Scorned by Trump, many Nigerians love him all the same

File Photo. Members of Living Christ Mission Inc are seen during a prayer rally carrying banners in support of the US President Donald Trump in Imo state, Nigeria October 25,2020. Photo Courtesy: Reuters

LAGOS (Reuters) – Hundreds of men and women marched, clad in T-shirts supporting U.S. President Donald Trump or pink fabric dresses bearing the image of Jesus, as they waved American flags, Republican presidential campaign signs, and even a few Nigerian flags.
The rally, after all, was in Onitsha, a city in eastern Nigeria.

Trump has disparaged African nations, calling them “shithole here countries” and saying Africans would never leave the United States if allowed in. This year, he added Nigeria and five other countries when he expanded visa curbs.

But millions in Africa’s most populous nation love the bombastic 45th U.S. president all the same.

“President Trump, may we shout for joy over your victory,” Rev. Daddy Hezekiah of the Living Christ Mission Inc., which organized the Oct. 25 rally, said in a video.

A Pew Research Center poll in January found that 58 percent of Nigerians had confidence in Trump, behind only Israel, the Philippines and Kenya. A 2020 Gallup poll showed 56 percent of Nigerians approved of U.S. leadership, versus 24 percent for Europeans.

In a posh Lagos eatery, a portrait of Trump in a gold-trimmed red agbada, a flowing robe worn by Yoruba men, hangs on the wall. The traditional clothing is a “mark of respect”, said artist Peter Udoakang.

“I made this painting to bring him closer to us,” said the 23-year-old, adding that Trump’s “radical” approach to governing appealed to Nigerians, who are used to hustling in a tough economy to survive.

On a busy Lagos road, driver Michael Onyeonoro said if Nigeria found a similar leader, the U.S. visa troubles might not matter.

“If we have a person like Trump…Nigeria will be a better place to stay,” Onyeonoro said. “There will be no need of going outside the country.”