Not being a fan of Donald Trouble, (sorry President Donald Trump!), reflecting on some “lessons” of the Inauguration speech of the 45th President of the United States of America (USA) for Nigeria and Africa would definitely sound and read hypocritical. And certainly for once to be hypocritical in analysing President Donald Trump, will just perfectly be politically correct. For one, the less than 1500 presidential words of Donald Trump on Friday January 20, 2017, contain scores of hypocritical presidential diatribes such that no academic analysis of his speech will be objective enough if it is not seemingly hypocritical. Donald Trump mentioned America almost 25 times in a speech delivered less than 20 minutes, meaning America is mentioned in almost every minute!
No mention of Europe or American Allies. Of course Donald Trump is totally Africa blind in his inaugural speech. Africans and African leaders who since last year have been concerned and almost obsessed about the possible outcome of American election (as distinct from the outcome of the recently concluded Ghanaian election!) must know that in the final analysis Donald Trump was elected as the President of USA to serve America and American interests.
“From this day forward, it’s going to be only America first, America first,” he declared! Since the good days of Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, Ahmed Sékou Touré of Guinean, Murtala Muhammed of Nigeria, Samora Macheal of Mozambique and Nelson Mandela, I don’t know when last any African leader proudly put Africa first. There is certainly a collapse of dignity here in Africa. In speeches, African leaders are eager to celebrate the “support” of the International community rather than acknowledge the sacrifices of their own peoples. African leaders fuel medical tourism abroad and even proudly spend their leave days abroad. Perhaps Donald Trump offers a good lesson in patriotism for contemporary African leaders.
Talking about hypocrisy, the devil is in the details of Donald Trump’s speech. Germany’s Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel reportedly has accused Donald Trump of delivering an inauguration speech with “high nationalistic tones” adding that the businessman had been elected as a result of “bad radicalisation” in the US. Maybe. But reading Trump, he was as nationalistic as he was imperialistic like any previous American President. Read him: “Together, we will determine the course of America and the world for many, many years to come.”
The lesson here is that Africans should define their role in a globalized world instead of being idiotically romantic about globalization in which we are always the losers with closed factories and massive job losses to the bargain while others gain. The new American president spoke of ‘American carnage’ and painted a dark picture of the US, and calls for ‘total allegiance to the United States of America.’ So bad and so good for him! But it is also an open knowledge that in the 21st century, United States of America is the only country “that rivals the world’s once-great empires in terms of its global impact.”
There is “no denying its presence in everything from international politics to entertainment.” The United States is still the most influential country. But even while in hypocritical denial of the remarkable economic recovery under President Obama with all time lower unemployment level, Trump is still aggressively pushing the American agenda to an even greater height at the expense of other nations. Will African leaders learn that investment charity must start at home and that no foreign investors would develop the continent and that we Africans should be willing to invest here?
Talking about investment, Trump’s speech is strong on reviving closed factories in America. I counted the number of the word: ’JOBS.’ He talked of “rusted-out factories scattered like tombstones across the landscape of our nation; an education system, flush with cash, but which leaves our young and beautiful students deprived of all knowledge; and the crime and the gangs and the drugs that have stolen too many lives and robbed our country of so much unrealized potential.” Pray when last did you read a Nigerian /African leader bemoaning hitherto functioning Industrial estate turned into instant “prosperity churches,” industrial cities without electricity, climate damaging generators, millions of decent jobs relocated to China and neighboring West African countries?
The same day, Trump took office and eager to relook International trade deals that America signed under Obama, Nigeria in Davos, Switzerland, went ahead to ratify another Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), making it the 107th WTO member to do so.
Pray, what goods do Nigeria export through international trade such that it uncritically signed new agreements that in all probability would turn the Nigerian economy into a dumping ground for cheaper imports? The country’s instrument of acceptance was reportedly submitted to the WTO by the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Mr Okechukwu Enelamah, to the WTO Director-General, Roberto Azevêdo, on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos with the sweet heart promise that “It would also reduce the time to import goods by over a day and a half, while also reducing time to export by almost two days.”
At the time President Buhari is mouthing import substitution, another uncritical trade facilitation undermines domestic production, puts pressure on limited foreign exchange, kills remaining industries and denies the country of much needed jobs. I agree with Trump (if only it applies to Abuja!) that; “For too long, a small group in our nation’s Capital has reaped the rewards of government while the people have borne the cost….Politicians prospered – but the jobs left, and the factories closed.”
By Issa Aremu
Vice President of Industrial Global Union and General-Secretary, National Union of Textile Garment and Tailoring Workers of Nigeria (NUTGTWN)