By Farooq A. Kperogi, Ph.D.
In the aftermath of Donald Trump’s emergence as America’s president-elect, fringe, dodgy, clickbaity Nigerian websites have invented a transparently fake but wildly viral story that President Muhammadu Buhari donated $500 million to the Hillary Clinton Presidential Campaign, and that this “fact” would strain relations between Nigeria and the United States next year when Trump is sworn in as president.
I initially ignored the story because I didn’t think anybody with even the littlest brain cell in their head would believe it. But the lie has now taken a life of its own; it is being shared and reshared on multiple social media platforms and has become a talking point in many online conversations. Many people, apparently, just assume the truth of this bewilderingly wild fabrication without a shred of evidence.
There are at least three reasons why this contemptible fib is not worth an inch of the web spaces on which it’s published. First, Hillary Clinton’s entire spending during the presidential campaign this year was less than $500 million. According to the (US) Federal Election Commission, Clinton spent $497.8 million throughout the 2016 presidential campaigns. Of this, $356,455,996 came from “contributions.” It is logically and mathematically impossible for one individual—or government— to contribute more money to a campaign than the campaign itself has received.
Second, foreigners are forbidden from contributing to political campaigns in the US. Here is what the Federal Election Commission says on its “Quick Answers to General Questions” page about this: “Can non-US citizens contribute? Foreign nationals are prohibited from making any contributions or expenditures in connection with any election in the U.S. Please note, however, that ‘green card’ holders (i.e., individuals lawfully admitted for permanent residence in the U.S.) are not considered foreign nationals and, as a result, may contribute.”
Third, $500 million isn’t 500,000 thousand naira. Any foreign financial transaction above $10,000 automatically sets off alarm bells here. A $500 million campaign donation from a foreign person or government to a US presidential candidate would be like waving a red flag in front of a bull. It would be all over the American news media.
When news broke in November 2008 that Obama’s paternal aunt, Zeituni Oyango, who lived in the US illegally, contributed just $265 to his campaign, his presidential bid suffered a rude shock. The money was immediately returned.
In any case, the Federal Election Commission limits the contribution an individual can make “per election to a Federal candidate or the candidate's campaign committee” to just $2,700. So no one individual can even contribute up to a million dollars, much less 500 million dollars, to a US political campaign.
“Holy Lies” of Religious Zealots
But how did this lie start? And who believes and peddles it? My exhaustive survey of websites and social media chatter shows that people who started and amplified this lie are people who nurse a religious grudge against Buhari and his government.
They, in addition, uncritically consume and excitedly share fake news stories and discredited conspiracy theories from ultra-racist, rightwing American websites that claim that Obama is a secret Muslim Jihadist who is in cahoots with Muslim leaders all over the world to undermine America and destroy Christianity. This group of simpletons believes that John Kerry’s recent visit to Nigeria where he met with northern Muslim leaders was in furtherance of Obama’s sly Islamic expansionist agenda.
In their warped, impoverished minds, any candidate that Obama supported must be the “Islamic” candidate that Buhari would also support. So Clinton was the “Islamic” candidate that must be reviled and vilified and Trump was the “Christian” candidate that must be supported and defended.
Fabrication of intentional falsehoods to discredit both Buhari and Clinton is seen as a legitimate weapon of holy war against the forces of “Jihad.”
Trump not a “Christian”
These simpleminded, cerebrally subnormal, and wantonly illiterate “holy liars” celebrate Donald Trump as a “Christian” who will “deal” with Muslims. I hate to burst people’s bubble, but Trump is no Christian. He is just a self-indulgent, narcissistic materialist who doesn’t give a damn about spiritual verities.
For instance, on July 18 2015, according to CNN, Trump told a gathering of socially conservative Christians that he doesn’t ask God for forgiveness. "I think if I do something wrong, I think, I just try and make it right. I don't bring God into that picture. I don't," he said. As a Christian theologian said in response to Trump, “Asking God for forgiveness is a central aspect of Christianity across… many traditions. This is not relevant to his political views, but it is curious that many Christians support Trump and believe his claims about his Christian faith.”
During a speech at the conservative Christian Liberty University on January 18, 2016 Trump betrayed his spectacular lack of familiarity with the Bible when he quoted “Two Corinthians 3:17” instead of the “Second Corinthians” that observant Christians call it.
There is even more evidence that Trump isn’t familiar with the content of the Bible he claims is his “favorite book.” On August 26, 2015, Bloomberg reporters Mark Halperin and John Heilemann asked him to mention his one or two favorite Bible verses. He stammered and said, "Well, I wouldn't want to get into it because to me that's very personal."
In order to compensate for this embarrassment, about a month later, he tried to prove that he did, in fact, have some familiarity with the Bible. So, during an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network, he said his favorite verse in the Bible was "Proverbs, the chapter 'never bend to envy.'" Problem is, Christians say such a verse doesn’t exist anywhere in the Bible.
Again, on April 14, 2016 New York radio host Bob Lonsberry asked Trump to name his favorite Bible verse. After hemming and hawing and prevaricating, he finally said “an eye for an eye” was his favorite Bible verse. Even a non-Christian like me knows that Jesus repudiated that verse in the New Testament. Many American Christians pointed out that in Matthew (5:38-42) Jesus said, "Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.”
Finally, Trump doesn’t even go to church. During a campaign stop in South Carolina last year, Trump said he was a "Presbyterian Protestant” who goes to the “Marble Collegiate Church” in New York. The very next day, the church issued a statement saying although Trump’s late parents were “active members” of the church, Trump “is not an active member of Marble," a polite way to say he lied about being a member of the church.
So, Trump, on whose behalf some religiously inspired fringe Nigerian websites invented a pitiful lie against Buhari, isn’t even the Christian they think he is.
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