“A fanatic is one who can’t change his mind and won’t change his subject.” – Winston Churchill
Besides being elected presidents, President Muhammadu Buhari and the out-going U.S. President Donald Trump have some things in common. Both share poor performance while in office, cross sections of the two countries’ populace are not happy with the leadership style and the disappointed voters indeed regret facilitating their coming to power. For this conversation, both leaders also have cult worshippers whose raison d’être has little to do with performance. The duo has offbeat followers who remain steadfast despite their glaringly poor delivery of democratic dividends.
Why is it so, you may ask? Their supporters are not weighing or looking at them from the perspective of the responsibilities of a president but more for the sentiments, they whipped up to come into and maintain their stay in office. For Buhari, it is the North first; for Trump, it is America first.
Whatever viewpoint a section of America and the global community might have on President Trump and his four-year tenure, more than 70 million voters think differently and they don’t want to know. As far as they are concerned, he is a hero they know who, above all, has tried to return America for the Americans. Any other thing you say about him is immaterial by their reckoning. The “America first” gums to the people and dominates their reasoning.
Ditto President Buhari. The largely poor and downtrodden voters of northern Nigeria hero-worship the president, not minding that his regime has failed to impact on them significantly but such variables don’t come in when assessing him. Rather than assess Buhari on his promises kept, these cult followers prefer to assess him on issues that bear little relevance to national development.
Fulani cattlemen enjoy some psychological boost and sense of safety as they perpetrate mayhem across the country and their parent body Miyetti Allah is consciously being nurtured into a formidable power bloc and broker. This appeals more to the cultish followers than the performance index.
So what has played out copiously in the U.S. under Trump and in Nigeria under Buhari is the unmasking of the double standard of loudly mouthing democracy, but in pragmatic way practising nepotism and sectionalism. What we see in America is the uncovering of the two-faced living in the so-called God’s own country, portraying the global image of democracy and super-nation while doing the opposite at home.
Cleverness cannot last forever; so is pretence. That is why hypocrites are always servicing their victims well and hurriedly as they anticipate the expiry date of their icon. In the Nigerian parlance, every day for the thief and just one day is for the owner. Abuse of political power and hypocrisy always end in regrets, but mongers easily forget to learn from history.
Nigeria once had a charismatic despot who had manipulated his way into power and enjoyed himself using his high office to outwit everyone. For his political tactics, he earned the nickname Maradona after the then Argentine football maestro, Diego Maradona. This ex-leader who proved roundly to be a student of Machiavelli so dribbled politicians until he dribbled his ball into the mouth of the political dragon called Sani Abacha.
Abacha was to climax all the atrocities of the military, lacking the finesse and restraints of his peers and predecessors as he went haywire with the abuse of power, looting the national treasury flagrantly.
By the time he died in 1998, the military’s image had been so dented that the succeeding General Abdulsalami Abubakar was in a hurry to quit and disappear from the scene for the civilians. There is an obvious partial similarity between the above narration and what is coming out of the United States of America in the name of democracy. For years and decades, America has been playing the World that it holds the bastion of modern day democracy.
They interpret this system of government and push it as universal. Any form of government not endorsed by America is not democracy. If you are running a dictatorship and America says it’s a democracy, so it is. If your political system is democratic and Washington picks holes in it because of other interests, you are seen as not running square. Good governance is subject to a nation’s subservience to the dictates of White House.
One of Africa’s best presidents in terms of improving the living standard of citizens, Libya’s Muammar Ghaddafi, was brutally killed at the prompting of the U.S. just for standing up to America’s double standards.
The poor democratic background of General Buhari as at 2015 did not matter to America so long as through him a true democrat like President Goodluck Jonathan could be removed for refusing to buy into the gay rights project sweeping across America. America became the global police for the enforcement of democracy as defined by her interests. The accidental and providential coming to power of a black man Barack Obama to the White House as the 44th president was all the provocation that brought out the real America.
It was in protest to Obama’s emergence that produced Donald Trump. While Trump showed what it’s like when a lunatic gets power, a sizable number still followed him knowing what he represents for the white supremacists.
A lot of political watchers have continued to wonder why despite the obvious lunacy of Trump, he continues to enjoy a big following. The truth remains that the man represents the racist supremacists who enjoyed every bit of his actions. America is a make-believe, just and equitable society despite the hype about their human rights records. As free as their media may seem, atrocities against blacks and all people of colour are kept mostly under wraps.
President-elect Joe Biden knows it’s not true when he said that the show of shame at the Capitol by the Trump mobs on Wednesday, January 7, 2021, is not who Americans are. Biden knows that over 90 per cent of the protesters are white Americans.
In truth, those protesters represent the so-called real Americans. Do white Americans really detest Trump’s motive if not for his awkward and obdurate style? It’s akin to the rebellious Nnamdi Kanuled Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) whose public avowals about unjust Nigeria go down well with a lot of Ndigbo, but they dislike the current approach.
Deep inside, Trump’s spoken agenda of returning America to the Americans enjoys the support of most whites. Despite all his minutes, Trump, except he is tarred with the impeachment brush, will remain the Republican Party’s strongest challenge to Biden in the next four years. No other Republican, for now, can muster over 70 million votes or cult followers as did Trump.
The near agreement between some of the elite in both Republican and Democratic parties to impeach Trump less than one week to his going is aimed at stopping his possible return to White House in 2025. Undoubtedly, the strength of America’s institutions may have helped greatly in stopping an Armageddon, but it still proved French philosopher Dénis Didérot right: “From fanaticism to barbarism is only one step”.
This reality was profusely demonstrated in the Capitol invasion. Similarly, the Buhari mobs that disrupted a recent meeting of some northern leaders in Kaduna proved Didérot right. Ab initio, the American institution was flawed in not preventing a lunatic from reaching such a sensitive peak as President, a position he ran riot with for four years. Alas! He could have bombed the Capitol.