(By Oluseye Ojo – IBADAN)
Following the election of Donald Trump as President-elect of the United States, former Nigerian Minister of Petroleum and Energy, Prof Tam David-West, has called on Nobel laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, to live up to his threat of tearing up his United States Green Card should the Republican candidate win.
In an interview with Daily Sun in Ibadan, David-West, describing Soyinka as a great and honourable man, said should the scholar fail to follow through on his very public threat and return to Nigeria, he would prove to be dishonourable.
But he dismissed the insinuation that Soyinka might go to jail if he cut his US green card, saying “Somebody said if Wole Soyinka cuts his green card, he (Soyinka) will go to jail. That is not true. He will not go to jail. The green card is his own personal property given to him by the United States Government.”
Soyinka, a scholar-in-residence at the Institute of American Affairs, New York University, was quoted to have said prior to the US presidential election of November 8, while addressing Oxford students, that he would tear up his green card and leave the US if Trump won the poll.
“If in the unlikely event he (Trump) does win, the first thing he will do is to say all green card holders must reapply to come back into the US. We’ll, I’m not waiting for that. The moment they announce his victory, I will cut my green card myself and start packing up,” Soyinka was quoted as saying.
Donald J. Trump had defeated the Democrat candidate, Hillary R. Clinton, in a stunning upset, and will take office as the 45th President of the US on January 2017.
The billionaire property tycoon defeated Clinton, a former Secretary of State and First Lady, with 306 votes to her 232 votes at the electoral college.
David-West, who noted that he was worried when Soyinka threatened to cut his green card, said “there was no need for him to have said that. If he cuts his green card, he will hurt himself not the United States. It because of the green card he works in the US.
“The green card entitles him to work in the US. Without the green card, he cannot have a paid job in the US. It is because of the green card that he has a paid job in America, which translates to thousands of dollars for him; by conversion, it is millions of naira.”
David-West further took a swipe at Soyinka for changing his tune after Trump had been declared President-elect. When Soyinka was asked when he would destroy his green card after the election, he was quoted to have said: “Why don’t we wait until Trump actually takes office? I am just going about my normal commitments. Let’s put it that way for now.”
To which David-West responded: “Now, he has changed his tone. When I read it, I was very upset. He is toying with the intelligence of Nigerians. He said (he’d destroy his green card) if Trump is elected President. The moment Hillary Clinton conceded defeat, Trump is elected. Immediately, Soyinka should have come back to Nigeria.
“I know Wole Soyinka is a honourable man. I am waiting for him to cut his green card and return to Nigeria honourably. If he does not come back, he is very dishonourable. He should keep to his words. It was not necessary for him to make that statement at all.
“In the first instance, he never said he would cut his green card when Donald Trump takes office. He said if he is elected President. So, Soyinka should honourably cut his card and honourably return to Nigeria.”
David-West further stated that Trump would not maltreat the blacks in the US, adding that the Trump administration would translate to robust international relationships.