The story of humanity is ladened with outstanding contributions and achievements of men and women who stood their ground for what they believed in. Some even paid the supreme sacrifice in the process. Such personalities always stepped in at critical times to change the value system of their society or nations. The same applies on the reverse when societies and nations were misled by a drab personality. Examples abound in history.
In the last few months, the entire world has watched with bathed breath, the entropic electoral vibes from the self-acclaimed bastion of democracy, and `Gods own country`, the `Almighty` United States of America. It has been a drama and soap opera never seen before as the two mega political parties – Democrats and Republicans threw caution to the wind. The American people like never has been inundated with toxic rhetoric. The 2020 US Presidential election was divisive, full of bile, bitterness and sulphuric tendencies.
The situation has not been helped by the `imperial King` and incumbent, Donald Trump who only hears and listens to himself. Matters got to a head when he refused to concede victory at the polls to the winner and President-elect, Joe Biden. As if that was not enough, the macabre dance attained a messy and disgraceful dimension as the US Senate congregated at the Capitol Hill – the symbol of American democracy to affirm the election of the new president.
The watching world was shocked as visuals of the shameful breach of the iconic building by supporters of outgoing President Trump went viral. Hours before the shambolic act, the speeches by Trump, his son and lawyer at a protest rally was jaw breaking. Lovers of democracy, free speech and freedom of association are wondering how the hitherto proud Americans got to this low ebb.
The USA – global superpower is now the laughingstock of the world. US allies, the United Kingdom, Germany, Canada are bemused at the shenanigans in Washington DC. On the divide, China, Russia, Iran and other authoritarian countries are snapping their fingers, digging their heels in and jeering over the shameful events in the United States of America.
African dictators and sit-tight rulers now have a new album to sing from. What a huge joke the Americans has become – pathetic! So, what the heck has happened to the `numero uno` democracy on the planet? How on earth did America degenerate politically to these zero levels? What are the lessons inherent for fledging and evolving democracies like Nigeria?
The answers to the aforementioned are not far-fetched. For over 200 years, the United States has pride itself as a torch bearer of democratic norms and values. It has not experienced any military incursion into its politics. There has been peaceful transition of power between the two major political parties regularly and consistently.
Political analysts contend that Americans know how to change political parties like the appearing of the day and night. There has always been an Aegean stability about the US system. However, since the year 2000 polls won by George Bush Jnr, the level of acrimony and contentions after elections has increased. We recall the Al-Gore Florida recount and the alleged Russia interference with the 2016 elections that brought Donald Trump to office.
Notwithstanding, these previous elections had the main actors concede to the acclaimed winners the “Jonathan way”.
If Trump had conceded the current election to Joe Boden, the show of shame and the prevailing division in America would be non-existent. Trump by words and deeds has shown that he is a bad-mouthed loser. His body language pre- and post-the elections has been most undemocratic and unpresidential. Trump has been carrying on like a mad King who has no regard for the people he is meant to serve.
The unholy attempt by Donald Trump to usurp the collective will of the America is a slap on democracy and a bad example for emerging democracies all over the world. Joe Biden and his deputy, Kamala Harris therefore has their work cut out to clear the garbage heap left behind by his erratic predecessor, Trump.
This analysis will be incomplete if the exemplary and dignified role played by the US Vice President and President of the Senate, Mike Pence is not highlighted. Former US Senator, John McCain posited, “nothing is more liberating than fighting for a cause which is larger than yourself”. In refusing to `kowtow` to the wimp, caprices and inordinate `hold-on` to power at all cost ambition of his principal, Vice President Pence demonstrated great courage in sticking to laid down constitutional provisions and systems instead of circumventing the political process.
Kudos to the Senate Majority Leader, and Veteran republican, (same party with incumbent President Trump) Mitch McConnell for standing firm on the floor of the Senate. Thumbs up to other republicans in both the Senate and House of representatives who teamed up with Democrats to ensure that the popular and victorious will of American citizens is not subverted by a few greedy blue collar Washington politicians.
As appalling as the events of the last few months may have been, vital lessons can be learnt from episode and heroic acts of these men and women. They may have erred earlier but jettisoned bi-partisan politics at the critical moment, the country needed them, and refused to bow to the demonic `nebuchadnezzar` altar of greed and avarice from incumbent President, Trump. The nonsense in America may be laughable and unthinkable, but the negative and positive lessons from it cannot be hidden. The political elite in Nigeria can learn useful lessons from the example of these noble men and women.
It is not compulsory that politicians tow the line of the government of the day in deciding critical issues of national survival and progression. At critical moments in the life of a country, the loyalty or allegiance of the political class should not be to the President but the nation. Similarly, staying glued to a political party view even when it is against the national tide should be discarded.
How good and pleasant it will be if such a scenario plays out in tackling Nigeria`s numerous socio, political and economic challenges facing. Under such a climate, life-changing decisions can be quickly reached for the benefit of citizens and the national good. Indeed, African icon and statesman, Kwame Nkrumah put it succinctly when he said, “Seek ye first the political kingdom, and all else shall be added unto you”.
*Dr Agbons writes from the UK