Leadership (Abuja)

7 November 2012

Nigeria: Victorious Barack Hussein Obama

opinion

As I write this, the deadlock of the race is being settled as both candidates' pursuit of every single vote comes to an end and Americans decide their president for the next four years.

For all Obama supporters all over the world, the lead for Barack at the US presidential election is a relief. Even for those of us who have no direct connection with America, the race was excruciating to watch because it is so ruddy close. But though the race is closer than initially predicted, Barack's narrow lead is still a decisive one; one good enough for those of us who hope and pray that he will eventually emerge victorious.

From the time that Mitt Romney emerged as the Republican Party nominee, I was not as convinced as some that the race would be a walkover for Barack. Like him or hate him, Romney is an accomplished politician born with a political silver spoon, a great leader, an astute businessman and a person that is more than fit and qualified to occupy one of the highest and most powerful offices in the world.

Having secured the ticket of his party, he came into the race as the underdog to a very likeable but flawed Obama. In the aftermath of the party conventions, Obama was clearly ahead in the polls and the bookies' favourite to win, while Mitt Romney faced accusations that he was a man who was affluent, arrogant; callous, aloof and out of touch. It seemed inevitable back then that Barack would win. Romney himself further augmented this following a series of personal gaffes by himself and a stunningly incompetent campaign team.

The extremely damaging tape, which caught Romney alienating 47% of the American electorate, reinforced the suspicion and adverse assessment people already had of him. His incredibly chauvinistic and pigheaded support of Richard Murdock in the wake of Murdock's rape comments saw Governor Romney alienate himself further from the vital female vote that was so crucial to his campaign victory. Then, there was the imprudent advert released by Romney's team that infuriated the motor industry, which suggested that some vehicle production was to be relocated to China due to cheaper labour. This one advert fortified the notion that Mitt Romney was an adversary to the crucial Mid-western blue-collar voters.

However, notwithstanding all of this, during the course of his campaign, Romney managed to take on the challenges of his potential failure head-on by reinventing himself, presenting an image of a moderate conservative within a highly conservative party. He backtracked on some of his earlier controversial promises, distanced himself from the party he was leading and by extension distanced himself from an incredibly unpopular and moronic President Bush. And a large number of Americans bought into it.

So, there and then it proved that the game wasn't over for Governor Romney; that he could reach out and snatch victory right from the palm of a seemingly complacent President Obama. So there and then the race for the White House really and truly began and the game was on!

The American Election 2012 has been a very interesting and surprising one. It has been a bitter and unpleasant campaign with a horde of seemingly critical moments that had the potential to alter the overall outcome of the elections particularly in favour of Romney. But none of them left a lasting impression. President Obama came into the race with a truckload of mistakes and weaknesses but, whatever they were, the opposition seemed unable to effectively exploit them.

The attack of the American Embassy in Libya and the murder of Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were considered a death knell to Barack's popularity surge. But Obama managed to dodge this and so many other bullets that were coming his way. Somehow, all the shockers and the outrages during this campaign have one way or another worked to the president's advantage.

Elections are decided by the basics. Apart from the fact that Obama is one of the most likeable public figures of this generation, apart from the fact that Obama must be the one person the lady luck chose as her first born. Apart from the fact that this one man has managed to catch the imagination of the whole world since he came onto the scene, the reason why Obama is likely to win the American election and is likely to embark on another four-year term is due to the fact that none of the major political changes projected by Romney and his team have crystalized.

For a start, there was a belief that the passion that saw Obama into office in 2008 would vanish. Many of us thought that the euphoria that followed his last campaign and victory would have dimmed owing to the harsh reality and ongoing struggles of the ordinary American voter.

Several commentators were of the opinion that Romney would have absorbed the misplaced euphemism from a fractured society and stubborn economy. But that really wasn't the case. The Democratic base doesn't seem to have lost their appetite and energy. And this energy was part of the factor that has given Barack the momentous lead in the undecided swing states where Romney is facing margins too expansive to close.

The behemoth of a fledgling economy and the high unemployment figures, which was expected to give Mitt Romney and the Republican Party victory on a silver platter, was not to be. The blessing of lady luck was on the side of Barack because just as the factors of a fractured economy were about to bite the US president, vital economic indicators stayed on a positive trajectory with the effect that wide-ranging economic assurances rose in their wake. By extension, the unemployment figures suddenly went down. This saw a rise in Barack's approval ratings. "No time like the present!"

And who could forget the first presidential debate, which leashed life into the Romney campaign and unraveled the moving train of Barack's victory. With his lackluster performance in Denver, Obama performed the part of a presenter who stands on stage to introduce the main act in a show. That act was Mitt Romney and the governor came out all guns blazing, shinning and thriving. Suddenly, thanks to Obama, Romney looked like the better occupant of the White House. A reset button had been pushed, the playing field had been leveled and, for Obama, the heat was on for the first time in the race.

While Barack fought back and won the two subsequent debates, the dynamic encasing the race radically changed course. But even with that, the essentials remained unaffected. Slowly with determination and the hand of lady luck, the narrative in Barack's favour finally began to realign itself.

The most palpable came in the form of a devastating hurricane Sandy. Barack Obama cut the figure of a compassionate and sensitive president who was well and truly in command by responding to the plight and need of his people. He toured the areas affected with Chris Christie, a Republican governor. He fully supported the relief efforts and the relief agencies. This was the same sentiment that endeared the American people to a widely unpopular George Bush in the aftermath of the 2001 Twin-Tower attacks. Mitt Romney, on the other hand, failed to capitalize on presenting himself to the American people in the same way.

But despite any of the factors that may have played into Barack's potential victory, the bottom line is that he is a good man and a successful president that has done a good job since he has been in office. The last four years have been tough for President Obama. But even with the challenges he has faced especially in managing a slow economic recovery, he has been able to sustain the economy. He has readjusted the negative image of America created by the Bush administration. He has annihilated America's no 1 enemy, Osama bin Laden, and has secured America against any major terrorist attacks on American soil. He has spelt the end of two unnecessary wars and is calling American soldiers back home. That is certainly not bad for a man that was riding against the wave.

By the looks of it from the exit polls, Barack Obama is well on his way to victory. This son of the world ends the 2012 presidential race much in the same way he began: on the back of the ultimate victory. And as his lead increases, as the final results are being read, I would like to congratulate Americans all over the world in advance for making a wise and right decision, not only for America but for the whole world.

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