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Buhari and Trump
By Emmanuel Aziken
United States (US) President, Donald Trump, on Thursday night brought the Republican National Convention to a close with a rousing speech that focused on the nearly 50 years of public service of his Democratic Party rival, Joe Biden.
The speech was preceded by the controversy over the prospect of delivering a clearly partisan speech from the White House.
Before him, his wife, Melania had also delivered a speech from the background of the White House, the seat of the executive arm of government.
The resort to the White House was prompted by the unprecedented effect of the COVID-19 pandemic which made social distancing imperative, and with it, transformed the conventions of the two major political parties in the United States into a virtual affair.
The razzmatazz that normally goes with conventions with the rousing salutations may have been curtailed, but new issues have now emerged that not only touch on America, but also on those of us in Nigeria.
Central to the controversy is the propriety of using the platform of the White House, and nay, government property to stage a political party function.
President Trump had been assailed over his decision to use the White House as a prop for his speech.
The condemnation came against the background of the Hatch Act promulgated in the 1930s which bars employees of the Federal Government from direct political activities.
Under the regulation and by principle, federal institutions and employees should not be used to promote engagements that would give partisan or promote a political party or opinion.
However, it is a tricky matter when security is concerned. It is for this purpose that when the sitting president for example flies the Presidential Aircraft for a political engagement that he pays for the trip including the cost on the flight crew.
That regulation according to sources is even beyond politics and goes to personal trips that are not government business.
So, if for example, Mrs Melania Trump, the American First Lady decides to visit Nigeria for a medical treatment, holiday, or for shopping with her children, the cost of the trip would be borne by her.
However, the situation in Nigeria is not clearly defined to the extent that political office holders and their family members use our public assets according to their whims and caprices.
In a noxious provocation of democracy nuances, elected Nigerian officeholders have repeatedly personalized government assets for vain glory to the extent of even naming government projects and vehicles after themselves.
Who would forget many state governors branding government buses as being provided by Governor “Do You Know Me” or so, so and so?
At great cost to the government these buses and buildings are at the turn of a new administration rebranded in the image of the latest person being bankrolled at the taxpayer’s expense.
Even worse, we have seen government buildings being used to host caucus meetings of political parties in direct infringement of the sensibilities of their political rivals.
Despite his famed sensibilities against corruption, President Olusegun Obasanjo institutionalized the practice of holding the national caucus of the ruling political party in the Presidential Villa. It is a practice that has continued over time.
Expectations that President Muhammadu Buhari would bring his famed austere predilections in stopping that act of political corruption were evinced when he to the contrary deepened the rot by hosting the National Executive Committee, NEC meeting of his All Progressives Congress, APC in the chambers of the Federal Executive Council last June!
Such abuses of political integrity dilute the democratic spirit and give the impression of being above scrutiny as Chief Femi Fani-Kayode insinuated to us this past week.
With a policeman paid for by the taxpayers behind him as an orderly, Fani-Kayode brought that abuse to deleterious proportion when despite being in the public space, and in the comfort of the Cross Rivers State Government House, refused to say who bankrolled his sole inspection of projects.
Politicians in the public space like Fani-Kayode who refuse to tell us how their jaunts are bankrolled project lack of accountability and further stirs the question, ‘do you know who I am?’
They put focus on themselves and not on the citizenry to who they should report to. They put themselves first above the ordinary man.
As he sliced at Mr Biden late on Thursday, Mr Trump came out as one who gloriously puts America first in his agenda, promoting American jobs, vehicles and whatever.
Despite being assailed as racist and sexist in some quarters, it is remarkable that under President Trump that he is now reported to have positively raised African-American economic potentials to unprecedented levels.
President Muhammadu Buhari also came to us with a mindset of putting Nigeria and Nigerians first in his actions and inactions.
As he unfolded his agenda for the remaining period of his presidency earlier this week, concern about Buhari’s preoccupation with putting foreigners first again came to mind.
It was shocking that Nigeria’s president would first convey to foreigners his plans and purposes for his citizens even before telling his citizens!
Vanguard News Nigeria.
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Source: Vanguard News.