What Joe Biden’s Presidency Means For Nigeria, US Relations

On Wednesday, Joe Biden became the 46th President of the United States, after beating the incumbent Republican President Donald Trump.

The transition period was in no way smooth or easy for Biden and Kamala Harris to the White House with Trump refusing to concede defeat, there is, however, a glimmer of hope, particularly for Nigeria and Africa as a whole.

President Muhammadu Buhari had expressed hope that the Biden-Harris administration would “mark a strong point of cooperation and support for Nigeria as well as the African continent”.

Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar on a similar note urged the new American administration to strengthen the already existing US-Nigeria ties, and to “help our beloved nation’s war on terror by providing every type of support required to win our war against the insurgency we face,” he said in a tweet.

Biden’s long political career and experience are expected to see him through in doing the job particularly in dealing with Africa. Many believed that having served as Vice President to President Barack Obama from 2009 to 2017 and being a close ally to the former president has in a way prepared him for the task ahead.

Biden has been in politics since 1971, with a political career spanning 50 years, and had run for the top seat three times during this period.

Reversal of Trump’s Travel Ban As A Way To Go

But for Nigerians, the first step taken by Biden which will probably begin to immediately improve relations between the US and Nigeria is his reversal of Trump’s infamous immigration ban, also known as the “Muslim Ban”.

The new US President in his first day in office signed 17 executive orders one of which ended the travel ban Trump imposed by Trump in 2017 when he first came to the office.

Thirteen countries including Nigeria, in February 2020, were placed on the travel ban by the Trump administration. Other African countries were Sudan, Eritrea, Tanzania and Somalia. This meant that citizens of these countries were only allowed to visit the US, but not to settle and work there. Trump was accused of racial discrimination to majority black and Muslim countries.

Nigeria also happens to be one of the US’s largest African population of immigrants, with over 350,000 Nigerian immigrants in the US in 2018. In the same year, a total of 13,952 Nigerians received green cards, the highest for any African country.

Biden’s administration has also been noted to be one of the most diverse in US history. Choosing a woman of colour as his running mate already made a sound point that inclusivity was top on his list.

Three Nigerian-Americans have been appointed by Biden, including Nigerian born attorney Adewale Adeyemo as the Deputy Treasury Secretary, Funmi Olorunnipa Badejo as a member of the White House Counsel and Osaremen Okolo as the COVID Policy Advisor and member of the COVID-19 Response Team.

Military Cooperation On The Fight Against Terrorism

On other matters such as cooperation on the war against Boko Haram and US military intervention, Biden has not unveiled his government’s plans regarding security relations with Nigeria and Africa.

Trump had in 2017, approved a $600 million sale of high technology attack planes including 12 A-29 Tucano planes to Nigeria.

Just earlier this month, Barbara Barrett, the immediate past US Secretary of Air Force reiterated the American government’s commitment to delivering the aircraft to the Nigerian military during a working visit in Abuja.

HumAngle had also previously reported the US and Nigeria’s plans in furthering military operations, which included training Nigerian military pilots, instructors and aircraft maintenance specialists over the next two years.

HumAngle also reached out the US Embassy in regard to immediate plans Biden has for Nigeria and Africa. The mission was yet to respond as of the time of filing this report.

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Hafsah Abubakar Matazu

Hafsah Abubakar Matazu is the current Programme Director at HumAngle. She holds a Bachelor of Science (B.Sc) in Mass Communication from Baze University Abuja. Prior to joining HumAngle, she worked for Abuja-based Daily Trust Newspapers as an investigative reporter. She leads the program team in planning and implementing grants as well as funded and non funded reporting projects. She tweets via @hafsahabubakar_

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