By SKC Ogbonnia
Donald John Trump is finally the president of the United States of America. Expectedly, there is palpable tension around the world. The Americans themselves have remained apprehensive. Countries in the East and the West are gripped with fervent fear. Even those in Africa are not left behind, all quivering if they have never encountered an American horror movie before. Nigeria, however, must not expose itself to the fleeting phobia. As Mr. Trump himself would say, what the hell do we have to lose?
Actually, Nigeria may as well gain more under Donald Trump than under any other American president before him. But the path behooves a paradigm shift. Instead of maintaining a subservient profile, Nigeria ought to approach Trump from a position of strength.
The American president, remember, has begun his reign on a gratuitous promise of radical nationalism. The implication is that Trump may finally dump Nigeria’s oil for good and, of course, care less about our internal affairs. The United States may also no longer appropriate funds for humanitarian aids and petty loans to Africa. Moreover, America’s relationships with foreign countries, according to Trump, will be on mutually beneficial terms. These, to most, portend a troubling future for Nigeria-US relations.
Predicting Donald Trump, an enigma, has never been a cake walk. Though the man is well known, everything about him is largely unknown. Therefore, even as he is set to make bold changes, the extent remains unknown. Even where known, it is difficult to figure out the cause and its course. But I had seen the movie first hand in full glare of the main characters and their convictions. It may also interest you to know that I have been a Republican for three decades. Although I vigorously campaigned against Trump, the dissent did not stop me from penning series of articles perfectly predicting his victory, including one with the title, “Why the Weird Trump Can Win”.
Of course, campaigning against the Republican contrary to my gut instincts and conservative values was a difficult decision. But any attempt to stop Trump was worth the effort. His labile character remains a threat to world peace. More relatively, his fiercest venoms were directed towards the people of colour and developing nations, my native country of Nigeria well included.
Now that he is president, here is a strikingly different perspective rooted on the genius of the old saying: every disappointment is a blessing. To that end, the Trump doctrine might turn out to be the right tonic for Nigeria, after all.
His style notwithstanding, the New Yorker believes that many nations are not doing their part to sustain global peace and stability. Donald Trump of the opinion, and rightly so, that every country must demonstrate a true sense of independence by maximizing the resources within its local environment for the good of its people. He claims to despise corruption in government and is amazed, as the ordinary folks, why those in positions of power exploit the masses.
Such concerns have every merit. In fact, one would think that Donald has Nigeria in mind in his idea of impenitent nations. But that is only half of the story. Mr. Trump also sees anything foreign as a bad omen for America, the nation of immigrants. Even the US NATO allies, the Pope, and the Queen have suddenly become suspects. His increasingly strident rhetoric towards nations associated with Islam does not need to be rehashed here. Now, under immense pressure to turn his quixotic world view into a reality Trump is desirous to make any weak country the ultimate fall guy. His recent verbal salvo on Boko Haram is a preview. But Nigeria should not fall into the open trap.
Instead, here is the silver lining on the Trump horizon. Being a cavalier personality, who acts and talks anyhow, it is not difficult to grasp his open disdain for weak leaders as well as beggarly nations. But the rationale is not exclusive. Revering the strong and bold rather than the meek has always been the American way and a vital principle of her foreign policy. However, unlike other presidents before him, Trump is only being Trump to vouchsafe the obvious. This scoop is profoundly instructive, and every developing nation has to be better for the inherent frankness.
It is incumbent upon Nigeria, therefore, to present and demonstrate a can-do outlook moving forward. For instance, rather than grappling to visit the new American leader, as in the past, the first logical bold step is to turn a blind eye to Mr. Trump—for now. Of course, there is the need to still maintain cordial relationships with the United States through the standard diplomatic missions, but it has become imperative to discard the type of master-servant mentality that did nothing but turn the African nation into a sorry spectacle.
Further, at the opportune time, Nigeria has to be proactive and demand to renegotiate relations with the United States purely from a position of strength. The requisite strengths to compel Trump to see mutual benefits are not difficult to fathom.
Start with the latent truth that Nigeria is the African “super power”, whatever that means. Combine it with the fact that the 7th largest country in the world is not only the most powerful black nation on earth but also endowed with overflowing resources well envied worldwide. Cap off the argument with the reality that Nigeria is a bastion of exceptional talents and qualified manpower as exemplified by her citizens in the United States and other large economies. Finally, demonstrate the capacity and willingness to replicate such feat within Nigeria. If strategically presented, America will crave for Nigeria instead of the other way round.
Similar to Trump’s inauguration decree, yes, it can be done. The name of the game is a new Nigerian independence. It entails maximizing the abundant resources within our local environment for the public good and promoting local goods. The rebirth also calls for Nigeria to lead Africa to solemnly demand a slot in the UN Security Council or else explore to leave the union entirely.
Frankly, Trump’s xenophobic doctrine might have finally provided Nigeria a unique opportunity to critically look inward to unleash her strengths both at home and on the world stage. In event the approach fails, there is really nothing to lose. The African nation has endured fifty six years of passive diplomatic relations with the United States but has nothing to show besides a façade of petty aids basically designed to further American interests. The next four years under Trump is only a pint in the ocean.
Ogbonnia writes from Houston, Texas