Donald Trump and Imperfection of USA Constitution
By Dr A Olaosebikan
I have alluded to this fact several times : that no matter how intense or flimsy a nation works to create a Constitution, its perfection or imperfection is tested by time and space, and now by a rogue player, in USA democracy.
The rogue player may not necessarily know how the tool (Constitution) operates, but for his selfish interest, he pushes the interpretation of the constitution at its face value. AND IT WORKS FOR HIM. Now it has created a furoré in the mind of USA, legislatures on both sides, legal luminaries, including Constitutional lawyers, and they are all caught “pants down and naked” by what Trump did. The Constitution failed to put in a checkmate that will prevent an abuse of the power of pardon, BECAUSE THE CONSTITUTION WRITERS assume every person or leader will NOT use it to profit by it legally. Such as promising pardon to criminals, who are his friends, AS LONG AS THEY AGREED NOT TO IMPLICATE HIM on a crime they jointly committed or from which he benefited.
It worked for Trump in 2020. The USA Constitution drafted and approved in early 18th Century by the Union of States, had an aspect tested in 21st Century, to expose its oversight.
Now, if USA lawmakers (Legislative branch) are sincere in their condemnation of the Trump behaviour, all they need to do is, to have one or two legislatures draft an amendment to the Constitution, and address the oversight. Debate it. Rephrase it, and Vote on it. Let us see if the next President (Executive branch) will sign it. As it targets or curtail the power or abuse of power, of that branch for the sake of equity, law and other.
Lesson for Nigeria
If Nigeria and Legislative branch try to learn the use of the new tool (Constitution 1999) they have for the purpose of the type of democracy they copy, adapt and agree to operate on, it should be clear, that the year 1999 Nigeria is different from the year 2020. So many aspects of our Constitution needs to be reviewed, tear apart (repealed) and Amended. Legislative Acts can be debated and enacted to strengthened the Constitution.
We don’t need to waste more resources setting up think-tank whose minds are fixated on dividing the country, rather, they need to strengthen the States to make Federalism work for all.
We need astute, curious-minded, hard-working politicians who believe in the rule of law working for EVERYONE, not based on nepotistic, religion and ethno-centric mindset. Such lawmakers, (not necessarily, being lawyers only), rich in the diversity of discipline and personality but with integrity and sincere love for country, rather than Naira or foreign currency, can help to strengthen the Constitution, and thus the budding young democracy that support unity, faith and peace with order in the future Nigeria full of hope.
USA with 200+ years of Presidential system is still an imperfect Union of States, but with strong governing systems built up over the years to strengthen its democracy. Patriotically, they still keep believing for the perfect Union. So they keep saying the “State of the Union” is good every year. Even though we can all see that it is still imperfect and work-in-progress.
Since Nigeria has decided to adopt same system, WE MIGHT BE BETTER for it building the system of governance -through trial and error, but with intense perseverance and positive resolve to eke out the good from it.
It is the mindset not the tool that we need to correct, challenge, rebuke and train to get us to the promise land.
Dr Olaosebikan is a Nigerian based in United States.