“Democracy is in danger!”
If you’ve been a keen observer of Nigerian politics since 2015, chances are high that you must have heard such alarm from the camp of the opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP) at the peak of elections (off-season most times) in many states or as a reaction to government’s clampdown on protesters.
These cries are usually contained in media releases where the United States, United Kingdom, European Union (all believed to be beacons of democracy) and the United Nations, are tagged to note that key tenets of democracy such as credible elections, free press and speech, were being threatened in the country. True to this, several threats of travel ban by these countries to Nigerian political actors who may attempt to rig elections or frustrate any aspect of the peaceful transition process have in no small way, become huge deterrence for ‘the strong men’ in conducting themsleves wrongly during the exercise.
How ironic can it then be that the globally acclaimed bastion of democracy, United States of America would become a laughing stock among the comity of nations (third world countries especially) over what should be a stress-free democratic transition.
There is no iota of doubt that; should former President Goodluck Jonathan, have attempted to reject the outcome of the 2015 Nigerian Presidential elections, the U.S. would have been one of the first and major countries to publicly call him to order or mobilise towards ousting him from office. For a President of the United States to not only reject the outcome of a 21st century Presidential election but go ahead to conduct himself in ways that suggest he would do all to remain in power is a pitiable dismal bismal – as the prominent Patrick Obahiagbon would say.
Having lost out at the polls in November and a number of post-election suits; January 6 became the most anticipated date in recent American history for President Trump to overturn his loss to former Vice President, Joe Biden, as Congress meets in a joint session to recognise the results.
Before anyone could say Jack Robinson (or Bauer if you wish), clips and images of violent rioters storming the U.S. Capitol took over the internet and international media. The world was stunned to see Democracy truly in Danger – courtesy of a pro-Trump mob who breached police barricades at one of the country’s most iconic buildings and sought to force Congress to undo President Donald Trump’s election loss.
The lawmakers including Vice President Mike Pence were forced to evacuate as Trump supporters stormed the building, making their way into the Senate Chamber. Reports indicate that four people died from the incidence — including one woman who was shot. Politicians and world leaders have strongly condemned the violence, urging respect for America’s democratic processes and a peaceful transfer of power.
As far as the word ‘saner climes’ is concerned, the United States is naturally the go-to example for developing and democratic countries. With the developments of the last few weeks however, there have been calls by some Nigerians and their allies to re-evaluate such claims. Although latest updates show that the situation has been brought under control and the constitutional processes are being upheld, it still be troubling to note:
How did the United States arrive at a point where ‘coup plotters (as CNN described them)’ make an unprecedented attempt to force their will on over 300 million Americans?
Will the Nigerian government now send a strong message to the U.S. to ‘behave themselves?‘
How would patriotic Americans feel to see the U.S. in the WhatsApp group of ‘shithole countries?’
Is Donald Trump not even another average African Leader in disguise?
The questions are endless but until we find answers, the memo reads: “Come and see, American wonder; Come and see, American wonders!”
Temidayo Taiwo-Sidiq is a Political Journalist, Analyst and Social Change Advocate with major interest in Nigerian Politics, Governance and Sports.