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Nigerians and the 2020 U.S. Presidential Elections: A Post Mortem – By Prof. Phil Alalibo

By Prof. Phil Alalibo | NNP | Nov. 23, 2020 – The recently concluded U.S. presidential elections appeared to be a badly acted script out of a mafia movie. It had all the machinations of elections held in a developing country with political threats, threats of violence and ample warnings of election irregularities hardly in short supply. The elections contested acrimoniously between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden, were laced with simmering vitriolic, reaching awfully dangerous crescendos never seen in American democracy. President Trump, aware of the political strength of Biden, engaged in political brinkmanship very early even before Biden won his party’s nomination. He sought to undermine him with ill-advised exploration for dirt in Ukraine to smudge his reputation. His efforts moored on his personal attorney, former New York mayor, Rudy Guiliani, ended in sheer disaster with irreparable political damage underlined by his impeachment by the Democrat-majority U.S. House of Representatives. This unfancied designation put Trump in a very small and infamous group of U.S. presidents as only the third president to be impeached by the House.

Undoubtedly, the rancorous contestation for ballots and the bizarre aftermath have given world leaders reason to evaluate Trump’s democratic credentials with his ardent refusal to concede his loss at the polls. His enthralling antics before and after the elections portended a president willing to disparage the democratic process and compromise America’s security without an orderly transition, all to suit his political ambitions. Trump’s reaction to the election outcome is the very antithesis of a genuine democratic process. His position was marred with puzzling insinuations of underhandedness, incendiary rhetoric and allegations of electoral malfeasance leading to a swat of lawsuits filed by the Trump campaign to overturn the results. It bears noting that all of the lawsuits have been without merit and 30 thus far, have been summarily dismissed by judges distressed by the frivolity of the allegations and the lack of credible evidence to support Trump’s claim of wide-spread electoral malpractice.

A longtime Trump’s family friend and supporter, former New Jersey governor, Chris Christie, called Trump’s legal team led by Rudy Guiliani a “national embarrassment’ (his words) for its inability to support even a single allegation of wide-spread fraud in a court of law. A judge in dismissing one of the lawsuits called it “a Frankenstein’s monster,” a term used to describe the worst kind of evidence that could possibly be presented in court. Another, shocked at the level of unpreparedness of the Trump legal team and the porousness of the evidence, dismissed the case saying the evidence presented was “a hearsay within a hearsay.” In other words, the Trump legal team attempted to present hearsay after hearsay as evidence of wide-spread fraud rather than presenting irrefutable evidence that could withstand legal scrutiny.

Like many around the world, Nigerians took a very special interest in this particular election, perhaps, more than any other in American history. Nigerians’ view of Trump is largely binary spanning the two extremes on the love-hate spectrum. One would hardly find a Nigerian on the fence when it comes to Trump. To Nigerians, Trump evokes deep positive or negative emotions which are easily visible in discussions of American politics. Those Nigerians who support Trump call him a “Christian” president willing to defend Christian values. They point to his record of speaking out against persecution of Christians around the world, and particularly in Nigeria, where hundreds have been killed by rampaging Fulani herdsmen. They further point to his pro-life position that bode well with Christian view of life and his willingness to bring America back to celebrating Christmas.

They believe that Trump is likely to support Biafra aspiration for statehood knowing that it would be an independent Christian state.  Perhaps, it was this notion that motivated a church in Onitsha to organize a march for Trump, replete with Trump t-shirts in support of his second term exploits. In the days leading to the elections, many churches across Nigeria, particularly in the south, held night vigils to pray down the heavens to ensure his reelection to continue his fight against anti-Christian values. Fani-Kayode, a former Aviation Minister, among this group of Nigerians, berated Obasanjo, Atiku and others, for congratulating Biden, saying Trump would win after the dust settles. A famous Nigerian preacher declared that Trump would win in the Supreme Court given its conservative posture, exposing his ignorance on how cases end up in the Supreme Court. Nigerians who supported Trump cite his support for Nigeria’s fight against insurgency in the northeast. This support is found in his approval of military hardware such as the much sought after A-29 Super Tucano helicopter gunners to fight against the Boko Haram insurgency. They note that the Obama administration denied Nigeria this fighting workhorse, citing human rights violations. Trump’s actions, thus ignored this fact and allowed Nigeria’s quest to purchase the A-29 Super Tucano helicopters to proceed.

Some Nigerians have also thrown their weight in his corner believing that he is a true born-again Christian willing to stand up to the detractors. The contrast is worth noting that while some Nigerians believe in Trump’s messianic calling, branding him a strong Christian, the evangelical Christians in the U.S. are likely aware that Trump is not one of them. They only support him because of his conservative policies and his accomplishments of appointing conservative justices to the Supreme Court to tout conservative values. Given Trump’s transactional leadership style, this arrangement soothes them just well, being a means to an end. They are willing to ignore his many character flaws as long as he continues advancing conservative values.

But not all Nigerians see Trump as a champion of Christian values and virtues. The Nigerians who hold this view call him anything but a Christian. They point to his detestable personal character with many alleged infidelities and clandestine payments to porn stars to keep those affairs quiet. They say every word uttered by Trump is a lie. They highlight his chronic lying character and declared that such a compulsive liar cannot be a true Christian as claimed by the other group.  They point to his demeaning characterization of Mexicans when he said in 2015 “they are bringing drugs, they are bringing crime and some are rapist…” They also remember that Trump once claimed that a Hispanic judge was unqualified to hear one of the lawsuits against his company solely due to his race. They also highlight his unrepentant nature when the Access Hollywood tape emerged during the 2016 campaign of him bragging of assaulting women. They further cite his antecedence of racism that came to the fore in the 1970s with discrimination against black tenants. Nigerians who hold this view say that the suit by the United States Justice Department against Trump, his father, Fred and the Trump Management for discriminating against black tenants in their rental properties in New York, was evidence of a deep-seated hatred of blacks and visible minorities.

Those Nigerians believe that his continued romance with white supremacist extremist groups, failing to condemn them outright when given the opportunity, underscores Trump’s dislike of blacks and people of color. They advance many examples, most notably of them, his calling avouched white supremacists who marched (in Charlottesville, Virginia) against the removal of a statute of Robert E. Lee, a general in the separatist Confederate army that sought to keep slavery alive, “very fine people.” They also point to his refusal in the first presidential debate to condemn the “Proud Boys,” a right-wing, black leather-jacket wearing and chain-touting white extremist group. Instead of offering a damning condemnation, Trump, in the presence of a global TV audience, said to them, “Stand back and stand by,” a statement seen by many as emboldening the group and taken to mean ‘stand ready.’

This group of Nigerians say his call for the death penalty for five black and Latino teenage boys who were wrongly convicted of the brutal rape of a white female jogger in Central Park, New York in the 80s, is more proof of his innate dislike of blacks and minorities and his racist proclivities. Trump took out a full page newspaper ad calling for the State of New York to adopt the death penalty to put the boys to death even after their acquittal. This group of Nigerians believe that Trump is the originator of the Birther Movement, a conspiracy theory that challenged the citizenship of America’s first black president, Barack Obama, saying he was born in Kenya and not in Hawaii. While the State of Hawaii confirmed that he was born in Hawaii, Trump continued to pedal the falsehood to discredit Obama’s presidency.

As if to make their point, they believe the motivating factor was racism as Trump never challenged the citizenship of President Bill Clinton, President Bush or other presidents, all white presidents. They note that only after he secured the Republican nomination in 2016, after eight years of Obama’s presidency, he publicly acknowledged that the 44th president was born in the United States and thus a natural-born citizen. Nigerians who opposed Trump’s reelection note once again his attempt through proxies to introduce his Birtherism theory nonsense in regards to Senator Kamala Harris, when she was announced as the VP nominee. While Harris, whose mother was from India and father from Jamaica, was born in San Francisco in 1964, his surrogates attempted to suggest that she wasn’t born in the U.S. before they were promptly silenced by louder voices.

Trump’s anti-black immigration policies have also been the focus of this group of Nigerians who believe those policies are geared towards the reduction of black immigration in favor of white immigration. They point to his statement made in January, 2018, while meeting with Congressional leaders, where he complained of having people from what he called “shithole” countries immigrating to the U.S. Among these countries/continent were Haiti, El Salvador and Africa. He then went on to make a preference for white immigrants from Norway.

His Muslims ban and inclusion of Nigeria, Tanzania and others on the list of countries with severe immigration restrictions is indicative of a more sinister agenda of limiting the flow of black and minority immigrants to the United States. Since then, they note, he has instituted several immigration actions aimed at restricting foreign students, most of them from India and China, and legal immigration. The wall that was supposed to be built on the Mexican border to prevent Mexicans from illegal crossing, they note, was borne out of a xenophobic and nationalistic inkling that has long defined his immigration policies since assuming office.

These Nigerians highlight the fact that his suspicious business dealings and failed businesses such as the fake Trump University and Trump Steak have culminated into five bankruptcies. These Nigerians say his refusal to release his taxes further cast doubt on the veracity of his business dealings and designed to operate under a cloak of secrecy. They underscore the point that Trump for almost ten years did not pay any federal taxes and when he paid, it was a mere $750 for each of the two years as revealed by the New York Times. Trump’s colossal failure in handling the coronavirus pandemic resulting in the death of 250,000 plus Americans, uniting the country after an explosive summer of racial protestations across the country and unwillingness to obey the will of the people and begin an orderly transfer of power to the Biden-Harris administration, suggest that he lacks the quality of a statesman and does not understand the supremacy of the state over personal interests.

They believe that Trump is compromising national security by blocking President-elect Biden from receiving sensitive security briefings and should learn to put the interests of the country before his. While this group of Nigerians agree that perfection eludes all, Trump’s imperfections and character flaws are not Christ-like and too grave to ignore. His flaws speak of a man without common human decency, one duly consumed by greed, ruled by his ego and venal in his pursuits. They point to the recent tell-all book written by his own niece, Dr. Mary Trump, and titled “Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man,” as further evidence of the veracity of these views. Such a man, in the view of these Nigerians, could not be a serious champion of Christians nor their values and not worth a second term.

Regardless of the position of Nigerians on this love-hate spectrum on Trump, all will agree that the conduct of this election and its drama-filled aftermath will have a domino effect around the world. The U.S. no longer has the moral authority to lecture others on the importance of conceding elections in the interest of democracy. This becomes truer when its Secretary of State and chief diplomat, Mike Pompeo, stated “There will be a smooth transition to a second Trump administration” when asked by reporters if his department was preparing for an orderly transition to the Biden-Harris administration. This blatant obfuscation of the facts came against the backdrop of Biden’s landslide victory of 306 Electoral College votes to Trump’s 232. The theatrics on full display in the wake of the elections and the resultant chasm have weakened America’s global democratic standing.

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Posted by on Nov 23 2020. Filed under American Politics, Articles, Columnists, Headlines, NNP Columnists, P. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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