Trump’s Turn: What’s in it for Nigeria?


Today’s inauguration of Donald John Trump as the 45th President of the United States has great lessons for Nigeria which draws its culture and presidential system of government from the country. THOUGH President Donald John Trump was heralded to the presidency after one of the most divisive election campaigns in United States history, his inauguration will witness one of the “largest” gatherings of living United State’s presidents. All but one of the living presidents are attending today’s inauguration of Mr. Trump, the unlikely politician who beat pundits and politicos to become the 45th President of the United States.
Attending today’s inauguration are Presidents Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, George W Bush and Barack Obama. The only president absent at today’s inauguration would be President George H W Bush, the 41st President who is staying out on account of ill-health. Account of ill-health One of the most remarkable guests would be Mrs. Hillary Clinton, who is attending as the spouse of the 40th President, and also in her own right as the loser in the Electoral College vote even though she won the popular vote by as much as 2.9 million votes. Today’s inauguration, marking the 58th inauguration of a president of the United States is organised by the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies and will hold in the United States Capitol, reflective of the near seamless tie between the executive and legislative branches of the US Government. Remarkably, the final vote on the election was certified by a joint session of Congress only on January 6, 2017. The near record outing of former presidents is, however, matched by the record absention. As at press time, as many as 50 Democratic members of Congress have indicated interest not to attend the inauguration hosted by congress. Though remotely removed from proceedings, the inauguration would be the cynosure of many Nigerians looking to see what the Trump Presidency holds for Nigeria and her people. Perhaps, apart from an inaugural reception that may be hosted by the United States Mission, the only known Nigerian group celebrating the advent of Mr. Trump is the Indigenous People Of Biafra, IPOB, which according to reports is planning a rally to welcome Mr. Trump. The group’s intention is ostensibly against the background of the supposition that the Republican spirit among Ndigbo would rub off positively on the new Republican president. Even more, is the claim in some quarters that President Muhammadu Buhari was ushered to power by powerful lobby groups close to the United States Democratic Party, and hence the apparent decision by IPOB and other groups at the receiving end of the efforts of the Buhari administration to align with the new US administration. Remarkably, the Nigerian legislature is also drawing lessons from the inauguration. It is to that effect that the Nigerian Senate has also proposed, just like the Congress in the US, to take over future inaugurations of Nigerian presidents. Inauguration ceremonies The move spearheaded by the Senator Ike Ekweremadu led Senate Committee on Constitution Review, SCCR hopes to input in the Nigeria Constitution that the National Assembly should take over the inauguration ceremonies of the Nigerian presidents. There is also a constitutional proposal that the inauguration ceremonies should be moved from the Eagle Square to the National Assembly arcade. The proposals are also in sync with a move earlier championed by Ekweremadu and a few other legislators to have the Nigerian president present an annual State of the Nation address as the United States presidents do by tradition. The moves are being championed in part to give constitutional role to the National Assembly and its presiding officers in the inauguration of the president. The bill also aims to establish a Presidential Inauguration Committee and provide a routine for the inauguration of future Presidents. Culture of transparency But will copying the custom and colour of American politics lead Nigeria to the Promised Land? Mr. Auwal Ibrahim, executive director Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre, CISLAC, while welcoming the new administration in Washington, said he expects it to sustain support for civil society and non state actors towards sustaining the culture of transparency in the country. Comrade Joe Ambakaderimo, convener of the South-South Reawakening Group on his part expects democratic ethos to be negatively affected given Mr. Trump’s pre-inauguration alliance with Russia on matters affecting Ukraine.