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By Jide Aluka

As Americans head to the polls, the level of interest among Nigerians in who leads the United States of America for the next four years is unmistakable. Indeed, the whole world is watching to see if the citizens of the world’s biggest economic and military power will continue with Donald Trump or would rather have Joe Biden as their president.

The general reason is clear. The policy direction of the United States in no small measure affects the affairs of every nation on earth. But the particular support for Trump among some Nigerians is what one may somehow find particularly interesting.

Unlike others before him in recent history, President Donald Trump has not shown much interest in U.S ties with African nations. He is easily presented by the media as afro-phobic even in relation to American citizens of African descent. His travel ban and other immigration policies make travel plans a bit more difficult for Nigerians who want to emigrate to the U.S, which used to be a favourite destination for fleeing Nigerians before his emergence. Yet he is still endeared to many Nigerians who are ready to pick a fight for him.

Unfortunately, going by reports on CNN and other international news streams, it does not sound like it would be an easy ride for the tweet-loving Trump whose victory over Hilary Clinton four years ago undoubtedly rattled the political establishment in the United States of America. He has not hidden his disdain for the liberal media wing in the U.S, very often describing their activities as Fake News, and they too have never been pretentious about their heartbrokenness with the maverick politics Mr Trump introduced to Washington.

To say Mr Trump has had a rocky presidency would not be an exaggeration. He has battled through protests from the start, panel investigations and an impeachment process but has managed to remain standing. He has also faced revolt from his own camp with many who used to be his allies turning against him.
Opponents, including his predecessor, Barack Obama, accuse President Donald Trump of being un-presidential, lacking the right temperament that fits the office he occupies. In response, the seventy four year old has bragged about not being a politician and sees himself as a strong man who is able to do what career politicians know is right to do but lack the courage to do. He has shown very little appetite to extend the influence of America across the world. Though considered a typical New Yorker, Trump has identified himself with evangelical Christians and has remained a great proponent of Christian ideals in a nation tilting towards an increasingly secularized public space. On the economy, he has been a nationalist, against the globalisation vision. Though allegations of his past misdeeds and his loud-mouthed manners have always been a source of controversy, the state of the U.S economy remained in his favour. By end of 2019, Americans celebrated a decade without a recession, added to low unemployment rate. The President’s approval rating was at forty five percent and climbing.

Until the first quarter of 2020, the Republic Party of Mr Trump looked comfortable to retain the White House. The anticipated win could have been even more comfortable with the rumbles among the democrats whose current flag-bearer and former Vice President Joe Biden, it seemed, needed prodding to join the race. He refused the call to contest in 2016, and this time joined the race for the White House well after his closest rival in the Democratic Party, Bernie Sanders, and a number of other aspirants had hit the campaign trail. Biden, who was (former) President Barack Obama’s vice between 2008 to 2016 was understandably a preferred candidate for the establishment of the Democratic party. When it was looking clear that he was going to edge out the leftist, Bernie Sanders, Trump still looked confident to defeat the U.S senate veteran from Delaware.

But that was before the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.
With over nine million cases reported in the United States, the pandemic has become an Achilles’ heel to the reelection bid of the forty fifth president of the United States of America. As Donald Trump acknowledges, his rival and the media have latched on to the pandemic to de-market him. Statistics indicate that they are succeeding at that, as according to election monitoring site, potential voters favour Biden against Trump with as much as six percentage points nationally on the last day of October.
Yet, Trump’s supporters in Nigeria will not be silenced.

Though the American president doesn’t pretend to be a friend of Nigeria, he still has many who love him for different reasons. It is not farfetched that Nigerians who have become accustomed to strongman politics, enjoy Trumps macho persona which he has exhibited from the start of his tenure, even on the campaign trail, like a tool, both to torment his detractors and also to warm up his support base.

Another channel of popularity for Trump is IPOB propaganda that has continued to present him as being sympathetic to the Biafra movement. Across streets in the South East and in villages, the blond hair portraits of the real estate developer can be seen in shops. It is the background of calendars and on the cover pages of quack tabloids.

While the liberal left in the United States spare nothing to see Trump out of power, the man is finding unlikely conservative support among Nigerians. Among those who want Donald Trump to be reelected president are members of the Christian community in Nigeria. For the Christians, Donald Trump’s purpose as president of such a great nation as the United States of America takes greater precedent to his shenanigans. Many agree that his emergence halted the expansionist agenda of the liberal left and the fear of a resurgence of that agenda have raised an army of supporters who pray for his stay in power. Trump who used to run the Apprentice Show and was better known as a socialite may be losing support from individuals in the evangelical bloc in the U.S, but their Nigerian counterparts see no reason to abandon him.

After more than a year of campaigns, with early voting breaking records across states, the final outcome of the elections is a matter of days away. These Nigerians, like many others across the world, are watching and trusting that Donald Trump will once again defy the odds to remain their poster child, albeit imperfect, in a world that is increasingly sidelining the Christian beliefs they espouse.

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