DONALD TRUMP: For better or worse, lesson for Nigeria

By Aare Afe Babalola,SAN,CON

Donald Trump, who was inaugurated as the 45th President of the United States of America last Friday, is undoubtedly a very outspoken man who does not bother about how anyone receives his comment. Indeed, why this trait in Trump offends the establishment, it appeals to the vast majority of the “forgotten Americans” who voted him into power.

President Donald Trump
USA President

WASHINGTON, DC – JANUARY 20: President Donald Trump delivers his inaugural address on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on January 20, 2017 in Washington, DC. In today’s inauguration ceremony Donald J. Trump becomes the 45th president of the United States. /AFP

During the 18-month campaign, I was the only one in my family and among all my friends and associates that saw victory coming the way of Trump because I believed in his campaign strategy. So when the news filtered out that he won, I immediately issued a press statement to celebrate the man of the moment and the new policeman of the world.

I must say for the umpteenth time that Trump’s victory did not come to me as a surprise bearing in mind the thrust of his campaign to make America great again, that he disagrees with the Nuclear Treaty signed by United Nations (UN) with Iran and that he will change America’s immigration policy to ensure that only those who have genuine business in America are allowed into America, which angered and infuriated many.

Others are that he would address the situation whereby America funds the UN so heavily and yet has become a toothless bull dog, a voiceless entity because some people enjoy the power of Veto and that he would raise the living standard of workers.

In all, Trump’s unexpected victory was the result of his appeal to nationalism and patriotism and I acknowledge his courage, doggedness and audacity to take on the drug barons, illegal immigrants and minorities even when some of his Party Leaders developed cold feet and vowed not to campaign for him.

To those of us who believe in him, the victory is for the better while to those who do not believe in him, his victory is for the worse. Those who do not believe in him see him as a racist, a showman with little substance, a sexist, uneducated; a man lacking in experience, judgment and temperament and therefore unfit to rule America.

I hold the firm belief that he will make an extra-ordinary change. What is happening reminds me of the prophetic statement of UK Prime Minister, Harold Macmillan, in South Africa Parliament in February 1960, when he said: “The wind of change is blowing through this continent, and whether we like it or not, this growth of national consciousness is a political fact. We must all accept it as a fact and our national policies must take account of it”. Those remarks were the harbinger of African Nationalism sweeping irresistibly from the North. The wind of change started in Britain in 2015 and has had dramatic effect in France, Philippines, USA and Gambia.

Contrary to expectation, the pattern of voting shows that almost 2 to 1 voters cared most about who could change the status quo in the United States of America in the recently concluded election. His major focus was the “forgotten millions of American workers” who get paid by the hour. Unlike the previous Presidents and his opponent, Hilary Clinton, he did not paint a bright vision for the future. What he did was to emphasize the divisions of the present, arouse anger and fears within the country and promise opportunities for the millions of “forgotten Americans” who he has now promised to reintegrate.

Although he is now the President of the most powerful nation in the world, Trump has to appreciate that the world is now a global village where nations complement one another. I agree that he should cure the problems of the American nation, but then, he cannot be an isolationist or a protectionist as any of these concepts will do severe damage to American interests generally.

Although during his 18-month campaign he looked like an unpredictable person, but now that he is at the driver’s seat, his perception and appreciation of the situation is bound to be different and perhaps he will find out that it will be pretty difficult for him carry out some of his tough election talks as governance is a different ball game from election campaign rhetorics. And that may already have started for soon after his victory, he travelled to Indiana to announce that United Technologies, the 45th largest company in the country had agreed to his demands and would retain 800 career manufacturing jobs in Indiana.

‘Showman with little substance’

And in any case, Trump seems to have back-pedaled on some of his statements since his victory. For instance, during the campaign, he was hostile to Mexicans. Now he said: “I am for everybody”. He also appointed a Nigerian as one of his Advisers.

But can Trump do without Nigeria like he boasted during his election campaigns and can Nigeria do without America? The answer is obvious: America can do without Nigeria, but Nigeria cannot do without America. Neither can he carry out his threat to drive away Nigerians and Muslims many of whom are already American citizensor barricade Mexico away from America.

In any case, Trump’s unpredictability may turn out to be an advantage to Nigeria because peradventure Trump carries out his threat to withdraw from Nigeria; Nigeria will have no choice than to turn to countries like China, the emerging economic lord of the world. Besides, America’s withdrawal from Nigeria will teach the latter a lesson in self-reliance and turn it from a country of mere consumers to start thinking of being producers of what it had hitherto been relying on others for.

Again, if Trumps makes good his threat of driving away Nigerians, highly qualified Nigerians will come home with their expertise and relocate their investment back home, thereby boosting the Nigeria’s economy. Besides, such a move will prevent people from investing stolen money in America while such already invested money will be returned home. Another bright side of the threat is that it will address the issue of brain drain and get our best brains to return home and boost our education sector. After all, the Yorubas say “Adaniloro fi agbara koni” meaning the one who denies the other assistance or help teaches the latter to work harder.

On the whole, Trump is a man who has the benefit of practical and business approach to issues. He is a man who has distanced himself from national establishment ways of doing things, a man who has never held any public office before emerging the President of the United States. The world, including Nigeria will benefit from these qualities inherent in the new occupant of the White House. The change he has promised may begin from himself without the support of anybody. He has done it before when he courageously and doggedly took on the drug barons, illegal immigrants and minorities even when some of his Party Leaders developed cold feet and vowed not to campaign for him.

His audacity shows that he is a man who can really show the way.

I wish him well.

Aare Afe Babalola, CON, SAN, wrote from Ado-Ekiti.

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