The Nigerian government has stayed quiet as other African governments issued statements slamming US President Donald Trump’s alleged remark about “s***thole countries,” said to be targeting the continent.
Some watchers said this lack of engagement by the Buhari government is another sign of Nigeria’s dwindling leadership stature in Africa.
Nigerian immigrants have the highest levels of education in the US, surpassing whites and Asians, according to several studies.
The controversy arose after a Washington Post report, citing sources, said that Trump had referred to some African countries, as well as Haiti and El Salvador, as “s***hole countries” during a discussion about protecting people from those nations as part of a bipartisan immigration deal.
The African Union (AU) told AP on Friday it was “frankly alarmed” by the comment.
“Given the historical reality of how many Africans arrived in the United States as slaves, this statement flies in the face of all accepted behavior and practice,” AU spokeswoman Ebba Kalondo said. “This is particularly surprising as the United States of America remains a global example of how migration gave birth to a nation built on strong values of diversity and opportunity.”
Botswana released a statement that called the comment “highly irresponsible, reprehensible, and racist.” It said the country had summoned the US ambassador to “express its displeasure at the alleged utterances.”
“The government of Botswana is wondering why President Trump must use this descriptor and derogatory word when talking about countries with whom the US has had cordial and mutually beneficial bilateral relations for so many years,” the statement reads.
South Africa’s ruling African National Congress called the alleged remark “extremely offensive,” with the country’s deputy secretary-general pointing out that while the nation has its difficulties, the US “has millions of people out of work or without healthcare.” He went on to say that despite that fact, “we would not deign to make comments as derogatory.”
South African opposition leader Mmusi Maimane called the remark “abhorrent,” adding that “the hatred of [former US President Barack] Obama’s roots now extends to an entire continent.”
Uganda’s state minister for international relations, Henry Okello Oryen, called the comment “unfortunate and regrettable,” adding that he hopes African heads of state will respond during an African Union summit scheduled to take place later this month.
Media outlets also jumped on board, with South African newspaper the Daily Maverick stating that “casual Friday at the White House is soon to include hoods and tiki torches at this rate,” in a reference to the Ku Klux Klan (KKK).
Some combined the alleged remark with a dose of sarcasm. “Good morning from the greatest, most beautiful ‘s***hole country’ in the world!!!’” South African Broadcasting Corporation anchor Leanne Manas tweeted.
The US television program ‘The Daily Show’ responded to the alleged remark by tweeting in reference to the show’s South African host: “As someone from South S***hole, Trevor is deeply offended by the president’s remarks.”
Earlier on Friday, a spokesman for the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Rupert Colville, described Trump’s comment “shocking and shameful,” adding that there was “no other word one can use but racist.”
Trump tweeted on Friday that although he used “tough” language at the immigration meeting with lawmakers, “this was not the language used.”