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February 24, 2017

Trump’s inauguration – Lessons for Nigeria

On January 20, Nigerians and the rest of the world watched admirably as the USA swore in her 45th President Donald J. Trump, in a colourful ceremony marked with precision. It was America setting the pace yet again as world leader, and leaving a trail of lessons for us to learn.

The inauguration ceremony was devoid of the controversy that dogged the elections because the parties have visibly closed ranks in the interest of America. They have buried their differences and joined hands to welcome their new head of government, in an all-American way. There were no gaffes, superfluity, hustling, power cuts, equipment malfunction, tardiness, egotism, foolish jesting or misplaced priority.

As some Nigerians observed jokingly, no one was seen  carrying another person’s handbag or briefcase, or singing praises behind them while they made their way to their seat. There were no such excesses or flamboyance. Yet everything was completely beautiful. There was massive security yet no one paraded guns around to frighten or intimidate, while trying to protect a governor, sultan, chief, senator or Imam. No sirens were used to announce anyone’s arrival and no one was shoving people around to clear the way for any dignitary. It was precision all the way.

Guests found their way to the sitting areas without difficulty. Even when the rains came, no one was seen running up  and down like a headless chicken, disrupting the ceremony in order to shield any dignitary from the rain. We all saw and celebrated not an individual, state or community, but America and the American dream.  No time was wasted on frivolities – time is money so every minute was made to count. Obviously, there were things Nigeria could take home from the ceremony, simple lessons it can learn.

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Nigeria must learn that planning, protocol and execution are important to any event and do not happen by chance. Time must be devoted to them to make them happen. Nigerians should also observe that America showcased certain values at the ceremony, but most importantly its faith and freedom.  It is sometimes said that America has lost its way spiritually, but America proved its critics wrong at the ceremony by giving God his place. With four powerful prayers and supplication for its new government, America validated its claim that it is God’s own country and ‘in God we trust’.

When President Trump gave his address, which is an articulation of his campaign promises, he made no light of his nationalistic agenda. Analysts say it was the most radical speech ever by any president during a swearing in ceremony. Trump swore to confront radical Islam, bring back America’s jobs sent overseas, “rebuild” America, protect its citizens and make the communities safe again. Trump made it clear that the order is America first and everyone else after. Nigerians should ask themselves – how far the nation’s interest plays a part in what our leaders do

Do we have leaders who say like Trump:  “I will fight for you with every breath in my body — and I will never, ever let you down?” Earlier in his speech, President Trump told Americans, “What truly matters is not which party controls our government, but whether our government is controlled by the people.

This is what Nigerians long to hear from their leaders. The moment Nigerian leaders realise that government should belong to the people and not to an individual, zone, region or family, Nigeria will be on a recovery path.

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Although Donald J Trump is yet to unfold his entire package, his passion for America is unmistakeable, so is his determination to make it, as he put it, great again. In the first week, Trump seems to be on the fast lane to get things happen. We hope Nigerian Leaders were listening.



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