…with Trump, no one individual, group or country is safe. Only Trump is safe with Trump. He lacks the paradoxical blend of boldness and restraint required of a leader. Calling President Buhari “lifeless” is disrespectful, contemptuous, undiplomatic and antagonistic but not unexpected.


American founding fathers extended the philosophy of liberalism by demonstrating to us a popular system of government designed to prevent the election of a driven, explosive, know-nothing demagogue as democratic leader. Until the emergence of Donald J. Trump, liberal democracy based on equal representation and co-equal arms of government with separate powers was seen all over the world, as the best form of government. Donald Trump has proven that democracy has its own flaws; its own vulgarity propelled by a major faction.

Petulant reactions, insults and vulgarity started with his campaign and they have become the recurring themes of his presidency, as his base laps up every ugly rhetoric and irreverence. Donald Trump does not understand his obligations as America’s president and leader of the free world. Mr. Trump thinks of himself as a ruler, not as a man hired to do a job in which two of the important job requirements are decency and respect for people, even if he detests them.

It is shameful to admit but unfortunately true that President Trump’s vocabulary was frozen in early adolescence with a demonstrated emotional immaturity that ought to disqualify him from being a county clerk, to say nothing of a commander-in-chief. Trump has shown how dangerous it is to elect a remarkably ignorant man to govern the world’s most powerful nation. He has little intellectual capacity worthy of note, made worse by a lack of appreciation of America’s constitution, history, diplomacy, defence, economics, law, political philosophy, trade, and nuclear strategy. Of course these weaknesses have domestic and international implications. We have examples in his exchanges with North Korean Chairman Kim Jong-un, Justin Trudeau and Theresa May.

For a man without a centre of gravity and one who has made a carrier out of egotism, whose positions are often purposefully deceptive, it is difficult to see any improvement in sight. Nothing will change because he knows his supporters approve his shallow narcissism and compulsive lies.


America elected a vulgar man whose vulgar manliness and demagoguery appeals to a cross section of American men and women who enjoy his unrefined coarseness. At every turn, his base approves his indecorous behaviour, they relish his absent manners and lack of tact. His overripe disdain for protocol and order, as well as his unrestrained violation of decency is seen and interpreted by his cheerleaders as discarding political correctness and “saying it like it is”. For a man without a centre of gravity and one who has made a carrier out of egotism, whose positions are often purposefully deceptive, it is difficult to see any improvement in sight. Nothing will change because he knows his supporters approve his shallow narcissism and compulsive lies.

Should his unpleasant reference to Buhari as “lifeless” enrage Nigerians? Well, with Trump, no one individual, group or country is safe. Only Trump is safe with Trump. He lacks the paradoxical blend of boldness and restraint required of a leader. Calling President Buhari “lifeless” is disrespectful, contemptuous, undiplomatic and antagonistic but not unexpected. The world has grown used to the ferocity and personal tone of Trump’s insults and social media rants. It is our leaders who should shake the insults by being more creative and daring.

Buying overpriced military hardware, signing lopsided agreements and handshakes are not enough to douse Trump’s mean-spirited persona. Trump is transactional. Those who win with Trump are those who cut a deal with sharp knives and understand that he cannot be buttered up. We have to live with the reality that America’s foreign policy is now free-for-all since the Republican Party has capitulated and no one is willing to tell the emperor he has no clothes.

His name calling is a lesson to African leaders who seek to earn respect by cozying up to the West instead of solving the problems at home. You cannot preside over a country with maternal deaths in the same range with war ravaged Afghanistan, overtake India as the poverty capital of the world and expect to be respected.


After the “shit-hole” countries comment, considered “deeply hurtful, offensive and unacceptable” by the Nigerian government, Buhari was expectedly diplomatic while at the White House. He said: “I’m very careful with what the press says about [people] other than myself, I’m not sure about the validity or whether that allegation against the president was true or not. So the best thing for me is to keep quiet.” Trump interjected and said; “We didn’t discuss it. You do have some countries that are in very bad shape and very tough places to live in. But we didn’t discuss it because the president knows me and he knows where I’m coming from and I appreciate that. We did not discuss it.” He is right. Nigeria is difficult to live in. Too much hunger and rolling poverty.

President Buhari’s trip to the United States was greeted with aplomb by his supporters and it achieved very little in the eyes of Trump. The picture of a grinning Trump leaning over Buhari as he signed away “deals” is etched in our memory. His name calling is a lesson to African leaders who seek to earn respect by cozying up to the West instead of solving the problems at home. You cannot preside over a country with maternal deaths in the same range with war ravaged Afghanistan, overtake India as the poverty capital of the world and expect to be respected.

Bámidélé Adémólá-Olátéjú a farmer, youth advocate and political analyst writes this weekly column, “Bamidele Upfront” for PREMIUM TIMES. Follow me on Twitter @olufunmilayo