Southeasterners Supported Trump Because Of Secessionist Agenda – Kabiru.
Dr. Kabiru Sufi (PhD. MSc. International relations Coventry University UK), is a senior (fellow) lecturer at Kano College of Education and Preliminary Studies, Skyline University Nigeria and other universities. He is also a political analyst.
In this interview, he speaks on the recent US presidential election, stating how its outcome would affect Nigeria and other African countries.
Considering the position of America as the bastion of democracy in the world, what are the implications of its recent presidential election for African countries?
There are so many expectations from Africans, especially Nigerians in respect to the outcome of the election. As it happened during the first election when Trump won, various regions organised a mock election due to how people were interested in the election. Some people supported Republicans while others supported Democrats. Even Americans were very surprised with regards to how Nigerians are so much interested in the American politics. Likewise, the current election also generated a lot of interest due to what happened during the first tenure of the Trump administration. There are so many things. After he was sworn in, there were so many nasty utterances he made to denigrate Africa.
Do you mean Trump?
Yes. He once called African countries including Nigeria as shithole countries.
This is not only downgrading to African countries, but an insult. This made many Nigerians very angry about what happened. Similarly, many developing countries in the Middle East have also suffered many challenges during his leadership, especially during his first tenure. A visa restriction was issued. Many people, including those who already had valid documents were denied entry into America.
Restrictions were added on entry into America. These made many Nigerians have special interest, as explained earlier, and people were divided along various lines.
Among Nigerians there are so many divisions along geopolitical boundaries. There were Nigerians from a certain region who wanted Trump to win his second tenure.
What can you say were the reasons for the geopolitical divisions?
If you look at it, the Southeasterners, most of them, were of the opinion that, if Trump won re-election he would support their secessionist agitations.
They have that opinion. And some of them even feel that he covertly supports them. It was even seen in some sections that even some churches participated in this bid by praying and lecturing their members for his success. But other sections of this country, due to the reasons I mentioned earlier, especially those of humiliating Africa, most of them did not support his re-election bid.
However, those who did not support his re-election are the majority. If the mock election could have been repeated, the result would have definitely shown different results from the first one with a huge difference.
Many Nigerians were fed up and wanted him to finish his tenure and wanted him to go. They felt that if Democrats are elected, many things will return to normal. Looking at his records, Nigerians are optimistic about Joe Biden, and there are various reasons for that. First, Joe Biden has been Vice President to Barack Obama. This makes people feel there is a mutual relationship between him and blacks, African Americans. His Vice President-elect, Senator Kamala Harris, is also part of the blacks. These are some of the reasons some people are optimistic about him. Again, after the election, other things which made people have good expectations are the kind of people he chose as nominees for vital positions in America.
There are so many things which are good and some negatives which are human. But if you look at him, there are many things that make people feel he is capable.
He served for a very long time and became one of the longest serving senators. When he started, he was among the youngest, and he also became one of the longest serving senators. Also, when he served in the senate, he worked in different committees, and he participated in most of the past American struggles.
However, there are some few deficiencies. For instance, during his campaigns he showed that he was part of the senators who didn’t support the government of George Bush during the Gulf War. But research has shown that this is untrue. He was part of those who supported the Gulf War. But his subsequent records have erased the former. For instance, when he was the vice president, he spearheaded the withdrawal of the American forces from Iraq. It may be considered that this has replaced that past record. And he might have been forgiven. But, where he said he didn’t give his support, records have shown he supported it.
Does this count against him?
Yes, it counts against him, although he now tries to erase all these. Those who insist on his deficiencies are of the opinion that even the withdrawal of the American forces from Iraq, which was seen as his effort to erase the former record, was premature and ill-conceived. The hasty withdrawal resulted in a serious backlash. They felt that, had it been carefully organised, it would have been better and without serious repercussions. They opined that, the hasty withdrawal led to the upsurge of ISIS activities and a kind of booster to them. It is seen that ISIS got the upper hand of establishing its base in Iraq and their subsequent penetration into other Arab nations. There are also other things which he did which were dismissed and discarded by the Trump administration. For instance, he was part of those who felt that the American-Iran relationship could be improved.
He was instrumental to the easing and slackening of the sanctions against Iran. Terms were laid, which when fulfilled, a harmonious relationship would thrive and Iran fulfilled some, which reduced the disagreement between them. But after the election of Trump, he even claimed that money was given to Iran, which he felt was not right. This led to another sour relationship between them. There is also another controversial issue about him which some see as deficiency from his part. During his tenure in the senate, he facilitated a law called “Crime Bill.”
In that law, many rules and punishments on crimes became severe and harsher. For instance, more than 60 death punishments were added to some crimes, which were initially not considered by a death penalty. There are also other things which are not so serious as to warrant death sentence. For instance drugs related issues were given serious penalties in the Crime Bill. And this was seen to affect mostly black people. Most of the black peoples’ areas engage in that drug related crimes, and that made many of the blacks to be apprehended and imprisoned. This made others to ask why he introduced such a law while he claims to like the black people. Some people feel the crime bill has its two positive sides, which Biden capitalized on. The bill improved the issue of penalty on gender based violence, and the bill helped in reducing the crimes against women. Secondly, there was wide acquisition of arms by the Americans. The bill came with a background check with strict rules before someone acquires a gun. The strict nature of the rule made government to reduce the number of weapons acquired by individuals, which led to the reduction of killings in America. Therefore, he felt that these two positive sides of the bill should not be overlooked.
Regarding his choice of nominees, how can it impact on American-Nigerian relationship?
It is expected that Nigeria will benefit immensely. It is even realized that one of his key posts, the position of a Deputy Secretary of Treasury, would be given to a Nigerian, Adewale Adeyemo. This is seen as a very good post, which is seen as the Central Bank in America, it is felt that he might bring out policies which would help countries like Nigeria. There are also other posts which when approved by the senate, will be beneficial for African countries.
For instance, his Defense Secretary, Loy Austin, although there is a little impediment to his nomination, there must be a waiver, as someone must have 7 years post retirement experience, but he only has 4 years. But due to his love for the blacks, he checked and found someone among the blacks, who holds a very high position in the military and decides to nominate him. The waiver could be easily gotten. Even Donald Trump, when appointing General Martins, sought and got the waiver. It is believed that the post will help the Africans. Also, there are other nominees, who may not be blacks but are from either the minorities or the Latinos. There is a Chinese, Katherine Tai, who is also part of them. There are many of them who are not pure Europeans who hold the pro-European ideologies. Most of them are a combination of people who look for regaining good relationships between America and other countries around the world. These make people hope that his administration will have people who would help Africa, including Nigeria.
What about the economic aspect?
Yes, from the economic point of view, I have highlighted that the position of the Deputy Secretary of Treasury is a Nigerian. This is one of the greatest achievements. As policies related to his office are expected to benefit Nigerians. There are so many things which were not given proper consideration during the Trump administration. For instance, the trade deal between America and Africa. There is an American policy of “African Growth Opportunity Act ” (AGOA). Before the Trump administration the policy was aimed at helping the trade deals between Afriacan countries and America, but Donald Trump’s administration neglected AGOA. The monies given to AGOA were reduced. AGOA helped greatly in improving African American businesses, but the Trump administration restricted visas and brought many harsh measures. Now there is hope, probably the strength and power of AGOA will be revived.
When a discussion is centered on world countries, most often you find America and China in the center, due to their might. When we look at Joe Biden’s nominees, what would we expect as the relation between America and China?
As I told, you, part of his nominees, there is a Chinese American, Katherine, as well. This is seen as something that will improve the sour relationship between them. Trump administration has severed the relationship and it has negatively affected the business deals between the two countries. The biggest American company, Apples, had great business opportunities in China.
But later due to hostilities between the two countries, China stopped the selling of Apple products in China and that really affected the company. However, America also retaliated by sanctioning Huawei not only in America but in other European countries. But looking at the submission of Joe Biden, and his nominations and his 8-year record as vice president, the China-American relation will become better. As some observers opined that the body language of the new president has shown that.
At this juncture, don’t you think that both countries are hiding things in their cupboards, as it is a struggle of who leads the world. America considers herself as the superpower. China, on the other hand, feels like it has come of age, due to its economic might. Do you anticipate the continuation of a harmonious relationship while a struggle to dominate the world is also on?
Yes, this is something to consider. However, it is America who always shows that they are the greatest. China didn’t bother to compete. China mostly allowed America to boast, but other obvious reasons show what is the reality.
For instance, when you look at the 5g technology which will dominate the world. This widens the speculations on who leads, but obviously it shows that China leads on this.
It must be respected on that….?
Yes, it must be respected, but America tries to sabotage the whole effort, which is directly what affects Huawei, which is the company that is responsible for the installation of 5g technology in Europe. America stopped them from buying the technology through Huawei. But with all these, China didn’t bother much. When it comes to who leads, China mostly bowed down and accepted the second position. It may be that when they compete, other things may resurface which may be harmful to China due to the influence of America on world countries.
But recently we have seen how diplomatic wars were fought between America and China. Trump said that he has withdrawn the support given to the World Health Organization, WHO, and we have seen how China wanted to overtake America and come in, even if America doesn’t like it.
Yes, there is a reason for that. It may not be unconnected to the COVID-19 virus which America wanted to dictate to the World Health Organization to do and say what America needs the world to hear. Donald Trumps insisted that the virus must be called a China virus. And also, there is a controversy between these two countries as to the origin of the virus.
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That’s what made the World Health Organization do what is right and America withdrew its support. Here, what China can do to that organization is to support it, for the organization to continue doing what is right.
But with all that, lack of American support was a major problem to the organization, and it is the same with the United Nations. Sometimes it is necessary for the United Nations and all its agencies to do the biddings of the Americans due to the amount of the money America injects in them. Such a huge amount of money given by America, makes it necessary for America to dominate the international stage.
If China continues to give monetary support, could it overtake and push America aside?
They will continue to compete,
Survival of the fittest. But their foreign policies are different. America uses bilateral relations, through the use of international organizations and China employs the use of unilateral relations, where it aims to establish good relationships with the countries, instead of using organizations. But in Africa, China has combined both policies. Look at what China did to African Union in building its secretariat. But it mostly spends its money on countries in order to get their support.
Some other experts view both countries’ policies as the same thing. The way America dominates other countries in terms of their politics and other things is all the same with China. If you look at the loans given to countries, they all look the same with what the multinational organization of America gives, with conditions.
You must be given terms..
Terms which will suffocate you. That is why some view both countries as the same thing. It is just a matter of who will give you. You go to someone who will give you and turn away from someone who will not. China utilizes this and this is why it established relationships with many African countries and beyond.
Previously, China didn’t bother to compete especially when America showed that it is in the forefront. But time has now changed, every country you go to, you hear complaints of the domination of China, and it has to do with economic domination….
That’s what I am telling you.
If things continue to be like this, don’t you think that it will pose a problem to China as America will continue to dominate them since they don’t want to come and openly dominate all the activities of a nation to the extent that citizens fail to hold anything?
Well, even if America leaves to world to fight this thinking of looking at China as another imperialist, it is also a trouble to them. The way America comes to dominate, is all the same as what China is doing. Even if they succeed in making people think in this way, it can be a problem for China. Some countries have already started regretting their long-standing relationship with China in respect to their financial and business relationship. For instance if we take Zambia and look at what happened to them.
Confiscating of airports by China
China confiscated the airports which it built for them on loan under the terms that if they fail to pay, it would be confiscated, together with other ports of many sovereign African nations. Most often, when these loans are collected, the terms are not clearly spelt out, but afterwards they become clear but it is already late. So, when this is considered this will undermine China in Africa greatly and America is trying to establish all these. Initially, the Americans didn’t even spell out the problems, they only just said they are all the same …
Was it America that said this?
Of course, this is opinion molding.
So who is America trying to instigate, China or those who collect the loans?
Yes, that’s how their policy is. That’s exactly how their policy is. They just want you to collect the loans. They just want to establish the relationship. For the relationship to be established. For them to have access to your economic affairs. That’s how the international political economy is built. It is only after it has been firmly built that it later comes with ambiguous clauses. That’s what America capitalizes on and boasts that we have been telling you all these, but you didn’t heed.
Is this also another new strategy?
Of course, it is another form of war. It is a psychological warfare between the two which takes another direction.
Let us have a look into the outgoing president, Trump’s administration or rather to say his style of leadership and that of the incoming Joe Biden. How will their type of leadership be different or similar?
It may be different looking at how their campaigns were conducted. Their campaign activities were too harsh. If you check their presidential debate, that’s where the main difference between the two clearly appeared. Trump didn’t in any way hide anything. He was too blunt in revealing his policies. He didn’t hide any ill feeling he has towards anybody.
He didn’t hide anything about how he holds others with disdain. This is what brought divisions within the American circle during his administration. There was a serious disunity among the whites and black Americans during his tenure. There was a wider disunity between the Americans who are regarded as strangers/non-natives and those who consider America to be for all. This makes them seriously divided. Some Americans were really worried about Joe Biden, who feels that America ought to have grown over such trivialities. In one of his debates, he was seen to have said “grow up man”, to Trump. He felt that Trump should have acted in a different way. This shows that their style of leadership may be different.
There is also another difference that will be expected amongst the Americans from within. Joe Biden can bring policies which will suppress this, but Trump didn’t bother about all that and allowed them to resurface. It became so obvious that even the white supremacists, who feel that whites are better than the blacks. Previously they did their activities secretly but they developed guts and came out to open as a result of Trump’s reluctance. It was even noticed that his government supports them.
It is argued that if he handed over the leadership, they must revert to their normal way of concealing their feelings and ensuring the true spirit of nationalism. This may be the difference in the style of their leadership which is expected to be seen. However, they are also expected to act in a similar way may be in terms of America’s foreign policy. Here the difference may not be huge. There is something which affect the American policy. This is their national interest. What will America gain in any form of relations? This is the steering of all relations with America. Even when Trump was sworn in, he was heard saying that he would work with all people but American interest would be first. And even when Joe Biden is sworn in, it is also America’s interest that would be protected.
I wanted to ask you, at this juncture, what would be the priorities of Joe Biden when he is sworn in as the president?
Firstly, he should focus his attention internally especially on the unity of the Americans, for the promotion of One America.
Are they now in trouble?
They have the problem of disunity. If you look carefully, most of those who supported Trump are white supremacists. But Joe Biden was supported by those with moderate views, even if they are whites, they united together with the blacks, Latinos, Spanics and the rest. They teamed up and supported him. They also supported him based on the belief that when he assumed office, he would stop such disunity and work for a united America.
Therefore, there is this expectation internally. Secondly, there may also be an effort to improve the ties between America and other countries. For instance, when you look into the American-Israeli relation, Joe Biden may think differently from Donald Trump. Donald Trump handed over the issue of peace in Israel to his in-law, who was a Jew, Gerard Kushner.
That’s why the issue of relocating the capital city of Israel to where the Jews are located, the Jew dominated area, the plan was executed by Kushner without any fear or hesitation Kushner. America directly supported what the Jews preferred at the detriment of the Palestinians. But Joe Biden has bever hidden his belief of a two-state solution, where two different nations are expected to exist. Secondly, he also believed that the capital should be relocated to its former location not to a Jew dominated location. It should be in a location which is agreed by both the Jews and the Palestinians.
There are so many things which Joe Biden believed that they should maintain a status quo, not how Donald Trump changed things. This shows that there may be a mutual relationship not only with Africans but with other countries as well, such as Israel and Palestine. The Palestinians may also have a hope that, after the handing over, things may probably return to their normal nature even if it means the two states. He also believed that Jews should vacate the far territories, which Kushner felt should be extended. Therefore, the Palestinians should also be hopeful. Similarly, many countries in Africa, Latin America and Asia are also hopeful about good relationships with America. Even India, they have Mr Boschi, who is an Indian, this will make India and Asians to be hopeful about harmonious relationships. All these are mere expectations as everything must be in accordance to their national interest….
You talked about how both leaders during their campaigns, especially the outgoing president, he never hides his activities, particularly what he doesn’t like. Some people are of the opinion that some disgruntled Americans teamed up against. How true is this assertion?
Yes, there is this line of reasoning, and it is mostly by the Africans. Some feel that they conspired against him, as they feel he must go at whatever cost. To the extent of believing that he may be denied even if he wins. But looking at how the election happened, there was nothing to confirm this stance. This is only an assumption by some Africans which I see mostly going around among Nigerians. Some even feel that, if they haven’t witnessed the coming of January and the hand over to Joe Biden, they still feel that anything can happen…
I just recently saw that Trump has also lost a court case; I think it is in Wisconsin… he tried to instigate other states which the supreme court didn’t give them the right to challenge other states’ election.
In Nigeria or even Africa, people view America as a natural superpower, a special country is more powerful than all, while some others see it as oppressors, do you think after the assumption of duty of Joe Biden, can he change the perception of Africans and Nigerians in that respect?
Guest: Yes, it is very possible. This is simply because one of the most challenging things to him was restoring the image of America both nationally and internationally. This will help him to restore the image of America in the sight of the world. When all the previous issues happened, most Americans were not happy about it. Like when Africa was called “shithole countries” most Americans view this as something that will affect the relationship of America with African countries. It is hoped that he will do things differently from what Donald Trump did.
There is another form of relationship that is going on between Nigeria and China especially in terms of infrastructural development, such as rail constructions and other loans given to Nigeria by the Chinese government. Is there such a relationship between Nigeria and America?
As I told you, America established laws in their bid to help African countries in general. For example, there is a senate law on African growth and opportunity act, AGOA, which contains all forms of assistance. This has been done officially to Africa.
In some other aspects one has to look into the different policies employed by the countries. America uses multilateralism in order to achieve its goals, by using agencies which they have influence on, like the world trade organization which America uses to assist African countries and avails opportunities to them in order to have a kind of between America and liberalized trade with the developing nations.
Therefore, it can be said that America employs all these besides the role of AGOA. They sometimes reduce taxes to African countries, allowing a conducive business atmosphere. The main problem is that most Africans don’t know about the existence of such laws as they are mostly only written. But with the coming of the new administration of Joe Biden, things will strategically improve to better, so that the Africans will know about them very well.
There is mutual understanding between the two countries – Nigeria and China relations – when compared to America- Nigeria relation. Although recently even the Chinese visa was relatively difficult to process, but overall, I can say it is easier to get Chinese visa than the American. There is also an easy business deal. Even the Nigerian government, looking at what happened during the Trump’s administration, had to turn a little towards China to provide Yuan for its businessmen, which was seen as an effort to turn to China for businesses, as a result of the difficulty and restrictions faced from the American side.
But the Yuan deal wasn’t successful. What happened?
Well, in reality, there is a difference between wishful thinking and a genuine struggle. When it was announced many people have expressed hopes and appreciated the decision and knew it would be beneficial. But within a short period, the euphoria died down and didn’t see the light of the day. Had it been the issue was carefully assessed and executed it would have been a success. And even China who is always eager to see a kind of reciprocal, would have loved that. But the issue was not followed to its logical conclusion.
But experts have maintained that two kings cannot rule a nation. Here is China and America struggling, and on the other hand, its Dollar vs Yuan. Is it that Nigeria backed down as they are also allying to America or what happened?
It may be that initially it was due to the rough nature of the Trump administration that Nigeria looked for an alternative, and how our economy fell into difficult situations as a result of the need for dollars. Even today our economy is valued and calculated based on dollars.
Now if Nigeria wishes, can it go back to the Yuan deal?
In reality, its impossibility was clearly seen as there are vital stages above just mere pronouncement. If you say you want to do something, you must brace up and follow it with action, especially on such vital decisions. Without proper commitment, it will be impossible to change something which has been there for a very long time. It will be very difficult to achieve that.
On Electoral College
It is just a process in American election. There are two forms of voting. Briefly, there is what is called popular vote and then, the electoral college. There is a relationship between the two.
For instance, if individuals vote in the popular vote, then each state has certain votes and seats allocated to it as an electoral college. This depends on the population and its representation in the senate, which determines the numbers of its electoral college members. Each states’ votes are counted and whoever wins between the two candidates will have the electoral college endorsement in that particular state. This is what makes the electoral college of one state to be larger than another depending on the population of the state. This is determined by their number and the number of senate members they have. This is also what happened when Hillary Clinton won the popular vote, but failed in the electoral college, as the states which Trump won had more electoral college votes than Hillary.
Nigeria, America, China
Let us look at it both officially and unofficially…
In reality, it is obvious that due to the dominance of America in international politics, Nigeria sides more with them. Countries prefer to openly side with them due to their open policies. This makes countries side with them, and sometimes due to the fear of witch-hunting. For instance, loom at what happened during the recent Nigeria’s elections. People opined that things went normal just because America has issued warnings against malpractices. But on the other hand, there are things which when they are needed and America fails to provide then, countries look elsewhere, to China who has them….
Does America allow one to go to its rival for other things which it doesn’t have?
It must allow that as she cannot provide it herself. For instance, what you said that the rail contract of a huge amount of money was given to China as America does not have what to offer in that respect. America doesn’t have what China has in that respect.
You dont offer it, you won’t deny it.
America cant stop that. And it is through that, that even the federal government proposes its own terms and puts forward its requests as well.
For instance, one of the requests put forward to China by Nigeria is, after awarding China the rail contract, for China to build a Transport University and other things as well. The Chinese government accepted that and supported Nigeria’s effort in establishing the transport University. It is a kind of reciprocal agreement which may not be agreed if it were America. This trend of working with one at the expense of the other has been there for long. Going back to 1960 – 1966, the struggle for influence and dominance was not between Nigeria- China and America, but rather between the USSR and US. It was the US and who were struggling for influence then.
It happened to Nigeria and other African countries, Congo and others. And even then, Nigeria sided with America and didn’t side with Russia. But in some countries like Congo, their leadership was divided, some sided with Russia while others sided with the US. But now after the fall of the Soviet Union and the rise of China, the rivalry is now between China and America on establishing their influence on the developing countries especially in Africa, Asia and Latin America.
Some people opined that, the reason why America dominates widely is due to its allies, who are always answerable to her biddings. It is said that China doesn’t have such allies. Why is it that China doesn’t like to establish answerable allies but prefers to produce economic activities?
Well, we should check and see what initially brought the issue of allies in respect to American domination, during the second world war and the victory of the American side. That was the origin of American allies. China was not part of that world war victory, therefore didn’t get such allies. Also, America uses many organizations which give her chances to have good relations with various strong and developed nations around the world.
This is why it is assumed that Joe Biden will now try his best to regain and improve the image of America. He was instrumental in the formation of NATO, countries, and he later facilitated the inclusion of other countries that didn’t even participate in the war. This led to the expansion of NATO. This is what America did through its allies, through donating huge amounts of money and through its organizations. China doesn’t have a stake in all these. However, China gets into mutual relationships with some countries that are not in good terms with America. These include countries like Cuba, Iran, Syria. All these are on good terms with China due to their hostile relation with America but they are not considered and its allies.
What will be the benefit of a Nigerian or Africans who have business or any other form of relationship, in this transition, what should he do or expect now?
What he shall do is like what any other person from any other part of Nigeria would do. First of all, he hopes that things will get better than before. Therefore, he should prepare well to benefit from the new anticipated good relationship. Since good things are expected to happen, therefore, people should prepare well to benefit from what would happen. Secondly, there is another burden on people from different nations such as Nigeria who were humiliated and ridiculed, they show that they are equal to the task when things come back to normal.
In a matter of seconds, what will African governments do, considering the US election?
Well, now is the right time for them to collectively and individually express their demands especially looking at what happened in the past. They should also lobby, using diplomatic relations, so that their international connection will be well. Secondly, they should also look for the revival of all those laws by the congress and senate to suit African needs. They should also look for other opportunities for their citizens. They should revive economic ties with American government.
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