Sunday, August 2, 2020 1:20 pm
By Chido Nwakanma
A statement from the grave and another from the presidential porch spoke to different perspectives on America on 30 July. President Donald Trump wore the hat of a Third World leader as he adopted the deflection tactics with which citizens in the Third World are familiar. Former Congressman John Lewis had words of caution to citizens to protect democracy and the ballot.
The 30 July statements have significance for the future. Before then, there was in Nigeria the kite flown by presidential nephew Mamman Daura seeking tenure elongation but clothing it in a different garb.
Three months to an election that all the indications point to his losing, Donald Trump floated the ultimate conspiracy theory as he set an agenda for election postponement. Trump twitted, “With Universal Mail-In Voting (not Absentee Voting, which is good), 2020 will be the most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT Election in history. It will be a great embarrassment to the USA. Delay the Election until people can properly, securely and safely vote???”
The Trump tweeter rant raised concern all over the world. There was bipartisan rollback across America, Republicans as well as Democrats. Commentators pointed to the fact that no President has the constitutional power to change America’s electoral calendar unilaterally.
Deutsche Welle, the German broadcaster, reported thus: “After facing blowback for raising the idea, including from Republicans in Congress, Trump appeared to walk back his earlier remarks somewhat during a press conference later on Thursday.
“Do I want to see a date changed, no,” he told reporters at the White House. “But I don’t want to see a crooked election.”
Trump’s remarks on Twitter came as his government on Thursday posted a 32.9% contraction of the US economy between April and June, the worst decline on record since 1947. Compared to the same quarter of 2019, economic activity fell 9.5%.
The US president has trailed his challenger, Democratic presumed candidate Joe Biden, in recent national and battleground state polls, even coming dangerously close in traditional Republican strongholds like Texas, Arizona and Georgia.”
Please give it to him. The reality TV presenter, Trump, is a masterful manipulator. The Tweeter president made his remarks on an important day for his presidency. The schedule included the funeral of Civil rights icon and congressman for over three decades, Representative John Lewis. Three former presidents were to attend. Trump wanted to drown out their voices. At the same time, the economic data did not flatter his handling of matters.
Only the strength and history of American democracy has so far stopped Donald Trump from performing a Sani Abacha on the system. He would wish he could, like Abacha, get the parties to nominate him as the sole candidate for the 3 November election. He has tried to undermine the electoral system and everyone but himself since his disastrous handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
Systems and institutions matter. As America contends with the antics of its Third World president, it would be instructive to see how their systems and institutions deal with this threat. Above all, it is up to the people. It takes committed citizens to build and sustain the right systems.
That was the message from the grave of Mr John Lewis. He stated, “When you see something that is not right, you must say something. You must do something. Democracy is not a state. It is an act, and each generation must do its part to help build what we called the Beloved Community, a nation and world society at peace with itself.
“Ordinary people with extraordinary vision can redeem the soul of America by getting in what I call good trouble, necessary trouble. Voting and participating in the democratic process are key. The vote is the most powerful nonviolent change agent you have in a democratic society. You must use it because it is not guaranteed. You can lose it”.
Nigeria is now in its 21st year of unbroken party politics and democracy. The reminder by John Lewis is apposite for our country: “democracy is not a state. It is an act”. Nigerians must continually work at sustaining this democracy.
Zoning and rotation are two ways our citizens and political players worked out to ensure the sustenance of democracy in Nigeria. The unwritten code is that power should rotate between the North and the South. The rotation was a pillar of the campaign of Northern Nigeria against the continued presidency of Dr Goodluck Jonathan. They asserted that it was the turn of the North.
Mamman Daura, the Candido of New Nigerian in earlier years and member of the Kaduna Mafia, flew a pernicious kite during the week. He posited that post-Buhari, Nigerians should emphasise merit rather than zoning in the choice of a president. He spoke to the platform of choice for Northern leaders since the 1960s, the Hausa service of a foreign radio station.
Daura is a nephew of President Muhammadu Buhari. He occupies in this administration the Office of Relative to Mr President. He lives in the premises of the presidential villa and has the ears of the president. Nigerians from the South have reacted and responded accurately to his misdiagnosis and prognosis.
One of the most telling is the reminder that PMB did not mount the saddle based on merit, as Daura now canvasses. PMB campaigned as the representative of the North. He has ruled as the president of the North. Most things he has done have been in favour of the North. Nothing wrong with representing any geopolitical interest while campaigning. His failing has been transferring that to his management of the country’s affairs.
What is the real message of Mamman Daura? No one should believe for a moment that he is serious about canvassing for merit. Is this the first shot at agenda-setting for tenure elongation? Is the idea to test the waters? Remember that the Abacha forever campaign similarly commenced with innocuous statements. Power must shift in 2023 to not only the South but specifically to the South East. That is the imperative of justice in Nigeria.