A lot of reactions are trailing the hatred spewed against Nigeria by United States of America (USA) Congressman, Tom Marino in his letter to his country’s Secretary of State, John Kerry. The essence of that letter was to block the offer of assistance in fighting insurgency that Kerry offered during his recent visit to Nigeria. Let it be known from the onset that the offer of assistance is not to Nigeria in the real sense since we are already defeating Boko Haram but is a gesture that would go a long way to secure the West Africa sub-region from terrorism that has become a global concern. To the extent that a Nigeria free of terrorism will contribute to a more secured world, Americans would actually be helping themselves by offering this assistance since that country is the one in the crosshair of terrorists.
Congressman Marino has his right as a human being to express his concerns but to the extent that his letter contained so many inaccuracies and even outright lies, he would have done better whispering those thoughts to the Kerry as opposed to documenting his myopia in the now infamous letter. Leaking the letter gives right thinking Nigerians and Nigeria the right to reply him and this must be done boldly.
What is saddening is the realisation that within Nigeria, there is a section of the population that erroneously think Marino has done them the favour of providing ammunition to continue their unyielding attacks on President Muhammadu Buhari’s government. This, however, cannot be further from the truth as the letter is an attack on Nigeria as a country, which in Marino’s view is nothing but an outpost of the US.
Nigeria must, in an unequivocal voice, tell Congressman Marino to remove the log in his country’s eye before attempting to remove the speck in ours. It takes a lot of hypocrisy to accuse Nigeria’s security and military of committing extra judicial killings when law enforcement officers in Congressman Marino’s own country now carry out daily extra-judicial executions against persons of particular racial background. As at the middle of this year, the number of persons mowed down by police bullets topped 160 and counting as the year progressed. Many of these victims were killed even when they have their hands raised up in surrender. And this man wrote that disparaging letter about Nigeria?
Currently, an NFL player, Colin Kaepernick of San Francisco 49ers is staging a protest by staying seated or kneeling down during the USA anthem rendition (The Star-spangled Banner) in protest against the indiscriminate killing of Blacks across the United States by police men and others enjoying police cover.
The racism that pervades the US is at the root of these killings and it is something that President Barrack Obama continues to struggle with and his tenure will end without the discrimination against people on racial basis being reduced. If the US does not have problems with discriminations there wouldn’t have been the “Black Lives Matters” movement. So Marino should retreat into his study and take a long hard look at his country and realise that Nigeria is a better country than his where people do not get scared of walking the streets for fear of the ethnic heritage or the law enforcement agencies. In our country, only criminals need fear.
It is laughable that the Congressman’s best attempt at validating his claim was to quote a discredited Amnesty International, a dubious entity that his country and similar sponsors maintain just for this kind of reason. Amnesty International is kept in place to trumpet allegations of rights abuses for the sole purpose of creating the justification for regime change in countries and to request no fly zones. If Amnesty International were that relevant, the US would have abolished the death sentence across all its states but these state sanctioned murders continue despite the reports of Amnesty International, which means that even Marino and his peers do not believe in what he is quoting.
It is often said that a man cannot give what he does not have. Marino is not different from our own Ekiti State Governor, Ayo Fayose, in playing to the gallery. The Federal Government must communicate to Nigerians who may be tempted to begin citing this errant Congressman, that they should research him before being misled to adopt his perverted worldview. His own country’s Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) equivalent of our own NDLEA, has accused him of supporting criminals and he never took the pain to adequately discharge himself of that accusation as he only played to the gallery instead of putting up a responsible reply. Here is the Congressman whose press secretary was smuggling a gun and magazine into the Capitol Building!
As a Republican candidate in Pennsylvania’s 10th District, Marino was in danger of being fired by the US Department of Justice due to questions about his effectiveness. This consideration was later given credibility with Marino’s reported ethics shenanigans and alleged mob ties. Here is the character that wants to lecture the world on how Nigeria should be run.
My advice is that Nigeria should tell Congressman Marino to limit himself to the politics of running with the mob in his country and must not waste time in asking him to go back to the classroom to study Nigeria since he has not demonstrated the mental capability to undertake such a demanding exercise.
I urge the Federal Government to lodge the appropriate complaints against this congressman using the appropriate diplomatic channels. On the domestic front, we should intensify efforts at building our local capacity since President Buhari and the current military leadership have degraded Boko Haram insurgents even without the promised US support that Marino wants to deprive us of.
His uncouth letter was written in the belief that his country remains an imperial lord over Nigeria and other nations and that is a sentiment that we must not give room to if we hope to move ahead as a people. I, therefore, crave your indulgence to use your good office to send a strong message to Congressman Tom Marino, the US Congress and the United States Government that the era of imperialism is over and discussions about mutual cooperation should not be exploited to pass ignorant judgement on Nigeria or any other nation for that matter.
Accept the assurances of my highest regards.
Former President, Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria