United States President-elect Donald J Trump’s potential pivot to isolationism could impact the aid money that the US spends on health, education, agriculture and humanitarian crises across Nigeria, and Africa as a whole. Nigeria is set to lose over $1.6 billion dollars in a five-year developmental assistance support agreement signed with the Obama administration in 2015.
The United States of America, through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), last month in an email to Per Second News announced that the sum of $92.73 million in additional developmental assistance was given to Nigeria to support the five-year $2.3 billion agreement signed with the Federal Government.
USAID has spent $474.74 million in Nigeria alone this year on various programs to improve quality of life in the country and to help in alleviating the bitter recession experienced by Nigerians.
One of Trump’s clearest themes on the campaign trail was his opposition to international trade deals that he says have put millions of Americans out of work.
One of those agreements is contained in the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), which gives Nigeria and 38 other African nations duty-free access to the US market on about 7,000 products including textiles, cars, fruit and wine.
In contrast, Trump’s victory acceptance speech last week suggested a more protectionist approach to international relations, stressing “we will always put America’s interests first”.
AGOA has been the cornerstone of the Obama administration’s economic policy in Africa.
Trump is not going to tolerate any expansion or extension of the agreement. This means American trade policy under Trump needs to be watched closely by African leaders.
Another factor that will affect investment is that Trump is going to improve American infrastructure. Close associates said he is going to borrow and he is going to use the money to rebuild the US because that is his project, to “make America great again”. He will most certainly not care if it comes at the expense of aid to or trade with a number African countries.
Nigeria’s trade deals with China might also affect relations with a Trump presidency, the president-elect accused China of unfair trade practices and currency manipulation and threatened to slap a 45 percent import tariff on Chinese products.
Another worrying development is the US-Nigeria Bi- National Commission which brought investment worth over $15 billion to Nigeria within the last two years.
Nigeria in recent months signed several trade deals with the Obama administration. Per Second News gathered that the out-going Obama administration in an effort to align Nigeria’s development plans with sector-specific strategies, collaborated with the Ministry of Budget and National Planning; the ministries of health, agriculture, power, and education; and state-level government counterparts to structure agreements, which is in place until 2020.
All across Africa, the approaching presidency of Trump has provoked deep uncertainty over how the United States will pursue policies ranging from counter-terrorism, trade and diplomacy to aid and climate change.
President-elect Trump during his campaign trail pledged to pull the U.S out of last year’s international agreement reached in Paris that commits more than 190 countries to curtailing greenhouse gas emissions, Nigeria is also a signatory.
“Africa is likely to slide down the list of foreign policy priorities of a Donald Trump administration, said Peter Vale, a professor of humanities at the University of Johannesburg in an analysis briefing.
“He is going to be intolerant and disinterested in issues around the domestic politics of African countries.
Per Second News gathered Monday in Washington that Democratic foreign policy leaders said that an outgoing President Barack Obama could take a last stab at talks and agreements between the U.S and some African countries. There also was a strong expectation that Obama would push hard for Congress to approve the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, allow African countries like Nigeria to purchase weapons needed in the fight against terror.
But now that they’re on the verge of power, Trump aides say Obama shouldn’t even think about taking such steps.
A Trump national security adviser speaking Saturday in New York said, “ I don’t think it’s in keeping with the spirit of the transition … to try to push through agenda items that are contrary to the president-elect’s positions.”
“It’s not going to be just counterproductive, but it will also send mixed messages.”
Investigations carried out by Per Second News shows that many African countries had high hopes that President Barack Obama would bring transformative benefits to the continent and were left disappointed as he winds down his time in office.
But Trump’s rise to power poses fresh questions that reveal the lack of concrete detail on his foreign policy plans — while the president-elect himself has seldom addressed African issues directly.
“In the past 24 hours, I’ve seen embassies all over town, foreign journalists, officials in foreign capitals reaching out to anybody they can find to try to get a sense of what does Trump foreign policy look like with regard to my country, my issue, whatever it is, because there has not been a huge amount of detail spelled out during a campaign,” said Richard Fontaine, president of the Center for a New American Security.
According to Fontaine “The Trump win was such a surprise that most of them had put their emphasis on trying to understand what a Clinton administration would look like rather than a Trump administration. So now, quite a few of them are caught somewhat flat-footed.”
Foreign policy practitioners in Washington and Africa are unusually worried about the Obama-to-Trump handover, a reality that many had dismissed as impossible until it became clear late last Tuesday that the Republican would defeat heavily favored Democratic rival Hillary Clinton.
One possible pointer is Trump’s often repeated vow to kill “terrorists”, which may lead to more aggressive US intervention against the sect in Nigeria, Niger, Cameroon and Chad.
The question on the lips of many African foreign policy expert is whether he is going to assist on the democratisation reforms and other projects that help stop extremism?
“Donald Trump can be described as a strongman leader, and strongman leaders tend to only see military solutions,” Ryan Cummings, director of the intelligence firm Signal Risk in Cape Town, said.
Any increased US intervention would, however, go against Trump’s isolationist stance – a paradox that highlights increased unpredictability under his watch.
“The worst that African countries can do, however difficult it will be politically, would be to show their displeasure and hold their noses, he said.
Senegalese President Macky Sall, speaking to selected media practitioners, including Per Second News in Washington, dismissed concerns that the U.S. under Mr. Trump might not follow through on its commitments on agreements, which could discourage Senegal and other “least developed countries” from abiding.
“America cannot go back after the Paris agreement because it is for our common interests in the entire world,” Mr. Sall said. “If we continue on this way, definitely we will lose our planet.”
“We want to continue our cooperation with the United States and I think the U.S. needs not just Senegal but all of Africa,” he said. “I’m sure that President Trump will see the reality of the relationship between the U.S. and the rest of the world.”
Mr Trump is precisely the kind of man the US system of government was designed to avoid, the type of leader American founders feared – a demagogic figure who does not view himself as part of US constitutional system but rather as an alternative to it.
During a September 2015 campaign rally in the state of Iowa, Mr Trump made a derogatory comment about Kenyan athletes – who swept the medals’ table to beat the rest of the world at last year’s IAAF Olympics in Beijing, China – calling them cheats and con-men. “Look at them, all of them, don’t you see frauds?”
But he had had more to say about Africans more broadly. On the campaign trail in Indianapolis, he lashed out at Africans, saying that they need another 100 years of recolonisation because they know nothing about leadership and self-governance.
There is also his irreverent description of Africans as lazy fools who are only good at eating, lovemaking and thuggery.
Mr. Trump said almost nothing complimentary about Africa on the campaign trail, and it remains to be seen what priorities, if any, he has for the continent.
The next four years no doubt promise to test Africa’s place in the world.