How the US Midterm Elections will Affect Nigeria

African nations, especially Nigeria, are watching the US midterm elections closely. With Nigerian-American candidates winning in Georgia and the District of Columbia, Nigerians at home can feel confident they have an ear and even a voice in the American House and Senate. While the midterms will not dramatically change US engagement with Africa, now with the lower chamber of Congress, the House, flipping Republican, some Nigerians are worried that the Biden administration may lose strong backing and focus on its recent initiative which aims to see a more united and prosperous Africa.

Africa today is undergoing many changes, whether economic or political – some for better and some for worse. For African nations to maintain a steady upward climb toward democracy and stability, the continent needs a strong and stable America to help guide it and sustain it. A number of initiatives aimed at strengthening the partnership between Nigeria and the US could be compromised with a power change in Congress. There are voices in America that claim a Republican rise in power means the country is collapsing and naturally that would not be good news for Nigeria. But it is disingenuous to assume that Republicans care less about Nigeria. In fact there appears to be no proof that a Republican-led America would be worse for Nigeria.

Under the Biden administration, the US donated $1 million in emergency humanitarian assistance in response to the devastating flooding in Nigeria and in September, US climate czar John Kerry visited Abuja where he met with Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari and pledged support for cleaner energy in Nigeria. Nigeria and the US also have a partnership to promote democracy, peace, and development in the country to help it further develop as a strong and independent country. In August, the US entered into an agreement with Nigeria to repatriate over $23 million in assets stolen by General Sani Abacha and his co-conspirators. This amount is just a small part of the over $300 million repatriated so far. Thanks to the US, Nigerians are receiving justice.

But it is not just the Biden administration that has helped Nigeria. Over the past many years and through various dedicated joint projects with the Nigerian government, the US has been involved in helping Nigeria fight malaria, prevent malnutrition, increase agricultural productivity, and provide more primary healthcare centers with clean, reliable, and sustainable power. The US Agency for International Development (USAID) has helped provide tools for Nigerian women rice farmers and has assisted in improving water safety in areas like Jigana and Kawo, proving clean drinking water to over 66,000 locals.

US foreign assistance to Nigeria also includes supporting Nigeria’s own efforts to strengthen its democratic institutions, promote good governance and counter corruption, while improving security. Nigeria is engaged in intensive efforts to defeat terrorist organizations within its borders, including Boko Haram and ISIS-West Africa, and the US serves as an important security partner.

Nigeria has the largest economy in Africa and is the most populous, with over 200 million citizens. The US is Nigeria’s largest foreign investor. According to the US State Department, US exports to Nigeria include wheat, vehicles, machinery, kerosene, jet fuel, civilian aircraft, and plastics. Nigeria is eligible for preferential trade benefits under the US African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).

What is clear, is that Nigerians benefit tremendously from working closely with the US as it assists in improving the lives of ordinary citizens. Nigeria has a long way to go until it is fully independent and self-sustainable with regard to providing good healthcare, sanitation, clean water, and clean energy to all corners of the country. It must work harder to eliminate corruption and move closer to good governance and international standards of business practices. For these and many more reasons, it is imperative that Nigeria-US relations remain strong and suffer no interference regardless of which party is in power in Congress.

It is safe to say that in all likelihood, the US midterm elections will only affect Nigeria positively. Without a doubt, Nigerian representatives can and should raise their concerns with Nigeria’s friends in the US Congress and it is likely that even a more Republican House will view the issues at hand with equal seriousness and importance as its Democratic partners have done until now.

Chloe Atkinson is a climate change activist and consultant on global climate affairs.