“In saner climes, such can’t happen.” That is the cliché of many who have viewed the Western world as models, worthy of emulation. It would be right to say so, as they’ve seen a much stable government and have experienced stable democracy for very long terms.
It is no doubt that the Trump administration has come and had its days of glory and also shame. Achieved great successes but let’s not forget to mention that there were failures as well.
It’s been more than three years of Donald J. Trump’s presidency and we’re counting days to a new administration, but for the world’s strongest nation, I must beg to say that the US Democracy is under siege.
Of course, when any African nation, Nigeria inclusive is to hold an election, it is a normal trend to receive election observers from the United States, the European Union, the United Nations and other concerned, world leading organisations.
The duty of these observers and election monitors is to ensure there is a free, fair and violence free election. Usually, they assess the elections and write reports on how it went. Post-election sanctions on electoral defaulters are usually dreaded by even Nigerian politicians and electoral officials.
From Visa ban to economic sanctions and even revoking of diplomatic passports, the United States has been known to be a major voice in enforcing strict adherence to free, fair and violence-free elections.
But, what happens when a first world country, the strongest nation in the world defaults on its own terms? First, it was the President’s claim that the system of voting that has been adopted for the 2020 elections will be rigged. He needed support to change the voting system, but he didn’t get that.
Well, just like he had predicted, there was massive voter fraud. But, one thing about the US judicial system is that it gives judgments based on proven facts. That was one thing the President didn’t have.
He couldn’t substantiate his claims, rather kept on inciting hate and malicious behaviours in his followers. But actually, the US has not seen a more active President in all her years of democracy. He used his social media platforms to promote his ideas and garnered sufficient support for himself.
I will not be sharing my opinions on why he lost the elections. That is my personal ideology and would not want to bore you with them. However, the post-election drama is something Africa must learn from.
Questions have risen, as to whether the US is only degenerating into the kind of the third world countries’ democracy. It would seem fair to put the blame on Africa, as post-election violence is only synonymous with Africans.
But I beg to differ on this. We all are humans and it is very humanly to get used to clinching to power. Power is intoxicating and one could easily get stupidly blinded by it.
Nigeria, Africa and the world would never forget the man, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, who bowed out of office after his mandate was visibly stolen. He exemplified the patriotism and showed us what true Democracy is.
Becoming a hero might seem difficult most times, as it usually requires accomplishing an outstanding feat, and these things are not easy to come by. But Dr Jonathan became a hero by a singular act of conceding defeat. He understands statesmanship and Democracy.
The Trump Error
Every President gets the opportunity to serve for four years and can run for office and if re-elected will serve another four years. Conceding defeat would have seemed cowardly, but that actually reveals great strength.
President Trump, never for a single moment conceded defeat, which is actually the first of its kind in the history of Democracy in the United States of America. He probably thought he had all it takes to upturn the election to his favour.
But, the US would never let anyone, not even the President make a mockery of her Democracy in the face of the world. So, there was basically nothing Mr Trump could do that would earn him the second tenure. He lost the election and that was it.
Maybe he is not power drunk, but his actions spoke very differently. His rally held on the 6th of January 2021, definitely spurred some rancour that led to the invasion of America’s sacred temple of Democracy, Capitol Hill. It put Democracy under siege; it was a direct attack, an affront on the Government of the people, by the people and for the People.
Now, what would one do when the US fails on her electoral values? What happens when there is post-election violence in the United States? Who should sanction the US and those responsible for it? What would Africa do, now that the seeming perfect Democracy has now failed?
Nigeria in Africa and Our Democracy
These recent events in the United States simply show that every country has personal challenges and shortcomings. There is no “saner clime” anywhere, but what makes the difference is the way we respond to the situations we are faced with.
I must say that the current situation in the United States is an opportunity for Nigeria to rise as the Giant of Africa and ensure we are a perfect example in subsequent elections. We now have a chance to prove that we can get it right. The façade that there are saner democracies is now over.
Arwa Damon of the CNN said, “The concepts on which we have built our societies are fragile, more so than many of us want to accept. Let’s not look at nations whose people are fighting and striving for democracy with moral superiority.” Yes, no more should Africa be seen as a lesser Democracy.
The struggle for Democracy is real and we all keep at it, till we can get it right. Dr Jonathan got it right. I know Nigeria will get it right.
We are the “saner climes,” we are the “saner Democracies.”
Aaron Livingstone is a final year Industrial Chemistry student of the Federal University of Technology, Minna. He has a great passion for gaining knowledge and loves to read. He wrote in via firstname.lastname@example.org