Politics they say is neither black nor white, it’s sometimes grey and often with surprises. Mr. Donald Trump, President Elect of the United States is one man whose victory shocked both critics and admirers.
A long list of the Republican Party, political opponents, business rivals, lobbyists and mainstream media wrote him off as a pretender. Polls after polls gave victory to his rival while grudgingly admitting a tight race. They sponsored and promoted fabricated news stories against him in attempt to demonize him. Even the incumbent US president Mr. Obama broke tradition by campaigning vigorously against him. In one of his several podcasts directed at African American voters, Obama warned that Trumps, victory will be a personal insult to him. That was low.
People largely believed all the negative comments ascribed to Trump, even though some of those comments were either a fictitious on outright falsehood served to fool the public. For instance: Did Trump say Nigerians would be made to leave America? Did he call black people lazy-fools? Did he ask Africans to go back to Africa if they are not satisfied with? Did he threaten to lock up Mugabe and Museveni for their dictatorial tendency? Facts are that these fake and fictitious stories were created by fake media outlets. And they succeeded in fooling many.
Recall David Axelrod, the famous Obama consultant and his despicable roles in the build-up to the 2015 Nigeria presidential election. As part of the grand plan to destroy the Jonathan’s presidency, the opposition APC went to town with several scandalous but unfounded stories, some of which were that Mrs. Jonathan at a public function snatched the microphone off the mouth of then Governor Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State. There was also the story of Dr. Steven Davies, the Austrian and hostage negotiator who was programmed to tell the story of how he met with Boko Haram fighters who told him that Gen. Azubuike Ihejirika, the erstwhile Chief of Army Staff was a major sponsor of Boko Haram. Another lie was that the Jonathan administration was training snippers to kill opposition leaders. El-Rufai and Amaechi claimed they saw list of those targeted which included their names. The media feasted on these stories just like they feasted on Trump
Not even Jonathan’s insistence that his ambition was not worth anyone’s blood’ would dissuade former President Obasanjo from repeating same scandalous rumors in his infamous letter to President Jonathan. Perhaps the biggest of the lies which has refused to go away was that of the stolen $5Obn by no less a person than the then Governor of Central Bank. Up to date, both President Jonathan and his then Minister of Petroleum, Mrs. Madueke are yet to recover from the smear campaign.
It was these same tactics employed by the West to subvert democracy in developing countries that was to be deployed against Trump. But the American voters were wiser for it.
They were not looking for a saint but a leader who will make America great again; a leader who will halt the influx of undocumented immigrants into America; someone who will be tough on crime and bomb the hell out of ISIS. They want a leader who understands trade, who will renegotiate a better trade deal with China. They wanted a leader who recognizes the place of God in the life of the America nation and the prophetic role of Israel in God’s plan.
Trump’s supporters were wary of their government legalizing gay marriages, and abortion, editing the bible and chipping Christ out of America in the name of unrestrained liberalism, hence they remained steadfast and defiant despite paddling his campaign.
I am proud of Trump. America deserves a strong leader. I have no doubt he is going to be a great President in the mold of Ronald Reagan. I stood with him throughout the campaign and I cannot be happier that he won.
Obama was a very bad leader who destroyed American values and Hilary was going to do worse. In an article titled ‘My thoughts on Obama’s African legacy’ published in May 2016, I wrote “Everywhere you look in Africa, Obama the first African- American president of the United States has impoverished his father’s own people. America’s worse mistake by November 2016 will be the continuation of Obama’s legacy by electing Mrs. Clinton. Her victory will amount to prolonging the reign of ISIS, Boko-Haram and Al-Qaeda in Africa. No one who witnessed how Hillary Clinton promoted and enabled Boko Haram in Nigeria and the destruction of Libya and Syria will be interested in the continuation of Obama’s legacy”
Back to the focus of this article which is the tricky question of how Nigeria and politicians around the world should treat someone they have previously called every name under the sun who is now ascending to the most powerful political role in the world. Trump’s unexpected election as US President raises many profound questions about the growth of populist politics around the world and the nature of his future policy programme at home and abroad.
The conventional wisdom and practice for many governments around the world in previous presidential elections has been to resist ‘taking sides’ on the principled basis that it was wrong to ‘interfere’ in others’ democratic processes and the pragmatic basis that you may need to work with either candidate in the future.
Following Trump’s comments to place a temporary ban on Muslims from entering the US, Saudi billionaire, Prince Alwaleed wrote on Twitter: “You are a disgrace not only to the GOP Republican Party but to all America’. ‘Withdraw from the US presidential race as you will never win.”
In the UK in January, the House of Commons held a debate on whether Trump should be banned from entering the UK. Over 500,000 people had signed a petition. In responding to the petition, then Home Secretary, now Prime Minister Theresa May stopped short of a ban, but said that she found Trump’s remarks ‘divisive, unhelpful and wrong’.
But since he won, world leaders are moderating their views of him. The Nigerian president offered his congratulatory message. Alwaleed in his tweet wrote ‘despite the past differences, America has spoken, congratulation and best wishes for your presidency’. The British Prime Minister May’s comments were more circumspect. She offered Trump ‘good luck’ wishes for the election.
Boris Johnson with some pretty astounding hypocrisy given some of his previous rudeness about international leaders, told Britain to end the ‘whinge-o-rama’ about Trump’s election.
Others were frank about what they feel about the Trump election. Spokesman to former President Jonathan, Mr. Reuben Abati in an article on Trump’s victory lamented Clinton’s lost and never hid the fact she was his favorite.
Of course, Abati is not going to be responsible for building Nigeria’s future relationships with the US. Perhaps the cleverest and most challenging message came from Angela Merkrel who managed to combine the obligatory congratulations on his election with a call for him to recognize shared values of ‘democracy, freedom, and respect for the law and the dignity of man, independent of origin, skin colour, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or political views’.
For Nigeria, the relationship with the US is crucial for our security and for our trade given that the US is our largest trading partner, so it is important to nurture it. Government may try to find out those Nigerians who have a link to the Trump campaign.