On Wednesday, Nigeria and most parts of the world woke up to the shock realization of Donald Trump’s victory as America’s 45th president. The shock wave of his victory is still reverberating and in no less clime is this being felt than in that bastion of democracy itself, the United States. There are protests across the country over the emergence of Trump as president. The chant, ‘not our president, not today’ is the protest chant. There is no running away from the fact that the protesters are mostly the minorities in the US. The protest is understandable.
The minorities in the US- Blacks, Mexicans, Latinos and Moslems, understandably have cause to panic, Trump had never hidden his plan for them in the event of his presidency. In one of the most divisive campaigns ever witnessed in the US history, the Republican candidate, succeeded in alienating a large chunk of the American population, even within his Republican Party. While Democratic Party candidate, Hillary Clinton had been more accommodating in her views of the minorities, the same could not be said of Trump. The president -elect had said he would bring back the stop and search(frisk)policy where police could stop people on the road and search them for weapons. The blacks know this is actually targeted at them. Likewise the Moslems have a lot to fear from the Trump presidency. Understanding and playing on the sentiment against Moslems in the country, Trump promised to ban them from the US until he was able to figure out how he would handle the situation. For the Latinos, Mexicans, it’s the same fear.
In kicking off his campaign in June 2015, Trump had referred to Mexicans as rapists and criminals adding, “when Mexico sends its people, they are not sending their best…they are sending people that have lots of problems…they are bringing drugs, they are bringing crime”. He also had cause to send out a Mexican-American journalist out of a press conference he was addressing. He equally accused a Mexican-American judge of bias and capped it by saying a wall would be built between the US and Mexico. For the black Americans and Hispanics, it was also the same vitriol. “African Americans are living in hell, you walk down the street, you get shot”.
His campaign especially focused on Nigeria. In one of such attacks, he said of President Mohammadu Buhari, “No sensible president continuously travels round the globe while his country, Nigeria is in terrible hardship and economics mess. It can only happen in Nigeria where all that matters to the president is the full introduction of Islam, annihilation of his political opponents and absolute extermination of the people of the old eastern Nigeria.
Buhari, prior to his questionable victory at the polls as the president of Nigeria made lots of promises which he has obviously failed to keep and in most cases denied”. It did not stop there, he went further to accuse Nigerians of taking jobs meant for Americans. During his campaign trip to Alaska, he noted that the only black man he saw was a Nigerian and wondered what he was doing there if not to take their (Americans) jobs.
But in all these, the racial sentiments of Trump would benefit Nigeria, if we are willing to learn from it. He has made it clear that Nigerians and Africans should stay and develop their countries. This is expected to make Nigeria and other African leaders look inwards instead of focusing on the US for aids and handouts. It’s obvious that the US foreign policy which is presently opaque will not favour non Americans, as said earlier, this could prove advantageous. You probably want to ask what really did Nigeria, Africa’s powerhouse benefit from the US during the eight years administration of President Barack Obama, nothing except contempt.
Obama visited Africa, his stopover in West Africa was Ghana. People have expressed fears that Trump would send many Nigerians back home, this is to me is being taken literally. He is not going to start rounding up Nigerians and Africans and putting them on a ship back to their countries, what would likely happen is that there would be more stringent immigration control. For those who are in the US legally, they are not likely to have any problem, it is the illegals that would face that problem. Those also planning to emigrate or travel to the US too would equally have to pass through the eye of the needle. All these would be good for Nigeria, especially with the present economic situation, as it would limit the number of people going into that country.
Our politicians would equally think twice before venturing to the US as that country would not be as friendly as expected. In all these Nigeria and Nigerians will benefit. For the average Nigerian, it is also a lesson that they can also seize their country the way Americans seize their country by voting someone whose message resonated with them, who was not an establishment or political person, but a maverick. It is an opportunity for Nigerians to protest their condition by making a statement in elections that they want to take their destiny in their hands by voting candidates of their choice, not a politician, not an establishment person. Trump was never a politician, but a business man and Americans decided on him. Nigerians can also do that, they have the power to determine their fate.
We have people who have done well for themselves in the private sector, who understand the nuances of international political-economy but have never shown interest in politics, not because they are comfortable with the status quo, but due to the fact of how politics is played in Nigeria, it is time to shed the toga of indifference and take full and active participation in how the affairs of the country is determined.
Recently, Barrister Jimoh Ibrahim, the Group Managing Director (GMD) of Global Fleet has indicated interest in the coming Ondo governorship election, and has got the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)’s nod, though his candidature is still a subject of litigation and would have been determined by the time this piece is being read, his courage should be commended. Ironically, Barrister Ibrahim could be described as Nigeria’s Trump.
His philosophy on business is not too different from Trump’s. Irreverent and maverick and a voracious reader, he is so enamored of Trump that he actually took an office in Donald Trump’s towers in New York. But whether he will make a success of his foray in politics is a different thing and only time would determine that. But you have to give it to him, he does not lose his battles.