Fareed Zakaria, a journalist and host of a public affairs programme on CNN, said on Monday that President Donald Trump was exaggerating when he complimented Nigeria’s natural beauty during a White House press briefing with President Muhammadu Buhari.
Mr Trump had drawn outrage earlier this year when reportedly described African countries and Haiti as “shithole” during a meeting on immigration. The American leader denied the reports.
“I would like very much to visit Nigeria. It is an amazing country,” Mr Trump said when asked whether he had plans to visit Nigeria during Monday’s briefing. “In certain ways, I hear from the standpoint of the beauty of a country — there’s no country more beautiful.”
But Mr Zakaria disputed Mr Trump’s claim when he appeared on CNN shortly after the presser, saying it was an exaggeration since no one had ever hinted him about Nigeria’s beauty in the past.
“I have to confess, people have said many things about Nigeria over the years that I’ve been following international affairs — I don’t think anyone has said that” Nigeria is beautiful, Mr Zakaria said.
Mr Zakaria said South Africa or Botswana, perhaps, had received such praises, but not Nigeria, expressing doubt about whether Mr Trump actually believes Nigeria is beautiful.
“That was one of those classic Donald Trump — shall we call it — exaggerations,” the journalist said.
He, however, walked back the comments following social media backlash.
“Re: My reaction earlier to the President’s comment on Nigeria,” Mr Zakaria said. “I’ve visited Nigeria several times. Love the country. Agree it has many beautiful places. Most especially, I love the people.”
Re: My reaction earlier to the President's comment on Nigeria: I've visited Nigeria several times. Love the country. Agree it has many beautiful places. Most especially, I love the people.
— Fareed Zakaria (@FareedZakaria) April 30, 2018