By Dr. Dons Eze
The announcement by the President of the United States of America, Donald Trump, that the United States would cut off its funding to the World Health Organization (WHO) over its alleged mismanagement of the current coronavirus pandemic did not take many people by surprise, and this would be history repeating itself.
The United States of America, and indeed the Western countries, are never comfortable each time a black African is entrusted with leadership of a global agency.
In 1984, the United States of America pulled out from the United Nations Educational and Scientific Organization (UNESCO), followed by the United Kingdom in 1985, over claims of administrative and budgetary lapses by the organization.
That was during the tenure of Mr. Amadou-Mahtar M’Bow, a Senegalese. M’Bow who served in France and North Africa during the Second World War, began working for UNESCO in 1953, and was appointed Director General of the organization in 1974, was the first black African to head any United Nations support agency.
The US’ withdrawal from UNESCO followed its claims that the organization had lost sight of its original goals and that it had turned itself into a “vehicle for anti-American propaganda”, as a result of McBride’s Report in 1980, calling for a New World Information and Communication Order.
An American journalist, Flora Lewis, writing in The New York Times, had then described UNESCO as “a totally politicized, demoralized bureaucracy, whose chief concern is to provide cushy jobs for politicians unwanted at home and a forum for attacking the very concepts UNESCO was supposed to serve – human rights for all, press freedom, unrestricted access to culture.” He described M’Bow as “an ambitious man who has cultivated back-scratching to a fine art”.
This time around, the same United States of America is again venting its anger on the World Health Organization (WHO), headed by Mr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreeyesus an Ethiopian, accusing it of not doing what it was supposed to have done to prevent the spread of coronavirus currently ravaging the world, and the US in particular, which so far had about 700,000 people infected by the disease with nearly 40,000 people dead.
But the WHO denied the allegation and countered by saying that they had sufficiently warned the world about the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, only that some countries did not take them serious.
The organization said they were always cautious, acted more forcefully and faster than many national governments, and pointed out that the Director General had on January 22, two days after Chinese officials first publicized the serious threat posed by the new virus ravaging the city of Wuhan, held the first of what would now be months of almost daily media briefings, sounding the alarm, telling the world to take the outbreak seriously.
We therefore see Donald Trump and the United States of America as simply seeking who to make a scapegoat due to their abysmal failure in handling the coronavirus pandemic, after all American nationals also work with WHO and therefore ought to have alerted their home government of the dangers ahead, even if the Director General failed to do it.
The United States and her western allies had never hid their reluctance to allow any black African into the inner circle of key agencies of the United Nations. For instance, no country in Africa is a member of the United Nations Security Council.
Again, when Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, a world-renowned financial expert, who worked in the World Bank for several years and rose to the position of Managing Director, contested for the President of the organization, they ditched her and brought in a South Korean American national, who did public health as President.
Since the founding of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as post Second World War reconstruction agencies, there is always a convention, a written law, that while the United States produces President of the World Bank, the countries of Western Europe will produce Managing Director of IMF.
With the decision by the United States to stop funding WHO over its alleged mishandling of coronavirus outbreak, we expect other countries of Western Europe to follow suit, and this would cripple the organization and force Mr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreeyesus, the Director General, to resign, as did Mr. Amadou-Mahtar M’Bow in 1987, when he resigned from UNESCO following the withdrawal from the agency of the United States and some countries of Western Europe in 1984.
If the present coronavirus outbreak which makes no distinction between the colour of the skin, white or black, man or woman, is not enough to teach us a simple lesson that all humanity is one, then nothing will ever do it.