The American elections have come and finally gone. It left behind a great shock, no matter which side of the political divide you stand. Donald Trump, an outsider with no prior political pedigree defeated the political heavy weight, Hillary Clinton. The events leading up to the election was anything but ideal. It was extremely dirty. Looking at it from the perspective of a Nigerian who has seen the worst of political brickbats, it was still dirty. The election, of course, was keenly followed by Nigerians, as it was all over the world. In fact, every Nigerian who could read a newspaper became a political analyst. You see, in Nigeria, we are all analysts of some sort. All you need to do is change your cap as the circumstance requires. We analyze football better than those pundits on Sky Sports; we know about the Amazon better than Brazilians; we are more adept at spiritual matters than angels; we just know the other person’s job more than them. I was surprised when I saw vehicles with adverts supporting the campaigns of both Clinton and Trump, as if we could influence the outcome of the election from here. A popular prophet even sent in his own predictions, claiming he saw a woman emerge as president. While another Nigerian who holds the American green card threatened to tear it if his preferred candidate didn’t win. Nigerians sha! What would this world be without us? Boring I guess. Of course, the ordinary Nigerian on the street didn’t give a hoot who occupies the White House, as they did not see how that would affect the price of ‘garri’ in the market.
Even after the election, people from around the world are still voicing their opinions about the wisdom, or otherwise, of the American people’s choice. Some see it as a step backward, while others see it as a positive for democracy. And you know that in Nigeria, we nor dey carry last! Some are praising Americans while others are upbraiding them. Some who got the prediction right celebrated it by buying gifts for their colleagues. I understand that the American Presidency is the most important office in the world, as decisions taken in the White House have impact around the world. But it is my opinion that we are crying more than the bereaved. The American people have made their choice, and we should learn to respect that.
What I find annoying is how some people are calling Americans insensitive and hateful because they voted for Donald Trump, their fellow citizen. It smacks of intolerance. I mean, America is a democracy, and democracy is about numbers. Those who voted for Hillary Clinton had cogent reasons for doing. Likewise, those who voted for Trump also had reasons that are equally as cogent. Neither of the groups is stupid for their decision. There was always going to be only one winner anyway. Trying to paint those who voted for Trump as evil is not good. What is particularly annoying is the fact that the people criticizing Americans are touting their support of human rights and freedom as the basis for their angst. The question I have is: Don’t the American people have the right to elect who they like as President? How can you claim to fight for people’s rights on the one hand, and disrespect their rights on the other hand? Isn’t that a contradiction? It is the same contradiction at play when America and its allies tout democracy, and at the same time force homo sexuality on African and third world countries. What democracy are they talking about? In a democracy, the law reflects the will of the people and the traditions of a society. They never stop to think, one moment, that perhaps, gay rights or whatever they are forcing down other people’s throats are against the will and traditions of that society. They never stop to consider the fact that tha ther country is at a different stage of its evolution. No, they don’t. They believe that they are right and every other person is wrong, and so, they force their will on others by all means, including military.
So now, people are criticizing Americans because their preferred candidate did not win. Because the election didn’t go the way they wanted Americans are now bad people; they are insensitive; they are racists; they do not care about others. As if other countries care about Americans when they elect their own leaders. Saying that America has taken the world backward because of the person they elected as president is an insult to the American people. Such sentiment is born out of a belief of superiority, which sees any contrary belief as inferior; the same reason why some people could take fellow humans as slaves and trade them like common commodities and livestock. Because they believed they were superior. It’s the same bigotry that is making people call Americans all sorts of names, just because they dared to elect a president that is not politically correct.
It amazes me how invested Nigerians are in the matter. We are even more invested than Democrat CNN and Republican Fox. I mean, I heard people arguing about the outcome everywhere I went after the elections. There were even phone-in programmes on radio where people called in to discuss it. I don’t understand how it affects them personally. Some weeks ago, Nigeria’s president, Muhammadu Buhari sent a letter to the National Assembly requesting authorization to borrow $30bn, a sum bigger than our foreign reserve; a loan that could mortgage our future and that of generations unborn; nobody talked about it. Also, not too long ago, an Emir in Katsina forcefully married a 14 year old, a girl who should be in school, nobody talked about it. Every day, our political elite strut about with our stolen wealth while the rest of us watch on in poverty, nobody says anything. And now, in this matter that happened in faraway America, we are carrying it on our head as if the success of either candidate would end the economic recession we are battling with, or make our leaders less corrupt. If we put this amount of interest and energy in our own elections, we probably would have better leadership.
While I do not hold a brief for either Clinton or Trump, there is something I like about the American system which I believe ought to be our focus. It is a system that gives equal opportunity to everybody. Anyone who feels popular enough can take a shot at the White House, irrespective of who they are. It’s the system that made it possible for Obama to emerge as president. Donald Trump had never been in politics. In fact, the powers that be in the Republican Party did not support him. Yet, he not only clinched the Republican ticket, but went on to win the presidential election. His popularity among the masses was what counted. Here in Nigeria, if you do not have god fathers, just forget it. The god fathers are usually people who through corruption have perpetrated themselves in the corridors of political power. The same set of people who have been running the government since independence. They are like Mount Zion that cannot be moved. They pick their candidates not based on merit or what is good for the country, but on what will enter into their pockets. It is why the people who rule Nigeria are a far cry from the caliber of professionals the country churns out every year. This is the system we should try to change, and not be dabbling into matters that do not concern us. We should try to build a system where our children are treated with dignity and respect. Where they will have equal opportunity to be the best they can be. Besides, the American system has checks and balances built into it. It is not as if one man sits at the White House and runs the whole show. It’s not North Korea you know.
So this is what I have to say to those around the world who are berating Americans for their choice. MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS! I believe the world would be a better place if people learned to just mind their own business. We won’t be having senseless wars where even the combatants do not know what the war is a about in the first place. Whether the American people made the right choice or not, only time will tell. Besides, the terms “right choice” may not be appropriate, as there are lots of factors involved. I know some people will not like me after reading this. But then, who e epp?
Image Credit: http://www.americansecurityproject.org