Lesson from American election

Trump and Biden

Many Nigerians have seen 2020 presidential election in America as justification for the mess we call elections since 1999. American democracy is over 200 years, and had gone through reforms that make it a model for the rest of the world.

India is the biggest democracy in the world and their elections are reasonably credible with the help of technology they have deployed. Indians are not waiting to be 200 years in democracy to get it right. Malaysia doesn’t have to wait for 200 years to make their elections credible. It is not how long you practise democracy but how well you choose to practise it as a people.

By 1999, when Nigeria returned to democratic rule, there were already existing best democratic practices to take as role models. We didn’t have to start from where America started from in 17th century.

American democracy is founded on liberty and they have demonstrated that with victories of African and Hispanic, Chinese, Arab in American elections despite white being still in control majority of her population. Three Americans of Nigerian origin won their elections because the system is made for the people and the effectiveness of the system made it possible.

In 2000, American democracy went through system integrity test and their Supreme Court put it to rest. In 2020, Trump and his supporters were desperate and ready to break the rules.

They did. Trump and his campaign team made allegation of election compromise and that prompted institutions to investigate the claim.

So far, all allegations were either thrown out by court or no evidence to back it up.

There is a lesson from American election in 2020. That is, American institutions are bigger than presidency.

White House can’t influence the credibility of democratic institutions. American president with all the power of oval office can’t dictate for the institutions of America.

Nigeria should copy and make INEC as powerful as American electoral institutions. We have to get to where America is now, fast, and stop backward mentality of seeing America’s flaws as standards for our failures.

Anold Ali Ovurevu, Abuja

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