The United States government has announced that it has imposed visa restrictions on certain key Nigerian officials.
According to the U.S. Department of state, the Nigerian officials are alleged to have been involved in attempts to undermine the 2019 presidential and parliamentary elections. While the Department of State did not mention the names of the said officials, it reiterated that the primary reason that they were barred from entering the U.S. was because of their anti-democratic activities.
Morgan Ortagus, who speaks for the department of state said in a statement that those being banned from the U.S. “have operated with impunity at the expense of the Nigerian people and undermined democratic principles and human rights".
The Department of State emphasises that the actions announced today are specific to certain individuals and not directed at the Nigerian people or the newly elected government,” Ortagus stated.
The irony, however, is that President Donald Trump's election was marred with controversy with some Democrats arguing that he violated the Constitution. President Trump's relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin came under scrutiny when it was alleged that the Russians had interfered with the elections and helped him ascend to the office of the President. We see no one lining up to ban him from their countries.
Likewise, President Muhammadu Buhari won a second term in office in February this year, an election that was equally marred with its share of controversy and whose results are still being challenged in court by the losing opposition.
There is no doubt as to the unequal balance of power that exists between western African countries. Time and again, western countries have created all manner of standards and principles unto which they hold African leaders accountable yet do not themselves subscribe to. The officials may very well have allegedly rigged or tried to rig elections but what about President Buhari? He has been accused locally of rigging the elections, undermining human rights among a host of other misdeeds but the U.S. is not quick to ban him. Why is that? If he is being presumed as innocent why not extend the same courtesy to the banned officials?
Mere suspicion or accusation does not necessarily mean that a person is guilty. The same standard that they are applying to President Buhari should have been applied to the unnamed Nigerian officials. If there is going to be a double standard then we might as well do away with the standard altogether.
It will be remembered that this is not the first time that the American government has imposed visa restrictions on some African government officials in protest of actions it deems unsatisfactory.
In the recent past, it has banned certain Kenyan officials from entering the U.S. on grounds that they were allegedly drug traffickers.
In February this year, they imposed visa restrictions on Ghana for what it stated as a failure by the West African country to accept its citizens awaiting deportation from the United States. In 2018, some Congolese officials were also banned from the U.S. for allegedly engaging in corrupt acts and electoral malpractices.
Evidently, it is a growing trend which many might argue is a tactic that is meant to intimidate and keep African leaders in check. Whatever the case may be the upshot is that the U.S. is not being honest with respect to the standard of democracy that it purports to be the custodian of.
Header Image Credit: Guardian Nigeria