Monday, 17 September 2012

Lessons From The American Political Conventions –By Qudus Lawal


America is the cradle of democracy, her elections are usually followed globally, not just for its intrigue and glamour but because the results affect the rest of the world. This year’s election has been fired up with the completion of national conventions of both Republican and Democrats. Great speeches were given at Tampa and Charlotte; some of the messages passed were inspiring and emotional. Others were pure politicking. I have compiled some quotations for us as Nigerians to reflect on:
***“When that election was over, when the yard signs came down and the television commercials finally came off the air, Americans were eager to go back to work, to live our lives the way Americans always have, optimistic and positive and confident in the future. That very optimism is uniquely American. It’s what brought us to America.” Mitt Romney
“To be an American was to assume that all things were possible. When President Kennedy challenged Americans to go to the moon, the challenge was not whether we would get there, it was only when we’d get there.
The soles of Neil Armstrong’s on the moon made permanent impressions on our souls. And I watched those steps together on her parents’ sofa. Like all Americans, we went to bed at night knowing we lived in the greatest country in the history of the world.
God bless Neil Armstrong.” Mitt Romney
—This is the American spirit; a spirit of optimism, the ‘yes we can’ spirit. Do we have a Nigerian spirit? What is it like?
***“The young woman I met at a science fair who won national recognition for her biology research while living with her family at a homeless shelter – she gives me hope.” Barack Obama
—Who are those we recognise in Nigeria? Those who made patriotic acts or those who contribute to political success of our leaders? In a country known for corruption, a man found millions of Naira and returned and he wasn’t deemed fit for a national award!

“The auto worker who won the lottery after his plant almost closed, but kept coming to work every day, and bought flags for his whole town and one of the cars that he built to surprise his wife – he gives me hope.” Barack Obama
—How much do we value our flag and by extension our country? Do you own a flag?
***“The family business in Warroad, Minnesota that didn’t lay off a single one of their four thousand employees during this recession, even when their competitors shut down dozens of plants, even when it meant the owners gave up some perks and pay – because they understood their biggest asset was the community and the workers who helped build that business – they give me hope.” Barack Obama
—A lesson here for the banks, Air Nigeria and the likes, “they understood their biggest asset was the community and the workers who helped build that business”.
***“And I think about the young sailor I met at Walter Reed hospital, still recovering from a grenade attack that would cause him to have his leg amputated above the knee. Six months ago, I would watch him walk into a White House dinner honoring those who served in Iraq, tall and twenty pounds heavier, dashing in his uniform, with a big grin on his face; sturdy on his new leg. And I remember how a few months after that I would watch him on a bicycle, racing with his fellow wounded warriors on a sparkling spring day, inspiring other heroes who had just begun the hard path he had traveled. He gives me hope.” Barack Obama
— How are Nigerians who got harmed while serving their fatherland treated? Honoured or abandoned?
***“I’ve seen it in teachers in a near bankrupt school district who vowed to keep teaching without pay. I — I have seen it in people who become heroes at a moment’s notice, diving into harm’s way to save others, flying across the country to put out a fire, diving for hours to bail out a town. And, I’ve seen it in our men and women in uniform and our proud military families.”Michelle Obama
—How many of us are ready to sacrifice for our compatriots?
*** “In — in wounded warriors who tell me they are not just going to walk again, they are going to run and they are going to run marathons.
In the young men blinded by a bomb in Afghanistan who said simply, “I’d give my eyes and 100 times again to have the chance to do what I have done, and what I can still do”.
Every day, the people I meet inspire me. Every day they make me proud. Every day they remind me how blessed we are to live in the greatest nation on earth.” Michelle Obama
*** “We were — we were Mormons. And growing up in Michigan, that might have seemed unusual or out of place, but I do not remember it that way. My friends cared more about what sports teams we followed that what church went to.” Mitt Romney
— Do Christian girls in Gusau / a Muslim boy in Nnewi care more about the teams they follow than religion of their parents?
*** “All the laws and legislation in the world will never heal the world like the loving hearts and arms of loving mothers and fathers.” Mitt Romney
— The ills in our society are a function of our dysfunctional family unit!
***“Many Americans have given up on this president, but they haven’t ever thought of giving up, not on themselves, not on each other, and not on America. What is needed in our country is not complicated or profound. It doesn’t take a special government commission to tell us what America needs. What America needs is jobs, lots of jobs.” Mitt Romney
— I will like to paraphrase Romney, “Many Nigerians have given up on this president, but they haven’t ever thought of giving up, not on themselves, not on each other, and not on Nigeria. What is needed in our country is not complicated or profound. It doesn’t take a special government committee to tell us what Nigeria needs. What Nigeria needs is tackle corruption, kill corruption!”
*** “And by the way, after last night, I want a man who had the good sense to marry Michelle Obama.” Clinton
— LOL!
*** “And — so here’s what I want to say to you. And here’s what I want the people at home to think about. When times are tough and people are frustrated and angry and hurting and uncertain, the politics of constant conflict may be good, but what is good politics does not necessarily work in the real world. What works in the real world is cooperation.” Clinton
— We need to jettison our differences and work hand in hand to build the Nigeria of our dreams
*** “No president, no president — not me, not any of my predecessors — no one could have fully repaired all the damage that he found in just four years. Now — but he has — he has laid the foundations for a new, modern, successful economy of shared prosperity. ” Clinton
— Here in Nigeria, we aren’t expecting miracles. Decades of decadence cannot vanish in days, but we are not seeing this present administration laying the foundations for a new, modern, successful economy of shared prosperity.
*** “Now, the agreement the administration made with the management, labor, and environmental groups to double car mileage that was a good deal, too. It will cut your gas prices in half, your gas bill. No matter what the price is, if you double the mileage of your car, your bill will be half what it would have been. It will make us more energy independent. It will cut greenhouse gas emission.” Clinton
*** “After thirty years of inaction, we raised fuel standards so that by the middle of the next decade, cars and trucks will go twice as far on a gallon of gas. We’ve doubled our use of renewable energy, and thousands of Americans have jobs today building wind turbines and long-lasting batteries. In the last year alone, we cut oil imports by one million barrels a day – more than any administration in recent history. And today, the United States of America is less dependent on foreign oil than at any time in nearly two decades. Now you have a choice – between a strategy that reverses this progress, or one that builds on it. We’ve opened millions of new acres for oil and gas exploration in the last three years, and we’ll open more. But unlike my opponent, I will not let oil companies write this country’s energy plan, or endanger our coastlines, or collect another $4 billion in corporate welfare from our taxpayers. We’re offering a better path
– a future
where we keep investing in wind and solar and clean coal; where farmers and scientists harness new biofuels to power our cars and trucks; where construction workers build homes and factories that waste less energy; where we develop a hundred year supply of natural gas that’s right beneath our feet. If you choose this path, we can cut our oil imports in half by 2020 and support more than 600,000 new jobs in natural gas alone. And yes, my plan will continue to reduce the carbon pollution that is heating our planet – because climate change is not a hoax.” Barack Obama
— We have always known that oil is not a non-renewable resource and shouldn’t be our sole source of income. Now, one of our major customers in oil trade is moving away from the use of oil. Decreased demand rather than dried up oil wells is a major reason why we need to take urgent steps at diversifying our economy.
*** “I’ve signed trade agreements that are helping our companies sell more goods to millions of new customers – goods that are stamped with three proud words: Made in America.” Barack Obama
— How proud are you of Nigeria made goods? We all diss locally made products, forcing our producers to fake foreign labels. My cobbler made me a shoe, I checked the sole, and it read made in China. Many great Aba products are labelled: Made in Italy

*** “No company should have to look for workers in China because they couldn’t find any with the right skills here at home. Government has a role in this.” Barack Obama
— Are we working towards making this feasible in Nigeria? So that in the next 3-4 decades, we can beat our chests and intone the above statement?
*** “And while I’m proud of what we’ve achieved together, I’m far more mindful of my own failings, knowing exactly what Lincoln meant when he said, “I have been driven to my knees many times by the overwhelming conviction that I had no place else to go.” But as I stand here tonight, I have never been more hopeful about America. Not because I think I have all the answers. Not because I’m naïve about the magnitude of our challenges. I’m hopeful because of you.” Barack Obama
— Compare this statement to the ‘I am not a pharaoh nor an army general’ speech of our dear president, both are trying to portray the presidents’ limit but while the former is inspiring the later is sympathy seeking.
*** “I loved Barack just the way he was. You see, even back then, when Barack was a Senator and presidential candidate, to me, he was still the guy who picked me up for our dates in a car that was so rusted out, I could actually see the pavement going by in a hole in the passenger side door.” Michelle Obama
— ‘I had no shoe’ came to my mind on reading this!

*** “So, in the end for Barack, these issues are not political. They’re personal. Because Barack knows what it means when a family struggles. He knows what it means to want something more for your kids and grandkids. Barack knows the American dream because he’s lived it. And he wants everyone in this country, everyone to have the same opportunity no matter who we are or where we are from or what we look like or who we love.” Michelle Obama
— We have learnt the hard way in Nigeria that knowing what it means to be poor doesn’t necessarily translate to fighting for the cause of the poor when in a position to do so.

*** “And he believes that when you work hard and done well and walk through that doorway of opportunity, you do not slam it shut behind you. No, you reach back and you give other folks the same chances that help you succeed.” Michelle Obama
— I hope our CEOs, occupants of the Villa and all those in positions of leadership read this.
*** “Let me tell you why — I love that he has never forgotten how he started. I love that we can trust Barack to do what he says he is going to do, even when it is hard, especially when it’s hard. I love that for Barack, there is no such thing as ‘us’ and ‘them’. He doesn’t care whether you are a Democrat, a Republican, or none of the above. He knows that we all love our country, and he is always ready to listen to good ideas, he is always looking for the very best in everyone he meets. And I love that even in the toughest moments, when we’re all sweatin’ it — when we’re worried that the bill won’t pass, and it seems like all is lost, see Barack never lets himself get distracted by the chatter and noise.” Michelle Obama
In the coming days we shall be entertained by American presidential debates: where no candidate dare shy away from or ask for issues to be debated ahead!
@Lawalqdus is on Twitter

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