The United States of America will inaugurate its 46th president on January 20, 2021, when the former vice president and Democrat, Joe Biden, takes an oath of office and becomes the occupant of the White House, in Washington DC.
Biden, who needed 207 Electoral College votes to win the November 3 elections, secured 306 votes to defeat the Republican candidate and incumbent American president, Donald Trump, who garnered 232 votes.
Despite allegations of fraud raised by President Trump and his political allies against Biden’s victory at the polls, it is almost sure that Americans will get a new leader next January.
The bright side of the issue was that early this month, the Supreme Court of the United States had rejected a lawsuit filed by Texas in favour of Trump to overturn the election in four states: Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
Victory at the Supreme Court points in one direction that Democrats will be in control of power at the executive arm which gladdens most countries and institutions that have been sidelined by Trump’s America First policies.
With the famous saying, “when America sneezes, the world catches a cold,” it is indisputable that the supremacy of the United States in world affairs is still intact as the just concluded presidential election elicited global interest and attention.
Be that as it may, Nigeria and the entire African continent cannot stay away from America’s decisions without being affected, and this becomes the reason the influence of president-elect Biden would rub on Nigeria, just as the previous presidents had positive or negative impacts on the country, including the Trump administration.
Observers believe that Nigeria has excellent chances of thriving under the Biden administration if the diplomatic policies associated with global oil supply, immigration and security interventions are fairer than what was obtained during the Trump government.
Economic Boost Through Oil Supply
During the Trump administration that will wrap up in a few weeks, Nigeria, as the largest producer of oil in Africa, has not fared well. Though with the current hydraulic fracking revolution in the U.S., the global supply of oil has plummeted which has adversely affected Nigeria. Experts have argued that diplomatic relations between the Trump-led US government and China is a factor to consider.
Hydraulic fracking is an advanced proper replicated and ecologically friendly drilling technique that makes it possible to extract natural gas from shale, which was once impossible with conventional drilling technologies. This has resulted in Nigeria experiencing a sharp decrease in its crude oil exports to the U.S. as domestic production rises in America following the fracking revolution.
While that subsists, U.S. and China economic ties in the First Phase Deal of the trade pact signed by the two countries mandate the latter to purchase oil and gas from America. The agreement also has a negating impact on Nigeria’s oil revenue which has dropped as the U.S. snubs Africa’s giant.
The energy trade section of the deal signed on January 15 binds China to increase its purchases of American energy products — crude oil, refined products, liquefied natural gas and coal — from levels seen in 2017, a high-point for U.S. exporters before the trade war started to hinder bilateral relationships. The countries agreed that shipments should increase from the 2017 level by no less than $18.5 billion this year and be at least $33.9 billion above the same baseline in 2021.
The Trump administration reduced its imports of Nigerian crude oil to 9.37 million barrels in the first five months of this year, 11.67 million barrels lower than what it bought in the same period of 2019.
Its procurements plunged by 63.03 per cent in the first quarter of 2020 to 5.53 million barrels, compared to the last quarter of 2019 when it bought 15.07 million barrels from Nigeria. In a nutshell, the U.S. has pointedly reduced imports of Nigerian crude oil in the past few years.
Though Biden, during his campaigns reiterated he had no intention to suspend or halt the fracking revolution, one breakthrough for Nigeria was his promise to re-engage the trade allies to combat China. Nigeria, which has been in favour of the Northern American country in terms of selling crude oil, may yet be preferred.
Immigration And Travel Restrictions
Under Trump administration, the US banned immigrants of some countries from entering “God’s Own Country” alleging they are Muslim and terrorism-laden nations, adding that they are dangerous to American citizens.
The countries affected, just a few days he was sworn into office were Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela and Yemen. In January 2020, Nigeria topped the list of more countries restricted including Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar, Sudan and Tanzania.
Nigeria was added to a list of countries whose citizens are restricted from entering the United States.
According to a White House statement, Nigeria is not observing “the established identity-management and information sharing criteria assessed by performance metrics.
Nigeria does not adequately share public-safety and terrorism-related information, which is necessary for the protection of the national security and public safety of the United States.” Therefore, “The entry into the United States of nationals of Nigeria,” with some exceptions, “is now suspended.”
These restrictions have been highly condemned, though the policy focuses on those seeking a permanent stay in the United States, as the affected nations see Trump as a racist.
It has been a controversial issue from Adam as to whether Trump is a racist or not, but logically the answer is not far-fetched with proof. In 2011, Trump claimed Barack Obama; the first African American president, was not born in the US, an allegation Obama proved wrong by releasing his birth certificate.
Senator Bernie Sanders, who was in the presidential race before, said, “It is outrageous that Donald Trump continues to push a racist travel policy that dehumanizes immigrants and their families for his political purposes.”
With other outrageous attacks on all that appears Black, Trump has racial loathing for people of African descent, and Nigeria playing the leading role in the continent’s economy is not spared.
However, the Biden administration is expected to rescind most, if not all, of these restrictions. He faulted the executive orders which implemented such bans saying they are, “designed to target primarily black and brown immigrants.” Hopefully, More Nigerian citizens will be able to travel to the U.S. when Biden assumes office.
Security Interventions And Other Diplomatic Aids
Nigeria’s current uttermost problem is insecurity. And under the Trump administration, the country has not enjoyed the influence of the superpower both in intelligence and supply of weapons. This purportedly escalated the security challenges, especially from Boko Haram and bandits in the Northern region.
Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed said early December that the country’s failure to defeat the terrorists was due to the refusal of advanced countries to sell sophisticated weapons to it.
“Nigeria had made attempts to acquire better and more effective platforms to deal with terrorists, and for one reason or the other, we have been denied these platforms; and without adequate platforms, we will remain at the mercy of terrorists,” Mohammed lamented.
It is believed that the strained relationship between Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari and his American counterpart, Donald Trump played a critical role in the U.S. looking the other way while the most populous black nation suffers in the hands of adequately financed and weapon-equipped terrorists.
With the incoming Biden administration, Nigeria and other terrorism-laden nations may have a sigh of relief in fighting the insurgents to stand still.
Recall that Biden promised in his campaigns to continue the fight against terrorism across the globe. Biden is an advocate of ‘Counterterrorism Plus.’ This approach underlines combating terrorist networks in foreign countries with small groups of special U.S. forces and utilization of violent airstrikes in place of deployment of land troops. There is a big hope that the Nigerian government might gain an advantage over terrorism under Biden government.
It will be recalled that Biden was the vice president in the Obama administration when the Navy Seals were sent to Pakistan to kill al-Queda leader Osama bin Laden in his Abbottabad compound, on May 1, 2011.
Other Benefits From Foreign Policies
With Biden’s rule, Africans may have some peculiar benefits, depending on the policies. For instance, Biden appointed a 39-year-old Nigerian American, Wally Adeyemo, as the Assistant Secretary of the Treasury.
Also, human rights violations in Nigeria have tendencies of reducing as the Biden administration may play considerable roles in wielding big sticks to withdraw support from the Nigerian government that is hell-bent on abusing the rights of its citizens.
Recall that Biden lent his voice on the violence that broke out after the military men shot peaceful #EndSARS protesters on October 20, 2020, at Lekki Toll Gate, Lagos.
“I urge President Buhari and the Nigerian military to cease the violent crackdown on protesters in Nigeria, which has already resulted in several deaths. My heart goes out to all those who have lost a loved one in the violence,” Biden said.
“The United States must stand with Nigerians who are peacefully demonstrating for police reform and seeking an end to corruption in their democracy. I encourage the government to engage in a good-faith dialogue with civil society to address these long-standing grievances and work together for a more just and inclusive Nigeria.”
Also, there are numerous reimbursements that Nigeria and other foreign countries should expect from Biden in power as analyzed by Femi Soneye, a security consultant in the U.S. He pointed out that the Biden administration could reinstate supportive links between Africa and the U.S., something the former American President, Barack Obama administration favoured during his eight-year presidency. He views the Biden administration as changing its policy in Africa and mending relationships that were “soured under the Trump administration.”
“Under the Trump administration, tens of billions of dollars for food, water, education, health, security and other development needs were on the line. The Trump administration was notorious for using aid cuts as a foreign policy cudgel, but with the Biden presidency, Nigeria and Africa, in general, need not fret again about USAID’s shrinking budgets annually,” Soneye tells The Africa Report.
Nigeria has many setbacks from the Trump-controlled American government, including stiff opposition against Akinwunmi Adesina and Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala becoming the African Development Bank’s President and World Trade Organisation’s Director-General respectively.
While Adesina scaled through to become AfDB boss following his vindication from Mary Robinson-headed independent panel, Okonjo-Iweala has wallowed in the obstacle against her emergence as D.G. of WTO.
These inadequacies of the Trump administration are what the U.S. President-elect Biden can undo, because the tenets of Democratic Party in the United States emphasize liberalism.
Obama had once said, “I came to admire Joe as a man who has learned early on to treat everybody he meets with dignity and respect…And that empathy, that decency, that belief that everybody counts, that’s who Joe is.” Will the Joe Biden Presidency actually favour Nigerians? Time will tell.
Saharareporters, New York