Nigerians should not regret being barred from migrating to a country where black lives don’t matter. I love Americans as I love the rest of humanity, but how do I love a country that has planted millions of landmines, but not a single one in its own territory; a country kidnapping people across the world in the name of rendition…
When I was a boy, magic was associated with what the adults called ‘American Wonder.’ The United States of American (U.S.A) was a wonder to that generation and it was believed that it was a country of anything goes. That America could change white into blue or insist that white is actually blue. That was the Nigeria of the 1970s.
On January 31, 2020, America listed Nigeria, Eritrea, Sudan, Tanzania, Kyrgyzstan and Myanmar – with large Muslim populations – as new countries handed forms of travel ban. This is apparently a continuation of the January 2017 Trump travel ban on citizens of seven Muslim countries. In this election year, Trump has to appeal to his Christian evangelical supporters. Secondly, Trump is a bombastic racist and needs to let the far right know that he is protecting White America and the Whiteness of America. Clamping down on Nigerians is a promise Trump made as a presidential aspirant. In his 2016 rally in Kansas, Trump said: “Nigerians and Mexicans have taken all the jobs meant for honest hard working Americans. Why can’t they (Nigerians) stay in their own country?…We need to get the Africans out. Not the blacks, the Africans. Especially the Nigerians. They’re everywhere… I went for a rally in Alaska and met just one African in the entire state. Where was he from? Nigeria! He’s in Alaska taking our jobs. They’re in Houston taking our jobs.”
As American president in January 2018, at a White House discussion with lawmakers, Trump said of Haiti, El Salvador, and African countries: “Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?” So with the ban, Trump is merely fulfilling his campaign promises.
To be eligible to apply for an immigrant visa, a foreigner must be sponsored by a U.S. citizen relative, a U.S. lawful permanent resident, or a prospective employer. Also, it takes two to three years, including background checks, before a migrant visa is issued. Now, let us examine the excuses for denying Nigerians migrant visas.
One is that Nigerians are overstaying their visas. First, there is a penalty of being refused the American visa for ten years if you overstay, so this cannot be a reason. Secondly, an entire country cannot be punished for the misdemeanour of a handful of people. Third is the fact that Nigeria is not even in the big league of countries overstaying: Canada leads that league, followed by Mexico, Venezuela, the United Kingdom and Colombia. In Africa, the country with the highest number of visa overstay rates is Djibouti, not Nigeria. So if countries are to be banned for overstay, it should be these others, not Nigeria.
A third excuse is that Nigeria is not doing enough on information-sharing. This we know is reciprocal. The fourth, that Nigeria does not adequately share public-safety and terrorism-related information, is an euphemism for spying. That rather than America spending huge sums spying on Nigerians, the Nigerian government should do the job and pass the results to the U.S…
A second excuse is that Nigeria does not comply with the established identity management system. Given the immigrant visa criteria, the identity of the would-be migrant is solidly established, far more than those for non-migrant visas. But America is not banning the latter partly because its Nigeria visa fees is a goldmine.
A third excuse is that Nigeria is not doing enough on information-sharing. This we know is reciprocal. The fourth, that Nigeria does not adequately share public-safety and terrorism-related information, is an euphemism for spying. That rather than America spending huge sums spying on Nigerians, the Nigerian government should do the job and pass the results to the U.S. under the guise of information sharing. Does America ‘share’ information about is citizens with Nigeria?
Africans will be uncritical if they do not know that this ban on four African countries – and it is likely to be extended to more – is part of the American establishment’s programme to pack Whites into the country. In order not to be accused of racism, it introduced the American Visa (Diversity) lottery but African migration was higher than those of Whites, so it banned countries like Nigeria from the lottery, while this new measure bars the Sudanese and Tanzanians.
As for terrorism, which country established and sustained contemporary terrorist groups – the Mujahedeen in Afghanistan, Taliban in Pakistan, al-Qaeda in the Gulf and ISIS in Syria and Iraq? Fifteen of the nineteen 9/11 bombers were Saudis, yet America did not ban Saudi Arabia. That should tell us that what is at play is politics. The analysis of Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the American House of Representatives that this ban is: “biased and bigoted (and) discrimination disguised as policy” is quite apt.
Let me remind us that eight years ago when Boko Haram began building military capacity, following the American-contrived Libyan War, the Americans not only refused to sell Nigeria arms to fight and conquer the Boko Harm terrorists, but worse still, forbade other countries to sell us arms. This led to the desperation of the Jonathan administration in carrying cash around the world to buy arms from any open market. Have we forgotten that some of that Nigerian cash was seized by South Africa?
While the Nigerian government went into panic mood pledging that it will meet the demands of America, small Eritrea, with a population of 5,767,105, denounced the ban, adding that: “We find this move unacceptable. We will, however, not expel the U.S. ambassador.” As big brother, Nigeria should have coordinated other African countries for a joint response…
In 2018 alone, 8,018 Nigerians met the stringent criteria and migrated to the U.S.A. What the Trump regime is doing amounts to self-help to stop the flow of Nigerian immigrants. Nigerians endanger the ‘America First’ policy because they are the single most educated group in America. Twenty-nine per cent of Nigerians in the U.S.A have degrees, compared to 11 per cent of the overall American population; 17 per cent hold Masters degrees and 4 per cent, doctorate degrees, compared to 8 per cent White Americans with Masters degrees and 1 per cent with the doctorate.
With so many Nigerians holding one or more degrees, in job placements where merit is the criterion, Nigerians will be snapping up the jobs.
While the Nigerian government went into panic mood pledging that it will meet the demands of America, small Eritrea, with a population of 5,767,105, denounced the ban, adding that: “We find this move unacceptable. We will, however, not expel the U.S. ambassador.” As big brother, Nigeria should have coordinated other African countries for a joint response; Africa should be interested in getting Trump, the narcissist racist bigot out of the White House.
Rather than Nigerian elites weeping over the ban, they should pity that country that is perpetually at war around the world, with its towns and cities so unsafe due to the greedy gun culture that ensures the continuous stream of mass shootings in crowded areas like schools, malls and religious centres.
Nigerians should not regret being barred from migrating to a country where black lives don’t matter. I love Americans as I love the rest of humanity, but how do I love a country that has planted millions of landmines, but not a single one in its own territory; a country kidnapping people across the world in the name of rendition, while its own citizens who carry out mass murders in places like Iraq cannot be extradited to face justice? Let us leave this America alone and pursue our own development agenda.
Owei Lakemfa, a former secretary general of African workers, is a human rights activist, journalist and author.