BY EMMANUEL ONWUBIKO
“In the course of some 200 years, the presidency of the United States has become the most powerful office in the world”.
“The duties and responsibilities of the office are immense. Unlike many of the democratic government of Europe and elsewhere that have both a Chief of State and a head of government, the U.S system of government has only one Chief executive, the president”.
“The holder of that office serves not only as head of government but also in the primarily ceremonial post of Chief of State. As Chief of State, the president performs many of the public and ceremonial duties undertaken by the king or queen of the United Kingdom, other monarchs, and the governor-general of Canada and other Commonwealth nations”.
“Although some of the duties the President performs as chief of state may seem trivial, the role helps the occupant of the office maintain contact with the overall populace. As head of government, the President is the Chief executive of the nation, the director of the government. In addition the president serves as commander in chief of the armed forces of the United States and the voice of the American people.”
According to presidential scholar Clinton Rossiter, the presidency is a one-person job. The person “who holds it can never escape making the final decision in each of many areas in which the American people and their constitution hold “him or her responsible.” A sign on the presidential desk of Harry S. Truman, the nation’s chief executive from April 1945 to January 1953, said it perfectly: “The buck stops here.” According to Rossiter, “that in the end, is the essence of the presidency. It is the one office in all of the land whose occupant is forbidden to pass the buck.” (The New Webster’s Dictionary of the English Language , International Edition, Lexicon Publications, Inc, 2004).
The above citations from a global authority shows how significant the office of the United States President is.
Perjoratively and indeed factually, it is stated that “when America coughs, the rest of the World catches cold.”
America in World’s politics is known by virtually two thirds of the global community as a BIG BROTHER. The USA is also called UNCLE SAM by most less developed segments of the international community because a lot of funding supports are required to be donated yearly by the American government towards the building of democratic institutions in most so called Third World countries. Even such developed Western society like United Kingdom, strengthening economic ties with the United States of America is vital.
This is the reason that informed the decision by the British Premier Mrs. Theresa May to accept and indeed gladly honored her invitation to the White House in Washington DC which made her the first leader of the free World to visit the new US President after his January 20th inauguration as the 45th President of the USA.
It is therefore imperative to understand the position of Africa and Nigeria in the eyes of President Donald Trump of America. If developed Western allies of the USA in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization are keen to get reassurance of solidarity of President Trump how much more will a continent in perpetual want of foreign assistance like Africa not want to become friendlier to the US administration now.
And so the brief question we set out to tackle in this piece is the place of Nigeria and Africa in the context of the Donald Trump’s presidency.
The apprehension of an African who resides in Africa should rise considerably after going through this speech by the United States of America’s president to the congress which is his first major parley with the joint session of the US Congress.
If the saying by the typical philosophers hold true that “first impression of anything matters a lot”, it therefore follows that the lack of any detailed mention of Africa and Nigeria by President Trump in his first ever major policy speech to the US congress shows how degraded he holds the black continent. In that speech Africa or indeed Nigeria were conspicuously missing but in much of his explanations of his foreign policy direction for instance, President Trump sounded a note of warning to Africans that his administration will basically focus on making America great again.
His words: “Our foreign policy calls for a direct, robust and meaningful engagement with the world. It is American leadership based on vital security interests that we share with our allies across the globe.”
“We will respect historic institutions, but we will also respect the sovereign rights of nations.”
“Free nations are the best vehicle for expressing the will of the people — and America respects the right of all nations to chart their own path. My job is not to represent the world. My job is to represent the United States of America. But we know that America is better off, when there is less conflict — not more.”
“We must learn from the mistakes of the past — we have seen the war and destruction that have raged across our world.”
“The only long-term solution for these humanitarian disasters is to create the conditions where displaced persons can safely return home and begin the long process of rebuilding.”
“America is willing to find new friends, and to forge new partnerships, where shared interests align. We want harmony and stability, not war and conflict.”
“We want peace, wherever peace can be found. America is friends today with former enemies. Some of our closest allies, decades ago, fought on the opposite side of these World Wars. This history should give us all faith in the possibilities for a better world.” (www.edition.cnn.com )
The President of the United States has not hidden his intention however to fix the broken down black societies within the fore walls of the United States of America.
He has already gone ahead to nominate Dr. Benjamin Carson, the renowned Professor of Neurosurgery, plastic surgery, Oncology and Pediatrics, as his Secretary for Urban Housing with emphasis on delivering better shelters for black Americans and other low income earning Americans and to reduce urban violent crime.
Dr. Ben Carson may be a renowned neurosurgeon and humanitarian now, but growing up he never had it easy.
“Abandonment by his father, the turbulence of life in inner cities of Detroit, being called stupid at school and a violent temper, in every respect, Ben’s tough circumstances seemed only to point to a harsher future and a bad end. But that’s not what happened(see Dr. Ben Carson’s book: “You have a Brian: A TEEN’S GUIDE TO T.H.I.N.K.I.N.G B.I.G”).
So as he has made a good choice of his ex-presidential primary rival Dr. Ben Carson to tackle the essential poverty that afflicts African- American society, it is yet to be known what particular humanitarian focus his government would give to the typical Africa’s problems of perennial poverty, political corruption and instability, Radical Islamic terrorism and growing rate of irregular migrations by Africans caused by the collapsed economies in Africa and growing warfare.
Although Nigerians forms a significant portion of the Black American communities which implies that policies churned out by President Trump that positively impacts their lives it follows therefore that Nigeria will benefit indirectly.
Nigeria receives huge funds coming from the vibrant Nigerian- American community annually but on the aggregate, it is unknown what particular policy focus towards Africa does Trump possess that could improve Africa and Nigeria.
What would be the area of strategic engagement for the Donald Trump’s administration as it relates to Africa?
Africa is resource rich, no doubt, but the existential problems weighing down the African continent such as poverty, corruption, capital flights, and political instability must be tackled and confronted with greater effort so as to reduce the growing appetite by Africans to migrate to the western world to search for greener pastures.
The Donald Trump’s presidency must look at ways and means of compelling African nations to inculcate the culture of genuine Constitutional democracy and the advancement and consolidation of institutions that would guarantee fairness, equality, equity, transparency and accountability in Africa.
President Trump should be encouraged to maintain economic policies that would boost trades between our continent, our country Nigeria and the United States of America.
Nigeria has a devastating affliction of Islamic terrorism in the North East of Nigeria and the rampaging Fulani terrorists invading different Southern communities and so President Trump should help the millions of Nigerians in the line of fire of these centripetal and centrifugal forces tearing apart Nigeria not to carry through their mass slaughter agenda of conquer and occupy.
Nigeria is a divided country where certain component parts are treated with the short end of the stick. For instance the Igbo being a significant portion of Nigeria has being treated unfairly by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Since one year now Mr. Nnamdi Kanu who founded the Indigenous peoples of Biafra has remained incarcerated and his constitutional and legal rights denied him.
Over 200 civilian protesters were killed by soldiers in the South East of Nigeria which was even reported by Amnesty International in it’s current World human rights reports.
In the North the Christian tribes of Southern Kaduna have been attacked and killed in their hundreds by armed Fulani terrorists but President Muhammadu Buhari has done nothing and critics say he is unwilling to stop the attacks because his kinsmen are involved.
In the North even Moslems of Shiites Islamic Movement have suffered extralegal killings by armed forces. Over 26,000 Nigerians have died from attacks by Islamic terror group of boko Haram.
Looking at all of these violent trajectories, it is therefore frightening to know that President Trump hasn’t yet figured out how to be of positive influence in the troubled black continent and the ever troubled and unstable Nigerian society.
We won’t give up hope but will keep speaking out so the US administration can package and deliver significant development projects and programmes that could benefit Nigeria cum Africa.
*Emmanuel Onwubiko is the national coordinator of Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria and blogs @www.emmanuelonwubiko.com , www.thenigerianinsidernews.com .
**The views expressed in this piece are those of the author, and do not reflect the position of everyday.ng. But reactions are welcome from readers. Please send reactions to email@example.com; or firstname.lastname@example.org