Prof. Wole Soyinka Risks Going To Jail If He Destroys His Green Card


Kayode Ajulo

I read in utter shock and disappointment when our very revered literary icon, Prof Wole Soyinka openly threatened to destroy his American Green Card in protest of Donald Trump’s victory at the just concluded United States Presidential election which held on Tuesday, November 8, 2016.

I am also aware that Prof. Soyinka issued this threat before voting begun in the hotly contested election between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. Most people around the World, including some huge population of Americans, had wished for the Democratic Party’s candidate to win the race to the White House, but politics is just like a football game of football whereby a team wins and the opponent concedes.

The Green Card is the U.S. permanent residence permit, American government don’t toy with this important document, just like their national flag, they place high premium of value on these national symbols. Honestly I found it preposterous that Soyinka would pledge to keep a promise he had given a few days before the Nov. 8 election, when he told students at Oxford University that “I will cut my green card myself and start packing up” if Trump won the polls. He also vowed to leave the United States by Jan. 20, 2017, the day president-elect Donald Trump will be officially inaugurated.

However, with no intent to disparage our respected octogenarian, I think it is also important to guide him properly on the legal implications of his misguided outburst. It is good to vent and express one’s displeasure over anything, but this must be done with caution and good choice of words so as not to step into some dangerous legal pitfalls. Let me state categorically that our well exposed noble laureate risks a jail term of three to seven years, if he eventually destroys his Green Card. Can we therefore say he doesn’t know that Green Cards or passports are valuable documents that should be looked after with care?

In my view and that of other political pundits, Trump’s victory had brought an already teetering world closer to the precipice. Trump’s wall is already under construction. Walls are built in the mind, and Trump has erected walls, not only across the mental landscape of America, but across the global landscape. We can only pray for the best in our world.

With due respect I have no problem with Kongi; he is an opinion moulder, human rights activist, an elder statesman, a torchbearer and nation builder, I expect him to know the implication(s) of such act. Under the American law losing or having your U.S. Green Card destroyed can be a serious problem. Such is tagged as wishful destruction of government’s property. Prof. Soyinka is far better and far bigger than that because such act is provocative and unacceptable. It is an extension of his rights though to leave United States, but does not have to tear the card; instead he should return the card as required by the law.

I am surprised that at 82, a Professor of Literature and author of many books, who is currently a resident scholar at New York University’s Institute of African American Affairs, would drag his name and integrity in the mud, sadly this has lots of implications for Nigerians. Infact mishandling of passport could stop someone from travelling not to talk of destroying Green Card. We know Soyinka as a good Ambassador who cares not just about Nigeria but the world at large, I will advise him to keep to it. His conduct must always champion decency or decorum that one could be proud of at all times.

How can we forget so soon that Cultism in Nigeria tertiary institutions dates back to Professor Wole Soyinka’s undergraduate days, when he organized a cult group named Pirate Confraternity with the help of some friends of his. Their aim of forming the cult group was to bridge the gap created by ethnicity and tribalism, but along the line our youths hijacked this purpose and started doing it for negative agenda.

Up to date consequences of cultism on individuals make them live in perpetual bondage and fear; this is because cultists are always watching their backs because rival cults are always at ‘war’. They are always destructive, merciless, stubborn and wicked; so a well mannered individual that indulges in cultism will automatically transform his good behavior to an ill behaved person. Most cultists have no regards for moral and values. As a result of one belonging to a cult, he/she will lose respect for that which is morally right, e.g. respect for elders. Premature death may occur because cultists are liable to die young, possible expulsion from school. I can go on and on. All of these vices could be directly or indirectly linked to Prof. Soyinka.

This reminds me of ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo who after enjoying two-terms of eight years in office as Nigeria’s President on the platform of Peoples Democratic Party allegedly tore his party’s membership card publicly. Although he later refuted this allegation and put the record straight explaining that he did not engage himself in such act. Of course Obasanjo knew the legal implication(s) of destroying such important document. Prof. Wole Soyinka should swallow his pride and rescind his decision.

If Soyinka was so much displeased with Trump’s presidency, he can stand by the sideline and hit him with constructive criticisms and not by destroying the Green Card which is not Donald Trump’s property and he should as well note that the Green Card is a privilege to him not his right.

Ajulo a lawyer, former National Secretary of Labour Party, is the Principal Partner of Kayode Ajulo & Co. Castle of Law.