I hope Biden will not come back to pushing sexual policies in Africa, rather than honestly assist with our more serious economic, security, environmental and other such challenges? Or he should just leave us to sort our problems out. It has always been all about interests… Will Biden play another Obama in Nigeria?
“Hello. Today I want to speak directly to you; the people of Nigeria. Nigeria is a great nation, and you can be proud of the progress you’ve made. Together you’ve won independence, emerged from military rule and strengthened democratic institutions. You’ve strived to overcome divisions, and turned Nigeria’s diversity into a source of strength. You’ve worked hard to improve your families and to build the largest economy in Africa. Now you have a historic opportunity to help write the next chapter in Nigeria’s progress by voting in the upcoming elections. For elections to be credible, they must be free, fair and peaceful. All Nigerians must be able to cast their votes without intimidation, or fear. So I call on all leaders and candidates to make it clear to their supporters that violence has no place in democratic elections and that they will not incite, support or engage in any sort of violence, before, during and after the votes are counted. I call on all Nigerians to peacefully express your views, and to reject the voices of those who call for violence. And when elections are free and fair, it is the responsibility of all citizens to help keep the peace, no matter who wins. Successful elections and democratic progress will help Nigeria meet the urgent challenges you face today. Boko Haram, a brutal terrorist group that kills innocent men, women and children must be stopped. Hundreds of kidnapped children deserve to be returned to their families. Nigerians who have been forced to flee must return to their homes. Boko Haram wants to destroy Nigeria and all that you have built. By casting your ballot, you can help secure your nation’s progress. I’m told that there is a saying in the country, “to keep Nigeria one is a task that must be done”. Today I urge all Nigerians from all religious or ethnic groups and all regions, to come together and keep Nigeria one. And in this task of advancing the security, prosperity and human rights of all Nigerians, you will continue to have a friend and partner in the United States of America.”
With the above words, spoken on the cusp of Nigeria’s 2015 presidential election, precisely on March 23, 2015 (the election held five days later), President Barack Obama basically sealed the fate of President Goodluck Jonathan, at least in the international community. The statement by Obama, who never visited chaotic Nigeria in his eight-year tenure, was also a strong indicator to middle class people and opinion moulders in and outside Nigeria, and was therefore very instrumental to the ouster of Jonathan at the polls. As a Buhari supporter then, but a perennially suspicious person when it comes to the contact sport of global geopolitics, I recall feeling wary about this open American support for Buhari. I felt the Americans are always too cold and calculating when it comes to protecting their own short, medium and long-term interests, and would usually not necessarily think about Nigeria’s profound advancement, especially as we often pose to be the giant of Africa. As a country formed and built upon intelligence and intellectual capital, the United States of America does not act without thinking, and their thoughts are always very profound. It was not so much wonder for me, when after Buhari was sworn in on May 29, 2015, he promptly went to sleep. That was an Aha! moment for me. These Americans must have known something was amiss about the man, after all they interacted with him very closely towards the election. Nigeria still remains an important country, at least in Africa, that any serious world power makes a point of duty to keep watch over. The rest is history.
Those who understand the language called diplomatese will know that the operative phrase in Obama’s short speech was ‘to write the next chapter’. What was so significant about the 2015 election that it should be equated to ‘writing a next chapter’? And where has that gotten Nigeria today? All the other jive about ensuring a free and fair and violence-free elections were just fillers, after all even the U.S.A can hardly call her 2020 elections free, fair and violence-free.
Sometimes in November 2008, I was woken up from sleep at 3 a.m. by a friend from London. Bayo was a cab man I met in one of my journeys to the U.K. He called that night and was weeping profusely over the phone. The sleep cleared quickly from my head. “What is the matter?”, I asked cautiously. “Egbon, Obama is president! A black man is president! It has never happened before”. And on and on. I seem to always have a crowded schedule such that I cannot stay glued to the TV monitoring any election; not even Nigeria’s election in which I contested in 2019. In 2015 when Buhari won the election, a number of friends in my circle then had gone into a frenzy, obtaining invites to Eagle Square for the inauguration. Since it was not an easy document to obtain, I never bothered. In no time, many of them started complaining about the same government. Lesson: I think we get too excited too soon about many things political as a people in this country, and our excitements are usually short-lived, resulting in a vicious cycle of regrets. Perhaps my sojourn in politics, apart from my training as an economist with a strong leaning towards understanding the psychology of human beings and societies, has made me even more coldly calculating in these matters. The key question in matters of geopolitics should always be: What is in it for us?
I became suspicious of democrats; liberals. Is that what it is all about? They seem to be more interested in ramming liberal values down the throats of unwilling countries, in great contrast with their preachment of freedom. In other words, it is democracy, liberalism and freedom, at the cost of the blood of millions around the world.
What have I not seen in the last few days? Owambe parties in which Christian and Nigerian songs were converted into something about Biden winning over Trump; Nigerian women dancing their lives away at the news; men crying their hearts out; children and adults mocking, insulting Trump; writeups upon writeups claiming good riddance to bad rubbish. Is this a repeat of the Obama victory that did not particularly augur good for Nigeria and indeed Africa as a whole? Or another Buhari win that turned out to be anticlimactic? Let’s look at it from a SWOT kind of analysis.
What did Obama do for Nigeria? Hardly anything. But his government went after Libya, as had been earlier revealed by General Wesley Clark of the U.S. Army. In taking out Muammar Ghaddafi, the route for the influx of all sorts of ammunition was opened for Boko Haram, and today Libya is left with four governments and permanent terrorism – a nation which used to have the best human development index in Africa! Of course, with Boko Haram, Nigeria lost her innocence. We had thought we could never be a terrorist country, but in no time, we became the world’s numero uno terrorist state. What else did Obama do for us? He tried to barrage us with a culture that the majority of Nigerians say is foreign to us; the idea of same sex marriage. Many believe that Jonathan’s greatest sin was the signing of the Act that criminalises same sex marriage. I sometimes wonder at the obsession with sex by these foreign superpower nations. For me, what a man does sexually is his own business – so long as they don’t prey on children who cannot take decisions on their own – and indeed, in general, open displays of affection in an excessive manner is not our thing. Look, we have many basic problems to deal with here – the economy, health, education for our children, our environment, security, infrastructure, productivity etc – than to spend most of our time bothering about who someone is sleeping with and how. But these issues are very serious, according to the leaders of the world.
I became suspicious of democrats; liberals. Is that what it is all about? They seem to be more interested in ramming liberal values down the throats of unwilling countries, in great contrast with their preachment of freedom. In other words, it is democracy, liberalism and freedom, at the cost of the blood of millions around the world. The global press was held in tow, to black out the atrocities against women and children in Libya, Syria and Iraq before them. A black tribe in Libya, the Tawerghans, were almost wiped out summarily, and totally displaced into refugee camps by the extremists unleashed by the U.S.A, United Kingdom and France, and it was like nothing happened. Then Obama shifted to Syria, to unleash more havoc. That brother is a damn smooth talker and a wonderful personality; someone who reminds you of Denzel Washington or the best of black Americans you can find. Heck! He’s a jolly fellow and could throw three-point shots in basketball better than Larry Bird. But as president, Obama was coldblooded and his actions impacted many people around the world very negatively, especially here in Africa.
Trump, on the other hand, is a bumbler, lacking in character, a gaffe machine, who spends way too much time on Twitter. He is also racist, believes Africa is full of shithole countries and I’m sure he’ll never step his feet on this continent in his four years in office. He is a moral reprobate and lacks the kind of oratorical skills and literary depth we have seen in almost every U.S. president before him. He makes George W. Bush look quite distinguished. But, and this is a big but, he never unleashed havoc all over the world. He started no new wars and tried to round off the old ones. He met with the North Korean president, Kim Jung Un, and amazingly that country that had been portrayed as an arch enemy to the world started to come through. He talks a lot of jive about China too but Donald Trump is just a salesman; we stopped hearing things like ‘axis of evil’ and ideological wars became a bit minimised. Long and short, he seemed to have clipped the wings of the real extremists in government in his time. Some of these extremists are very smooth, ivy league types. They believe the U.S.A should be constantly showing up as the big brother of the world by dominating and disciplining other countries in some sort of hypocritical manner. This includes bombing the daylights out of some unlucky ones from time to time. One of them is John Bolton, a bitter extremist, ultra-racist and vile-tempered fellow who I have seen in action since the days of George W., but who has now been wheeled out to discredit Trump. People like Bolton are not happy. Left to them, the U.S.A will have boots on ground even in Nigeria, showing us ‘pepper’. As much as everyone takes delight in abusing Trump (perhaps in retaliation for the insults he too throws about), I want to believe that every man has a redeeming feature. I will not join in abusing him. I have also been disappointed by smooth talkers and outwardly civil people in the past, who turned out to be the worst specie ever.
What does Joe bring to the table? There are three issues that are very critical. One is COVID-19. I see that Biden has been abiding by all the rules (no pun intended); face masks and lockdowns where necessary. With a Biden presidency, America will likely go back into full lockdown.
What does Joe bring to the table? There are three issues that are very critical. One is COVID-19. I see that Biden has been abiding by all the rules (no pun intended); face masks and lockdowns where necessary. With a Biden presidency, America will likely go back into full lockdown. He has already mainstreamed his idea that everyone should mask up. But the people – those 70 odd millions who voted for Trump – will resist and chaos may ensue. 70 million people is no joke. Biden – and all democrats (including his Nigerian supporters) – keep talking about trusting the scientists, ignoring the fact that scientists, being very smart people, often never want to be caught, even when they are wrong. Plus there are rogue scientists everywhere too. Have the diagnoses about COVID-19 not been often very wrong and misleading? From the experience in Africa – and Donald Trump’s experience with COVID-19 – the scientists have not even entertained a rethink of their strategy of lockdown, masking and vaccines. They have all queued up behind a businessman (Bill Gates), who ordinarily should know very little about this aspect of health science. They expected us in Africa to die like ants but somehow we keep going. Now we hear that every five years there will be a new, similarly devastating virus. I never want to be locked down the way I was for weeks earlier this year. It was an eerie, wasting, sapping, hopeless, selfish, fearful, experience that I never want to go through again in my life. Will Biden and Kamala give these rogue scientists free reign?
There is also the aspect of Big Brother America. Trump seemed to have had little time to poke his nose into our affairs and we may have enjoyed some four years of relative independence. Don’t ask me what we made of that. But what did we make of American interference too? I hope Biden will not come back to pushing sexual policies in Africa, rather than honestly assist with our more serious economic, security, environmental and other such challenges? Or he should just leave us to sort our problems out. It has always been all about interests. Again, I recall the statements of Tony Blair and George W. Bush when they visited Nigeria sometimes in 2010. The contention was between the U.S.A/U.K. and the growing influence of China. The two gentlemen revealed that they know their interaction with us in Africa has not yielded real results for decades. Will Biden play another Obama in Nigeria?
Biden’s biggest problem though, is an America that is split almost down the middle. The underbelly of American democracy and society was revealed in this election, which may throw up even more drama as the Trump team heads to court. I expect that Trump leaves eventually, but I doubt all that stuff about someone sending him to jail afterwards. I think Nigerians joining in all the insults and lampooning are also overreaching themselves. We should think hard about how the policies of these countries will affect us, beyond the easing of immigration. We should be cold and calculating about this, and shelve this our owambe gbagbati attitude of getting too excited when we should be thinking.
Picture credit: AP/Matt Rourke