FEATURE ARTICLE

Temple Chima UbochiSaturday, May 27, 2017
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Bonn, Germany

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PRESIDENTS BUHARI AND TRUMP IN COMPARISON:
THE "KINGS" HAVE BADGES, BUT NO CLUE (9)

The Germans are bad, very bad, on trade. Look at the millions of cars that they sell in the U.S. Terrible. We're going to stop that (President Trump in conversation with the European Commission President, Jean-Claude Juncker, at the EU headquarters in Brussels, Belgium)

When Donald Trump acts like a normal president, I find that soothing. This raises the question: To learn how to be a president, or least bear himself like one, did Trump have to leave the United States? (Daniel W. Drezner, a professor of international politics at Tufts University's Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy)

Part of it reflects the fact that these departments are not staffed, and they're not operating at capacity or at speed. These Cabinet secretaries are kind of home alone, working with people that they really don't know. They don't have their own people in place, their policies in place, or processes in place yet (Stephen J. Hadley, who served as President George W. Bush's national security adviser)

resident Trump left Washington DC, on a foreign trip, as "Saul", but, didn't return as "Paul".

Now, he's back to his problems at home. While abroad, he found it hard to match reality with rhetoric, just as the Bostonglobe wrote that Candidate Donald Trump demanded a "total and complete shutdown" of Muslim immigration, and blamed 9/11 on Saudi Arabia. He labeled the pope "disgraceful," tweeted an anti-Semitic image, and called Brussels "a hellhole."

But during the first few stops of his nine-day foreign trip, which concludes Saturday, May 27, Trump has offered a glimpse of what a more diplomatic version of himself would look like. Now Saudi Arabia is a "magnificent" country. He donned a yarmulke and prayed at the Western Wall. Trump finds Pope Francis to be "terrific."

The president's less diplomatic side didn't surface until Brussels, where, in short order, he verbally cudgeled NATO allies for not doing their share, chewed out Germany on trade, and appeared to shove aside the prime minister from Montenegro - the newest member of the alliance - to get to the front row for a group photo.

Bloomberg wrote that Donald Trump looks to have saved the worst for last in his lengthy first trip abroad as U.S. president: a G-7 summit that will involve debates on climate change and free trade with leaders who would probably rather be dealing with his predecessor.

From a red carpet visit to Saudi Arabia, Trump described as "beyond anything anyone has seen," the U.S. president had a first encounter with America's traditional European allies at a frosty meeting of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization on Thursday, May 25, where he told them they'd undershot what they "owed" to the alliance by $119 billion and must pay more.

On Friday, May 26, he met with a smaller group of rich democracies for a two-day encounter long on the multilateral policy debates Trump doesn't like and short on the kinds of concrete arms-for-investment deals struck in Saudi Arabia that can provide gratifying wins to take home. The friction continued.

The MSN noted that as he dashed through the Middle East and Europe, Donald Trump looked like a conventional American leader abroad, but when Trump spoke, he sounded like anything but a typical U.S. president. On his first overseas tour, the new president made no attempt to publicly promote democracy and human rights in Saudi Arabia, instead declaring that he wasn't there to lecture. In Israel and the West Bank, he pointedly did not back America's long-standing support for a two-state solution to the intractable peace process. And in the heart of Europe, Trump berated NATO allies over their financial commitments and would not explicitly endorse the "one for all, all for one" defense doctrine that has been the cornerstone of trans-Atlantic security for decades. That really made Putin of Russia happy, making one to wonder who Trump is working for?

While Trump emerged from the summit without a final decision on the Paris pact (climate change protocol), he declared, in a tweet Saturday, that he will make a final decision next week. Trump's return home also shifts attention back to the storm clouds of scandal hovering over the White House. In a briefing with reporters Saturday, May 27, White House officials shifted uncomfortably and refused to comment when asked about reports that Jared Kushner, Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser, tried to set up secret communications with Russia after the election.

Trump and Buhari, and their respective aides, sound most discordantly always

Buhari, his aides or officials will be saying different things at the same time. Femi Adeshina and Garba Shehu, his media aides, usually explain the same issue differently, showing no co-ordination (Buhari is in England to rest vs. Buhari is in England for medicals). Even the ministers, or officials, and Buhari do contradicted themselves, from time to time. Trump and his aides are also fond of sowing confusion by sending mixed signals, especially on foreign affairs. While Trump calls Assad of Syria or the North Korean leader as dictators, who have no respect for lives, he warms up to the Turkish president, who has killed so many Kurds in his country, and has just conducted a fake referendum that gave him more powers. Not only that, the Turkish president allowed his security personnel to beat up protesters, at the Turkish Embassy, in Washington D.C., when he visited there, few weeks ago. And nobody was arrested for that!

The above point was reiterated by the Washington Post, on April 19, when it wrote that President Trump seemed to contradict his State Department's message on the referendum in Turkey by congratulating its president on the result. Trump's efforts to appear decisive and unequivocal in his responses to fast-moving global crises have been undercut by confusing and conflicting messages from within his administration. In other cases, formal White House written statements have conflicted with those from government agencies, even on the same day.

Example of disparate U.S. reactions - supportive from Trump, chiding from the State Department - to the Turkish referendum that strengthened President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's authoritarian rule! The point is that while the State Department emphasized the United States' interest in Turkey's "democratic development", and the importance of the "rule of law, and a diverse and free media," the White House statement said Trump had called to congratulate Erdogan, and discuss their shared goal of defeating the Islamic State. Trump later met with Erdogan in White House.

The most recent example was the firing of the FBI Director. White House press secretary, Sean Spicer; White House deputy press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders; and Trump's aide, Kellyanne Conway, gave different reasons why Comey was sacked. While some claimed that the Deputy Attorney General, Rod J. Rosenstein, recommended the sack, or that Trump lost confidence in Comey right from the Election Day, but in one fell swoop, Trump totally contradicted his top spokespeople, and offered a polar opposite version of events. Trump told NBC News's Lester Holt that the decision to fire Comey was all his, and wasn't based on anyone's recommendation. The president said he had made up his mind about getting rid of Comey even before receiving a recommendation from Deputy Attorney General, Ron Rosenstein, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Presidents Trump and Buhari have problem with appointments. Reasons have been given why the U.S. officials are not united in opinion here, and a former national security official, who served under both Republican and Democratic presidents, emphasized that the Trump administration has been hampered by a president who has been slow to appoint hundreds of mid level managers at Cabinet agencies, including the Pentagon and the State Department, and who has at times expressed disdain for the traditional interagency decision-making process. The former national security official, according to WP, then added that the result is that the normally meticulous care that goes into formulating and coordinating U.S. government policy positions or even simple statements is often absent. Institutional memory is lacking, this former official said, and mistakes and contradictions easily slip through the cracks. The point is that Trump is yet to fill many vacant positions, almost five months in office, and it's affecting his government. It took President Buhari almost seven months in office before he appointed his "chaff" ministers (birds of a feather).

Presidents Trump and Buhari lambasted their respective predecessors' policies and actions. But since taking office, Trump and Buhari have done many of the things they once criticized their predecessors for doing. Due to lack of time and space, I will look at few fact checks here: The Business Insider wrote that Trump often vented on Twitter about Obama's taxpayer-funded travel. In actual fact; Obama's travel cost an estimated $97 million over his eight years in office. Trump has spent $21 million on travel in about three months (as of April 2017, excluding his most recent foreign trip to Middle East and Europe).

We have lost count of the countries President Buhari has travelled to since he took office on May 29, 2015. As of February 2016, the globetrotting president has travelled to over 26 countries. During the campaign, Buhari lambasted his predecessor for keeping about 12 aircrafts in the President Fleet, vowing to sell off 10 of them, if he wins. Since he took office, he never fulfilled that promise; rather, he, his family members and friends continue using those planes, costing millions, of tax payers' money, to maintain.

Naij.com wrote that Sahara Reporters has made an investigation detailing the important financial cost of journeys undertaken by President Buhari and his team. Nigerians severely criticize the leader of the nation over his frequent trips, saying that there is so much work to do inside the country, due to a crushing fuel scarcity, continuous attacks by Boko Haram insurgents, and blackouts which demand immediate and focused attention. A normal two-day long Buhari trip reportedly rates between $350K and $500K. For example, during the last presidential trip to Tehran, the capital of Iran, the travel expenses for accompanying presidency officials was $105K. Furthermore, transportation budgets stood at $45K, accommodation $200K, allowance $10K, contingency $20K, with media coverage costs at $10K. Read more:

https://politics.naij.com/651581-details-much-foreign-trips-president-buhari-cost.html

Presidents Trump and Buhari lost their clout within their first 100 days in office, and started looking lame duck, when they were supposed to be shinning. Instead of getting the Congress to support his agenda, Trump started ruling through Executive Orders; instead of concentrating with the problems at home, Trump had to look for "wins" outside, by engaging in foreign politics, mostly important to presidents on their second tenure. Suddenly, Trump's transformed into a foreign policy president! As the L.A Times puts it, Trump big "W" (win) was his missile strike on Syria, for which he also had seasoned pros to thank: Defense Secretary James N. Mattis and national security advisor Gen. H.R. McMaster. It's early yet, but that strike, combined with his authorization of a massive bomb drop on an alleged Islamic State compound in Afghanistan, has yielded other apparent foreign policy Ws. China seems to be cooperating in the administration's effort to squeeze the North Korean regime. Domestically, these moves succeeded in sucking some of the oxygen out of the media's feeding frenzy over allegations that Trump's campaign colluded with Russia and claims that he is a "puppet" of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The question is what happens when the list of easy Ws runs out? There's little evidence that Trump is operating with a coherent strategic vision, which means that he won't have a thought-out criteria for knowing when to say no to the generals he clearly admires. For a true lame duck president, that may not matter - when the Ws run out, he's out of office. For a first-term president, who just acts like a lame duck president, it's another story.

President Buhari, from the beginning, has been at loggerhead with the national Assembly, as his preferred candidates didn't get the choicest leadership positions over there. He was then out to antagonize the senate president, and when he found out that threats won't work, he decided to play ball with Saraki and his gang, but the mutual suspicion lingers. Buhari can't even get his budget passed or his nominees through the senate, without robbing some of the senators' backs, and legislations have stalled, as nothing seems to be working. Infact, it's not an understatement that "we don't have any government" again in Nigeria.

Major international magazines, including the Financial Times, Bloomberg and some others, in their recent publications, strongly condemned President Buhari policies in solving Nigeria's crisis. Bloomberg noted that Buhari's rigid leadership style has made the country's economic problems harder to solve.

To be continued!

TIT BITS

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-TYXxa0B0u4

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yvfqc7Ih61Y

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MZ8l1xYfjds

THE THANX IS ALL YOURS!!!

Continued from Part 8

IMAGES IN THE NEWS