AS far as electoral upsets go, Mr. Donald Trump’s election this week as the 45th President of the United States of America is the most significant yet in the 21st century. He was believed by most people, including even members of his own party, to be uniquely unqualified for the presidency of the world’s most powerful nation. He upended every cherished tradition that personal dignity and centuries of practices have imposed on anyone running as the candidate of a major party for the presidency of the United States. He traded in pedestrian slogans; he sold profane promises; he insulted everyone and countless groups. Yet, at every stage, his political stock rose, even when he was stumbling. While all bookmakers betted against him, Trump triumphed almost effortlessly as the choice of the majority of the states that compose America. He emerged as the president-elect through the majority of the electoral-college votes even before the close of the announcement of the results of the consequential presidential election.
A billionaire businessman, television host and remarkable celebrity, Donald Trump is the ultimate exemplar of American showmanship. He built a business empire and forced the world to not only recognize but to noisily acknowledge him as a genius. For many years, he supported politicians at every level of the struggle for public office. He sought attention and won it. But he was not satisfied with wealth and fame. He wanted political power. Not a few thought his constant gesturing towards future political ambition was part of his apparatus of seeking fame. They were wrong.
Trump’s victory is undoubtedly the triumph of the voice of the people. Ironically, it is also the triumph of his will. His ascendancy at the polls on Tuesday, November 8, sent shock waves through the global markets as shares plunged with America’s allies astonished at the choice that Americans made. Trump’s election reminds the world of how imperfect democracy is. Since it began in the ancient Greek city-state, democracy has never been greater than the people in every polity want it to be. More important, it is a work in progress. It is in recognition of this that the founding fathers of America resolved that every generation must strive to “make a more perfect union.
”The United States has never witnessed a more divisive and obnoxious election since the end of World War II. The billionaire business man and his opponent, the tried and tested public servant, former First Lady and Senator, Secretary Hilary Clinton, polarised the country as they fought for the coveted prize. But at every point and through every turn, Hillary Clinton was expected by most polls to triumph. She was not merely the more experienced contender, she was the only one with experience in public service and high office. She had served with distinction, but not without controversies, real and imagined.
As the historic presidency of Barrack Obama, a man who has exemplified uncommon breadth of knowledge, dignity, temperance, fortitude and rectitude comes to an end, it was doubtful if he could be succeeded by anyone with comparable self-possession. Despite the fact that he was buffeted unceasingly by the opposition Republican party, and particularly the Republican-led Congress, Obama’s presidency undoubtedly restored America’s respect around the world apart from rescuing the economy from the worst depression since the end of World War II. Under his steady leadership, the country generated an economic growth that was unequalled in recent memory, with the unemployment rate dropping to less than five percent. Yet, a combination of factors, including a changing economy that leaves millions of workers without new skills behind and the challenges of environmental considerations that transformed the labour market embittered many people. They were tired of promises by politicians and wanted “change” for better. Trump promised to “make America great again” and millions hearkened to his voice.
As many in the United States and most parts of the world recover from the shock of the election of someone dismissed as unelectable, President-elect Trump faces daunting tasks. Fulfilling his infinite promises of “winning, winning and getting tired of winning” under his presidency will be difficult to say the least. He will inherit a much better and more vibrant economy than his predecessor inherited. But he will also inherit a far more riven nation. He will need allies to help maintain global peace. He will need to bring Americans of all races, creed and convictions together to heal the nation and move forward. He will need to disappoint sceptics and fulfill the hopes of the millions that gave him their mandate.
Since the end of end of the Cold War, the world has relied on United States leadership to maintain world peace. The US has not always lived up to expectations; but it is undoubtedly the one indispensable power which has, despite its imperfections, helped to stabilise the world and keep it from coming apart since the implosion of the Soviet Union. A President Trump therefore will need to abandon isolationism and live up to the expectations of his high office when he takes the oath on January 20.
Donald Trump’s presidency is not unlikely to have important implications for Nigeria. After a few years of uncertainty, President Muhammadu Buhari ascension to power has led the United States to moderately commit itself to helping Nigeria with its security challenges. We hope that the present administration will ensure that this support increases under a President Trump. Beyond this, as the global oil market enters a new phase with far less dependency on Nigeria’s oil by the US, the Buhari administration needs to re-strategise regarding its relations with the United States. Nigeria is an indispensable ally not only in regional but also in continental security. The United States needs to partner with Nigeria in responding to security challenges in the sub-region as well as the rest of the continent and the world. A President Trump administration will need strong demonstration of seriousness on the part of the Buhari administration to partner with Nigeria in confronting Nigeria’s as well as regional security problems. The United States under President Trump can help to end the Boko Haram menace.
While we congratulate America’s president-elect, Donald Trump, we recognise the daunting challenges that he faces. How he tries to impose order and purpose on his presidency will not only have serious implications for the United States, it will also largely determine peace and prosperity in the world.