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Living in cloud-cuckoo land

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American president-elect Donald Trump  / AFP PHOTO / Mandel NGAN

American president-elect Donald Trump / AFP PHOTO / Mandel NGAN

“Qu’ils mangnent de la brioche,” (“Let them eat cake”) is a phrase famously associated with Marie-Antoinette (1755-93), the Queen Consort of Louis XVI of France. The remark was Her Royal Majesty’s instinctive response when she was informed that the French populace was protesting because of lack of bread, (bread interpreted to mean food). The import of that remark speaks eloquently of how typically disconnected a self-indulgent leadership gets from the populace. Taken to extremes, that disconnectedness usually ends up in social revolutions, such as the French Revolution in 1789, the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917, and the Iranian Revolution in 1979.

The just-concluded 2016 presidential election in the United States of America presented yet another occasion to witness a variant of such revolutions. Whilst leading figures of the U.S. establishment deluded themselves that the Johnny-come-lately Republican candidate, Donald Trump, was “uniquely unqualified” to be elected, the U.S. electorate, most of who have since felt betrayed by the establishment, had a different idea. In the end, the “unelectable candidate” won by a stunning collegiate margin; dramatically changing the electorate college map of the world’s most powerful democratic nation. As opinionated as ever, outgoing President Barack Obama of the Democratic Party, had been so out-of-touch with the common folk of his country that he openly boasted that the Republican candidate will never be president of the U.S. Leading U.S. academics consistently pontificated on the impossibility of a President Donald Trump in the White House.

But today the world is the wiser; Donald Trump is now U.S. president-elect, though emerging evidence suggests that some segments of the U.S. establishment have yet to come to terms with that reality. These have called for a recount of votes in the three swing states of Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania. Even the Democratic Party candidate, Hillary Clinton, who had issued a belated concession speech, had also added her voice to the recount call. (This is vintage Hillary Clinton; she changes her public opinion on issues in tune with the weather cock). In her perception of reality, the former First Lady, who from early age showed an uncommon fascination for political power, could well pass as a 21st century Queen Marie-Antoinette. Otherwise, Hilary Clinton ought to have sensed that while the U.S. establishment forcefully presented her as the most qualified candidate to run for the office of president, she was indeed the least qualified candidate to seek the office; what with her unending integrity problems and her demonstrated incompetence as Secretary of State.

Apparently, this fact was not lost on her and her promoters. The entire process leading to the U.S. 2016 presidential election, from the Democratic Party primary election to the presidential debates, were uncharacteristically compromised (read rigged) in her favour. On account of this, the Democratic Party chair had to undergo unprecedented multiple musical chairs in the course of the 2016 election; yet the principal component of the infractions remained. Republican President Richard Nixon’s fall from “the top of a mountain to its valley” on account of integrity issues ought to have warned the Democrats of the U.S. electorate’s zero-tolerance for a dishonest occupant, or a dishonest aspiring occupant of the White House.

I didn’t think Hillary Clinton could win the election in the aforesaid circumstances, and my related article in this newspaper, entitled “Donald Trump: the road of political correctness,” made the point that the “unorthodox candidate” was much more in tune with contemporary realities – the reason his message resonated with the electorate in spite of himself. But the upper echelon of the U.S. political class completely failed to see the unfurling reality in their country. While the U.S. establishment luxuriated in cloud-cuckoo land, a shrewd political upstart (evidently a good student of history) carefully studied his country’s political barometer. And when the parameters were right he confidently stepped forward to be counted. The Trump victory is an affirmation that the psychological makeup of the world’s leadership class, in relation to the populace, hasn’t changed much since Marie-Antoinette. Evidently, the populace is increasingly growing intolerant of the leadership class.

Recent political developments in Britain, France, Nigeria and elsewhere provide yet evidence of this so-called “rising populism” phenomenon. Yes, even in Nigeria. Only last year (2015) Nigeria’s northern electorate overwhelmingly rejected an incumbent southern presidential candidate in preference of one its own. The northern candidate won the election. Barely 18 months following the inauguration of the new president self-same electorate now reportedly yearns for the return of the ousted president??? According to media reports, former President Goodluck Jonathan was in the heart of Caliphate, Sokoto, to commiserate with the family of the late Sultan, Alhaji Ibrahim Dasuki, father of the embattled ex-National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd), but placard-carrying youths used the platform to make a telling political statement: Goodluck Ebele Azikiwe Mainasarawa Jonathan should return to Aso Rock as president to solve the myriad of economic problems plaguing Nigeria.
Nkemdiche is engineering consultant, wrote from Abuja.

The All Progressives Congress (APC) Federal Government is certainly misleading Nigeria’s political barometer. APC’s anti-corruption electioneering campaign thrust might have been significant in its 2015 victory, but it would amount to living in loud cloud-cuckoo land to imagine that Nigeria’s economically challenged populace will remain enamoured of the new government, so long as the latter is seen to be combating corruption. Therefore, it is plausible to regard the youth protest in Sokoto as an isolated incident because of the Dasuki/Jonathan factor, but this will be foolhardy.

The Nigerian populace is bitterly complaining of severe economic hardship across the land. Worse still, there isn’t any inkling of how and when the hardship will ease. Countless articles have been written, as more articles continue to be written questioning the seeming economic policy thrust of the Buhari administration. That question cannot be swept under the carpet, neither would ceremonious economic retreats becloud the urgency of the economic challenges now confronting the nation. The political hazards of living in cloud-cuckoo land in times like this cannot be over-emphasised.
Nkemdiche is engineering consultant, wrote from Abuja.


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