applicants must appear at the location they specified when applying for the visa renewal.
“Processing of diplomatic and official (A, G, and NATO class) visa applications will continue unchanged.”
It said the Mission’s processing procedures in Nigeria are regularly reviewed in order to “assess our ability to quickly, efficiently, and securely process visa applications.”
The US embassy said it was taking this step to provide more efficient customer service and promote legitimate travel, and will continue to facilitate applications of established travellers to the best of its ability.
The newspapers have ran stories about the adversarial attitudes of visa issuing officials, just as the US embassy in Nigeria has come under intense criticism in recent time for its high rate of visa refusal of Nigerians, especially those applying for student visas.
As expected, the embassy claims it is not happy denying Nigerians visa. It was reported last year how the US denies hundreds of Nigerians visa on a daily basis and how the embassy generates N57 million from Nigerians daily.
Following the report, the House of Representatives launched a probe into the matter in late 2018, but it was later cancelled.
Erstwhile Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Geoffrey Onyeama, said the Federal Government has engaged the US government to make the issue of visa issuance less difficult for genuine Nigerian visitors to America. He made the disclosure in Abuja while fielding questions from newsmen on the negative impact the issue of visa overstay had on Nigerians travelling to the US.
The minister expressed concern that one of the consequences of the visa overstay was the recent suspension of Drop-box for visa renewal for Nigerians. He noted that most of the unfavourable migrant decisions taken by some countries were triggered by the negative perceptions about few Nigerians who do not obey the rules of those countries.
“The issue of migration is a challenge and such a sensitive topic because the US has just suspended the Drop-box for visa renewals.
“And a lot of it is that they released statistics to show that 10 per cent of people who overstayed their visas globally are Nigerians. Those who do not obey the rule of other countries have more negative impact on those who obeyed,” the minister said.
He added that there had been those who were denied visa not because they were not qualified, but because of perception created by those who disobeyed the rules.
“The issue of those who overstayed their visas is a real issue. We have engaged with the US government over it. We are just trying to work through them and they are looking at various alternatives and solutions to make things less difficult for the genuine visitors and the like.
“Things like you have to have guarantor or surety and the like, all those things are what they are trying to apply to really address this issue,” NAN quoted him as saying.
Onyeama added that the ministry was doing what it could to ensure that the issue of the recent suspension of Drop-box for visa renewal do not affect genuine visitors to the US.
“We are doing what we can; they (U.S. Embassy) told me that notwithstanding the suspension of drop-box mechanism, that there would be expedited interview for certain people.
“And that there would be that flexibility to request for interview that might make it easier for those seeking visa,” he said.
Trump must balance his zeal to reduce illegal migration with the status of his nation as the global leader of constitutional democracy, with inherent responsibility to spread democracy and promotion of human rights internationally.
•RIGHTSVIEW appears on Wednesdays and Saturdays, in addition to special appearances. The Columnist, a popular activist (www.huriwanigeria.com, www.emmanuelonwubiko.com), is a former Federal Commissioner of Nigeria’s National Human Rights Commission and presently National Coordinator of Human Rights Writers’ Association of Nigeria (HURIWA).
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