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Pope Francis, Trump and beleaguered Nigeria


Pope Francis/ AFP PHOTO / Alberto PIZZOLI

Today in faraway Washington District of Columbia, the political capital of the United States of America, the eyes of the World would focus on Nigeria because the embattled president of Nigeria Muhammadu Buhari is a guest of the tough talking President of the United States of America. Already, presidency officials are singing the praises of the United States administration even as a newspaper reported one of these officials as stating that Nigeria is benefiting more now under president Trump than it did during the administration of Barrack Obama which was obviously a big obstacle to the fight on terror in Nigeria by the then president Goodluck government. With that Presidential statement it appears the blame has now shifted away from the immediate past Nigerian leader to the American President contrary to the litany of lamentations targeting Goodluck Jonathan by the current administration as the regime that did not combat Boko Haram terrorism with vigour.

On the side of the United States, two things have happened with one of it relating directly to Nigeria and the other showcasing the capability of the president of the United States to achieve landmark peace in very troubled area- Korean peninsula.  First the United States of America issued a damaging human rights record indicting the Nigerian administration under president Buhari whom the Trump’s administration had invited on a state visit to the white House.  Secondly, in that same week, the hitherto reclusive president of North Korea Kim Jong UN signed a peace accord with the South Korean president Mr. Moon Jae just as the package includes serious and honest “discussions about denuclearization,” so says Agency reports. Recall that president Trump may have been responsible for the dramatic shift by the North Korean president who may have realized that president Trump meant business when he promised to detonate the biggest bomb in North Korea which will wipe off North Korea from World’s map. Both the North Korean leader and Trump had exchanged heated verbal threats but the young political warlord from North Korea may have discovered the futility of going to battle with President Donald Trump who is indeed eccentric and unpredictable.  Coming back to the first verbal bombardment of Nigeria in a report on the abysmal human rights record of president Buhari, the United States  State department summed up the American distaste at the poor human right record of their guest Muhammadu Buhari, thus: “There were several reports the government or its agents committed arbitrary and unlawful killings. The national police, army, and other security services used lethal and excessive force to disperse protesters and apprehend criminals and suspects and committed other extrajudicial killings. Authorities generally did not hold police, military, or other security force personnel accountable for the use of excessive or deadly force or for the deaths of persons in custody.”


So it can be deduced that the administration of Donald Trump will today sound out the Nigerian president on what the government has put in place to address all the diverse issues of poor human right status of the administration which is almost winding up its first term. The development in the Korean Peninsula should also serve the Nigerian leader as a good picture of what the American president can do should the violations widens. However, the ideology of America first which president Trump holds so dear may remind us that the united states administration may have issued the damning human rights record on Nigerian just to placate critics who may view president Trump as only concerned about the commercial gains he can make from Nigeria notwithstanding the abysmal human right status of the government headed by the ex-military dictator. Critics are already observing that the concerns raised by America on the speedy infiltration of Africa by China could make president Trump to overlook the available body of knowledge on the extensive abuses of human rights of Nigerians by government just so that Nigeria can do more business with Trump and forget about looking towards the East to China for investments and trades. It is still not clear how this pans out given the fact that the USA is no longer a big time customer of Nigeria’s rich Brent crude oil. America is increasingly looking inwards for their energy sources. Also America is speedily working on green cars to take away the pressure of fuelling their automobiles in the next two decades. But the Embassy officials in Abuja posted online that Economy and Security would dominate the discussions between Trump and his guest  President Muhammadu Buhari.

So Nigerians are keen on seeing how the diplomatic encounter between Trump and Buhari would be viewed even as the blood cuddling violence unleashed by armed Fulani herdsmen have continued to attract international attention to Nigeria. In faraway Vatican City, in Rome, the Holy Father had last weekend condemned the emerging pattern of mass killing of Christians. News reports from Rome are disturbing. It goes as follows: ‘Nigeria was stricken again with the killing of a group of faithful, among whom were two priests.’ Pope Francis repeated his frequent prayers and plea for peace in Nigeria on April 29, 2018.  His comments came after praying the Regina Coeli with crowds of the faithful in St. Peter’s Square. “Last week the Christian community of Nigeria was stricken again with the killing of a group of faithful, among whom were two priests,” the Holy Father said. “We entrust these brothers to the God of mercy, that he may help those very tried communities to rediscover concord and peace.” Two Catholic priests were among the victims of an April 24, 2018, attack on parishioners at St. Ignatius Parish in Ayar-Mbalom, a community in the Gwer East local government area of Benue State.
To be continued tomorrow

• Onwubiko is Head, Human Rights writers association of Nigeria. (HURWA)

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