I’m as guilty as the next person of spurting out, “only in Nigeria” when the absurd happens but maybe it’s time we all think again. No one should ever underestimate how much damage one unscrupulous and unhinged man can do to a country. Over 74 million Americans voted for Donald Trump in his bid for a second term; the highest ever by any contestant for the US Presidency, bar the winner of the recent election, Joe Biden. To put this into better perspective, that’s 10m votes more than Obama ever got Now, that’s saying something and it’s saying it very loudly too!
In Nigerian parlance, “one chance” is used to describe an unfortunate situation where a hapless individual falls victim to deception. It’s origin can be traced to one of the many tricks armed robbers use to lure their victims particularly in Lagos, the densely populated commercial capital of Nigeria. Despite the introduction of decent looking BRT buses by the Lagos State government in their effort to revamp the public transport sector, most Lagosians find themselves with little choice but to patronize the more readily available, privately owned yellow “Danfo” buses. These rickety contraptions which from time immemorial represent an integral part of the mega city’s landscape and are more often than not, driven by individuals high on one substance or the other, provide some sort of succour to the majority of the state’s twenty three million populace. Taking advantage of this transport deficit, the armed robbers after having commandeered a Danfo bus will disguise as it’s operators. As the vehicle arrives at a bus stop, the “conductor” would shout “one chance” to waiting passengers to alert them that there’s still one empty seat in the bus and this would typically lead to a frantic race, sometimes leading to fisticuffs to enter the bus first. Unknown to this “lucky” passenger, the driver, the conductor and several of the “passengers” in the bus are actually armed robbers. So in a rush to secure a good thing, he enters “one chance” and is suddenly done for. Is this how the majority of Americans felt after voting for Donald Trump in 2016? I’m guessing so.
My prayer is that when people read my articles some will see something of themselves – whether that be their old or their current self – or at least a characteristic they recognize in others. I pray a few will recognize behaviour that makes them cringe because it hits so close to home; you know those instances when you read or watch something which appears to be specifically and “openly” directed at you and blushing from embarrassment, you quickly look around to see if anyone was watching – as if the whole world knows you’re the one being rebuked. I pray some readers will identify deviant conduct they’re still guilty of and see it now for what it really is, ugliness. I pray many of my readers will recognize behaviour they have left behind and will find joy and satisfaction in knowing they’re no longer among such a category of people. I pray the eyes of a segment of my readership will finally open to the fact that, “this country is bad, this country is bad” that they’re so quick to say is in many ways because of them and not in spite of them. I pray they come to the realization that their behaviour which they don’t see as a big deal in the grand scheme of things, actually plays a part, no matter how small, in the rot that is our society today. Bad behaviour is not a Nigerian or an African thing, it’s a human thing and sometimes, all that’s needed is an authority figure whose demeanour “confirms” your actions are okay. Those who for 4 years found a role model in uncle Donald and saw no wrong in anything he did, did not miraculously come into existence when he ascended the Presidency in January 2017, as that might explain their sudden emergence in the American society over the last few years. They have always been there. People who don’t give a hoot about honesty and integrity but who yearn to be able to do whatever it is that they want to do, when they want to do it, without the inconveniences of accountability, have always been around us. Uncle Donald has just simply “activated” them. Uncle Donald was the cue they had always been waiting for. So, let’s not allow anyone deceive us, it’s not a Nigerian thing. No country or continent holds a monopoly of mad men, all have their fair share. The last four years or so have indeed been an eye opener, as we listened to Republican Senators and Congressmen defend the indefensible. Fearing backlash from core Trump supporters who they knew would almost certainly put an end to their own political ambitions, the “bold” among them rabidly supported the President’s excesses while the timid and perhaps a little more conscientious, simply looked the other way. It was clear. Personal ambition took precedence over national interest. So they’re not so different to us after all.
Uncle Donald’s preference for alternative facts, his apparent racist leanings, and his distasteful haste to always disparage anyone who holds an opposing view, seems to resonate with a significant number of Americans who up till now were not courageous enough to freely express that side of themselves. Uncle Donald hasn’t just given them the opportunity to do this now but he has also did all he could to assure them that they were right to be this way all along. All this will certainly have consequences for the American society going forward because people with such attitudes are not going anywhere anytime soon. I envisage that the US will have to live with this fallout of muddied values and the desecration of national ideals for a long time to come. Trump may have finally left the saddle but “Trumpism”, the political philosophy which preaches division, deliberately attacks established democratic institutions, upends corporate values and shamelessly prescribes you do anything to win, isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Refusal to accept defeat even when one loses fair and square and the resort to pull the whole house down to ensure you get the last laugh when all else fails, is an attitude likely to lurk around the American society for the foreseeable future.
I can picture it now; the palpable excitement and warped sense of victory that must have engulfed seasoned despots across the globe, as they watched the January 6 show of shame in the US; the invasion of Capitol Hill. I can imagine these dictators gleefully celebrating the new addition to their ranks, while they mock the democratic process that produced him in the first place. America, a land hailed the world’s leading democracy. The moral mayhem this man has unleashed upon his nation is like a Pandora’s box that should forever have remained unopened. Many Americans will be ruing the day they voted for him. Will they ever be able to close this Pandora’s box? Only time will tell. Like anything that corrupts, once it bolts, it becomes almost impossible to reel back in. Character really says it all. Uncle Donald may not be my favourite person in the world but even if for nothing else, I must thank him for the many valuable life lessons he taught us all.
Changing the nation…one mind at a time.
Dapo Akande, a Businessday weekly columnist is a University of Surrey (UK) graduate with a Masters in Professional Ethics. An alumnus of the Institute for National Transformation; certificate holder in Leadership Through Emotional Intelligence from Case Western Reserve College, USA and author of two books, The Last Flight and Shifting Anchors. Both books are used as course material in Babcock University’s Literature department. Dapo is a public speaker, a content creator and a highly sought after ghostwriter.
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