June 19, 2021

Why Nigerian Christians believed in Trump despite obvious shortcomings

President Muhammadu Buhari visits President Donald Trump in the US White House

Perhaps, former United States President, Donald J. Trump was widely supported by Nigerian Christians for his open defense and support of religious freedom since coming into power.

According to Time Magazine, Even before President Trump issued his first executive order attempting to establish a ban just about a week after his inauguration, he had called on the campaign trail for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States,” and declared that “Islam hates us.”

It seemed like the worst racial policy in the history of the United States, a role model to many smaller countries. However, many Nigerian Christians saw this as a move to limit the spread of Islam and weaken its perceived intimidation and/or violence against other religions, Christianity in particular.

Trump has been involved in a lot of “Deplorable conduct” as Washington Post puts it. Such offences, either criminal or ethical, before and during his Presidency include; hiding college grades, bankrupting a casino, paying for sex, not going to Church, defrauding charity, dodging the draft and refusing to testify.

Others are hiding accurate information about the coronavirus, silence following Russian bounties on U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan, obstruction of justice, bribery, conspiracy to influence the outcome of the 2020 Presidential polls, campaign finance violations, hiding tax and financial records, coercing federal employees to violate the hatch provisions of law and the likes.

Nevertheless, his recognition of Jerusalem as the legitimate capital of Israel, reintroduction of prayers and related activities in the White House, as well as his firm stance against reported persecution of Christians in Nigeria brought a sense of security on many believers.

From his inaugual address, Trump earned the admiration and goodwill of many conservative Christians when he quoted Psalm 133 – “The Bible tells us how good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity.” Shortly later, Trump thanked conservative Christians for their votes, and promised to protect their values in his first commencement address as president, at evangelical stronghold Liberty University.

But perhaps, the icing on the cake was the brutal question he asked the Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari in the White House last year: “Why are you killing Christians in Nigeria?”

Shortly after the comments which stirred controversy in the West African country, the United States placed Nigeria for the first time on a religious freedom blacklist.
Trump had in 2018, when Buhari visited him said, “We have had very serious problems with Christians who are being murdered in Nigeria…We are going to be working on that problem very, very hard because we cannot allow that to happen.”

President Muhammadu Buhari, a Fulani Muslim has been widely accused of marginalizing Christians and supporting or condoning violence against them by his herding tribesmen and fellow Muslims.

Trump’s seeming sentiments for Christianity was not witnessed during the President Barrack Obama administration or any other before him. Obama ran a largely liberal Government, despite global threats from Islamist terror groups. Since silence is believed to be consent, many Nigerian Christians may have lost confidence in his ability or willingness to protect their interests.

More so, President Muhammadu Buhari allegedly donated $500 million to the Hilary Clinton campaign and another $600 million to the Joe Biden campaign. There is no public document backing these claims. Furthermore, the US Federal Election Commission (FEC), bars foreign governments from donating to any candidate in any elections. “Foreign nationals are prohibited from making contributions, donations or expenditures in connection with any election — federal, state or local. Also, foreign nationals may not donate to any party committee building fund or fund electioneering communications,” the commission’s website reads.

However, the New York Times reports that the kingdom of Saudi Arabia donated more than $10 million to the Hilary Clinton campaign through the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation, so did the son-in-law of a former Ukrainian president.

President Muhammadu Buhari, being conscious of his acclaimed integrity as an anti-corruption advocate could have explored similar channels without leaving a trace. But even if not guilty of the allegations, Buhari may have worsened suspicions when he hurriedly congratulated President Biden while the collation of the election results was still at its infancy.

This seeming affinity by the Nigerian All Progressives Congress party leader and the U.S. Democratic Party members might be responsible for the obvious disapproval of President Biden by local Christians.
But perhaps, President Biden’s promise to fight “as hard” for those who did not support him as for those who did is reassuring.

Admitting the challenges faced by America as a human society, Biden took an unexpected quote from Psalm 30:5, saying, “I promise you this: as the Bible says weeping may endure for a night but joy cometh in the morning. We will get through this, together.”

Biden taking his oath “before God,” laying his left hand on a giant Bible, with the right lifted up to the sky, and Music superstar, Garth Brooks performing “Amazing Grace” at the inauguration, as well as America’s age-long stance against injustice and all forms of oppression, should perhaps guarantee Christians a likelier deeper protection, against the current seeming uncertainties.