According to the U.S. Department of the State U.S.-Nigeria bilateral relations began in 1960, Nigeria’s year of Independence from her colonial ruler, the United Kingdom. The Department continues:
Post-independence, Nigeria saw a mix of coups, military rule, assassinations, massacres, civil war, and elections. The 1999 inauguration of a civilian president ended 16 consecutive years of military rule.
Following this, the U.S.-Nigerian relationship began to improve, as did cooperation on foreign policy goals such as regional peacekeeping.
Nigeria’s economic growth has been largely fueled by oil revenues. The country faces formidable challenges in consolidating democratic order, including terrorist activities, sectarian conflicts, and public mistrust of the government. Nigeria has yet to develop effective measures to address corruption, poverty, and ineffective social service systems, and mitigate the violence. Under the U.S.-Nigeria Binational Commission, the two countries hold bilateral talks on four key areas: good governance, transparency, and integrity; energy and investment; Niger Delta and regional security; and agriculture and food security.
The United States seeks to help improve the economic stability, security, and well-being of Nigerians by strengthening democratic institutions, improving transparency and accountability, and professionalizing security forces. U.S. assistance also aims to reinforce local and national systems; build institutional capacity in the provision of health and education services; and support improvements in agricultural productivity, job expansion in the rural sector, and increased supplies of clean energy. A partnership among the U.S., the United Kingdom, Nigeria, and international organizations to focus on improved governance, non-oil economic growth, and human development ensures closer coordination of donor activities, more effective support, and greater impact for ordinary citizens.
Bilateral Economic Relations
Nigeria is the United States’ largest trading partner in sub-Saharan Africa, mainly due to the high level of petroleum imports from Nigeria. The United States is the largest foreign investor in Nigeria, with U.S. foreign direct investment concentrated largely in the petroleum/mining and wholesale trade sectors. U.S. imports from Nigeria include oil, cocoa, rubber, returns, and food waste. U.S. exports to Nigeria include wheat, vehicles, machinery, oil, and plastic. Nigeria is eligible for preferential trade benefits under the African Growth and Opportunity Act. The United States and Nigeria have signed a bilateral trade and investment framework agreement.
In a press release, published on Wednesday, March 30, 2016, U.S. Secretary John Kerry had this to say:
“Now, Nigeria’s future is in Nigerians’ hands. We respect that. The United States is here to help to meet your needs, to listen to you carefully, to understand what it is that you believe is necessary, and to work with you where we can to implement. Our development assistance this year will top $600 million, and we are working closely with your leaders – the leaders of your health ministry – to halt the misery that is spread by HIV/AIDS, by malaria, and by TB.
Our Power Africa Initiative is aimed at strengthening the energy sector, where shortage in electricity has frustrated the population and impeded growth.
And our long-term food security program, Feed the Future, is helping to create more efficient agriculture and to raise rural incomes in doing that.
Our Young African Leaders Program, in which many Nigerians participate, is preparing the next generation to take the reins of responsibility. And I will tell you, I have met with young African leaders, I have met with young Asian leaders, I have met with young leaders around the world; it is extraordinary how intelligent, how energized, how focused, how determined these young leaders are to meet the future and to define the future.
And in education, we are working together to try to fight illiteracy, especially in the country’s north, where the lack of opportunity has been holding people back, and where the terrorist organization, Boko Haram, has murdered thousands and disrupted the lives of millions”.