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NGA | Nov 3, 2020

Scorned by Trump, many Nigerians love him all the same

/ Our Today

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Members of the Living Christ Mission Inc are seen during a prayer rally carrying banners in support of the U.S. President Donald Trump in Imo state, Nigeria October 25, 2020. (Photo: SAMUEL ANYAEGBU/LIVING CHRIST MISSION/Handout via REUTERS)

LAGOS (Reuters)

Hundreds of men and women marched, clad in T-shirts supporting United States 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 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 organised the October 25 rally, said in a video.

Members of the Living Christ Mission Inc are seen during a prayer rally carrying banners in support of the U.S. President Donald Trump in Imo state, Nigeria October 25, 2020. (Photo: SAMUEL ANYAEGBU/LIVING CHRIST MISSION/Handout via REUTERS)

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

A painted portrait of U.S. President Donald Trump wearing a gold-trimmed red agbada, a traditional flowing robe worn by Yoruba men in southern Nigeria, hangs in an upscale restaurant in Lagos, Nigeria October 18, 2020 in this handout picture obtained by Reuters on November 2, 2020. (Photo: Peter Udoakang/Handout via REUTERS)

“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.”

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