By Dele Momodu
“The pride of man will be humbled
And the loftiness of men will be abased;
And the Lord alone will be exalted in that day…” – Isaiah 2: 17-18
“Everyone who is arrogant in heart is an abomination to the Lord; be assured, he will not go unpunished…” – Proverbs 16: 5
Fellow Nigerians, please permit me to take you on a virtual flight to the United States of America. In this era of virtual meetings, parties and even dates by Skype, Google Hangout, BlueJeans, Zoom and the like, we might as well travel virtually too. That is why I have decided to travel to far flung America today. My reason for this journey is simple. It is about the American President, Donald Trump and his many flights of fancy, leading to his bizarre and incompetent handling of the corona virus pandemic, not only as regards America but with impact on the rest of the world.
Let me say, unapologetically, that I’m not a fan of President Donald Trump. Not that I hate him, particularly, I’m after all not an American, but I don’t fancy his haughtiness, standoffishness and erratic behaviour. The President of America is expected to be a role model. But Trump isn’t any kind of model by any stretch of the imagination. He is expected to be knowledgeable. But Trump and knowledge are not the best of buddies. He should be compassionate in the true tradition of God’s own country, but Trump is the exact opposite. The President of America is meant to be an epitome of capacity, brimming with confidence, competence and ability. Instead, Trump presents as almost your village head bungling, bumbling, and bumpkin. Trump is a compulsive, impulsive and reckless bully. He just loves to fight. For him, nothing is too small to fight over. However, like all Bullies he at heart a coward. He cannot face or stand tall to those he knows are his match or better. That is why, despite the age-old rivalry between America and Russia, Trump is still ingratiating himself and cozying up to Vladimir Putin, the Russian President. It is why in spite of his irascible bluster he cannot stand beside ‘midget’ Kim of North Korea. He babbles about how he is going to destroy Kim and obliobliterate NoNorth Korea out of world map, but when faced with moments of truth, he ducks out of any challenge, but makes cooing noises like a terrified pooch. I believe that his attitude and problems stem from the fact that all his life, he’s been used to ordering people around, like zombies.
I do not know what Americans saw in this highly contemptuous and condescending man that they voted for him as much as they did, even though I recognise that he did not win by popular vote, but by reason of America’s arcane Electoral College system. By voting in Trump in this manner, the Americans unwittingly and, thus, inadvertently invited pestilence and peril on the rest of the world. However, I do not really blame the Americans who voted with their toes, instead of their heads and thumbs. The one thing the Americans who voted for him did was to show us that they were not as clever or as intelligent as they professed to be. Given that they truly live in a country where their votes count, the place they call ‘God’s own country’ surely showed that it is not God, but Mammon that holds sway.
Whilst I do not blame the Americans because they only proved that a country gets the leaders it deserves, and they sure did because they are clearly a country of bigots and hypocrites, I blame the Nigerians who claim to love Trump to the point of acting like strangers who weep louder than the bereaved. “Donald Trump is America’s best President ever…” they write on social media without qualms. Such profanities litter everywhere. And when you ask the reasons for such hocus pocus, they will tell you “he is a no-nonsense guy…” when he is the embodiment of crudeness, crassness and a source of intellectual angst. Trump is a pitiable man who lacks decorum and spews garbage and insults on whosoever crosses his path, no matter how weak or vulnerable such a person is. Every mortal has his weakness, but it should never outweigh your usefulness.
Let me say emphatically that Trump has not only debased America, he has greatly diminished its standing in the comity of nations. America today is living in past glory, courtesy of the cantankerous Trump. About four years ago, rambunctious Trump boasted at every campaign rally that he would build walls against Mexico. He was so incensed against Mexico that his everyday attack on that country became a national anthem. Four years after, Mr Trump is yet to even purchase the sand for the foundation of his most ambitious project. The rampaging Mexicans have given him little respite either. They are prepared to cross the border in droves and continually find a way of outsmarting and thwarting the Feds and all those in charge of the Mexican Border in the Customs and Border Protection arm of the Department of Homeland Security. According to the Yoruba, a baby who says his mother will not sleep should also be prepared for a bout of insomnia.
I do not mind if Trump’s base of mostly uneducated and uncultured fellow American extremists scream their heads off, but I worry and shudder when I see otherwise brilliant and intelligent people join in this inexplicable misadventure. I still count Nigerians as being in this select group of nationalities that display cerebral and reasonable qualities. However, there are some of us that joined the Trump bandwagon probably because they believe it is fashionable to do so and, in some cases, out of an ill-conceived and misjudged sense of belonging. In this latter category and, the worst amongst them, are those who call themselves pious or devout Christians of the Pentecostal faith. Their reasons are laughable. They tell you Trump is a devout Christian while Barack Obama was a devil incarnate, an American of Moslem origin who had never forgotten his Islamic roots and who had the sole aim of trying to impose the Moslem faith on Christian America, but who Trump stopped dead in his tracks. They were also bitter with Obama because they considered him a poor example of an African American who wilfully refused to help his own people. They always assume that America is like Nigeria, where a President can practise all kinds of ethnic jingoism and political ethnic cleansing and literally do anything and everything bad, knowing that he could sit ensconced in his citadel of power without a whimper of protest from his cowed (no pun intended) citizens. In Nigeria, the President is indeed the Alpha and Omega. “Apase wa” – the man who commands at will – as the Yoruba call him.
I’m a good Christian. I was even born in a Church for good measure. I love the Church. I read the Bible so much, in my childhood days that the pages are literally burnt into my head. I had no choice really. My Mother considered it blasphemy and heresy for her son to be anything but a religious fanatic. I assume that you will say that given this background I was fortunate enough to have a Bible Knowledge teacher as a brother-in-law. Baba BK, the late Pa Stephen Adeniran, now of blessed memory, ensured that any latent deficiencies I had in Bible knowledge was pummelled into my head and body, God rest his soul. In short there was no reason for me to be a Bible basher. God is good though and I always thank the Lord because while he gave me the faith, he did not give me the stupid faith. How then can I not appreciate our Lord and the miracles he has wrought in my life and that of many others including Americans and Nigerians alike.
I have gone into a little spiel about my Christian background to demonstrate that I am not a heretic or agnostic. I truly know and believe in God. However, I do not know what version of Biblical verses people read these days or if they read it upside down. My confused and lost Christian brothers and sisters base part of their belief and trust in what they claim are his efforts to restore America back to its Christian foundations. They rely on his elevation of the celebration of Christmas to its former glory. They forget that in one sense, Donald Trump is a reality show king and from that pillar became a consummate politician. He easily and readily identifies those that are gullible and vulnerable and preys on their fears. Trump recognised the pervasive fear of terrorism in America and used it to cajole his people to follow him to root out this evil. He chose extremist Christian demagogues who wished to become relevant in the scheme of things and used them to rally his hoodwinked victims to believe that he was the anointed man of the Messiah.
Furthermore, if we read the same Bible, they would have known, very clearly, that egotism and arrogance have no place in Christendom. For example, Trump not only insulted Mexico endlessly, he railed against China so rabidly and is still doing so because he needs a fall guy for his huge domestic failings arising from his ineptitude and incompetence in dealing with the corona virus pandemic at home in America. But I believe Trump was just being deliberately bullish and hoping that China would fall for his hanky-panky. Similarly, Trump had propromised all out war on North Korea. Rather, he childishly invited its leader on a fancy trip, all gas and no substance.
It is his handling of the Corona Virus pandemic at home and on the international front that has finally shown Trump for what he is. A failed caricature of a statesman and human being. Having failed colossally, he seeks to bring down the world with him. His much-vaunted economic magic has suddenly crumbled before his very eyes and become a huge mirage. He now seeks to risk the lives of many in order to kick-start the economy and hopefully shore it up until the elections by ending the lockdown.
His pledge to make America great again has blown up spectacularly in his face as the Chinese have apparently gained the upper hand during this pandemic. They have become the country to turn to as even Trump has had to eat humble pie and with his tail between his legs turned to the Chinese for some assistance.
Having failed with his incessant attacks on the Chinese, Trump has trained his sights on the World Health Organisation (WHO) blaming them for pandering to China and being too Chinacentric. The WHO has been the organisation that has tried to make sense to this pandemic and bring order to the international response. Instead, Trump behaving like a child deprived of his toy or lolly suddenly began throwing tantrums, and unlawfully cut off the funding of that stellar organisation. The whole world including his fellow Americans are in uproar, but his fanatical base can see no wrong in their god with feet of clay!
I forgot, I could have titled this piece: HOW DONALD TRUMP SOLD AMERICA CHEAPLY TO CHINA…
ABBA KYARI PASSES ON
Just as we were going to bed with the publication of this Column the Presidency broke the news this morning, through the Chief Presidential spokesman, Femi Adesina, that the shrewd, indefatigable, indomitable, quintessential and larger than life Chief of Staff to the President, Mallam Abba Kyari has died of COVID-19 complications.
Abba Kyari was everything to everyone, but what is incontrovertible is that he had the ears of the President and was indeed his primero uno adviser and, lately, de facto deputy. He ran a tight ship at the Presidency. He will surely be sorely missed by those for whom he was a benefactor and torch bearer. There is no doubt that Mallam Abba Kyari stamped his authority and influence on governance in Nigeria. How he will be judged is a matter of history. It is my hope and wish, that now that he has gone, history will be kind to him.
For now, I am still in shock. All I can do is sincerely say rest in peace Mallam Abba Kyari. May Allah grant you Aljannah Firdaus.