The unfettered liberty with which Americans expressed their dissatisfaction against the outgoing president, president, Donald Trump, who trampled on their rights and assailed an age-old established political tradition informs one of the absolute necessity of strengthening institutions. I watched with a keen interest how individuals, pressmen, civil society organisations and civil servants participated in the democratic process leading to shaking off the obnoxious ideologies of the former president.
What we have witnessed is a system that frowns at and abhors the infringement on fundamental rights of the citizens as enshrined in the constitution. Of course, there is a good lesson to learn from the American example. Whether America encounters political upheavals or uprisings, it would be worthy of note to celebrate and give the Americans an applause for standing by their rights unlike what is obtainable in many African countries where impunity and political brigandage are the order of the day. I watched with intense concentration the political intrigues orchestrated by Trump right from the election process of November 2020 and I realised that Africa needs to put through a thorough pedagogy.
Truth be told, Trump was a blight on America’s political climate which I believe Americans must have learned their lessons from. Inspite of the chaos and setbacks brought upon Uncle Sam by the immediate past administration, it is obviously a system worthy of emulation where the constitution is supreme over all persons, irrespective of what position they hold. Can this be said of my country, Nigeria, whose constitution is only supreme on papers? There seems to be a lot to be learnt from the US whose electoral activities are compelled by strengthened institutions and guided by established laws. Any wonder why Trump’s tantrums and demagoguery could not have a smooth sailing. Well, probably, it would be right to concisely emphasize the factors that have continued to propel the age-old democratic settings of American presidency.
For over 215 years, right from independence in 1776, America had nurtured their idea of doing away with an unnecessary over-stay in office or celebration of “life president”. A few selected Americans had devised the means of doing away with such system of clinging to power tenaciously. This was easily determined under the rule/era of George Washington to permit the accommodation of stepping down after a period must have elapsed. Of course and quite successive, the Articles of Confederation was brought to light before the eventual creation of America constitutional arrangement. Interestingly, George Washington Farewell address provoked the democratic ideologies into a general acceptance. Could it be presumed that we haven’t been blessed with patriotic leaders whose nationalistic movements are a caricature of a cosmetic charade?
I have once argued that we lack good systems which in itself is absolute until it was argued by a friend that good systems are leveled by good people. Invariably, we have lost a focus on both. Whether a nuisance was constituted on America’s political leaning for a period of four years, trust that a strong constitution would be adequately fashioned to clean up the menaces. Despite Trump’s initial rejection of the results and total non-compliance with the rule of law to remain in office beyond 20th of January 2021, the law caught up with him. And, i can confidently state that the inauguration held with more colourful incitations than the threats that had initially sorrounded it.
I knew that America’s ideology would trash out Trump’s open insurgency. Africa must rise to begin to address their dwindling/bourgeoise political leaning so that the continent can attain the true democratic ideals. We must arouse our interest in finding our common basis for existence and purpose of occupying a space on world’s continent. It is not enough to appear as a continent, but, as one whose existence is capable of conceding survival. In actual fact, we are not living up to expectations as the bunch of leaders littering all over our spaces denigrate a proper balance of political calculus. We must begin to watch keenly and garner support for a developing attitude towards unity and stability as often expressly sung in most of our anthems. Imbibing the culture of peaceful transfer of power as seen in sophisticated countries. The time is
NOW for Africans to rise and discard ostentatious, despotic political systems devoid of stifling evolving socioeconomic developments. We should begin to adopt ways to solidify our ideologies. May Africa never be doomed!
-Olufunke Cole is a Doctoral studen, Department of History, University of Lagos