In less than 24 hours, billionaire business man, Donald J. Trump will be sworn in as the 45th President of United States. He will be succeeding the charismatic, first black President of the United States, Barack Obama, who is leaving office as America’s 3rd most loved President.
A year ago, I wouldn’t have thought a Trump Presidency possible. A year ago, I argued loudly and almost bet N50, 000 against him. A year ago, I thought America would be stupid to elect Trump President given his lack of knowledge about policies and governance, and of course, his ‘unpresidential’ mien. As I write this, I, including so many other pollsters, am eating my words.
It’s not hard to understand why.
On Friday, January 20th 2017, the United States of America will inaugurate Donald Trump, an alleged racist, misogynistic, narcissistic, reality television star cum Twitter addict who has zero experience, and equally zero knowledge about basic governance issues. Trump is a businessman. He has spent his life wheeling and dealing. Naturally, nobody gave him a second look. Not when you had a Jeb Bush, a Ted Cruz, a Marco Rubio and all the other ‘more suitable’ candidates. Even most of the polls said it was highly unlikely Trump would win. Little wonder the world was sucker punched when Donald Trump won the election on November 8, 2016. We just didn’t see that coming.
All that is water under the bridge. Trump will be the most powerful man on Earth in a few hours.
Expectedly, almost everyone the world over awaits the Trump Presidency with trepidation. Nigeria is not exempt. There is a lot of concern over how a Trump President will affect the world order as we know it. How will a Trump Presidency affect Nigerian immigrants in the United States? How will it affect aids to developing countries like Nigeria? We are a mono-economy nation addicted to crude oil. How will a Trump Presidency affect global crude oil price? The Obama Administration, citing the Leahy Law refused to sell weapons to Nigeria to combat terrorism. Will this change when Trump takes charge of things?
Are there basis for the unease most countries, including Nigeria, have about a Trump Presidency? My answer is a resounding yes. It is said that when America sneezes, the rest of the world catches cold. Whether we agree with this assertion or not, we can’t deny that the President of the United State wields serious power which has huge global impact. So what does Trump’s Presidency mean for Nigeria?
Let’s start with the most obvious: isolationism. Trump is an isolationist. His campaign slogan says it all: Make America Great Again. Donald Trump is thinking America first and if that is anything to go by, his policies as President will mirror same. For years the world’s only superpower has assumed the role of big brother, always rushing off to the rescue of other nations. Judging by Trump’s statements, those days are over. Trump simply doesn’t understand why that has to be. He has verbally questioned why America has military bases around the world, has said if America had to defend other countries; they would have to pay for it, has said America gains nothing from being the world’s big brother, and most recently, called NATO ‘obsolete’.
Simply put, Trump intends to withdraw America from the rest of the world. How prepared is Nigeria for Trump’s Presidency? If Trump makes good his isolationist disposition, how prepared is the FG to handle the fall out of that? How will an isolated America affect our trade relations?
Just weeks after Trump was elected President of the United States, several top journalists in the Land of the Free warned that he posed severe threats to freedom of the press. In a report by CNN Money, anchor Christiane Amanpour said:
“I never in a million years thought I would be up here on stage appealing for the freedom and safety of American journalists at home”.
Amanpour, would go on to appeal to journalists to fight against normalization of the unacceptable.
This isn’t what one would expect from a strong democracy like America’s. Trump’s unrelenting attack of the American press has many worried he will stifle free speech. During a press conference day ago, Trump shut down a CNN reporter calling him, ‘fake news’. He has also threatened to open up libel laws and sue news organizations if he becomes POTUS.
How does this affect Nigeria? For one, we love to copy, especially America. Given our proclivity to copying all things foreign, will the Nigerian government become more emboldened in clamping down on dissent? Will our government do it like Trump and also sue news organizations that publish what doesn’t make it look good?
It has been underscored from the foregoing that there is a global anxiety about what Trump’s trade policies would be. His America First stance suggests that he favors protectionism. The big question again is, what does this portend for Nigeria? What would America’s trade relations with Nigeria be under President Trump?
To start with, Trump hasn’t made much reference to Africa in terms of trade and investment relations since he won the elections. Could it be that he doesn’t consider Africa a priority? Like a businessman that he is, Trump sees things in dollar signs, and is mostly more interested in getting the best deal possible for America. How will this impact on existing trade policies put in place to strengthen US-Africa trade relations like the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) which was enacted during the twilight of the Clinton Administration to 2000 to “enhance market access to the US for qualifying Sub-Saharan African (SSA) countries”? What happens if this policy is scrapped by Trump?
SECURITY AND GLOBAL WAR AGAINST TERROR
Given Trump’s hard stance on what he calls, Islamic Terrorism, experts expect Africa to be of interest to him. Participants at a conference organized by the Center for Democracy and Development (CDD West Africa) on ‘Trump Presidency and Nigeria’, which held in Abuja, agreed that Trump’s Presidency has a lot of implications for the fight against terror.
Dr. Dayo Kusa, Conflict Transformation Specialist and panelist at the Conference on Trump Presidency opined that due to Boko Haram’s pledge of allegiance to ISIS, the group, and by extension Nigeria, would be of interest to the Trump Administration.
What happens to the global war against terror? Will the United States led by Trump continue to support our troops in the fight against Boko Haram insurgency? If not, is there a concrete plan in place by the Federal Government?
Experts, however, seem to believe that unlike the Obama Administration, President Trump may be more disposed to selling arms to Nigeria for the fight against insurgency.
A report by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales, published on atlantablackstar.com, says the Trump presidency raises the risk of the U.S. rolling back development aid, thus affecting dependent countries such as Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Trump is a man who says it as it is, and has criticized US foreign aid to Africa saying funds going to region by the Obama Administration will be ‘stolen as corruption is rampant’. He may have a point but that is argument for another day.
The health sector has been one of the major beneficiaries of US aids. The U.S. government is the single largest donor to international HIV efforts worldwide, spending over $60 billion to combat HIV/AIDS. Are we ready for the implication of a cut in foreign aids by the Trump Administration, especially to the health sector?
TO BE CONTINUED….