When anger drives politics, leadership and justice
Posted By: Dayo Sobowale
Coincidentally this week Nigeria’s Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and US President Barak Obama spoke to a Muslim audience in their respective nations to drive home their commitment to justice and the objectives of their governments. The Nigerian Vice President reportedly told a delegation of Muslim Congress of Nigeria that although some elites were trying to put pressure on the Nigerian government to relent on its anti corruption war, he insisted that this would not happen because the President and himself are focused on the war and know that that is the wish of the ordinary Nigerians who elected them to office and not the elites alone.
Similarly the US president visited a mosque in Baltimore for the first time in his presidency and called on those preaching hatred against Muslims to stop as American Muslims are part of the American dream and heritage. Today I want to observe that there is a common thread that knits the utterances of these two statesmen together. It is my contention here that for now anger drives world politics as we know it today and that is the context in which I will look at the two statements made by the two leaders in their respective nations.
Undoubtedly in Nigeria anger is driving the anti-corruption campaign and the reason is not far fetched. The campaign had hardly started before the leadership election in the senate stole the thunder of the ruling party that won the 2015 presidential election. Then came the unbelievable revelations that $2. 1bn – which is money meant for the purchase of arms for the prosecution of the Boko Haram insurgency – had been diverted for other purposes by the office of the National Security Adviser from where key members of the last administration collected campaign funds while the armed forces lacked funds and equipment to confront the insurgency. Obviously a mood of righteous indignation has pervaded the whole nation ever since with the masses calling for the heads of culprits who had betrayed the nation in its hour of need in nailing Boko Haram which has been killing thousands of Nigerians with impunity and had even kidnapped the 200 Chibok girls without trace till today. That was the argument of the Nigerian VP before his Muslim guests and that is quite important in that Boko Haram has been condemned by all reasonable Muslims both in Nigeria and globally. The VP’s observations therefore tally eminently and realistically with the mood of Nigerians on crushing both Corruption and Boko Haram simultaneously or concurrently as a clear deterrence to both real and potential rebels or insurgents as well as treasury looters and others who have made it their way of life to feather their private nests at the expense of the commonwealth of the Nigerian nation and people.
Similarly President Barak Obama’s speech at the Baltimore mosque was a sermon on tolerance and justice for US Muslims at a time when no less a person than Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump had called obviously in anger that Muslims should be banned from coming to the US on account of the rise of global terrorism especially that of Islamic state and the terrorism that has reared its head on the hitherto safe and sancrosant US homeland. Obviously the emergence of a candidate like Donald Trump in the Republican Party and even Senator Bernie Saunders challenging Hillary Clinton very competitively for the Democratic Party presidential nomination, has been predicated in the US media on anti – establishment politics bordering on hatred for Washington which is US government in broad terms and Wall Street which essentially means big business and banks. Even Bernie Saunders this week accused Hillary Clinton of being beholden to banks given the huge money — $675000 – Goldman Sachs a leading US investment bank paid her for speeches she made on US government activities during her tenure as Secretary of State. Hillary was miffed and asked the Senator to be bold to accuse her of corruption which she vehemently denied.
Indeed l stumbled on an analysis on the internet which listed five reasons why the mood of the US electorate is anti- establishment and fuelled by anger at present. The first is that most US citizens feel that the politicians have short changed them on the economy and that the rich are getting richer while the middle class and the masses are worse off. The second is the issue of immigration which Obama promotes but which given the Migrants crisis outbursts across the Mediterranean to Europe has created panic in the western world including the US and has made some state governments in the US to clash with President Barak Obama on providing refuge for those fleeing foreign wars. Which again clashes with the US political values as a leading democratic nation or champion and exporter of global democracy. The third is that government in Washington looks after the interests of public servants to the detriment of outsiders and those not in the political class. The fourth is the global hatred for the US that the war on terror has created globally especially in the Middle East fuelled by implacable Arab anger over US age long policy of support for Israel against the Palestinians and the concomitant rise of Islamic state and its bloody, beheading borderless caliphates now horrifying the world and showing special hatred for the US and its citizens globally. The fifth is the deep division in ideological terms between the two main US political parties –the Democratic Party and the Republican Party. It was stated clearly that the Republicans have become more conservative while the Democrats have become more liberal leading to a deep division or gulf between the two now threatening the social cohesion that has sustained the political stability of the US hitherto. Given these scenario it is not surprising that a politician like Donald Trump who claims to be angry with the establishment has emerged on the political scene.
However what I find commendable is the way the US president has confronted the systemic anger that Donald Trump is fuelling for political purposes. In reacting to Obama’s visit to the Mosque in Baltimore, Trump was even more aggressive and contemptuous. He said he – Obama- has more important places to go and he went to a mosque. But Obama has stood up for the underdog which Muslims have become because of the terrorism and security threat created by Islamic State globally. If one recalls that Obama in his biography recalled how he followed his step father to a mosque in Djarkata, Indonesia for which some later called him a Muslim sympathizer and some mischief makers also called for a fatwah on him as a former Muslim, then one should appreciate his courage in taking on Donald Trump and stemming the anger against Muslims while soliciting for tolerance for them in spite of the horror and terrorism of IS. President Obama has shown rare courage on this Baltimore mosque visit. He has shown clearly that when duty calls or danger no leader worth his salt should be found wanting. That is a lesson that Donald Trump should learn in spite of his anger against Muslims coming to the US which he called a security issue and not a religious one. Obama has shown leadership against all odds and at great personal risk. That is an example worth emulating by good world leaders and he has my undiluted admiration this time around . Again long live the Federal Republic of Nigeria.