By Lukman Olabiyi Justice Ibrahim Buba of the Federal High Court in Lagos has fixed October 16, to rule on whether or not to discharge a former Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA ), Patrick Akpobolokemi, who was charged with N2.6bn fraud. The court fixed the date Friday after hearing…
It is becoming apparent that United States President-elect, Donald Trump, will continue to be an amazing phenomenon in the global politics. The things he has done, beginning from the run-up to the presidential election and since emerging victorious, have shown that this incoming president is not predictable. First, against all predictions and odds, he came, like a bolt from the blues, to snatch victory at the Republican Party’s primaries. Second, he proved political pundits wrong by recording a stunning victory in his country’s presidential election, in what could be described as a replica of “David killing Goliath.” Third, this unusual politician has left the world bewildered, in considering his bitter critics for appointment into the next United States cabinet.
To be sure, Trump is doing the unthinkable. In the last couple of weeks, he has been having meetings with politicians and professionals he wants to work with when he assumes office as president on January 20, 2017. The surprise is that some of those being considering for key positions are people who not only vehemently opposed him in the past but also derided his candidacy. Who could have believed that Trump could be so large-hearted to look the way of his party man and former presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, for instance, for appointment? Yes, Romney was so upset about Trump’s candidature that he called him names. He had lampooned Trump, made mockery of his business “failures” and doubted his ingenuity and prowess in business.
Romney had said that Trump’s “bankruptcies have crushed small businesses and the men and women who worked for them.” He stated that Trump “inherited his business, he didn’t create it.” He called Trump a habitual liar. He mocked him for “alleged failure of such enterprises as Trump Airlines, Trump University, Trump magazine, and Trump Steaks.” He had described Trump as “an individual who mocked a disabled reporter, who attributed a reporter’s questions to her menstrual cycle, who mocked a brilliant rival who happened to be a woman due to her appearance, who bragged about his marital affairs, and who laces his public speeches with vulgarity.”
These are strong and damning comments, indeed. However, it does seems to have blinded Trump that he can’t see the good side of his transducer. Yes, Trump did reply Romney at that time, but this United States president-elect has, by talking with Romney about the possibility of serving in the emerging cabinet, shown that he could draw a line between politics and governance. Trump has looked beyond what Romney said or thought or still thinks of him to see the potentials in the former Massachusetts governor. He has proved that he would not mind using his enemy, who is good in a particular field, to make a success of his programme. He has proved that experience and ability to deliver have no political leaning or coloration and, therefore, if his political enemy is good he would work with him. Trump, therefore, is looking at Romney’s experience as an outstanding governor, when he served, a successful businessman and a thoroughbred professional, who could bring something to the table of governance. He is not seeing their political differences or perhaps, their ego clash.
Since Trump met with Romney and some other people who were not charitable in their criticism of him, during the electioneering, I have been looking at the Nigerian situation. I have been wondering if Trump would ever have anything to do with Romney, let alone considering him for political appointment, if they were Nigerians. Indeed, if Trump and Romney were Nigerians, it is easy to guess what would happen. Were they Nigerians, by now Romney would be thinking of relocating outside the country, as Trump or those around him would declared him a “political enemy,” who must be dealt with. Were they Nigerians, Trump would likely cripple Romney’s businesses so that he would not have enough money to pursue any political ambition or programme in the future. Were they Nigerians, investigation would likely be initiated on the source of Romney’s wealth and his business dealings/transactions. Were they Nigerians, Romney would likely be made an enemy of the state, to the extent that he would be afraid to even say anything about the government and those in government.
For the avoidance of doubt, in Nigeria, political wars are fought forever. Here politicians do not take hostages. Here, there is a conquistador mentality. Here, the winner takes it all, while the loser goes home with nothing. Today, the South East, for example, has not been forgiven for support the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the last general elections. It is in Nigeria that a president will declare that those who gave him five per cent votes should not expect to get the same patronage as those who delivered 95 per cent votes. It is in Nigeria that appointment to government positions is based, more, on political affiliation and ethnicity than on merit. Nigeria is a place where governors site projects based on political consideration, where those who voted for them are favoured, while those who voted for their opponents are punished with exclusion. It is here that people in government would go to such ridiculous extent of excavating roads, in the name of fixing them, and then abandoning them thereafter, as a punishment to communities that did not vote for them.
At present, there are some misgivings about the economic team of the Federal Government, making people to suggest that the government should seek help from outside the All Progressives Congress (APC) to render services, in the effort to putting the economy on road to recovery. Nigerians are still waiting for this to happen. What those in government fail to understand is that a good hands can come from anywhere, irrespective of political affiliations, creed or religion. Those who want to succeed pick the best, with the bottom line of recording success. That is what is needed in Nigeria.
The Muhammadu Buhari government and governors of the 36 states should borrow a leaf from Trump. They should know that competence could be found in members of other political parties or even those who are non-aligned or apolitical. They should remember that there was a time in Nigeria when presidents appointed people from opposition political parties. It happened in the First Republic, Second Republic and during the first term of former President Olusegun Obasanjo. Why can’t it happen now?
In any case, the fact that someone is a critic of government or the president and governor does not mean that he hates them. Critics could be assets to a government if given the opportunity to serve. That is what Trump has underlined with his embrace of Romney. That is what Romney has proved by not having any issue with the suggestion of serving in the Trump government if given the opportunity. And those who think that Romney sold himself cheap by agreeing to work with Trump, after the scathing criticism, miss the point. They are still thinking as Nigerians. Genuine service to the nation is bigger than the shame of making a U-turn or recanting an earlier position. This is the lesson Nigerian politicians should learn.