A major handicap in life is to be misunderstood. But as a Spanish poet put it. “Jesus was misunderstood. Mohammed was misunderstood. To be misunderstood, therefore, is to be great.” The choice is also ever uneasy whether to be stubborn or flexible. If stubborn, there is the risk of being judged to be rigid and if flexible, it is also inescapable to be viewed as inconsistent and unreliable if not weak.
Depending on luck and circumstances, this positive or negative trait ends in landmarks or personal disaster. Against all odds, America has (just) elected a business billionaire, Donald Trump, as a successor to another history-making but out-going (first black American) President Barack Obama. Viewed from whichever angle, Donald Trump’s feat is the outcome of the devil-may-care stubbornness to defy almost all conventions in politics. Despised at home and feared abroad, Trump did it his own way, at certain stages, as a seeming rabble-rouser, throwing all caution to the wind. He fought his battle independently but not as an independent candidate. After all, he contested the election on the platform of the Republican Party, a political platform, which neither recognised nor supported his candidacy throughout. In fact, the party hierarchy disowned him up to his miraculous victory in the presidential elections, a political spectacle, which must be peculiar to the Americans.
Despite whatever reservation, Donald Trump eventually ended in history books for his stubbornness, which ranked him, come January 2017, the most powerful man in the world presiding over economy, the military and wealth. With this feat, Donald Trump shattered certain political myths. What his party could not achieve as a group for the past eight years and did not seem promising for the indefinite future, Trump single-handedly restored the Republicans to White House. But for this political feat, if Hillary Clinton had won the elections, the Republicans would have ended in political doldrums for many years to come.
As in any society, the Donald Trump bastardised by the Republicans yesterday, is today acclaimed not just by the same Republicans but also fellow Americans generally as their president. Is it not the case that every mother embraces a successful child? Donald Trump shattered or, at least, devalued party system, as an essential part of politics. Only short of contesting as an independent candidate, he emasculated party influence either by assuming control or ignoring whoever confronted him and, at the end of the day, Donald Trump succeeded, which is what matters most.
The American presidential elections provided the opportunity to oppose the bogey status of opinion polls in modern day elections. Infact, for the third time within eighteen months, opinion polls was discredited. Thanks to Donald Trump’s defiance. On various occasions in the run-up to the elections, Donald Trump dismissed all election forecasts, although when favoured, sucked up to the same polls. Whither opinion polls in future elections?
For the May 2015 general elections in Britain, opinion polls forecast a hung parliament in which no party would emerge with overall majority. Instead, the ruling Tory party won overall majority seats over all the other parties in the elections. Also, for the June 2016 referendum to determine Britain’s continued membership of European Union, opinion polls completely ruled out withdrawal verdict. Yet, the verdict not only recorded the country’s exit from European Union but also ended the political career of erstwhile Prime Minister, David Cameron. It was, therefore, virtually routine for Donald Trump to apply the death-knell by discrediting opinion polls by winning the presidential elections against all forecasts that Hillary Clinton would succeed President Barack Obama.
For the observing world, the ostensible major casualty of the American elections was the Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton. Perhaps. But there were several other casualties. The first was out-going President Obama, who defeated Hillary Clinton in the primaries for the Democratic ticket in 2008. Part of the healing process was the appointment of Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State in Obama’s first term. Taking a neutral position in the party’s nomination process for his successor, Obama felt an obligation to reciprocate Hillary Clinton’s 2008 compromise gesture by going all out in the recent presidential elections to campaign for his widely-assumed potential successor, Hillary Clinton. Somehow, the going got so tough that Obama had to impliedly turn the elections into some sort of referendum on his eight-year tenure, which he pleaded should be endorsed by voting massively for Hillary Clinton.
Boy, which was more vigorous, Barack Obama’s campaigns for his own elections (2008, 2012) or his recent campaigns for Hillary Clinton? There is no history of an out-going American president so much involved in the campaigns for the election of his successor. Yet, Hillary Clinton lost and in effect, Obama also lost his plea for the endorsement and preservation of his legacy.
Another major casualty might be, perhaps, Obama’s major legacy, which is generally known as Obamacare, which is reasonably less expensive medical care for the lower class. In a devastating capitalist society, such state assistance is an anathema for the bourgeoisie, a class to which Donald Trump belongs. Rabble-rousing throughout the campaigns, Trump vowed to scrap the Obama-care within his first one hundred days in office. It is, however, not clear if Trump can honour his campaign pledge (threat?) to deport millions of resident foreigners in America without legal status, mainly Latinos from neighbouring Spanish-speaking countries as well as hundreds of thousands Africans with identical status. Trump will either have to honour his campaign pledge or he would have defrauded fellow Americans for their mandate to be elected into office.
Much is being made of what portends peaceful transition from Obama to Trump administration. Major actors in the (recent) elections are involved in the spirit of America first, whatever the situation. Donald Trump’s campaign for the elections was littered with open incitement to hatred or even occasionally, violence. That might be suitable on the soapbox and certainly not the office of the president. It was, therefore, understandable in his victory speech, he appeared sober and reconciliatory in tone, pragmatic in intention and harmless to all, the very hallmark of a statesman, although implementation or non-implementation of his campaign threats will determine much more.
Gone are the revulsion, personal abuses and threats of political victimisation. His victory presumably caught him by surprise. That, at least, has cooked the nerve and anxiety of the observing world.
Noticeably, it is a question of time for Nigerians to be called upon to emulate the Americans in their post-election spirit of sportsmanship. If only it were as simple as that. In Nigeria and Africa generally, elections are not known to be according to ordinary rules and regulations obtainable in civilised societies. It is remarkable that there was not a single legal challenge to all the presidential, governorship and congressional elections. In/as that without a reason?
Failure to observe the credit of the American elections and transfer same to African leaders (and Nigerians included) is to handover licence to sit-tight leaders and election riggers on the continent, the very gang that sets out at regular intervals to provoke, with impunity, protests from the citizenry brazenly rigged of its voting preferences.
Unlike in Nigeria, for example, neither outgoing President Obama nor any of the state governors got it into his head that he must choose his successor or handicap or bar willing others from contesting on their merit or impose an unwilling candidate of his choice, more as a puppet. More enviable and, therefore, recommended to Nigerian serving heads of governments as well as self-styled party leaders, was the fact that throughout the close contest between Hillary Clinton and Senator Bernie Sanders for the ticket of the Democratic Party presidential candidate, President Obama never interfered. The entire process was transparent, making it easy to persuade the loser to endorse the winner. That was civilised political conduct by President Obama – which Nigerian leaders must embrace as a sine qua non for peaceful transition without litigation or public protests.
Furthermore, throughout the American elections, there was never a single allegation of ballot boxes being stuffed with voting papers later forcefully substituted for ballot boxes snatched by thugs and forced at gunpoint to be counted as legitimate votes cast by accredited voters.
Still on the American elections, final election results were counted at designated centres without being concocted or inflated by election officials earlier bribed by government, federal, state or local. Results were announced without President Obama insisting that Washington, the capital, must be the venue for that exercise to serve the purposes of his favoured candidate, as was done in Nigeria under Obasanjo’s administration when results for the governorship race in Ondo was ordered to be announced at Abuja instead of Akure.
Nigeria can surely attain the American standard and the only way for such is to resist with all available means, any attempt to rig the elections, including legal challenges to fraudulent election results. It is exactly for this purpose that provisions were made under our electoral laws for such results to be challenged through election petitions. These, laws are not for decoration. Every cheated Nigerian must appreciate it as a virtue in stubbornness to exhaust all reliefs up to the Supreme Court. It was, therefore, reckless and irresponsible of the bench last time to engage in mass dismissal of subsisting election petitions as if all such legal rights were of some nuisance value. We now know the reasons for such rascality.
Above all, there was not any desperation for the ORUBEBISATION of the venue of announcing results of the American presidential elections, such that would have created tension in the land thereby inhibiting peaceful transfer. These were the series of civilised conduct, which made peaceful transfer and national reconciliation purely routine in United States. That done, political transition can also be a painless exercise in Nigeria.
By the way, President Obama, Hillary Clinton and even Donald Trump had to engage in last minute plea to persuade their respective supporters, especially the minorities to come out and vote. Was that necessary? Why should registered voters assume anybody (except themselves) a favour by coming out to vote? Why then were they violently protesting against the results? That was IDIOTIC.