The momentum generated by contenders for office of the president of the United States with all its din,- made me remember Moshood Abiola especially as it concerns the persona of the Republican front runner, Donald Trump.
What do they really have in common? Both are revered business persons who cut their niche out of nothing and are models studied by business moguls and would-be entrepreneurs. Abiola’s demise, regardless.
Just like in the Abiola era, Donald Trump’s emergence on the US political scene seems to mirror the will of the people, as can be seen by the multitudes that go to his rallies, to celebrate in a wild frenzy.
That is the beauty of democracy: the right to hold and express different views without a threat to public peace.
But unlike in the Abiola era, Trump’s campaigns don’t seem to dwell on issues but on the sensibility of angry voters who are pissed off with the establishment in Washington. But can any politician feed on anger for long? I think not. The reality of office always educates politicians as history has shown. This is why many find it hard to deliver on the electoral undertakings promised to the populace.
When politicians, who dwell on the anger of people to win elections, are sworn into office, and you assess their stewardship, they turn into establishment dramatis personae.
Unlike Trump who dwells on the anger of the American people and promotes a divisive campaign, Abiola’s team tried their best to run a campaign that sought to lift citizens from the burden of privation and to provide positive guidance.
Unlike Trump, Abiola was too adroit to promote the supremacy of any tribe in Nigeria. No wonder he was supported by all citizens beyond tribe and region. Trump, just like the Somalis and Yemenis who believe in the supremacy of clans and tribe over country, is so blinded by demagoguery that he supports white supremacist movements forgetting that the US was founded by immigrants. The Herculean task before Trump, should he win the Republican nomination, is to win 70 per cent of white votes to become president. Such a feat that has not been achieved since Richard Nixon who fell by two per cent short of 70 per cent, the only president since the 1970s to win over white voters with that margin. This isn’t forgetting people of colour that Trump has successfully alienated.
It was Jimmy Carter (former US president) who said (and I believe it to be candid) that, “when you deprive 50 per cent of the population, you handicap your own country.” Trump, unlike Abiola, is leaving Americans handicapped, pundits have opined.
Trump has yet to stop firing bombardments in anger, which have led to the promotion of bad blood all across the political entity and threaten the country’s corporate existence.
But Abiola was au fait with the history of Nigeria, the challenges and solutions to nationhood and enjoyed enormous goodwill locally and internationally. It remains to be seen how Trump can work with the West should he become the US president. Even non-Western countries are apprehensive about his candidacy. How then can he take a proactive stance and collaborate with world leaders to provide security 360 degrees around the world?
Trump like Abiola needs to set good examples of promoting peace, good governance, dignity of human beings, encourage dialogue, win friendships and build bridges so the next generation can have something to aspire to in the United States of America.
Carter set the pace when he described Gerald Ford, “I guess my closest friend among all presidents I have known is Gerald Ford,” he said. He was able to feel this way even though they were followers of different parties and granting that the former defeated the latter in a major election.
Both Donald Trump and Moshood Abiola have something in common: they were both underestimated by the establishment. The establishment managed to stop Abiola’s ambition and our democracy as a result has yet to breathe the atmosphere of the baroque synonymous with great countries. Can the establishment stop Trump?
Abah, a political analyst, wrote in from Port Harcourt