Opinion: Obama and the Republicans, Jonathan and the North

by Ekerete Udoh


Now, fast forward to Nigeria-the question becomes: is the north giving President Jonathan the Republican treatment?

I was at a popular Nigerian hangout spot the other day in Brooklyn, New York and as usual, the issue that was discussed centered on the 2015 presidential elections, the realignment that is taking place in the polity, the zero-sum machinations at play and the war-like metaphors that are being employed by the contending interests and the tendency for those machinations to spiral out of control, thus jeopardizing the corporate  integrity of the nation itself.
Someone made a very interesting observation which today forms the basis of this column. The gentleman- an attorney who practices in Downtown Brooklyn had likened what is going on today in Nigeria-especially the fratricidal war currently ravaging the ruling party-PDP to the same zero-sum tendencies employed by the Republicans to stymie Obama’s administration capacity and ability to change the texture of governance form strict individualism of the last Republicans administration of George W. Bush to a governance philosophy embedded in the Democratic Platform which believes that  the little man should be rescued and protected from the rampaging forces of capitalism and rugged individualism and that government has a scared obligation to help create a level playing field so that the gulf of income disparity could and should not be too wide enough to engender social tension and dislocation.

The Republicans apart from harking unto their ideological platform, seems to be motivated by another impulse- the impulse of racism and intolerance. Even though no one has come out to say the reason Obama has been blocked from carrying out most of his campaign promises is based on WHO he is and NOT what he proposes to do, those who have read between the lines have since concluded that racism is the central issues at play.

The Republican Party has always seen and regarded itself as the elder brother of the two party system in America. They have always prided itself as being the custodians of the founding principles of America and that conserving those principle is a task that all must be sworn to upholding. In the management of the economy, they have always hearkened back to the Hamiltonian concept of using the mercantilist class as the engine of economic growth- they resent anything remotely resembling government’s regulation. If someone had a patent right to a product that would help lift the generality of the people to a more secure economic or cultural platform, such an inventor should be allowed to monopolize the market and attache prices for its products no matter how outrageous, because he had used his God’s given talents to develop such a product.

To the Republicans, the Constitution of the United States should be strictly interpreted according to the way and manner the founding fathers had envisioned it. Even though society has since evolved from the days of the founding fathers, Republicans can’t stand those Democrats who view the constitution as a living document given to changes and evolution. They pejoratively call those who hold that view judicial activists. In matters of defense they see and regard the Democrats as being  weak on national security because they fail to recognize the awesome power of American power and its creed of exceptionalism.

While they were respectful of the office of the presidency when other white Democrats held the office, they have been completely unhinged in the manner they have treated Obama. A large swath of the Republican constituency especially those who get their information from the talk radio circuit do not believe Obama is a legitimate president. They have called him such names as ‘the alien in the White House” a man who once “pallied around with terrorists” a man who fundamentally do not  understand how America works, someone who is too ‘other’ and is determined to turn America into a third world country like the ” country of his birth’-Kenya. To some of these elements the title “president” should never be attached to Obama, he is simply to be called ‘Obama’ and the age-long tradition of calling presidents, after their administration-like the Bush administration, Reagan administration is not to be accorded Obama, to them Obama is not running an administration, but a ‘regime’. Elected members from the Republican Party both in the Congress and the Senate have openly disrespected the president with a Congressman from North Carolina- four years ago openly calling the president a liar at the State of the Union Address.

Every achievements that the Obama administration has achieved has been dismissed as inconsequential, even though President Obama has killed more terrorists and helped decimate terrorists all over the world far more than George . W Bush did in his eight years in the White House, even though Obama succeeded in passing the Affordable Care Act that presidents from Theodore Roosevelt had tried since 1904 to pass, even though Obama has beaten down the unemployment that was going out of control due to the recklessness laiser-faire policies of the Bush administration , even though the stock exchange has been bearish in most of the Obama years, the Republicans have continued to define him as a bad manager of economy.

Most of these resentments are based on the optics than in substance. The main base of the Republican Party is the white population. Within this demographics are some who even though America has recorded huge successes in race relations have refused to change their mindsets. They still regard America as  essentially being a white society with the white given the eternal right to rule and dominate the space. Even though there is a browning of America  currently going on, and which may completely turn the country from a majority white to a majority brown in the next 50 years, these elements have refused to buy into these rainbow of colors about America.

To them, the very notion of having a black man with an exotic name in their ‘own White House’ is nothing but a great affront, hence their campaign battle cry and slogan of 2011 which was slyly  termed’ Taking back the White House” as if someone had stolen the house while they were away. Of course the subliminal message was not lost on  dispassionate Americans-Obama had taken over their house and he must be disgraced, chased out and a strong statement made so that others of his ilk may never attempt to run for president again. Thank God their plans did not succeed.

In spite of the insults and disrespect, Obama won a decisive second term and is working to redefine America both in domestic and foreign policies, and to build a more inclusive society.

Now, fast forward to Nigeria-the question becomes: is the north giving President Jonathan the Republican treatment? I will delve into this next week. Keep a date


Nigerian airspace, VIP activities and safety

Last Thursday, I was aboard the Aero flight that took off from Lagos at 2:05 to Abuja and we had such a lovely flight until close to landing when the captain informed us that due to a “VIP Activity” they have been  asked to hold midair until the VIP activity was over. For the next almost 25 minutes, we hovered midair, waiting for the VIP to either land or take-off so that the ‘unwashed; the flotsam and the jetsam would have no contact with the potentates.

As passengers hurled insults and frustrations at the VIP in question, I couldn’t help but wonder why such  a callous and shocking policy should have a place in today’s Nigeria. Why should the safety of one individual be more valuable than  the lives of over a hundred passengers, some of whom like Kalu Nwankwo who was on the flight that have given their all for this country. I have traveled all over the world, and especially in the United States and have seen many VIPs at airports handle their luggage themselves, and the airport was not closed to traffic because such a VIP was about to take off. Obama goes to every party of America and  in New York, JFK airport has never been closed to traffic because Obama was visiting New York. Mayor Bloomberg, who runs the largest city in the united States-New York whose size of economy is bigger than most countries in Europe takes the Number 6 Train to work and I have seen him many times standing with just one aid, holding his own bag and refusing to take a seat when offered by a commuter, standing there like every other commuter. Why are we doing these kinds of things that make us a laughing stock to the world? Please this policy should be reversed. The lives of every Nigerian should count the same way as that of any VIP.


Read this article in the ThisDay Newspapers


Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.

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