• American style democracy and Nigerian political immunity

    American style democracy and nigerian political immunity - nigeria newspapers online
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    These days, American democracy is definitely not what it was prior to Donald Trump’s presidency. It’s often asserted that Nigeria operates an “American style democracy”, which is only partially true, because Nigerian presidents are elected by the people, not appointed by an electoral college.

    That aside, Americans have always believed that their presidents are morally superior to ours, who they routinely criticise for not abiding by the rule of law, not respecting their constitutions and not subjecting themselves to the separation of power. Truthfully, Nigerian presidents habitually pocket the judiciary and legislature so that they can basically do as they please, especially since all other constraints on their criminal behaviour while in office are removed by the immunity clause.

    It’s somewhat ironic that at a time when the Nigerian legislature is commendable, trying to remove the immunity clause and ensure that political office holders are answerable for their criminal actions while in office and not above the law, the US Supreme Court is asserting that their president (which by implication may also mean all holders of executive political office) can willingly and knowingly break the law as long as they classify it as an “official action”.

    The US presidential system of governance used to be regarded as a model for the rest of the world because every detail of the life of a president or presidential aspirant is examined by the media and made public.

    Back in those days, America was a nation in which any president accused (with evidence) of impropriety resigned, and stained candidates publicly withdrew from the race in shame. Alas! A shameless convicted felon, unprincipled serial liar and business fraudster is successfully trampling on all the norms of US democratic order.

    Regrettably, by constantly rubbishing the judiciary, the electoral processes and the rule of law, former US President Donald Trump has ensured that US style democracy cannot continue to be a standard bearer for governance in Nigeria.

    Trump-appointed judges have barefacedly and unconscionably reached verdicts based upon political and religious bias rather than justice, revealing that the US Supreme Court and judiciary at all levels are partisan. Added to this, US legislative impeachment proceedings are now guided by partisanship rather than any moral compass.

    Trump’s re-election would be a death blow to the US style presidential democracy in Africa because he represents everything typical African tin-pot dictators stand for.

    The President of America used to be thought of as the “leader of the free world”, but no more. The world now knows that America is prepared to tolerate a president who is shameless, lacks the moral values of any religion, scorns accountability, tells lies routinely, insults opponents with totally unbecoming gutter language and is far more concerned about his personal welfare than the wellbeing of American citizens.

    No democratically elected Nigerian president has ever come close to displaying Trump’s defective character traits.

    Even as our National Assembly tries to extricate the nation from the grip of elected presidents’ unconstrained governance, the US Supreme Court has handed a victory to anti-democratic forces by ignoring all legal precedents which enhance democracy and accountability and granted Trump immunity to fulfill his dream of becoming a de-facto dictator if re-elected.

    Alarm bells are ringing because Trump failed in his re-election bid and became a convicted felon, yet his poorly camouflaged racist white agenda movement called MAGA (Make America Great Again) which has taken over the Republican Party could likely return him as next US president.

    Trump’s opponent is likely to be the aged President Joe Biden who is behaving like a typical geriatric African leader who refuses to bow out gracefully and hand over to a successor. It is trite that a successful man without a successor is nothing but a successful failure! It’s undeniable and widely acknowledged that Biden is well past his prime. His speeches, gait and general demeanour undeniably show him in an unfavourable bad light, yet he didn’t groom a successor. He has happily declined into geriatric senility while in office inexplicably choosing either the disgrace of being hounded out by his own party members or losing woefully to Trump.

    Indisputably, US style presidential democracy is facing a global crisis. It used to be the beacon of hope for developing nations like Nigeria in terms of a credible voting system, constitutionalism, federalism and public accountability. Biden’s loss would empower a reprehensible republican dictator who would put the whole world at risk. Democracy is supposed to enhance representation and accountability in governance, but it has consistently not served Nigerians well as citizens have not derived any of the supposed consequential benefits.

    Every political system undergoes minor crises at various points in time, but African democracy may not survive if a morally defective character like Trump is returned to the White House, empowered with immunity granted by his Supreme Court. It will offer anti-democratic presidents in Africa good reasons to discard accountability, recognition of human rights and morality in governance.

    In truth, the demise or otherwise of America is of no concern to ordinary Nigerians, as it is no longer a role model for good governance and will get what it deserves. The worst thing that could happen to Nigeria is for our corrupt political office holders to continue enjoying life-long immunity from criminal prosecution. The National Assembly must not relent in removing immunity clauses which have handicapped constitutionalism and the rule of law.

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