The United States of America is in a race to pick its next President and expectedly many nations around the world are paying attention because of the superpower’s ability to influence foreign policy.
The election of Democratic candidate, Joe Biden, or re-election of the Republican candidate, Donald Trump, would greatly impact either negatively or positively the economy, security and growth of Nigeria.
Under Trump, Nigeria-America relations have been strained. In 2019, the President added Nigeria to a special watch list and a Muslim ban list, restricting travel and immigration from the most populous black nation in the world over terrorism concerns.
Trump’s administration has also openly antagonised Nigeria’s candidate for top global jobs – Akinwunmi Adesina of the Africa Development Bank was placed under investigation after a whistleblower alleged corruption, America backed his scrutiny despite the fact that he had been cleared by an independent panel.
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is the latest to suffer from America’s disapproval in vying for the top job at the World Trade Organisation.
Despite receiving the support of the European Union and many member states, the USA said it would support South Korea’s Trade Minister, Yoo Myung-hee, because Okonjo-Iweala lacked hands-on experience.
America is Nigeria’s top oil buyer — Nigeria depends on oil to run. With oil prices crashing globally, and the Coronavirus pandemic affecting its economy, America is reducing imports from Nigeria.
In August 2020, the US announced that it had slashed 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.
The highest monthly volume of Nigerian crude purchased by the North American country so far this year was 2.12 million barrels, compared to 11.78 million barrels in 2019.
Its purchases 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.
It is unclear if this will change under Biden as he plans to restore America to the Paris Climate accord exited by Trump which would see the country moving away from non-renewable sources of energy as part of efforts to reduce global carbon emissions.
A visit to Joe Biden’s website shows that his foreign policy strategy plans to change Trump’s stance on a lot of the issues.
Biden says he will renew, “the United States’ mutually respectful engagement towards Africa with a bold strategy that reaffirms our commitment to supporting democratic institutions on the continent; advancing lasting peace and security; promoting economic growth, trade, and investment; and supporting sustainable development.”
He plans to achieve this by, “Asserting America’s commitment to shared prosperity, peace and security, democracy, and governance as foundational principles of U.S.-Africa engagement.
“Restoring and reinvigorating diplomatic relations with African governments and regional institutions, including the African Union.
“Ensuring the U.S. Government and U.S. Foreign Service reflect the rich composition of the American citizenry, including African Diaspora professionals and
“Continuing the Young African Leaders Initiative and deepening America’s commitment to engage with Africa’s dynamic young leaders.”
On immigration, he said he would make America friendlier to immigrants in his first 100 days in office.
According to policy information provided on his campaign website, Biden said if elected as President of the United States of America, he will reverse the ban placed on countries such as Nigeria with predominantly Muslim population, which prevents them from immigrating to the US.
Recall that in February 2020, President Trump added Nigeria to a list of 13 nations facing stringent travel restrictions including Myanmar, Sudan, Kyrgyzstan, Eritrea, and Tanzania due to activities of extremist Islamic groups in the countries.
It bans citizens of these countries from moving to the United States through the diversity visa lottery, which grants green cards to as many as 50,000 people a year.
Biden, who is Trump’s biggest competition for the top job said he will, “end these policies, starting with Trump’s Migrant Protection Protocols, and restore our asylum laws so that they do what they should be designed to do – protect people fleeing persecution and who cannot return home safely.
“Biden will dramatically increase U.S. Government resources to support migrants awaiting assessment of their asylum claims and to the organisations providing for their needs.
“The Trump administration’s anti-Muslim bias hurts our economy, betrays our values, and can serve as a powerful terrorist recruiting tool. Prohibiting Muslims from entering the country is morally wrong, and there is no intelligence or evidence that suggests it makes our nation more secure. It is yet another abuse of power by the Trump administration designed to target primarily black and brown immigrants. Biden will immediately rescind the “Muslim bans.”
He also vowed to protect “Dreamers” — undocumented immigrants who were brought to the US as children but have been productive members of society by going to school or doing the US military.
“Dreamers and their parents should have a roadmap to citizenship through legislative immigration reform. But in the meantime, Biden will remove the uncertainty for Dreamers by reinstating the DACA program, and he will explore all legal options to protect their families from inhumane separation. Biden will also ensure Dreamers are eligible for federal student aid (loans, Pell grants) and are included in his proposals to provide access to community college without debt and invest in HBCU/Hispanic Serving Institution/Minority Serving Institutions, which will help Dreamers contribute even more to our economy,” it adds.
As part of his plan for immigration, Biden said he would order an immediate review of Temporary Protected Status for vulnerable populations who cannot find safety in their countries ripped apart by violence or disaster.
He said the Trump Administration’s politically-motivated decisions to rescind protected status for hundreds of thousands of people fleeing countries impacted by war and natural disasters — without regard for current country conditions — is a recipe for disaster.
“Biden will protect TPS and Deferred Enforced Departure holders from being returned to countries that are unsafe. TPS/DED holders who have been in the country for an extended period of time and built lives in the U.S. will also be offered a path to citizenship through legislative immigration reform,” his website says.
The former US Vice President is also promising to reform the temporary visa system to eliminate limits on employment-based visas by country.
“High skilled temporary visas should not be used to disincentivize recruiting workers already in the U.S. for in-demand occupations. An immigration system that crowds out high-skilled workers in favour of only entry-level wages and skills threatens American innovation and competitiveness. Biden will work with congress to first reform temporary visas to establish a wage-based allocation process and establish enforcement mechanisms to ensure they are aligned with the labour market and not used to undermine wages. Then, Biden will support expanding the number of high-skilled visas and eliminating the limits on employment-based visas by country, which create unacceptably long backlogs,” according to his campaign organization.
Biden said will revisit the Diversity Visa Lottery which the Trump “set his sights on abolishing” to ensure that immigrants everywhere have the chance of becoming US citizens.”
His stance on the matter, “This is a program that brings up to 50,000 immigrants from underrepresented countries to the U.S. each year. He has disparaged the system as a “horror show” and repeatedly misrepresents how the lottery is administered while demonizing and insulting with racist overtones those who receive the visas. Diversity preferences are essential to preserving a robust and vibrant immigration system. As president, Biden will reaffirm our core values and preserve the critical role of diversity preferences to ensure immigrants everywhere have the chance to legally become U.S. citizens.”
Adding that he would defend the naturalisation process for green card holders, “A Biden administration will streamline and improve the naturalization process to make it more accessible to qualified green card holders. The Trump Administration has made it far too difficult for qualifying green card holders to obtain citizenship. Quite simply, this is wrong. Biden will restore faith in the citizenship process by removing roadblocks to naturalization and obtaining the right to vote, addressing the application backlog by prioritizing the adjudication work stream and ensuring applications are processed quickly, and rejecting the imposition of unreasonable fees.”
Joe Biden also said he will create a new visa category, allowing cities in the US, who are struggling with shrinking populations to apply for immigrants who can come and support the region’s economic development strategy.
Nigeria has been struggling to end the Boko Haram Insurgency. When Biden was Vice President of the US, he spearheaded a number of interventions to help stop the activities of the terror group.
Under the Barack Obama administration, the US offered the Goodluck Jonathan administration to help rescue the Chibok schoolgirls in the early days of their abduction — a gesture turned down by the Nigerian Government.
Many of the girls remain in captivity seven years on.
It is expected that Biden would try to continue some of Obama’s policies on global terrorism and offer to help Nigeria win the war against terror.