US President-elect Donald Trump gestures before being sworn in as President on January 20, 2017 at the US Capitol in Washington, DC. / AFP PHOTO / Mark RALSTONAbout 10 per cent of 2017 has already elapsed but it is still a new year. I am an optimist (it is good for our emotional wellbeing), but I have looked through my crystal ball and the emerging body language dynamics, and I am afraid this year may end up being more of the same or at best, same of the same. This is despite the rising global oil prices and the instrumentalist rapprochement between the President and Senate President. The debate on the 2017 budget has started despite the push-push over the MTEF but the historical contradiction between PMB (the budget would solve all our problems) and his VP (the budget cannot avail much), is unsettling. Banks are advertising the Dollar, Euro and Pound at between N300 and N350; but the cheapest of them was N500 in the open market while the VP had just declared ‘we cannot just float the Naira like that‘( toeing the line of PMB who had openly revolted against the floatation). The president has become a clearing agent, clearing Lawal and Magu and in effect, using deodorant on executive sinners and deadly insecticides on others.
Somebody who advises his followers to defend themselves from murderous ‘foreign’ Fulani brigands is harangued while those who have actually killed thousands go free and are actually being paid to kill no more. Of course the herdsmen are still killing and the decimated BH is still springing surprises, at helpless civilians and soldiers. The year also started with stories of PMB’s death and clueless explanations from his media team, an indication that we learnt nothing from the past. I have also just met a woman who comes all the way from Lagos on a regular basis, to sell ‘okpa’( an Igbo delicacy) at Ijebu Ode; an indication of how tough things are and the extent to which Nigerians are ready to go to escape the pangs of Buharecession. Anyway, as an ordinary citizen I wish Nigerians well in 2017 but PMB and his team cannot just wish Nigerians well; they MUST do Nigerians well.
I was not among Nigerians who wept more than the bereaved over the U.S. presidential election. But I was peripherally interested because of the interconnectedness of the global environment and the weight of the U.S. in the global superstructure. The fact that a Trump won the nomination was bad enough, and that he even went on to win despite his queer USP is shocking and indicates that the America that we knew- in terms of culture, values and dispositions- was actually fake. But our people say that the type of firewood available in a town should suffice for their cooking needs. So that is what Americans wanted and that is what they have. But, it is a new America
However, my attention took a quantum leap when I noticed the extent to which we have exported our political practices to the U.S. In the first instance, it was a replication of ‘Ekiti 2014’ in which Goliath (Fayemi), with his performance, charisma, urbanity, suavity, grace, civility and good education was roundly defeated by David ( Fayose), with a lot of question marks, ongoing trial for corruption, rejection by Ekiti elites, disrespect for elders and lack of Omoluabi ethos.( Ik Muo: Still on Ekiti Elections: Cooked Rice, Raw Rice and the Trouble with Nigeria: BusinessDay, 29/7/14).
In the U.S., Clinton, with deep commitment to uplift women, children, and other minorities; a most distinguished career in public service; an unprecedented level of preparation for the job and compelling experience was defeated by Trump who had a legendary penchant for self-love that hovers on the borders of narcissism and an overall phenomenon that is at best a critique of democracy, and especially the U.S. electoral college system, which ensured that a candidate who lost by three million popular votes win an election (Femi Mimiko, Guardian, 22/1/17). Trump won through the Electoral College contraption which he had described as a ‘disaster for democracy” following Obama’s victory over Mitt Romney in 2012. Other practices they imported from us include accusation of rigging before the election, demonstrations after the results were announced, recounting of votes, boycotting of the inauguration by the opposition, gutter language campaign, and arguments targeted at the person (argumentum ad homininen).
There was also nostalgic comparison between the new and the old Obama, a conscientious and intelligent leader who espoused humane values, inspired millions of Americans and successfully fulfilled some of his most significant promises.(Times Editorial, 17/1/17), with impeccable manners, intelligence, wonderful family values he stood for, (Guardian Life, 15/1/17, pL3) being succeeded by Trump, with an unusual combination of ego, arrant lack of critical experience, a particularly inappropriate temperament, and embarrassing ignorance of the nuances of global diplomacy.
As for the first ladies, it has been class (Michelle, Doctor of law from Harvard and Dean, Princeton University) and trash (Melania: a nudist model!). Americans have also shown how they feel about this ‘profoundly un-American president’, as indicated by the fact that within eight days, majority of Americans disapproved of his presidency by a margin of 45% to 48%( Obama only lost majority approval after 936 days). His inauguration was attended by only 900000 ( Obama, 2m+) and marked by violent protests; his post inauguration rating was just 40% (Obama had 78) while Americans regret that their values are at odds with a president who ‘lies promiscuously, destabilizes the government with impulsive, discriminatory, and inhumane policies backed up with jarring firings, and cannot allow his White House to apologise or admit error under any circumstances’.
He has also departed from American traditions in that while Lincoln proclaimed ‘charity for all and with malice toward none’, Trump offers ‘charity for none and malice toward all except Russia’ (Jonathan Alter, The Daily Beast, 1/2/17). The ‘demagogic’ campaigner who executed a ‘hostile takeover’ of Whitehouse had delivered the ‘most dreadful inaugural address’ at the most ‘ominous inauguration day’ in U.S. history that is ‘leading America away from the world’ and marks the ‘end of the American century’. Like Nigerian politicians, he is bent on rubbishing Obama’s policies, starting with Obamacare and strangely he is probing the election which he ‘won’. He has appointed his fellow billionaires and his in-law into his government, decided to retain his massive business empire and had acted in such strange ways that three professors of psychiatry requested President Obama to conduct ‘a full medical and neuropsychiatric evaluation’ on Donald Trump’s mental health because they believe he is suffering from Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Trump runs an ‘Abnormal Presidency’ and his America only’ declaration has led to tumbling of stocks and Dollars.
His difference from Nigerian politicians is that he is delivering the queer change he promised. We also have a new world in which America, the cornerstone global world and free trade is now under Trump, doing everything to destroy and destabilize the world. As at now, nobody is sure of anything under a president who deliberately disrupts the world (Robbin Wright, New Yorker Magazine, 17/1/17), works with aids who openly disagree with him on Iran, NATO, Russia and Japan, and probably enjoys the palpable nervousness in European capitals. He has gone ahead with the Mexico wall and even wants Mexico to contribute; he has shut out most of the Muslim world though he is accused of excluding countries where he has interest. He is at war with NATO, UN, EU the media and in particular, CNN, fellow republicans, immediate past president, and market forces and is also facing revolt from corporate America as exemplified by FORD. He is driven by a transactional mentality to U.S. foreign policy and many of his ideas disparage the principles, institutions, and alliances central to U.S. foreign policy.
But when the drum is beaten violently, the dancers also respond in kind. There is now a bill proposing that U.S. pulls out of UN and sends UN parking from U.S.; there were protests at JFK, and over 1.5m Britons have signed a petition against Trumps visit to the UK for a state dinner with the Queen. Californians have also started a campaign to secede from U.S. (Calexit!). Will trump also be the last president of a United America?
Well, this is 2017, a new year. It is the year of Trumpocracy which has within a few days created a new America and a new, unstable, uncertain world. Not many expected this turn of event but ‘It is when people are saying how quiet and peaceful it is, that sudden destruction falls on them as suddenly as labour pains come on a pregnant woman, and there is no escape. (1 Thessalonians,5:3) Trump has hatred for others and appeared to have read Haman letter advising King Ahasuerus to do away with certain ill-disposed people unique in kind, who behave in such a way as to obstruct the form of government that leads to general good, hostile to our interests, commit most heinous of crimes, endangering the stability of our realm (Esther, 3:13 Jerusalem Bible). He is preaching and practising a change, away from empathy, humanity and justice, to an age of hate, disrespect, fear and even impunity!
Yes he is delivering on his campaign promises; promises that freely show MALICE TOWARD ALL. This is what the Americans asked for (is it?) and so they have to live with it. Unfortunately however, the troubler of America is also troubling the world. Instead of an inclusive, peaceful, healed, unified and transformed world, Trump is working furiously towards a traumatised, divided, and hate-full world that is in pieces. The bull is on rampage and everyone is running for cover. Even the Trumpeteers are terrified. Who or what can stop him? How prepared is the U.S. constitution and the Judiciary for this strange phenomenon? Can Trump serve out his term? Is he the last president of a united America? Are we headed for WW3? I am afraid, both for the U.S. and for the world! Meanwhile, I insist that Trump be pressurized to undergo that full medical and neuropsychiatric evaluation as advised by U.S. psychiatrists. It will be good to see what the outcome will be. Happy New Year!
Muo, PhD, Department of Business Administration, Olabisi Onabanjo University (OOU), Ago-Iwoye.