There is a change of baton in the politics of the United States of America today, with the exit of President Barack Obama and the swearing in of his successor, Donald Trump. In the past, the swearing in of a new President was always a day of nationwide celebrations, whoever was the new man, be he a Republican or Democrat.
However, today’s event is beclouded by unprecedented circumstances. It is quite unusual, if not unprecedented, for the swearing in of a new President of the United States to be marked by nationwide protests against the new man in the White House. These protests have been on for some days and may continue for a few more days.
One point of interest is that a chunk of the protesters strongly believe that the defeated Democratic party candidate, Hillary Clinton, was cheated in the election or that President Donald Trump’s victory was manipulated by a foreign power, Russia. Yet, it would be wrong to claim that Clinton instigated the protests. When there were similar post-election protests in Nigeria in the past, the same Hillary Clinton, then American Secretary of State, came here and echoed the blackmail that Muhammadu Buhari instigated the protests. As argued in this column at that time, such protests or violence were ever spontaneous, a reflection of the anger of the electorate who might have felt cheated of victory.
The protests in the U.S. against the outcome of the recent presidential election are obviously one final combative gesture against the shock victory of Trump against political pundits’ predictions all over the world, discrediting, among others, pollsters and even the media. Never in America’s history had there been such a one-man political assault that upturned all known established records.
Candidate Trump defied even his Republican party, which disowned him throughout the campaigns. Such was the unprecedented political feat, which compelled searches for what might have gone wrong with everybody except one man, Donald Trump. One such major reason detected was the alleged interference of rival Russia in the American presidential election in favour of Trump.
Notably, throughout his campaign for the election, Trump was effusive in praise of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Could Trump have been complicit in the alleged Russian interference in the American presidential election? In the past, an allegation of this nature was enough to cost Trump the election. But here was a candidate embraced by the electorate on his personal merit even against his party.
Whichever was the case, could such Russian interference eventually affect the legitimacy of Trump’s presidency and to what degree? Unless he commits an impeachable offence, Trump’s presidency seems secure. Yet, beyond party lines, politicians in the U.S. congress have, indeed, commenced hearings on investigations (by various security agencies) into the truth or otherwise of the alleged Russian interference in the presidential election. The alleged Russian interference focused on the hacking of apparatchiks at the national headquarters of Democratic Party.
Either because indications of alleged Russian interference were not taken seriously or because the threat of the Russians was too overwhelming to be neutralised, American authorities had enough time to neutralize the saboteurs, who still succeeded in ridiculing the entire American political, administrative and security system.
The protest, though, is massive. Demonstrations are planned for 60 American cities, attracting up to one million protesters, with about two hundred thousand celebrating the inauguration of the new President.
The protests were avoidable, if only those involved discharged their civic obligation in the first place. Failure in this aspect accounted for democratic candidate Clinton’s total score of over three million popular votes than President Trump but scattered over less number of states than Trump, which was inadequate under the American electoral system to win the presidency. Trump is being sworn in today not because he won more popular votes but because fewer voters turned out.
African-Americans in particular gave the impression that their obligation to the Democrats ended with Barack Obama’s presidency. In fact, Obama, in the last days of the campaigns, desperately pleaded that American minorities should came out to vote, if only to help preserve his legacy.
The racist undertones of American minorities boycotting the polls partly cost Clinton and the Democrats the presidency.
For a political maverick, the early days of the Trump presidency could prove more rewarding than Americans might bargain for. Throughout the campaigns, Trump described outsourcing American manufacturing jobs as detrimental to employment prospects at home. Trump, therefore, pledged to impose a tariff of 35 per cent on manufactured goods imported into the U.S., especially from neighbouring Mexico.
Since Trump’s election victory, some of the companies targeted, such as Toyota and General Motors, have decided to re-open plants in the U.S. The decision will save the companies the high tariff but also create thousands of new jobs in the motor manufacturing industries in the U.S. Amazon and Wallmat have also joined in plans to create hundreds of thousands of new jobs.
Boeing is another major manufacturer that has kowtowed before America’s new strongman. When it was announced after Trump’s victory that the presidential fleet would be replaced with new aircraft, including Air Force One, Trump rejected the idea, saying that he did not require an air transport fleet at over $5 billion, which he considered too expensive. He, therefore, pledged to cancel the contract after assuming office.
In the past few weeks, Boeing has slashed the projected cost of the new presidential fleet to just above $3 billion, a saving of almost $2 billion. A maverick like Trump may turn out to be the man America needs to sustain job creation and ensure reasonable contract costs.
By the way, it is instructive that while Obama is sustaining democracy with a glorious exit from office as President of the United States, after his tenure of eight years. Yahya Jammeh is being forced out of office in The Gambia in West Africa for attempting to perpetuate himself in office after 22 years.
The difference is clear.
Obasanjo among Nigerians
Re-Zik, Awo, others on Obasanjo
Until that man educates Nigerians on how his post-prison N20,000 and President’s earnings for eight years catapulted him into a billionaire, all his anti-corruption talk comea to naught.
Obasanjo is a brave coward. He does not know what time is it. He so much believes in the I, ME and MYSELF concept.
Ikeri Dominic, 08037234771
In all honesty, we still need your brain in this country. Fatola IBD.
Oga, you too much. God bless you and grant you more wisdom IJN.
Alex, from Umuahia, 08068156745
Thanks for your piece on Zik, Awo, others on Obasanjo. Excellent as always. I thought you would have put a line on his refusal to respond to Oba Adetona’s question to him regarding his possible interest in Obajana cement, only for him to arrange for Aliko Dangote to address the Oba on it years later. How not to be a man of honour indeed! 08033066518
The column on Obasanjo (Daily Sun, January 14, page 47) is a masterpiece. Bravo. Where can I buy a copy of Condoleezza Rice’s memoir and what cost?
I have repeatedly said that Obasanjo is the coward and liar of the century. He is a hypocrite who fears some people from a “certain area or zone” but makes scapegoats of the perceived weak and helpless. When General Danjuma dared him on OPL 246, what did he do? He chickened out. Let him wait for Atiku Abubakar to become President and he will return to jail to complete the Abacha sentence or perish there. Those eulogising Obasanjo as a messiah are to blame.
He once said that Abiola was not the messiah, only for the same Obasanjo to benefit from Abiola’s demise. Obasanjo’s rhetoric about the oneness of Nigeria is borne out of cowardice rather than patriotism. See how he dramatised his withdrawal from the PDP, an act he exhibited for fear of Buhari’s emergence as President. If anyone should remain in PDP, it ought to be Obasanjo, being the biggest single beneficiary of the party. His day of judgment is nigh.
W. Page, 08177010143
I wonder how you did not get concerned how hundreds of people were killed in Kaduna and you kept mute because of your man, President Muhammadu Buhari. History and God of journalism will not forgive you. Do you think looking the other way is the solution? This is the change for which you canvassed. May God save us from this government of tribalism.
Honestly, as usual, you rightly put Obasanjo where he belongs. But the issue is whether the man has conscience at all. If, at his age and exposure, he cannot initiate what will foster the unity of this country for the fear one administration may surpass him in progress, then it is unfortunate of him. I have never read of him organising a genuine national peace reconciliation even among his peers, that is, the elite of this country, to calm nerves in some cases, which would not cost him one kobo. He will never think of that. Instead, it is always his personal self-glorification from here or there. But, as you said, we should forget him and move on. 08091985441