– By Abdullateef Ishowo
The Wednesday 6th January 2021 scenario in the US capitol was a scary one. It was a day the falcons turned on the old falconers as the outgoing occupant of the White House suddenly realised that the election that declared his opponent in the democratic party, Joe Biden, the winner was a scam and he would not concede to it, just few weeks to the hand over date. This is un-American. It’s rather African way. Probably on the influence of their hero, President Donald John Trump’s supporters on Wednesday stormed the Capitol as Congress met to certify Biden’s victory and the US capitol police had to escort congress members from the chamber amid security breaches.
Similar scenario played out in Nigeria on Tuesday 7th August 2018 when men of the Department of State Security Service stormed and barricaded the entrance of the National Assembly for reasons yet to be known to Nigerians even more than two years after the incidence. This barbaric act eventually cost the then DSS boss, Mr. Daura, his seat. However, while the Nigeria’s experience was between the law makers and the security agents who were probably answering the clarion call of a strongly fortified cabal, that of the US was between the citizens who were answering the call of the outgoing president. In the two circumstances, certain elements were being used by desperate power mongers to undermine the rule of law.
These recent events in the US, a country that parades itself as the best example of democracy, testify to the fact that there is no perfect system nor democracy in the world. This has once again put to test Larry Diamond’s assertion that “the worst democratic government is more benevolent than the best military administration”. A country that positions itself as police of the world is now showing how democracy can be punched in the face to pave way for anarchy.
No doubt, the traumatic situation the outcome of the last general election has put the outgoing president of the United States of America, Mr. Donald Trump, must have landed him a trance. The more the handing over date draws nearer, the more the reality of being striped nicked by the loss of formal power appears to him. He has suddenly lost self-confidence and the African in him has taken control of everything white about him. He’s more African than American as many of his actions reveal his inner-self. He defines who he is by the office he occupies and not who he should be. As a matter of fact, he allowed his formal authority to become the measuring stick for his moral authority; a mistake he paid dearly for in the last election that produced his opponent in the Democratic Party. The leader in you must stay with you even after leaving office, so that when you vacate power, you wouldn’t feel like losing everything. Without an authority to identify him with, President Trump now realises that he has no identity with which he would be recognised after leaving office.
Trump isn’t the first sitting American president who lost re-election bid, neither would he be the last; John Adams did in 1801, John Quincy in 1829, Martin Van Buren in 1841, Franklin Pierce in 1857, Andrew Johnson in 1869, Chester Arthur in 1885, Grover Cleveland in 1889, Benjamin Harrison in 1893, William Howard Taft in 1913, Gerbert Hoover in 1933, Gerald Ford in 1977, Jimmy Carter in 1981 and George Bush in 1993. There were equally many African former presidents who lost re-election bid and vacated office either voluntarily or reluctantly. Abden Abdullah Osman Daar of Somalia lost re-election bid in 1967; Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia in 1991; Mathieu Kerekou of Benin Republic in 1991; Didier Ratsiraka of Madagascar in 1993; Pierre Buyoya of Burundi in 1993; Hastings Banda of Malawi in 1994; Nicephore Soglo of Binin in 1996; Albert Zafy of Madagascar in 1996; Robert Guei of Ivory Coast in 2000; Abdou Diouf of Senegal in 2000; Didier Ratsiraka of Madagascar in 2001; Rupiah Banda of Zambia in 2011; Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal in 2012; Joice Banda of Malawi in 2014; Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria in 2015; Yahya Jammeh of The Gambia in 2017; John Mahama of Ghana in 2017; Manuel Pinto da Costa in Sao Tome and Principe in 2017; and Hassan Sheeikh Mohamud of Somalia in 2017. Examples abound in equally other continents of the world.
In the above list, there were few of them who vacated the seat after losing their re-election bid without unnecessarily putting their countries in an unwarranted political distress, many others particularly in the African continent created tension and sometimes had to be forcefully ejected with the help of the international community that is supervised by the self-acclaimed police of the world, the United States of America. Unfortunately, same America that preaches the gospel of democracy and its virtues is currently experiencing a democratic dithering. But unlike the situation in many African countries, where weak institutions easily give in to allow tyrants to perpetuate themselves in power against the will of the people, trust the country’s strong and well established system, it would eventually straighten things up as Trump would have no choice than to relinquish power on 20th January 2021. This notwithstanding, the country’s hard won respect in the committee of nations has been thrown into the mud by the singular act of a prodigal son. As rightly quipped by Biden, “the US democracy is currently under unprecedented assault” and it would definitely take time for the wounds to get healed.
Donald Trump though has the clour of the Americans; he possesses the genes of Africans. That explains why he refuses to toe the line of honour. And this has no doubt once again thrown up the intelligence and colour question. While a continent Trump once referred to as a “shit hole” produced a gentle democrat like Nigeria’s Goodluck Jonathan who supervised an election that ousted him out of power and a complete democrat like Mandela, who honourably refused to seek a re-election in spite of his undoubted popularity, the over celebrated and strongly systematised America has produced a tyrant in Donald Trump. The shameless behaviour of POTUS45 has therefore put forward a considerable hypothesis that:
A—Strong institutions + strong democrats = strong system
B—Strong institutions + weak democrats = weak system
C—Weak institutions + strong democrats = weak system
D—Weak institutions + weak democrats = weak system
In all, as I wish POTUS46, one of America’s finest democrats, a successful tenure in office in his resolve to right the wrongs of POTUS45, the country will have to watch it, such a costly mistake that threw up a Donald Trump to such exalted office must never be repeated if the country should retain her vantage position in the global committee of nations.
Abdullateef Ishowo is an author and a public affairs analyst based in Ilorin, Kwara State.