Mahmud Jega

President Donald Trump’s many supporters in Nigeria were all highly disappointed that he allowed himself to be defeated in an election, then went about overturning the results in a very incompetent manner. Why didn’t the White House hire a Nigerian Political Adviser, with concurrent responsibility for reelection matters, then simply sat back and watched? Joseph Biden would never smell the White House from a distance if Trump’s so-called White House strategists had hired a Nigerian consultant.

The American corporation Xerox once claimed that it invented photocopying. One of its best known ads in the 1970s was, “We taught the world to copy.” It is a lie; Xerox’s own compatriots are yet to learn to copy from the masters of the game, Nigerians. For example, where is the American Orubebe? Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, who stood at last Wednesday’s joint session of the US Congress and argued against ratifying the electoral college votes of Arizona State, was a poor copy of Orubebe. Why didn’t he smoke imported Warri weed, sit on the stage in front of Vice President Mike Pence and bellow, “Pence is tribalistic! Pence is selective! Pence is partial!”?

It was because the Trump White House had no Orubebe that it sent a mob to storm the Capitol in order to stop the electoral college votes ratification process. The mob was unprofessional; they couldn’t push through a simple police barricade. Look, in Nigeria here, is it not the policemen themselves who will prevent every member of Congress from entering the premises for the joint session? Remember in late 2014 when the FCT Police Command stopped House Speaker Aminu Waziri Tambuwal and all the members from entering the premises. We saw on television how several members tucked their flowing gowns and scaled the fence.

In fact, there is an even better Nigerian example to copy from, if only the White House had hired a Nigerian consultant. As we saw in 2018, the DSS boss sent his armed men to seal off the National Assembly complex and prevented members from gaining access. The White House has powerful security outfits under its control, including Secret Service, FBI, CIA, National Security Agency, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, Coast Guard, US Marshals, National Park Service and the US armed forces, including Marine Corps, Navy Seals and 101st Airborne Division. Why didn’t it deploy them?

If they didn’t want to use state agents because the media will cry foul, there was still another good Nigerian example to copy from. In November 1995, hard-pressed Nigerian politicians eager to mount a soap box tried to find a way round the Sani Abacha dictatorship by organising an All Politicians Summit in Lagos. Buses full of thugs from Mushin, Agege and Ajegunle suddenly surrounded the venue, overturned chairs and tables in the hall and chased away the politicians. Newspapers alleged at the time that an outspoken Abacha minister hired them. Ok, didn’t Donald Trump have an outspoken minister in his cabinet who could have hired thugs from Chicago’s South Side?

In fact, things should never even have gotten to that stage if the White House had a Nigerian election adviser. Why did they wait out the whole election night for counties and states to laboriously count the votes and make a declaration, before they scrambled and tried to overturn them? Look, in Nigeria here in 2007 when INEC heard that international election observers had scheduled a press briefing for 2pm on Monday to give their preliminary report, which was going to be damning, it simply declared the election winner before all the results were in from the states.

There is even a Nigerian way of dealing with pesky reporters and international election observers. In Benin City in 2007 when the vote count stretched into the morning and AC candidate Adams Oshiomhole was leading, INEC’s state resident commissioner announced a break of three hours. As the reporters entered an eatery for a quick grub, they heard on the radio that the result had been declared and PDP’s Oserheimen Osunbor was the winner. That was why folks in Bauchi mounted an “A kasa, a raka, a tsare” [vote, escort and guard] which prevented ANPP’s Malam Isa Yuguda from getting the Oshiomhole treatment.

Even these Nigerian election-thwarting strategies would not have been necessary if White House had been briefed on an older Nigerian tactic. While the voters are queueing in the sun to cast their votes, the results could be written in air-conditioned rooms. That is why a man once won an election in a Nigerian village, according to official results, and everyone in the town swore that they did not vote for him.

Or even, if the White House did not want to fabricate the results, it could amend them slightly, Nigerian style. In 1983, there was a protracted election case in old Ondo State when NPN candidate Akin Omoboriowo defeated incumbent Governor Michael Ajasin of UPN, according to official figures. Supreme Court later found that Ajasin got 1.2million votes while Omoboriowo got 0.5million, but the returning officer added 1 behind the latter’s vote and it became 1.5 million. You mean there was no one in Georgia, Arizona, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin or Michigan that was smart enough to do that?

State and federal American courts threw out 62 cases filed by President Trump’s supporters, saying they lacked merit. Which merit did they lack? Again it was because White House did not hire a Nigerian election case adviser, of which we have many. A judge could be made to write two judgments, one for and another against the declared election result. It is up to the consultant to work out which one is delivered. What was Donald Trump’s problem? After all, he finished second to Biden in the election. Here in Nigeria, a man who finished fourth in an election was declared the winner and he is now governing. In fact, a man who did not even contest the election was declared the winner in Rivers State in 2007 and in Kogi State in 2015, so what is the problem?

White House was really sloppy because of lack of Nigerian advisers. From the beginning, if opinion polls suggested that you will not win the election, why allow it to go ahead? Damn the constitution. On June 10, 1993, Justice Bassey Ikpeme of the FCT High Court sat at 10pm and issued an injunction restraining NEC Chairman Prof Humphrey Nwosu, his agents, servants or privies from conducting the June 12 presidential election. When NEC conducted it anyway, FCT Chief Judge Justice Dahiru Saleh quashed the election. Don’t they have courageous judges there in America?

Ikpeme stopped the 1993 election based on a prayer from an NGO, Association for Better Nigeria, ABN. Trump’s White House, instead of wasting time with their fake Make America Great Again, should have floated an NGO called Association for Better America, ABA. Who was ABN’s leader and sponsor? Again they should have borrowed a leaf from Nigeria and got an international arms merchant to bankroll ABA.

Was Arthur Nzeribe such a big arms dealer compared to what they have in America? He only sold weapons to both sides in the Chadian civil war. Where are the presidents of Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Rockwell Aerospace, General Dynamics, Northrop Grumman and United Technologies? All the weapons they sold with which wars all around the world were fought, can’t they spare a few million dollars and sponsor ABA so that no election is held in America?

Why is the US President called “the most powerful man in the world” when he couldn’t even adjust a simple election result? He reminds me of Walga, the 7 foot, mentally disturbed giant who used to terrorise our village market in the 1960s. Walga will enter the market and head for the food section. Food vendors will run away and he will eat to his satisfaction. He will be singing a self-deprecatory song:

“If you see Walga,
[you think] you see a powerful man.
If you dare him,
you find that he is a weakling.”

Monday Column today, January 11, 2020.

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