Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The magic of Bill Clinton, By Ose Oyamendan

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I love the American parties’ convention. The conventions are where hope and dreams marry and, you pray in sixty or seventy days, they will bear you the presidency and the control of congress.

I’d seen a convention in Nigeria. There, money talks. A stark illiterate with a manufactured diploma can show up with trucks loaded with crisp naira notes and walk away with the nomination.

But, it’s different in America. Money still talks, as it does in all of politics. But, you have to back it up with some personality, a track record and a dose of trust. That explains why Mitt Romney, with all his money, is having the effect of a white wall on a vast section of America.

And, it explains why Barrack Obama is struggling despite the power of incumbency and the weakest Republican candidate in a generation. While Romney is like a cable disconnected from a socket, Obama has struggled because, although he has some achievements in the face of the worst economy in generations, he has done an awful job of communicating those achievements.

One man who doesn’t suffer all those handicaps is Bill Clinton. Every time he takes a microphone, he sings sweet songs. Bill Clinton makes you want to do the unimaginable – aspire to be a politician so you can truly serve.

I have never seen a man chew policy like you chew groundnuts. He breaks the most complicated policies down into catch phrases. A thousand years from now, kids may be talking about him the way we talk of Abraham Lincoln today.

Having Bill Clinton in your camp is like having Lionel Messi on the bench in soccer. You know if you run into a jam, you can pluck him out in a jiffy and he would make any obstacle looks like a child’s play.

While the Republicans hid George Bush and every previous Republican president at their convention, the Democrats rolled out Bill Clinton. And, all the Republicans could say after was, Clinton spoke too long. Which reminds me of a boxer that is being pummeled by a superior pugilist.

The man reduced the whole Republican agenda to an F9 in Arithmetic. Socrates, Plato and all the great philosophers would have been jealous.

Every time I hear Clinton, I can’t help but think of what might have been if someone like him is given a chance in Nigeria. The strength of Clinton is really not his wisdom, it’s his ability to harness experts and make them find solutions to problems.

Nigeria is blessed with some of the best experts in the world. But, every time a leader calls on them to server, he ends up rubbishing them. After all, we are in a country where the supreme leader says he doesn’t give a damn and cries to bed every night on this hallucination that he’s the most hated president in the world.

And when you look around for hope, you realize it’s hidden under a rock. The opposition that should offer a choice is run by globetrotters and empire builders who look more like Romney even though they would pay tens of millions of dollars for a chance to be adopted by Obama as a brother.

Clinton’s the best speaker for several generations. Our politicians are probably the most corrupt in several generations. Clinton talks about hope for America, Nigerian politicians talk about hope for their unborn great-great grandchildren. Clinton speaks about dreams of a future. Nigerian politicians have already mortgaged that future.

I had the biggest laugh of the convention when I heard a Nigerian political party was at the convention scheming to forge an alliance with the Democratic Party. It’s a cross between a joke and naivety to think that one of the key parties in America will be so frivolous they will take the side of one political party in a foreign country.

But, Nigerian politicians have so much money they don’t know where to stop on grand ego trips. And, that is why K Street exists in Washington DC, a place where former political leaders and aides turn lobbyists laugh to the bank with millions of dollars from politicians like those from Nigeria. If these folks think they can become the ally of the Democratic Party, they might as well go to New York and look for someone to sell them the Brooklyn Bridge.

I love Bill Clinton because he’s crossed the bridge from leader to statesman. His former opponents love him; his former detractors have come to adore him. And, it’s just because of one thing – the man cares about his fellow man. He lets you know it and he works hard for you.

It’s what Nigerian leaders used to be. Men like Obafemi Awolowo, Nnamdi Azikiwe and Ahmadu Bello were like Clinton before Clinton. These are the men Nigeria needs now not leaders who don’t give a damn or empire builders on a grand ego trip.

All in all, I loved the Democratic convention for the one thing no one was talking about – it officially kicked off the great presidential race of this century. One that will pit two political families against each other. Hillary Clinton Versus Jeb Bush. 2016 can’t come fast enough.

 

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