With the nullification of Nigeria's June 12, 1993, presidential election, and in light of human rights abuses and the failure to embark on a meaningful democratic transition, the United States imposed numerous sanctions on Nigeria. After a period of increasingly strained relations, the death of General Abacha in June 1998 and his replacement by General Abubakar opened a new phase of improved bilateral relations. As the transition to democracy progressed, the removal of visa restrictions, increased high-level visits of U.S. officials, discussions of future assistance, and the granting of a Vital National Interest Certification on counter-narcotics, effective in March, 1999, paved the way for re-establishment of closer ties between the United States and Nigeria as a key partner in the region and the continent. Since the inauguration of the Obasanjo government, the bilateral relationship has continued to improve, and cooperation on many important foreign policy goals, such as regional peacekeeping, has been excellent.
The government has lent strong diplomatic support to U.S. Government counter-terrorism efforts in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. The Government of Nigeria, in its official statements, has both condemned the terrorist attacks and supported military action against the Taliban and Al Qaida. Nigeria also has played a leading role in forging an anti-terrorism consensus among states in Sub-Saharan Africa. An estimated one million Nigerians and Nigerian Americans live, study, and work in the United States, while over 25,000 Americans live and work in Nigeria. President Yar'Adua visited President Bush at the White House on December 13, 2007.
U.S. efforts to eradicate malaria will focus on the sale of insecticide-treated nets and treatments kits, and provide therapies and intermittent preventive treatment of pregnant women. To reduce death and disability as a result of TB, especially in the vulnerable co-infected HIV/AIDS population, U.S. assistance will strengthen the Nigerian health system, and referral systems between diagnosis and treatment programs for TB and AIDS. Furthermore, the U.S. Government focuses resources on expanding access to quality family planning services and reproductive health care and strives to increase the contraceptive prevalence rate to 14%.
One-third (10 million) of Nigerian children are enrolled in primary school. Only 45% of primary-school aged children have functional numeric skills, and only 28% are literate. The United States hopes to bolster basic education, including at Islamiyya schools, which provide both religious instruction and a secular curriculum, through teacher training and community involvement, and ensure equitable access to quality basic education.
Governing Justly and Democratically: The United States is helping Nigeria make exceptional efforts to develop inclusive, transparent, and effective institutions of democratic governance. U.S. assistance helps rebuild basic mechanisms of democratic governance to make elected officials accountable to constituents through free and fair elections, strong government institutions, and well-organized, informed citizens who demand performance. The U.S. advances rule of law in Nigeria by strengthening the capacity and transparency of law enforcement agencies and judiciary. The United States supports democratic local government and decentralization and improves fiscal administration by maximizing revenue collection in credible audits. It strengthens civil society by promoting existing watchdog groups that have lobbied successfully for more transparency, accountability, and pluralism in Nigeria's fiscal, electoral, conflict management, political, and human rights affairs.
Peace and Security: The United States has supported the peacekeeping and simulation centers at the Armed Forces Staff College--the only one in Africa and a major regional asset--and has continued to provide equipment and training for Nigerian peacekeeping forces while promoting effective civilian oversight of the military and its adherence to human rights norms. The U.S. is building the capacity of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to prevent and respond to regional instability and promote the integration of ECOWAS security mechanisms into a broad Africa framework. It is also funding military-sponsored schools, clinics and basic community services to demonstrate U.S. commitment to help build the nation's infrastructure. Beyond fostering maritime cooperation with security services in the Niger Delta, the United States supports the European Union's leading role in helping Nigeria fight corruption, organized criminal elements, document fraud, drug traffickers, and terrorists. The U.S. will focus on training, developmental and technical aid, and law enforcement cooperation in border control and against arms smuggling and oil theft. Expanded community policing programs will improve Nigeria's human rights record and restore public faith and cooperation with the security services. The U.S. will continue to offer legal reform, training, and technical help to Nigeria's counter-terrorism finance regime.
Economic Growth: The United States is working with the Central Bank of Nigeria, Finance Ministry, National Planning Commission, and others to improve the environment for investment in agriculture through policy reform at the national and state level. Micro-investment is hindered by lack of access to market-driven financial services and lack in policy that provides for liberalization of credit institutions and encourages savings plans with transparency in both the private and public sectors. Federal and state policy strengthening are essential as business decisions and banking regulation take place at both levels. U.S. programs help develop a policy climate in which micro, small and medium enterprises have access to credit, encourage investment, stimulate job growth, and build capacity in both the public and private sectors. Trade initiatives include capacity building in customs regulation and operations, policy reform to encourage internal and external trade, taking advantage of AGOA incentives for bilateral trade, and development of the private sector capacity to meet international trade and export standards.
Ongoing presidential initiatives with Nigeria include the African Growth and Competitiveness Initiative, fighting avian flu, the Initiative to End Hunger in Africa, and the Trans-Sahel Counter-Terrorism Program. Nigeria's eligibility for other regional activities include the Famine Early Warning System, Anti-Corruption Initiative; trafficking in persons; and the Ambassador's Girls Scholarship Fund. Nigeria is a premier participant in the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), for which $270 million was committed in FY 2007.
Principal U.S. Officials include: