Some things are meant to be sacred. Inviolate, even. Well, at least to people with common decency.
As a first generation American of African descent, the candidacy of Barack Obama evokes indescribable pride in me. I have often confessed that I did not start out supporting Barack Obama when he announced his candidacy. I will self-congratulate myself for wanting to take a closer look at the man and his intellect, judgment, temperament and substance before I was convinced to stand solidly behind him. This has afforded me the ability to truthfully state that I support Obama not just because…
My pride is much more stoked by the unprecedented and equally unfathomable acceptance of Obama by the general populace. As an American with no political ambition, I am able to declare that I have never been prouder of my adopted country and its citizens at any point in time in my life. I am not ashamed to say that the fact that the general populace adopted and accepted Barack Obama in spite of the hue of his skin played a very significant role in my warming up to Obama as a candidate, and I am thankful for everyone for validating the common decency I have always known the American people to possess.
Common decency (and the need for transparency and integrity) is the subject I seek to address in the following write-up. That the Obama phenomenon is universal in its reach, scope and effect is an indisputable assertion. However, the depth and reach of the interest in the man and the candidate cannot be truly explained to anyone until he/she has taken a journey outside the shores of America to personally experience it. Having been to various parts of the world since the beginning of Obama’s candidacy, I can attest to the rather unbelievable interest in the man and the significance of his candidacy for America and the world politics.
I do NOT know Mr. Wright. Nor do I know Dr. Bennet. Professor Okereke I know quite a bit, and what I know about her frightens me enough to want to scream and ask her to please step as far away from the Obama Campaign as humanly possible. However, my grouse is not personally with any one of these three musketeers. No. My problem is with the claim by these people and everyone associated with this junket that they are legally permitted to remit funds collected at an event organized by foreign nationals for foreign nationals on foreign land to an American Presidential Candidate without irredeemably damaging that candidate.
Professor Okereke and her cohorts reportedly raised over 100 million Naira (Nigerian currency, approximately $900,000, American). That is not an insignificant amount of money by any stretch of the imagination, and what the Professor and the Doctor (and their enabling Mr. Wright of South Africa) intend to do with that vast collection is none of my business. It is my business, however that the claim that the Obama campaign sanctioned (or is otherwise aware and supportive of) this illegal fund raiser not be allowed to stand unchallenged and that the world does not see this scam as representative of Africa or Africans’ enthusiasm for Barack Obama and his candidacy.
Let the record show that FECA (the law governing elections in the USA) is very clear on this matter, especially with regards to Foreign Nationals making campaign contribution. Foreign nationals are NOT legally permitted to make financial contributions to a US presidential candidate. A great many political careers have been stunted for the mere infraction of this regulation. The money that the “Africans for Obama 08” are raising cannot be legally remitted to the Obama Campaign, so the organizers’ claim is not only spurious, it also has the potential to incriminate otherwise innocent people – people who are only truly eager to express legitimate and profound support for a candidacy so many people in the world are similarly eager to support.
Professor Okereke and co cannot ship any of the bags of Nairas collected at this event to the Obama Campaign. Unless the Professor and her people have painstakingly marked which contribution is from American Citizens and which are not, none of the money collected can be used to materially assist the Obama Campaign. Even then, the mere co-mingling of such moneys has created enough stenches to render the possibility of differentiation of origin a herculean undertaking. Even if that super-human feat could be accomplished, the Obama Campaign will not be so desperate as to willingly and knowingly touch any part of this blood money, this late in the game, with the White House so close at hand. Suffice it to say, therefore, that Professor Okereke and her cohorts are probably N100 million richer, thanks to their enterprising acumen. That the Professor is not a stranger to such “enterprises” is not news, having almost single-handedly (and unconstitutionally) tried to perpetuate the much-maligned Olusegun Obasanjo in office.
Unless Professor Okereke and her people clearly declare the intended use of the fund so far raised at this event, they will not only be engaging in a criminal enterprise, but also doing irreparable damage to the already tarnished image of Nigeria as a swamp infested with nothing but criminally-minded individuals to whom nothing is sacred, not even a historic candidacy. IF the Professor and her people have other legitimate plans for the funds raised, it will be very refreshing and helpful to all concerned if they would please step up and declare such intended use. I do not contend that the Professor and her people cannot raise money for whatever – they just can’t ask non-Americans to make such donations on the premise that it will be used to support the Obama Campaign.
It is not helpful to Nigerians (nay, Africans) in the diasporas to constantly wage image battles simultaneously on two fronts – one from people who will never believe that we are anything but bent and the other from two-bit players who will always find an angle to self-enrichment in any situation, however lofty and sacred.
The support for Obama in the African continent and community is rather genuine. The support for the campaign in the African community outside of the continent is even stronger and more overwhelming and compelling. I have slept on campaign offices floors, driven thousands of miles, knocked on innumerable doors, made so many call and eaten so much cold pizzas on the run with many African volunteers for the campaign to know this first hand. Professor Okereke and her “enterprising” band of brigands are NOT representative of us as a people. They are the exceptions. Their lowly shenanigan is not only a betrayal of Africans as a people, it is also a despicable affront to every decent human being on the surface of earth. A sad, ill-timed, and ill-advised blot on an otherwise inspiring and iconic evolution of our time.