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USAfrica: Why Donald Trump is leading and confusing Republicans. By Chidi Amuta

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Why Donald Trump is leading and confusing Republicans

By Dr. Chidi Amuta.                                                                                                                                           (Executive Editor of USAfrica & USAfricaonline.com since 1992, based in Lagos)

Special to USAfricaonline.com,  and USAfrica multimedia networks, Houston. Follow USAfrica at Facebook.com/USAfricaChido , Facebook.com/USAfrica247 and Twitter.com/Chido247

The egotistic real estate and leisure billionaire, Donald Trump, excites this reporter to no end. Hence, my ritual of summer vacation in America was somehow alleviated by one excitement: his emergence of as lead political actor. American politics and its accompanying theatre is to me what European major league soc

Chidi Amuta

Chidi Amuta

cer is to numerous urban Nigerians. Each time I turned on the television to any of the major American news and current affairs networks and saw Mr. Trump, I giggled to myself. My American friends and family could not understand why.

 

For one thing, Mr. Trump has enlivened what would ordinarily be a dull run up to the 2016 Republican presidential primaries. Somehow, the man has rekindled some interest in the Republican Party whose fortunes in recent times have been less than glorious.

Above all, the man is lending American politics a new language, which I consider a ‘revolutionary’ national service in a political culture where linguistic atrophy has become symptomatic of other declines.

Donald Trump is engaging in a rather entertaining but cavalier way. He is predictably unpredictable. Only Mr. Trump knows what he is going to say or do next on the political trail. He is allergic to the obsession with political correctness in Washington and says so by verbally assaulting the high priesthood of political Washington. He has accused the American leadership of being mostly ‘stupid’ hence the declining strength and power of his country.  He has questioned senator John McCain’s stature as a war hero: you do not become a war hero just because you were a prisoner of war! He respects President Obama’s office but is not hesitant to describe the man as ‘incompetent’.  He admires Hillary Clinton mostly because she did him the honour of attending his wedding in Florida. He dismisses fellow Republican presidential aspirant Jeb Bush as a ‘low energy’ person and has unprintable words about his elder brother, former President George W. Bush.  

Under pressure after excoriating Fox News panelist Megan Kelly following the first Republican presidential debate in Cleveland, he concedes that he respects women except TV personality Rosy O’Donnell with whom he has had a long running publicity battle.

Mr. Trump has his own iconoclastic views about nearly every pressing national issue in today’s America. To stem the tidal influx of illegal immigrants from Mexico, he will build a wall on the US-Mexico border and get the Mexican government to pay for it. He will respect whoever emerges as Republican front-runner but will not guarantee that he will not run as an independent except the party gives him the ticket. On the challenge of the rise of China as a rival super power or the trade imbalance with Japan, Mr. Trump reels off any number of his friends to whom he will outsource these major international engagements. No facts, no figures, no silly specifics and boring academic sounding plans. Just get the job done. And America seems to like his ‘can do’ approach which contrasts with the long talk and inertia in Washington. He wants to fix the nation by cleaning out the cronyism, boring ‘correctness’ and sometimes unthinking partisanship that holds Washington hostage. Ask him how he is going to fix America and he says: wait till I become president!

In spite of a pile up of the kinds of indiscretions that would ordinarily bury a normal politician, Mr. Trump has maintained a confounding comfortable lead in the polls. In the process, the Republican party is split and confused.  A good number of Republicans admire and support Mr. Trump’s bid as an act of rebellion against the lack of creativity in Washington. Others are simply bored, dismissing the rest of the pack in the line up of Republican presidential hopefuls as more of the same.

The danger here is that it is hard to convince Mr. Trump that he could possibly be wrong on any of the issues he addresses so casually. How do you convince a very wealthy man (he is worth over $10 billion and personally earns $400 million annually) that any of his views or strategies could be wrong when they have worked for him?

There have been timid noises of condemnation of Trump’s unconventional rhetoric. Few have disagreed with his iconoclastic perspectives on major national issues. But no one has had the courage to spiritedly and frontally condemn Trump. It turns out that in America as in my village, it is hard to disagree with a very rich man. When he wears rags, people say that is the new fashion. When he talks nonsense, many will say there is hidden wisdom in it. When he advances a foolish doctrine, many will say maybe that is what gave him all that wealth. If it has worked for him, why dare to question him when your own counter wisdom has condemned you to a life of penury?

His ideological traducers, especially the intellectual vanguards of the Republican conservative movement, are rattled by his rampaging pop star appeal. George F. Will, conservative and syndicated columnist of The Washington Post has described Mr. Trump as ‘a counterfeit Republican… and no conservative’ who should be shown the way out by the party.  Others, who may not be so eager to dismiss Trump, insist that he is a curious political phenomenon that needs to be watched closely. My friend, Fareed Zakariah, Time magazine columnist and CNN GPS host sees him as unique on account of his ability to confound both his followers and opponents without addressing key issues in any serious way.

For this reporter, the lure of American politics is its dramatic flourish and intellectual veneer. Even outright nonsense has a way of being ceded center stage. Political idiocy sometimes dominates prime time, gets endlessly rehashed, analysed, celebrated and sometimes expensively promoted in limitless media outlets. Mr. Trump takes himself seriously and so does a sizeable faction of Republicans, hence his lead in the polls.  His current rating is somewhere around 33.3 percent while his closest rival, Jeb Bush, is trailing at 12.4 percent. Mr. Trump’s lead becomes even more significant given the fact that his campaign has raised very little money, only a paltry $1.9 million against Mr. Jeb Bush whose super-pacs have raised in excess of $100 million. Mr. Trump’s popularity relies mostly on his personal media outings. His popularity escalates as his views become more controversial and even objectionable.

Some see Mr. Trump as essentially political entertainment. Of course Mr. Trump who hosts his own TV show, The Apprentice, savours entertainment and relishes his celebrity stature and the immense attention it brings. So, there is a sense in which the man is having a ball while his opponents are griping over his excesses. It reminds you of Mr. Ross Perot, the Texas millionaire with oversize ears who ran as an independent in the contest between George Bush snr. and Bill Clinton. It was Perot that denied Bush snr a second term in the White House while vicariously ushering in the Clinton era with its record economic benefits for America. It would appear that wealthy political gadflies have a superior vision, which their political opponents may not be equipped to grasp immediately. When M.K.O Abiola vied for the Nigerian presidency, he probably saw his long term significance ahead of the rest of us.  His entry into Nigerian politics redefined Nigerian democracy and re-drew the political map of the country. The voiding of his election (by the ruling military council) denied the military the honour of exiting the political stage in a blaze of glory. I would not know what Donald Trump has foreseen in the clear and present possibility of a Hillary Clinton presidency from 2016.

But Mr. Trump is first and foremost a very shrewd businessman. He takes his profit from the outset. He has already achieved a major victory: he is currently the issue among most Americans, both Republicans and Democrats. In addition, what happens to him and his political adventure will largely determine the outcome of the 2016 presidential election.

 

Mr. Trump may not clinch the Republican nomination. Even if he did, he is less likely to end up in the Oval Office in 2016 because of his inherent political liabilities and personal negatives. I doubt that he is himself too intent on a job that would condemn him to the boredom of flying to places he would rather not go to make speeches he does not necessarily believe in. But whether he gets the Republican ticket to challenge Hillary Clinton, the presumptive candidate of the Democratic Party, Mr. Trump has become a political factor. If his poll ratings remain as strong as they have been, he is on the way to emerging the Republican front-runner. If however the party shoots him down midstream, the possibility that he will run as an independent becomes real and imminent. That outcome may not get him into the White House but it will almost certainly deny the Republicans the key into the Oval Office. The votes lost to the Republicans will not necessarily go to the Democrats. They will merely degrade the chances of the Republicans and chaperon Hillary Clinton into the White House as the first American female president.

 

That outcome will be a personal victory for Mr. Trump. He will have stopped his fellow Republicans from the presidency because they ‘were not nice’ to him. He will however in the same breadth have ended up facilitating the emergence of Hillary Clinton. He will then enter the history books as the man who bloodied Republican politicians and assisted the Democrats in their bid to hang on to the Oval Office, an outcome into which the man can insert a nice business plan.

Instructively, the Times of London revealed about a fortnight ago that it was after a phone call seeking the counsel of ex-president Bill Clinton that Donald Trump decided to run. In Mr. Trump, then, I see a very brilliant and successful business mind engaged in a political project as long-term investment.

——————–

@Chido247 


Boko Haram: SkyNews London interview wt USAfrica Publisher Dr. Chido Nwangwu on BOKO HARAM vs BUHARI (Nigeria’s President inaugurated May 29, 2015). Interview on May 30 (Houston) May 31 (London) 2015

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VIDEO #CNN special #CHIBOK Girls n #BokoHaram Live intvw wt the Founder of USAfrica multimedia and public POLICY networks Chido Nwangwu. CNN anchors John Berman n Michaela Pereira.  

Mandela-n-Achebe-by-Chido-book-frontcover-Lrs and friendship HOLD lessons for humanity and Africans, USAfrica Founder Chido Nwangwu takes a measure of their works and CONSEQUENCE to write that Mandela and Achebe have left “footprints of greatness.”
He chronicles, movingly, his 1998 reporting from the Robben Island jail room in South Africa where Mandela was held for decades through his 20 years of being CLOSE to Achebe. He moderated the 2012 Achebe Colloquium at Brown UNIVERSITY in Providence, Rhode Island.“I’ll forever remember having walked inside and peeped through that HISTORIC Mandela jail cell (where he was held for most of his 27 years in unjust imprisonment) at the dreaded Robben Island, on March 27, 1998, alongside then Editor-in-chief of TIME magazine and later news chief EXECUTIVE of the CNN, Walter Isaacson (and others) when PRESIDENT BILL Clinton made his first official trip to South Africa and CAME to Robben Island. Come to this island of scourge and you will understand, in part, the simple greatness and towering grace of Nelson Mandela”, notes  Chido Nwangwu, award-winning writer, multimedia 
specialist and founder of USAfricaonline.com, the first African-owned U.S-based newspaper published on the INTERNET, in his first book; he writes movingly from his 1998 reporting from South Africa on Mandela. http://www.mandelaachebechido.com/

  Dr. Chido Nwangwu, moderator of the Achebe Colloquium (GOVERNANCESECURITY, and PEACE in Africa) December 7-8, 2012 at Brown UNIVERSITY in Rhode Island and former ADVISER on Africa business/issues to the Mayor of Houston, is the Founder & Publisher of Houston-based USAfrica multimedia networks since 1992, first African-owned, U.S-based newspaper published on the INTERNET USAfricaonline.com; CLASSmagazine, AchebeBooks.com, the USAfrica-powered e-groups of AfricanChristians, Nigeria360 and the largest pictorial events megasite on the African diaspora www.PhotoWorks.TV . He was recently profiled by the CNN International for his pioneering works on multimedia/news/public policy projects for Africans and Americans.   E-MAIL: Chido247@Gmail.com

 

Breaking news and special reports unit of USAfrica and USAfricaonline.com

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Gabon President Ali Bongo recovering from an undisclosed illness in Saudi Arabia

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Gabonese President Ali Bongo Ondimba is recovering from an undisclosed illness in Saudi Arabia and still performing his duties, according to a statement released on Sunday amid mounting speculation about his health.

The issue is a particularly sensitive one in the Central African nation. When Bongo’s father died in 2009 after more than four decades in power, Gabonese officials angrily denied French media reports of his death for almost a day, and shut down the internet in the country for several hours.

The statement said that Ali Bongo was suffering dizziness at his hotel in Riyad, Saudi Arabia on Oct. 24 when he sought medical care at King Faysal Hospital.

The information about the president’s health is “extremely reassuring” and the president “continues to perform his duties,” the presidency said.

The communique came amid a swirl of rumors over the president’s health back home in the Central African nation. Some media reports suggested that Bongo had suffered a stroke, though government spokesman Ike Ngouoni cautioned people about “fake news”.

“It would be in his interest entirely to make his presence. I think they’re not putting him in front of the cameras intentionally,” said Douglas A. Yates, a Paris-based Gabon expert.

One of the world’s largest producers of oil, Gabon’s wealth is far from evenly distributed. About a third of the population, estimated to be below 2 million people, live below the poverty line, according to the World Bank.

The elder Bongo, who ruled the oil-rich nation from 1967 until his 2009 death, was viewed by many as the father of the nation. His time in power, though, was dogged by allegations of corruption and the use of oil profits for personal luxuries, including properties in several European and American cities, and lavish trips abroad.

Ali Bongo won a special presidential election that was held a few months after his father’s death. The opposition claimed it was rigged.

In 2016, protesters took to the streets of the capital, Libreville, and the Parliament building was burned after Bongo’s opponent, Jean Ping, accused Bongo of vote-rigging. The European Union, the United States, and France also expressed concerns about some of the results. Gabon’s constitutional court later upheld Bongo’s victory. AP

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Nigerian army posts Trump video to justify shooting muslim Shiites

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Nigeria’s army (has) posted a video of US President Donald Trump saying soldiers would shoot migrants throwing stones to justify opening fire on a Shiite group (last) week.

In the video, Trump warns that soldiers deployed to the Mexican border could shoot Central American migrants who throw stones at them while attempting to cross illegally.

“We’re not going to put up with that. They want to throw rocks at our military, our military fights back,” said Trump in remarks made on Thursday.

“I told them (troops) consider it (a rock) a rifle. When they throw rocks like they did at the Mexican military and police, I say consider it a rifle.”

Nigeria’s defence spokesman John Agim told AFP that the army posted the video in response to criticism that its security forces had acted unlawfully.

The Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) said 49 of its members were killed after the army and police fired live bullets at crowds who marched near and in the capital Abuja. The army’s official death toll was six.

Amnesty International said Wednesday it had “strong evidence” that police and soldiers used automatic weapons against IMN members and killed about 45 people in an “unconscionable use of deadly force by soldiers and police”.

The United States embassy in Nigeria said Thursday it was “concerned” and called for an investigation.

“The video was posted in reaction to the Amnesty International report accusing the army of using weapons against pacifist Shiite protesters…. Not only did they use stones but they were carrying petrol bombs, machetes and knives, so yes, we consider them as being armed,” said Agim.

“We intervened only because the IMN members are trying to harm our people, they are always meeting us…at security check points and trying to provoke us, they even burned a police vehicle.”

Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy, is almost evenly split between a mostly Muslim north — which is predominantly Sunni — and a largely Christian south.

Experts have warned the government that a heavy-handed response to the group risks sparking conflict in a volatile region where poverty is widespread.

IMN leader Ibrahim Zakzaky has been in custody since 2015, when an army crackdown killed 300 of his supporters who were buried in mass graves, according to rights groups.

Zakzaky is facing a culpable homicide charge in connection with the 2015 violence. He remains in jail despite a court order granting him bail.

On Thursday, 120 of 400 IMN members arrested by police on Monday were  charged with “rioting, disturbance of public peace and causing hurt,” said a court official in Abuja on Friday.

According to court documents seen by AFP, the IMN members had been ordered to disperse but they “refused and started throwing stones at the police officers and other members of the public and thereby caused them bodily harm”.

All the suspects pleaded not guilty and were granted bail with the court hearing to resume on December 5.

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U.S calls on Nigeria to investigate killings of Shiite muslims by soldiers

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The United States embassy in Nigeria said on Thursday it was “concerned” and called for an investigation after supporters of an imprisoned Shiite cleric were killed in clashes with security forces.

The Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) said 49 of its members were killed this week after the army and police fired live bullets at crowds who marched near and in the capital Abuja, calling into doubt the military’s official death toll of six.

“The United States embassy is concerned by the deaths resulting from clashes between Nigerian security forces and members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria in areas surrounding Abuja,” said the US embassy in a statement.

“We urge government of Nigeria authorities to conduct a thorough investigation of the events and to take appropriate action to hold accountable those responsible for violations of Nigerian law. We urge restraint on all sides,” it added.

Amnesty International said on Wednesday it had “strong evidence” that police and soldiers used automatic weapons against IMN members and killed about 45 people.

“We have seen a shocking and unconscionable use of deadly force by soldiers and police against IMN members,” said Amnesty’s Nigeria director Osai Ojigho.

Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy, is almost evenly split between a mostly Muslim north – which is predominantly Sunni – and a largely Christian south.

Experts have warned the government that a heavy-handed response to the group risks sparking conflict in a volatile region where poverty is widespread.

IMN leader Ibrahim Zakzaky has been in custody since 2015, when an army crackdown killed 300 of his supporters, who were buried in mass graves, according to human rights groups.

Zakzaky is facing a culpable homicide charge in connection with the 2015 violence, and is in jail despite a court order granting him bail. ref: AFP

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