It is somewhat amusing that   public commentators in Nigeria find a man like Donald Trump horrifying, while we in our country have consistently voted for and empowered men like Donald Trump in both business and politics. “The Donald”, with his racist, fascist rants about Muslims and foreigners,is the same bigoted, narcissist one finds in positions of authority across Nigeria.

He is an aberration to any society that values political correctness, human rights and freedom, which unfortunately, doesn’t include ours. Many aspects of Trump’s campaign are based on blaming foreigners (and Muslims) for White America’s economic woes. His divisive tactics would probably send the average Nigerian politician into ecstasy.

Trump

The spectre of the Mexican illegal immigrant is his own Biafra, a trump card (no pun intended) to be used and re-used in any conversation where he is lacking in argument. His success shows the breakdown of American public school education, where, much like Nigeria, civic education has been pushed to the background, paving the way for irresponsible, opportunistic politicians to manipulate public affairs to their own advantage.

Degrees and   certifications

Public education, besides equipping people with degrees and certifications, has the wider objective of preparing them for citizenship, enabling them to think deeply and broadly, something that in the hinterlands of Nigeria and America, it is no longer recommended to do. An addiction to religion (or rather its external trappings), particularly to the evangelist strain, created a society, in both countries, where “rapture”, “miracles” and “prophets” determine ideas and conversations rather than rational thought.

The Republican fear of Islam and would-be Islamisation of the world, mirrors our own even more peculiar obsession (given that Islam in Nigeria has always co-existed with Christianity) with the spectre of conversion, used to prevent the citizenry from looking too closely into other issues of national interest: in our case, a Muslim President leads a fight against corruption, so it is all too simple to distract from the real issue (corruption and the many ways it kills Nigerians) by obsessing over his faith, forgetting that past Presidents used the Christian Association of Nigeria like it was an arm of government.

“The Donald” would love Nigeria: our pathological need to fabricate and sensationalise events, our tacit encouragement of violence (electoral, domestic, you name it), our refusal to see women as full-fledged human beings (Trump, if he has heard of the Nigerian Senate is probably giving it a thumbs up right now), etc.

Donald Trump’s rise in America might seem surprising, but his Nigerian counterparts’ existence isn’t. Their offensive remarks, totally lacking in value policy-wise, are not so surprising, given that our system was built to discourage talent from emerging and to perpetuate an anti-meritocratic political culture where rottenness as a set of principles, is the fastest way to money, power and social relevance.

Emotional bias on issues serves all “Donalds” purposes, in a global media environment that favours reality TV political backbiting over serious discourse, enabling   Trump, or any agitator and manipulator like the average Nigerian politician, to thrive. The most unfortunately “Nigerian” thing about Donald Trump, which he himself in an ironically and horrifically candid moment confessed, is his love of “illiterates”.

Trump thrives in states and counties where white high-school dropouts outnumber college graduates, where a sense of agency is lacking in most people’s lives and where unemployed Americans no longer look for work. Like the Nigerian politician whose children go to expensive schools while he preys on the ignorance of his voters, encouraging them to blame other people (read ethno-religious groups) for their problems, Trump is adept at turning politics, a gathering force, into something uncivilised and unspeakable.

At the heart of America’s Trump problem, one finds the same puzzle which is turning our federalism into an assortment of delinquent and badly behaved, anti-people governments: in America, it’s institutional racism, the belief and portrayal by mainstream media and politics that Blacks should “get over themselves” and “get on with it” while simultaneously pampering White voters and telling them poverty or lack of economic success is everyone else’s fault. In Nigeria, it is the same sort of discrimination and animosity toward the poor, while ironically blaming them for their situation, but with a more heinous consequence.

Here, we teach that “sharp”, illegal practices will make you rich, hence our “do-or-die” politics.

The Nigerian elite loves and encourages the poor’s prejudice and bias towards various ethnic groups, yet it is united in its belief that Nigeria belongs only to a certain class of individuals. Trump’s success is predicated on a long held pact between the Republican Party and their unemployed, White constituents whose collective memory of segregation and the constant scapegoating of minorities, has united. As for Nigerian politicians, keeping the majority wallowing in illiteracy has been their greatest weapon. Today, those who cry “witch-hunt” because they are being asked stringent questions as to the whereabouts of huge sums in their care, do so because it is the very identity of the Nigerian politician which is being challenged: who are they here to serve?

Unchallenged  supremacy

Themselves or Nigerians? And it makes sense that when one’s identity is challenged in such a central way, the response (the witch-hunt defense) becomes an attempt at protecting the beliefs and actions (corruption, nepotism, ethno-religious discourse) which enable their hitherto unchallenged supremacy. Nigerians,let’s not feel sorry for Americans,despite Trump’s onslaught on the values of liberal democracy. Their individual lives are protected by institutions sworn to serve them.

We, on the other hand routinely demonise and impatiently chastise the one person standing between us and chaos. We might dislike Trump, but we have a multitude of Nigerian versions in the Senate for example, whose wealth and lifestyles we idolise, while they preside over our ignorance, trading our adoration for their subtle manipulation.

We are a nation that breeds Donalds: our laws have been unable to protect us from oppression, because those sworn to do so have court cases to answer themselves. It’s one of the biggest scams of our time: a democracy defended by people who hate democracy. The Donalds, the people international media call fascists, they would be so proud.

Rivers State

Does being an oil rich state justify the level of violence seen during the recent elections? The phrase “clash of the titans” seems to have taken on a darker meaning in Rivers, as state juggernauts seem engaged in “do- or-die” combat.

It is beyond all understanding. The alleged assassination attempt on Dakuku Peterside, currently DG of NIMASA, shows just how much the situation has degenerated. In the ’90s and early 2000s, gangsterism, cultism in the state seemed almost uncontrollable and their resurgence is more than worrisome.

In 2007, the EFCC under Nuhu Ribadu accused the Odili administration of fraud, conspiracy, money laundering and other offenses, while a Human Rights Watch report spoke of corruption and mismanagement destroying local government structures. Perhaps in taking a closer look at that period, one could find the keys to what is happening now.

Obasanjo

He reportedly described those asking him to account for the Abacha loot as “illiterates” and “stupid”, saying all questions should be directed to the Ministry of Finance, the CBN and their heads at the time.

That is a dereliction of duty. The buck stops at the President’s desk. Like any CEO, he is responsible for the executives he names who cannot operate without his consent, which is why it is probably worse for former President Jonathan not to have known about #ArmsGate than the opposite. Nigerians should keep up the pressure when it comes to the Abacha loot, our commonwealth, as we are yet to see or feel tangible evidence of its appropriate use.

As for acknowledging that picking Jonathan was simply an ethnic consideration, it is further proof that ethno-religious politics or zoning does not produce the sort of progress or development for all, that Nigeria needs.

Who is the best man for the job? That is the question to be asked from now on.

 

Disclaimer

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