One Big Thing: Nigeria, democracy and the travel ban
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What you need to know:
- Within the last decade Nigeria has made a drastic transition from a military dictatorship to a flourishing democracy. It is an important political and economic partner for the United States as it ranks as the world’s fourth and Africa’s first largest democracy, imports over $5.5 billion U.S.-originated goods per year, and is home to the Nollywood film industry, which has cultural and social influence across Africa. In recent years, a robust tech industry has flourished making it hotbed for venture capitalism and a strategic entry point to Africa for Silicon Valley.
- On Monday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met with Nigeria’s Foreign Minister Geoffrey Onyeama to discuss last week’s travel restrictions barring Nigerians from receiving visas that offer a path to permanent residency. The administration claimed that the travel ban, announced on Friday January 31, was essential to U.S. national security because Nigeria was not adequately sharing information about its citizens. Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, and Myanmar also received similar bans the same day.
Why does it matter:
- Engagement with Nigeria is crucial to engagement with the African continent’s rapidly growing economies, lest they turn to other trading partners like Russia or China. January’s travel ban is at odds with the administration’s Prosper Africa Initiative, a policy aimed to increase two-way trade and investment between the United States and Africa.
- Within the U.S.-based diaspora, Nigerians are typically more educated and more likely to hold professional jobs than the general U.S. population.
What can you do:
- To learn more about U.S.-Nigerian relations, take a look atthe State Department’s Website
- Check out the Nigerian American Lawyers Association’s community seminar on Feb 8.
Passengers at Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja, Nigeria. Ashley Gilbertson
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