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EXCLUSIVE READ:  Four Reasons Nigerians love US President Donald Trump


In the heat of the 2020 campaigns in the United States, even as his domestic approval ratings plummeted, the US president Donald Trump’s popularity in some parts of Nigeria grew exponentially.

Support from Africa’s most populous nation did not really mean much in the electoral dynamics, but it provided a sort of paradox for those concerned about optics of political support and electioneering in Africa.

To be sure, in the November poll, the United States’ President-elect, Joe Biden, defeated Donald Trump to become the 46th president of the United States.

In a keenly contested election, Biden crossed the winning threshold of 270 Electoral College votes with a win in Pennsylvania. The victory came early November after days of uncertainty as election officials sorted through a surge of mail-in votes that delayed processing in many parts of the United States.

Since Biden was declared winner, Trump has refused to concede defeat, threatening legal action on ballot counting.

Biden on his part offered himself as a leader who “seeks not to divide, but to unify” the United States gripped by a historic pandemic and a confluence of economic and social turmoil.

Speaking from his Delaware home, Biden said he “sought this office to restore the soul of America,” and to “make America respected around the world again and to unite us here at home.”

He continued: “It’s time to put away the harsh rhetoric, to lower the temperature, to see each other again, to listen to each other again, to make progress, we must stop treating our opponents as our enemy.

“We are not enemies. We are Americans.”

Biden’s victory notwithstanding, the question remains: do Nigerians really love Donald Trump?


Do Nigerians love Trump? – Maybe Yes

In this July 17, 2019, photo, President Donald Trump arrives to speak at a campaign rally at Williams Arena in Greenville, N.C. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

On November 3rd, Donald Trump tweeted an Election Day message of gratitude for a parade of supporters who waved Trump 2020 signs in Eastern Nigeria.

“A parade for me in Nigeria, a great honor!” Trump tweeted.

The video appears to be from a rally in the eastern Nigerian city of Onitsha, Anambra State. It was led by one Rev. Daddy Hezekiah, founder of the Living Christ Mission Inc.

“Nobody’s done what I’ve done in terms of the African American community,” Trump said in a chat with reporters. “And they see it. And they’re tired of being used by the Democrats for 100 years.”

Trump’s popularity among Nigerians, especially those in Africa, could not save him from electoral defeat, but it was such a big deal at the time.

Biden’s victory notwithstanding, the question remains: do Nigerians really love Donald Trump?

There are believed to be over 30,000 Nigerian-born Americans resident in the United States, and the figure could be much more if other factors are put into the equation.

NEW ECONOMY brings you five reasons why Trump appears popular among a section of Nigerians.

Biafran Agitation

Between 1967 and 1970, Nigeria fought a civil war that left numerous people dead and millions displaced and dehumanized. The war, known as Biafra War, was essentially between the Nigerian government and a secessionist group in the South Eastern part of the nation, dominated by the Igbo ethnic nationality.

Decades after the war was fought, the spectre remains.

The Igbo ethnic nationals, among whom Trump is fairly popular, have largely complained, often times justifiably so, of not being fully re-integrated into the Nigerian system. There have also been calls for secession among a large section of its restive youth population, many of whom are sympathetic to the cause of the now proscribed IPOB group.

A supporter of Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) leader Nnamdi Kanu holds a Biafra flag during a rally in support of Kanu, who is expected to appear at a magistrate court in Abuja, Nigeria December 1, 2015. Kanu – an activist who divides his time between the UK and Nigeria, spreading his ethos on social media and Radio Biafra – was arrested on charges of criminal conspiracy and belonging to an illegal society. REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde – RTX1WMP6

Sometime in 2016, Trump tweeted in response to Britain’s EU referendum result: “self-determination is the sacred right of all free peoples.” That tweet resonated with many Nigerians of South East extraction,  and it was the elixir needed to ignite their love for Trump whom they claimed was in support of a Biafran state.

The rhetoric was followed with a letter by leader of the separatist group who enjoined Trump to support their secessionist agitation. https://www.voanews.com/africa/nigerias-biafra-separatists-see-hope-trump

Four years down the line, it does appear Trump never knew any such secessionist  agitation existed in South East Nigeria – and if he knew, he perhaps didn’t care.



Through his overt xenophobic, white nationalist views, as well as his nativist and Islamophobic rhetoric, Trump has endeared himself to many Nigerians – especially in the South East.

Even on occasions Trump says little to nothing about Nigeria, these groups have found ways of stretching his combustible rhetorics beyond plausible limits.

Nigeria has a president in Muhammadu Buhari, often alleged to be influenced solely by considerations that align with ideals of promoting his Hausa-Fulani ethnic stock and Islam, his professed religion.

Many, in Nigeria’s South East especially, view Trump’s Islamophobic rhetoric as a possible reflection of what could be should the United States’ president support their cause in Nigeria.


‘Christian’ Identity

At the height of Trump’s unusual reign as POTUS, ratings plummeted across the world. However, in Nigeria, about 59% of people said they had significant confidence in the US president.

By the time the surveys that showed Nigerians had confidence in Trump were conducted, he had described Africa as defined by “shithole countries”, imposed his Muslim ban, and defended white nationalist protests.

But the US president had equally managed to project the image of a “conservative christian”, especially with his recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/06/world/middleeast/trump-jerusalem-israel-capital.html

This worked quite fine, at least in parts of Nigeria.

Nigeria has a 90 million Muslim population, and about the same figure or slightly less for Christians.

Nigeria’s South East is heavily populated by Christians who saw Trump’s “conservative” nature as pristine and many even frowned at criticisms of his dramatic, and sometimes deceptive, “christian”postures.

“Some people are careful with what they say, appear holy and do things in secret that you don’t know. But he just says it as it is.”

“Honest”, “Authentic” style

Many people around the world, including Nigeria, are wary of democrats. For these people, a straight-shooting Trump was the response.

This attribute was the alibi provided by Felix Abiodun, a store manager, in a conversation with UK Guardian.

He said of Trump’s style, tactically justifying his love for the POTUS’ irreverent rhetorics: “Some people are careful with what they say, appear holy and do things in secret that you don’t know. But he just says it as it is.” https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/oct/31/he-just-says-it-as-it-is-why-many-nigerians-support-donald-trump

Like Abiodun, many Nigerians also found this style quite “reliable”, and they are quick to support such people, irrespective of what they represent – like Trump.


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