Prior to the 2015 General Elections in Nigeria, former President Goodluck Jonathan earned the title of the most abused world leader in office. Nigerians from all walks of life poured invective on the Nigerian President both at home and on the international stage because of his perceived failures of governance, rising insecurity and mounting public corruption. The All Progressives Congress (APC), then in opposition, heckled Goodluck Jonathan and the first lady, Dame Patience Jonathan so thoroughly, a day did not pass without the first family being the butt of a national Joke. Renowned Nobel Prize Winner and respected scholar Wole Soyinka even called the first Lady, a Shepopotamus, while the president was called a shoe-less fisherman from the creeks, a drunk and a weakling.
Asides from the temporary closure of a few media houses at the time, the president never really clamped down on free speech as Nigerians took to social media to express their anger freely and crudely. The opposition APC with open help from the Obama administration and the American Democrat party took advantage of the freedoms under Jonathan to sow chaos and extreme disinformation as revealed during the Facebook Analytical Scandal of 2018. Obama himself appealed for the cause of the opposition in a video targeted at the Nigerian people on the eve of the 2015 election.
At the height of the slander and personal attacks against the President in 2014, Goodluck Jonathan cried out that he was the most abused and insulted president in the world. He told Nigerians then that they would remember the freedoms enjoyed under his Presidency when he was no longer in office.
The words of the President would prove true as soon he left office and General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd) took over as Nigeria’s President. Today, Nigerians are being jailed for speaking their mind on social media while many of the active voices under the former president have largely gone silent. Elections are now heavily militarized, the economy has plunged and the reasons Nigerians voted out Goodluck Jonathan for have been exacerbated under the new regime.
Under the Buhari Presidency, Nigeria and Nigerians have lost their voice and power, unable and unwilling to fight back against a parasitic political class.
The era of Donald .J. Trump as President of the United States takes one back to the era of Goodluck Jonathan. From the moment Donald Trump became the 45th President of the United States in 2016, he has come under constant attacks that have only increased in ferocity and tempo as the years go by.
The Republican US President who is the first non-career politician President of the North American Super Power, has survived various probes, investigations as well as an impeachment since he became the leader of what is largely seen as the world’s strongest democracy.
Just like Nigeria before 2015, the American political space has become a poisonous place filled with bile, hatred and intolerance. Americans are pitched against each other in a racial divide fueled on by narratives from the main stream media and major political figures and actors in the country.
The current black lives matter protests in the United States can be likened to the Occupy Nigeria Protests under Goodluck Jonathan and the Arab Spring of 2011, accompanied by the same level of venom and violence. In fact, going by the pattern of attacks on President Trump and his supporters by the Democrats and the radical left, one could say America has unleashed its own weapon of divide and conquer on itself in the effort to unseat one man.
Unlike Nigeria’s own experience, the opposition in America took it a step further by unleashing the tech industry on President Trump. Twitter for example has had a field day censoring the US President and his supporters while millions of users’ abuse and insult him daily without being fact checked. Like Goodluck Jonathan before him, Donald Trump has been called racist, cry baby, bunker baby, vile, incompetent, unfit for office and morally decadent.
With the volume of hate against Trump on social media, the US President may have taken the baton of the most abused president in the world from Nigeria’s Goodluck Jonathan.
If any lesson is to be learned from Nigeria’s political journey pre-2015 and after, it’s that Americans are going to be in trouble once the opposition gains power in November. Just like Nigeria’s current rulers, they may find it difficult to control the monsters they have unleashed and in the end become the worst version of the man they fought to remove from office.