Ukachi Chukwu: Trump’s Presidency And Nigeria

The day is finally here.

In less than 18 hours, billionaire business man, Donald J. Trump will be sworn in as the 45th President of United States. He will be succeeding the charismatic, first black President of the United States, Barack Obama, who is leaving office as America’s 3rd most loved President.

A year ago, I didn’t think a Trump Presidency was possible. A year ago, I argued loudly and almost betted N50, 000 against him. A year ago, I didn’t think America would be ‘stupid enough’ to elect Trump President given his lack of knowledge about policies and governance, and of course, his ‘unpresidential’ mien. As I write this, I, including so many other pollsters, am eating my words and it doesn’t taste good.

It’s not hard to understand why.

On Friday, January 20th 2017, the United States of America will inaugurate Donald Trump, a racist, misogynistic, narcissistic, reality television star cum Twitter addict who has zero experience, and equally zero knowledge about basic governance issues. Trump is a businessman. He has spent his life wheeling and dealing. Naturally, nobody gave him a second look. Not when you had a Jeb Bush, a Ted Cruz, a Marco Rubio and all the other ‘more suitable’ candidates. Even most of the polls said it was highly unlikely Trump would win. Little wonder the world was sucker punched when Donald Trump won the election on November 8, 2016. We just didn’t see that coming.

All that is water under the bridge. Trump will be the most powerful man on Earth in a few hours.

Expectedly, almost everyone the world over awaits the Trump Presidency with trepidation. Nigeria is not exempt. There is a lot of concern over how a Trump President will affect the world order as we know it. How will a Trump Presidency affect Nigerian immigrants in the United States? How will it affect aids to developing countries like Nigeria? We are a mono-economy nation addicted to crude oil. How will a Trump Presidency affect global crude oil price? The Obama Administration, citing the Leahy Law refused to sell weapons to Nigeria to combat terrorism. Will this change when Trump takes charge of things?

Are there basis for the unease most countries, including Nigeria have about a Trump Presidency? My answer is a resounding yes. It is said that when America sneezes, the rest of the world catches cold. Whether we agree with this assertion or not, we can’t deny that the President of the United State wields serious power which has huge global impact. So what does Trump’s Presidency mean for Nigeria?


Let’s start with the most obvious: isolationism. Trump is an isolationist. His campaign slogan says it all: Make America Great Again. Donald Trump is thinking America first and if that is anything to go by, his policies as President will mirror same. For years the world’s only superpower has assumed the role of big brother, always rushing off to the rescue other nations. Judging by Trump’s statements, those days are over. Trump simply doesn’t understand why that has to be. He has verbally questioned why America has military bases around the world, has said if America had to defend other countries; they would have to pay for it, has said America gains nothing from being the world’s big brother, and most recently, called NATO ‘obsolete’.

Simply put, Trump plans to withdraw America from the rest of the world. If Trump makes good his isolationist disposition, how prepared is the Nigerian government to handle the fallout of that? How will an isolated America affect our trade relations?


Just weeks after Trump was elected President of the United States, several top journalists in the Land of the Free warned that he posed severe threats to freedom of the press. In a report by CNN Money, anchor Christiane Amanpour said:

“I never in a million years thought I would be up here on stage appealing for the freedom and safety of American journalists at home”.

Amanpour would go on to appeal to journalists to fight against normalization of the unacceptable.

This is not what one would expect from a strong democracy like America’s. Trump’s unrelenting attack of the American press has many worried he will stifle free speech. During a press conference days ago, Trump shut down a CNN reporter calling him, ‘fake news’. He has also threatened to open up libel laws and sue news organizations if he becomes POTUS.

How does this affect Nigeria? For one, we love to copy, especially America. Given our proclivity to copying all things foreign, will the Nigerian government become more emboldened in clamping down on dissent? Will our government do it like Trump and also sue news organizations that publish what doesn’t make it look good?


It has been underscored from the foregoing that there is a global anxiety about what Trump’s trade policies would be. His America First stance suggests that he favors protectionism. The big question again is, what does this portend for Nigeria? What would America’s trade relations with Nigeria be under President Trump?

To start with, Trump hasn’t made much reference to Africa in terms of trade and investment relations since he won the elections. Could it be that he doesn’t consider Africa a priority? Like a businessman that he is, Trump sees things in dollar signs, and is mostly more interested in getting the best deal possible for America. How will this impact on existing trade policies put in place to strengthen US-Africa trade relations like the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) which was enacted during the twilight of the Clinton Administration to 2000 to “enhance market access to the US for qualifying Sub-Saharan African (SSA) countries”? What happens if this policy is scrapped by Trump?


Given Trump’s hard stance on what he calls, Islamic Terrorism, experts expect Africa to be of interest to him. Participants at a conference organized by the Center for Democracy and Development (CDD West Africa) on ‘Trump Presidency and Nigeria’, which held in Abuja, agreed that Trump’s Presidency has a lot of implications for the fight against terror.

Dr. Dayo Kusa, Conflict Transformation Specialist and panelist at the conference opined that due to Boko Haram’s pledge of allegiance to ISIS, the group, and by extension Nigeria, would be of interest to the Trump Administration.

What happens to the global war against terror? Will the United States led by Trump continue to support our troops in the fight against Boko Haram insurgency? If not, is there a concrete plan in place by the Federal Government to deal with this?

Experts seem to believe that unlike the Obama Administration, President Trump may be more disposed to selling arms to Nigeria for the fight against insurgency.


A report by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales, published on, says the Trump presidency raises the risk of the U.S. rolling back development aid, thus affecting dependent countries such as Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Trump is a man who says it as it is, and has criticized US foreign aid to Africa saying funds going to the region by the Obama Administration will be ‘stolen as corruption is rampant’. He may have a point but that is argument for another day.

The Nigerian health sector has been one of the major beneficiaries of US aids. The U.S. government is the single largest donor to international HIV efforts worldwide, spending over $60 billion to combat HIV/AIDS. Are we ready for the implication of a cut in foreign aids by the Trump Administration, especially to the health sector?

It goes without saying that the world expects Trump’s Presidency to have seismic global impact. The question, then is, what can the Nigerian government do in light of all this?


If 2016 taught us anything, it is that so many nations are jettisoning globalization for nationalism. Brexit and Trump’s election couldn’t have made this any clearer. Nigeria must follow suit. Charity has to begin at home. Nigerian leaders have to dedicate efforts to making democracy work for every single Nigerian. Jude Ilo, Country Director of the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA) had this to say at the Trump Presidency and Nigeria conference:

“A successful democracy is one that makes life better for all of the people. Any theory of democracy that doesn’t make life better for people makes people question democracy in itself”.

Recently, some Nigerians trended a #BringBackCorruption hashtag on Twitter. This is how bad the situation has gotten under President Buhari. Clearly, this has to change. Also, President’s Buhari’s penchant for being more concerned about what happens to others than to those he pledged to serve needs to stop. No one says we shouldn’t care for others but charity must begin at home. The spirit of nationalism must come alive in all of us first. He must protect the interest of Nigeria and Nigerians first, at all times.


What nationalism says in simple terms is: all man for himself. The years of expecting other nations to solve our problems for us are long over. We must creatively think of homegrown solutions to Nigeria’s problems. Nigeria is overflowing with abundance of human and natural resources. We have to tap into that to grow our economy and make Nigeria work for us all.

If America stops foreign aids to Nigeria, government at all levels must rise to the occasion. It is time to look inwards. We are unfortunately a mono — economy nation. We must, therefore, look for alternatives inwardly instead of depending on handouts. No one can fix Nigeria for us. If it must work, then it is our collective responsibility. It is time to make Nigeria great (perhaps, again).


The thing about Trump’s presidency is that no one knows quite how things will pan out when he finally takes office. It is not clear yet whether President Trump will repeal AGOA and other US trade policies targeted at Africa. This could well turn out to be a blessing for Nigeria. Trump’s Presidency presents an opportunity for Nigeria to renegotiate her relevance in the global scheme of things. We must begin to take advantage of such trade initiatives to improve trade relations with the United States. Trump is a businessman and Nigeria must approach trade relations with his administration from a business perspective and not a tokenistic one.

 On its part, the Nigerian government must make the Nigerian environment favorable for doing business. Quality must be the watch word for made-in-Nigeria goods. Entrepreneurs shouldn’t have to go through hell to secure loans from banks. Agencies such as like Standards Organization of Nigeria (SON) and National Food Drug and Administrative Control must be up and doing. If we must take advantage of existing US trade policies, then we must come from a position of strength.


Nigeria’s last Ambassador to Washington DC, Prof. Ade Adefuye died on August 27, 2015. Since then, Nigeria has no Ambassador to America’s seat of power. This clearly shows a lack of seriousness on the part of the Federal Government.

Ambassadors exist to represent a nation’s interest. Nigeria needs a sound diplomat in Washington DC looking out for what is best for the country under the Trump Administration. Like Professor Hassan Saliu of the University of Ilorin said, ‘you don’t approach foreign policy without deep research’.

Why is this critical?

According to the African Immigration Council, Nigeria tops countries of origin for African immigrants. It is estimated that more than one million Nigerians live in the US. There is, therefore, need to protect the interests of these citizens.

A Donald Trump Presidency that has a tough stance on immigration, has threatened mass deportation of immigrants, wants to profile Muslims and favors America first poses a great concern to Nigerians living in the United States. It behoves on the Nigerian government to explore all diplomatic channels to ensure that Nigerians in the United States are protected. Appointing an Ambassador to Washington DC is a necessary first step.

As Donald J. Trump takes office as the 45th President of the United States of America, amidst global apprehension, I take solace in the words of Prof. Clement Adibe of DePaul University:

“One of the gifts Donald Trump may have given us is the removal of the illusion that our solutions are in the West”.

Maybe, for once, our leaders will finally realize that the solutions to our problems are right here, in Nigeria.

Ukachi Chukwu is a citizen journalist and social media enthusiast. She is interested in democracy, governance and youth political participation.