Nigerians And Human Beings In The Age Of Trump By Owei Lakemfa. - THE DAILY CRUCIBLE

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Friday, November 8, 2019

Nigerians And Human Beings In The Age Of Trump By Owei Lakemfa.



There is a New World Disorder. One of the main reasons for this according to  Akin Oyebode, international lawyer and professor specializing in the  Law of Treaties, is because American President Donald Trump: “ imposes his will on the children of lesser gods”

Trumpism  was a predictable tragedy waiting to happen.  In my March 11, 2016 column titled ‘If Americans Throw Trump At Us’  I had argued that given his love for false statistics, fake news, characterization of Mexicans as drug peddlers and crooks and claims that Muslims are terrorists, Trump wants: “ to turn both America and the world upside down.” I had argued  that:” Electing him would be like handing over the White House to the Ku Klux Klan.” I  had concluded that:  “Ordinarily, Trump should be an American reject, but if the US throws him at the world; it must be ready for a reject.” Unfortunately, it is not just the Americans but the entire humanity that has become afflicted with Trumpism.

Some   academics, serving and retired diplomats, trade unionists, journalists and students of diplomacy gathered  at a forum by  the Society for International Relations Awareness (SIRA) in Abuja on October 30  to discuss what is happening to our world in the Age of Trump.  The theme was: “Nigeria and Multilateralism  : Trends and Challenges”

The choice of  72-year old Oyebode, an intellectual who speaks pictorially and  powerfully  with a flood of ideas that leaves no one in doubt that he is a receptacle  of ideas, was quite apt.  Having a first law degree from Kiev in the old Soviet Union, a masters from Havard Law school and a  Ph.D  in law from Toronto, Canada, he is  well grounded on the issue of multilateralism.

It was fascinating listening to him  on: “how nations behave and misbehave” and his conclusion that Nigeria’s foreign policy is in: “ a state of suspended animation” For him, the last, and perhaps the only time Nigeria had a robust foreign policy was in the six months of the Murtala Mohammed regime.  He said only the successor Obasanjo regime came close to this golden era of the country’s foreign policy. Today, under the Buhari administration, he said: “it seems the right  hand does not know what the left hand is doing” He argued:  “ Nigeria deserves to go to heaven any way it wants”

On the issue of a changing world order, he posited that the United Nations Charter is built on multilateralism and that the Cold War left humanity with no choice but to be multilateral. Another example of multilateralism he said, was the Non-Aligned Movement where the smaller and poor countries took refuge from the super powers, deciding: “ to hang together rather than individually”

Oyebode argued that the collapse of the Soviet Bloc seriously affected multilateralism as: “Capitalism  decided to shape the world  in its own image” He said the arrival of Trump, a man he described as “self-opinionated,   swashbuckling  and rambunctious” has dealt a serious  blow to multilateralism.  He argued that with the Trump administration walking out of the Arms Treaty with Russia,  taking on and mocking America’s European allies, insulting Africans and Mexicans and taking on a plethora of countries including China and Iran, world peace and development  is threatened.  The international lawyer said the killing of the Islamic State (ISIS)  founder, Abu Bakr al-Baghadi by the United States raises the issue: “ Is it legal  to adopt an illegal  means to settle an illegal situation?”

He hopes that if Trump  is not taken out by the on-going impeachment process, the American elections in 2020, will do so. Oyebode concluded that: “Multilateralism serves humanity better than   unilateralism” warning   that : “ The Cold War might be over, but it is still smoldering. The new trend is, never expect  the expected”

Ambassador Olufemi Oyewale George, Nigeria’s ex-Ambassador to Portugal and former High Commissioner to Canada was the Discussant. He argued that  it was a buoyant economy that enabled  Nigeria to play a prominent role in international affairs. He said those   were   times  when the country’s views  and those of its diplomats were sought by all countries at international fora like the UN. The author of: ‘From Rookie to Mandarin: The Memoirs of A Second Generation Diplomat’ argued that it was such visibility   that gave Nigeria the status of a frontline state even when it was quite far from the Southern African borders, and enabled it play key roles  in the Concert of Medium Powers, NEPAD, ECOWAS and the Civil wars in Liberia and Sierra Leone.. Now, he said, our diplomats have become timid.

Ambassador George argued that  the Cold War brought to the fore, the need to avoid another international conflagration; so multilateralism was needed  to avoid  the Doom’s Day scenario of a nuclear holocaust and a Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) He said the ascendancy of America as the only power following the collapse of the Soviet Bloc  has seen  the bullying of the rest of humanity in a unipolar world. He sees the world getting fed up  with this scenario.

Ambassador George predicts Africa embracing  more of multilateralism such as the  coalition of countries against the Boko Haram terrorists. He sees the closure of Nigeria’s borders as: “very, very necessary but temporary”

Professor Williams Alade Fawole, whose newest book: ‘ The Illusion Of The Post-Colonial State:  Government and Security Challenges in Africa’ is making waves on the internet, described what is going on in the world as a mere “Trumpian phenomenon” and a “unipolar moment” which does not fundamentally threaten multilateralism. He pointed at the continued rise of multilateral bodies like  Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS)   the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC)   and the Russia-Africa Summit and Economic Forum.  Fawole said with the new power points like cyberattacks on   powerful countries and entities, what we are witnessing is an Omni Polar World.

I argued that there is too much emphasis on a strong economy as a basis of a clear-headed foreign policy pointing out that although poor, Cuba cannot be overlooked   on the international circuit and that Captain Thomas Sankara led Burkina Faso, one of the poorest countries in the world but made quite an impact on the international scene. I also argued that with Nigeria controlling 76 percent of trade on the West African coast, it is myopic of it to close its borders adding that and that this  is a serious setback for multilateralism in Africa.

Political Scientist, Hassan Saliu a professor of the University of Ilorin pointed out that the country has failed to document its assistance over the years to various countries,   and urged a change.. 

The gathering reached a consensus that despite Trumpism, multilateralism is alive and well in the world.

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