Options for Africa as U.S. votes
• Trump hopes for Election Day upset against Biden
• Nigeria’s WTO bid hangs in the balance, says Otobo
With the United States’ Africa and immigration policies now a subject of controversy, the place of Nigeria and the rest of the continent in America’s foreign policy post 2020 came into focus last night.
None of the two candidates in today’s presidential election— President Donald Trump and Joe Biden — has been able to give clear indication of what his policy would be for Africa.
Democratic White House hopeful Biden will campaign today in Pennsylvania, his campaign said, as he makes an 11th-hour pitch to voters in perhaps the pivotal state of the entire 2020 contest. Leading in the polls, Biden will travel to Scranton, the city of his birth, as well as Philadelphia, his team said, yesterday. Meanwhile, His running mate Kamala Harris, an African American, will be heading to Michigan, another state seen as critical to their efforts to win the White House.
“The hope — and the expectation —is that a Biden victory would be better for Africa,” US-based Professor Eloho Otobo told The Guardian. He, however, pointed out that Nigeria should not forget that Africa also had similar hopes, when Obama was elected. Yet there are few, if any, big Obama legacy for Africa.
The Power Africa lnitiative (for a sum of $7bn) announced by Obama at the first and only Africa-US Summit in 2014 was modest compared to China’s investment in power in Africa, even as in 2014.
Otobo argued that, given the huge economic, social and criminal justice reform issues that lay ahead for the US in the home front and coping with China and other challenges on the foreign front, a Biden win would hardly bring a new, positive orientation for Africa.
Whether Biden wins tomorrow (today), President Trump will remain the president till January 20, 2021. According to Otobo, while a defeated U.S. President is the ultimate lame duck leader, there are important historical precedents in U.S. where a defeated leader had taken major foreign policy actions.”
Recall that, in December 1992 — a month after George Herbert Walker Bush (41st president) lost his bid for second term— he approved US military intervention in Somalia.
The Trump Administration’s actions on Okonjo-lweala’s candidacy could be such that they will create big problems for the Biden administration. “Trump could decide to withdraw from WTO, if he does not get his way or could insist on a new round of elections, since one of its stated reasons for opposing Okonjo-Iweala is that the current round of election has not complied with laid-down procedures. If all these lead other members of WTO to believe that NOI is damaging the functioning of WTO; some of the current supporters could withdraw their support,” Otobo warned.
Professor of Political Economy, Pat Utomi said that today’s Nigeria would be marginal to U.S.’ strategic interests, except perhaps as it concerns terrorism and regional security interests. But he said that this could change significantly “if the considerable number of Americans who indicate Nigeria originating vote as a block, and are consequential in affecting outcomes.”
He stated that many Nigerians, who emphasise evangelical or strong Christian background and those who feel marginalised, look up to Trump to push back on liberals supporting gay rights while “those sympathetic to Black-Lives-Matter kind of issues may be cheering for former VP Joe Biden. If either thrust of consciousness is seen to have had impact on outcomes, then those who win may respond to the interest their support base favour in Nigeria,” Utomi told The Guardian in a telephone conversation.
Professor of Business Administration at the University of Uyo, Leo Ukpong, in an exclusive chat with The Guardian, said that, as a global super-power, USA presidential and congressional elections would impact most of the world. Ukpong observed, “The expected or preferred impact of the election outcome on USA and Nigeria will not necessarily be symmetric. For example, U.S. would be happy to see an increase in the share of exports from US to Nigeria, while Nigeria would prefer the opposite. Furthermore, Nigeria would prefer to se a high rate of technological transfer from US to Nigeria, which if managed properly will lead to a decrease in Nigerian import bill. Issues such as improved security and minimization of corruption, ideally will be welcomed by both countries because of the positive economic and social benefits to both nations.”
He said, irrespective of which party emerges as the winner or loser, the elected President/Congress would shape their socio-economic, political, and other policies to best support their socio-economic welfare, global leadership, “and other strategic interest; and, so should Nigeria.”
Trump’s immigration policy in the last four years will also be put to test, as Americans file out to pick their president. United States Immigration experts, yesterday, told The Guardian that foreign policy came to be elevated into the top three major issues in this year’s election because of President’s stance on the matter.
His immigration policy has focused on increased border security, ending the diversity visa lottery and restrictions on family-based immigration, all of which are key interest of African citizens.
Joe Cimperman of the Global Claveland, an Ohio-based immigration agency, said the president was unsuccessfully “trying to turn back the hand of time as America gets browner and blacker.” He said there would be zero visitors in the United States and businesses could be cut off if Trump is re-elected today.
Responding to questions on how U.S.’ withdrawal from the World Health Organisation (WHO) and its non-committal disposition to the United Nations and the International Criminal Court (ICC) would affect Americans and its relations with other countries, Cimperman said that “ American exceptionalism is an absolute hypocrisy.”
Jenikka Gonzales, also of Claveland, decried what she referred to as “rising xenophobia within our communities.”
For Elizabeth Cusman, “We cannot live in today’s age without the ability to check power. We have not had war in over 50 years because of the United Nations and the ICC. It saves the world from being self-destruct.”
As was the case in 2016, President Trump will be drawing down on Election-day miracle to thin out Joe Biden’s lead in nationwide early and mail-in votes.
Close to 70 percent (90 million plus) of the estimated 158 million eligible voters that are expected to participate in the election have already cast their ballots in an unprecedented large voter turnout.
Statistics from early and mail-in votes in states that can statutorily open mail ballots before Election Day show that more than 90 million Americans have already voted, with much more Democrats and non-affiliated voters putting up strong showing.
Trump’s Republicans are still keeping hope alive, but will have to depend on a dramatic turnout of Republicans and supportive independents to vote for the president on Election Day. With the massive turnout in the last two weeks, less than 20 percent of voters are left as voters in today’s conclusive voting after weeks of continuous balloting.
MEANWHILE, Trump and Biden, until yesterday, held feverish campaign rallies only in swing states in efforts that targeted Electoral College victory.
Political analysts this year identified Arizona, Florida, Iowa, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Georgia, Michigan, Ohio, Texas, Wisconsin and North Carolina as swing states. The campaign trains of Trump and Biden actually spent the most advertisement dollars and paid the most attention to these 12 states in their last-minute campaigns.
“I hope Trump is not making a lot of mistake by drawing down on Election Day. COVID is raging and I wonder how many people would like to come out on Tuesday. I wish him good luck,” said Steve McPhee, the Vice Chairman of the Northeast Ohio Sierra Club, Columbus, in a chat with The Guardian.
The earliest polls can only open in all 50 states at 6.30 am local time, and will close at 7pm (local time) in respective states, given that there are four different time zones in the United States. Considering the huge number of voters that used the mail ballot option, many states, including New York, will have a lot of mail-in votes to count on Election Day and are expected to start projecting their results from 9pm Eastern Standard Time. Non-competitive states, like blue state of New York and red state of Alabama, will be able to project results earlier than competitive states where there could be marginal lead that could compel vote recounts.
Since the 2000 United States Presidential Election, red states and blue states have referred to states whose voters predominantly choose either the Republican Party (red) or Democratic Party (blue) presidential candidates.
“The Sheer volume of votes cast in this election is an issue, East-West Center’s Liz A. Dorn, the “Programme Coordinator of the ongoing 2020 U.S Presidential Election Reporting Seminar at the East-West Center, in which The Guardian is a participant, told a group of international journalists in a virtual session.
“Many people are voting by mail. A number of us voted by mail, Senior citizen Tony Fransetta, a Florida-based retiree, told The Guardian. Fransetta explained that aged voters are naturally worried about going out on Election Day for fear of contracting the coronavirus. “The older the retiree is, the more that the concern would be COVID-19. They do not want to go out.”
No Republican candidate in U.S. presidential election has ever won the election without the majority votes from senior (retired) citizens. Fransetta said the union in Florida would be voting the Democratic Party because of Trump’s attitude and poor response to COVID-19 pandemic.