By Dele Momodu
Fellow Africans, I’m sure many of us have been following the ongoing events and melodrama in the United States of America. It is simply unbelievable. I remember, once upon a time, the refrain in Nigeria was “this can never happen in civilized countries” and America was our model country. But since the invasion of The Capitol in Washington DC by the rampaging domestic terrorists calling themselves Trump supporters, many Africans have been casting aspersions on America and calling it “a shit-hole”, mimicking how Trump had described us. While it is true that President Donald Trump truly behaved like an African despot, we should salute America for the ability to rise up quickly to the occasion and immediately stamp out and squash the rotten irritant. Contrary to the general belief that America has been disgraced and reduced to the level of Banana Republics, I beg to disagree. Such erroneous impressions and conclusions fail to consider the swift reaction of established institutions and structures to deflate all the nastiness and horrid misadventures that Trump had visited on the country. Ultimately it was the triumph of democracy over a failed coup attempt at perpetrating and perpetuating dictatorship. The culmination of the events which started playing since the elections in November was what the whole world witnessed on January 6 2021 as the day America snuffed out any ideas that any would-be autocrat might have the capacity and opportunity to hijack the nation and its Government like Trump and his hooligans attempted to do. Democrats and Republicans alike stood firm and resolute in the face of attempted coup by the vocal minority thugs!
What happened in America was only one of those challenges that happens every now and then. For me, it has actually done America a world of good. Never again will Americans take the freedom that they fought for, over the centuries, for granted. There are salutary lessons for America and Americans to learn. For one, it has revalidated and rejuvenated their strong institutions. However, it has also sent a strong message to the Americans that the Democracy they practice is actually fragile and not as iron cast as they must have assumed. But for those institutions, America would have exploded in an orgy of bloody violence whose end might have been similar to the civil war that previously engulfed their country between 1861 and 1865.
Let me take you back a bit. It was obvious to those who had studied Trump reasonably well that the man is a loose cannon. From the way he talked, gesticulated and pounced on every living organism that scratched his body, one could see that America was taking a dangerous gamble. No doubt, Trump is a brilliant man, if you like call him an evil genius, you won’t be far from the truth. He is however also a narcissist and an egomaniac who has fed on the glory and adulation that social media and reality TV brings. Whilst he claims that he also loves America more than the original founders he failed to understand that the greatest strength of America is in its diversity. I’m sure, Trump conveniently forgot that his own family and grandparents had migrated from far-flung places to the United States. Even Melania, his latest wife, and the First Lady is a direct immigrant from Slovenia. His rabidly pathological hatred for immigrants was the beginning of his tribulations. Most people were willing to overlook his past and whatever shadiness or ugliness it contained since no soul is perfect but couldn’t accept his irredeemable proclivity towards white supremacy. Though he was able to convince Americans that he was the man for the top job, he could not stabilize the polity. Give it to him, he is an uncommon orator, even if some thought he was a veritable conman!
He got the job he most desired and coveted after beating one of the greatest women on earth, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who actually garnered more popular votes, but was unfortunate to fall short of the requisite electoral college votes. Unfortunately for Trump, he must have felt that the whole of America was now an extension of the Donald Trump Group of Companies. He wasted no time in hiring and firing. He had no patience for anything and anyone. He wielded the big stick endlessly against anyone who dared cross his path or disobeyed the Emperor and the 21st Century wonder. Flunkeys and lackeys flocked to him just as he willy-nilly sacked decent hardworking government officials and political appointees who refused to dance to his tune. The fun loving man simply did whatever he liked and wanted without caring if America was on fire. He indulged in profligate adventures and relished his game of Golf.
Trump is not your kind of typical leader. No one could decipher him, just like I believe he could not even decode himself. He was anything but Presidential in conduct and sometimes even disposition. He lacked decorum, fought everyone, hated and insulted some media houses once they dared to criticise him or his policies. His treatment of his predecessor, Barack Obama was shameful and disgraceful. He could find nothing good in anything Obama had done or achieved and seemed maniacally ready and prepared to pull down all Obama had done, even if it meant the destruction of America in the process.
Some people actually saw through his smokescreen and predicted the calamity that would befall America if he ever lost his second term bid. Some predicted a doomsday apocalypse, even something as terrible as a military coup. I had felt when I first read it that it was just an obvious hyperbole. But I was wrong. As I write this, no one could vouch for Trump not to attempt some dangerous stunts between now and January 21 2021, anything that can keep him in power may be on the cards right now. It is I believe for this reason that Nancy Pelosi, The Speaker of the House of Representatives had to inform the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff that they must not disclose nuclear codes or take such kinds of instructions about deploying them from Trump. It is not beyond Trump to try to start a nuclear war so he can declare a state of emergency and cling on to power at all costs.
Africa has so much to learn and gain from the present hullabaloo in America. My own country, Nigeria, in particular has gone through our own political imbroglio. We’ve not had credible elections in many seasons due to the desperation of our leaders. Elections have been turned into theaters of wars and mayhem instead of carnivals of hopes and dreams. What saved America was very apparent, respect for the rule of law, the strength of their institutions and above all their patriotism.When Trump started throwing his tantrums of a rigged election, no one stopped or discouraged him. He requested for a recount several times and he was gladly obliged. He filed many cases in courts, whether frivolous, preposterous or otherwise, the Judges welcomed him and allowed his agents to run riots as they wanted, but they lost spectacularly. They could not even intimidate or persuade those Judges that were appointed by Donald Trump himself.He was mad and furious. He labelled all those who stood in his way and posed an obstacle to his inordinate ambition with unprintable names. However, everybody concerned simply ignored his tantrums and did their duties . He even attempted to blackmail and cajole State legislators and other elected officials like the Secretary of State of Georgia, Bradford Raffensperger, and threatened them with criminal action when he himself was misbehaving recklessly.The situation in America reminds me of the recent disputed elections in Ghana. Just imagine that if the Electoral Commission of Ghana had been this patient and transparent instead of rushing to declare and gazette the last election results, the skirmishes that followed could have been clearly avoided and averted. Imagine if the few disputed elections were allowed a recount like the luxury that Trump enjoyed, there would have been less acrimony in Ghana. Now that the case in Ghana has gone to court, many are still watching to see if government would put pressure on the Judges and force them to give incoherent, contradictory and implausible verdicts. Such is the level of paranoia we have acquired over time in Africa that we cannot even trust the hallowed and sacred institutions that should be our fountains and temple of justice, our law courts and our justices. The judiciary has always been said to be the last hope of the masses, the bulwark and bastion of democracy. However in our continent, they are complicit in the desecration of all that we hold dear and sacred, and are sadly viewed as an integral part of the rot. Very few of them have been able to hold through to their sacred oath to do justice fairly and without fear or favour. This is very sad, lamentable and unfortunate.We saw how some hoodlums invaded The Capitol and hoping to terrorize members of congress into abandoning the validation of electoral college results. There was nothing President Trump did not try but he and his day-dreaming dare-devil fanatics and anarchists could not succeed.In Nigeria and Ghana, the military would have been encouraged to smash their way into the National Assembly in Abuja and Ghanaian Parliament in Accra and that would have been it. They would have stood by and let the ravaging hordes enter their citadel of democracy and destroy it. This is where our agitation for a better country must start. The concept of separation of powers must be strictly enforced. As President-elect, Joe Biden, noted two nights ago, the different tiers of government must be equal partners. Only by doing this can we strengthen our institutions and ensure that our leaders do not view themselves as Gods or demi-gods beholden to no one but themselves. It is instructive that even Trump now faces the possibility of criminal charges for inciting the insurrectionists. Even as I end this, Twitter has just suspended Trump’s account permanently in order to prevent him from wreaking further havoc. The President is considered too dangerous and must be stopped for the protection of America and their allies. In Africa, it would have been the President that would shut down all social media platforms permanently but in America, Democracy is at work and no leader is above the Law. Perhaps, we should just return to monarchy or the rule of one Emperor and stop wasting our scarce resources on political office holders.
I’m not sure Africa is ready for Democracy.