One of the things President Donald Trump would be remembered for is the knack for making some common phrases seem very popular. Use these words ‘fake news’ in a sentence, and people around would nod knowingly. Silently paying respect to the man that made it popular. For Nigerians and some third world countries, ‘shithole country’ is the word that reminds people of Trump the most.
When Trump uttered those derogatory words during a meeting with immigration officials last month, nobody outside of that meeting was supposed to hear about it. That it leaked to the public showed the level of discontent of most government officials with the Trump presidency.
The ‘shithole countries’ comment is typical Trump. He is as blunt as he is odious. He doesn’t even do honesty as a habit to mitigate his meanness. A lifetime of being rich and doing whatever he wants had conditioned him to talking before thinking.
Perhaps, Trump is aware that as a political leader, there are certain things you can’t say out loud in public. I guess that was why his aides were all over the place denying he made any such statement.
But the reality of today’s America is that incidences like that never stay in the spotlight for long. So many more important events are now on the front burner. For instance, his men are scampering about to see how they can limit the damage from the daily revelations about his dealings with the Russians before and after the elections that brought him to power.
These are more serious issues to the West. In other words, they have already forgotten the diplomatic row caused by that comment from the leader of the free world.
However, we in Africa (and the other centuries like Haiti mentioned in that statement) are still smarting from that Presidential faux pas. Taking a cue from the ‘Don’t attack the Messenger’ book, the question to ask is, ‘Was Trump Right in referring to Nigeria as a shithole country?’
What is a shithole country?
From a racist point of view, all third world countries, with a majority black population are shithole countries. As a man with racist leanings, Trump’s worldview is tinted by the notion of the white race as superior in every respect.
However, contextually, that definition is too narrow. Human beings who have to wake up each morning and go to bed (‘Thank God I survived another day‘) in the space known as Nigeria have much to say about what that phrase implies.
Isn’t it shitty when the Governor of a state doesn’t see the irony of electing statutes in honor discredited people? How about a country where the minimum wage is less than that of other African countries with far fewer resources? Or a country where an agency of government can stash over $40 million in cash in a private apartment? Or a country where oil ministers hand over the operations of the industry to cronies and business partners to amass a huge stash of private wealth they can’t exhaust in five generations? Seriously, the list of malfeasance that puts us firmly in the realm of ‘shithole’ is unending.
The stealing of the country’s wealth would have been bearable if the people in charge made sure public facilities and utilities are in top shape. What obtains is an inverse relationship between the amount of money lost to corruption and the state of public infrastructures like schools, hospitals, and roads.
What about the security agencies like the police force? For instance, a few weeks ago, the Chairman of the Police Service Commission, Mike Okiro, was asked why some rich private citizens still had police escorts as personal guards.
This question was asked because just last year, the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, who has a habit of appearing on Nigeria News for the wrong reasons, gave an order for such officers to be withdrawn. That was the way to go because it is unseemly for private individuals to monopolize the services of something meant for the public.
Mr. Okiro (a former top police officer himself) without an ounce of shame, declared that it was difficult to implement that order because of the paucity of funds. Now only in a shithole country would the redeployment of police officers back to their primary beats be tied to lack of funds. The link between lack of funds and implementing that order is hard to make.
Consider this though: indirectly, Okiro was pointing approving fingers at the endemic corruption in the Police Force. The police make a lot of money from the elite by offering policemen as bodyguards. They won’t admit it publicly though. So Mr. Okiro and his clique simply can’t imagine losing all that money by redeploying these police personnel.
What is happening in the police is just a microcosm of the country’s public ethos. Whoever is in charge of any public institution would find some creative way corrupt it to their benefit. No institution is spared. It’s got to a point where public officials see these as a normal way of business.
Because of all that, the country is completely dysfunctional. Even the judiciary is now for the highest bidder. Only in a shithole country would complicit judges play ball with corrupt politicians brought before them to frustrate the whole process. It is hard to find a single judge not tainted by corruption in Nigeria today. No wonder it is hard to convict anybody even though the evidence against them is right under our collective noses.
Trump is no better
We are a proud people though. We don’t need a racially prejudiced man to tell us what we are or what we are not. Yes, Nigeria might be a shithole country, but Trump is a sorry excuse for a human being.
Maybe, Americans deserve him to show them how embarrassing it is to have bumbling. clueless idiot as president. That should wipe the smirk off their annoying faces and bring them down several notches at least.
Nigeria might be a shithole country. Yes, many of us lack power, water and the roads to our homes are in a sorry state: Trump, though, is a shithole leader.