By Emmanuel Onwubiko | The Nigerian Voice
Before the end of the year, it will become clearer who between the Republican Party and Democratic Party of the United States of America will occupy the White House for another four years. For a fact whoever occupies the White House becomes the leader of the free world and indeed the policies espoused by such a person significantly affects the human populace globally with Nigeria and Africa not being an exception.
In this brief reflection of an African, I will focus on what Nigeria could benefit from the policies to be canvassed and advanced by the possible occupant soon after the next election on November 3rd 2020.
Our focus on Nigeria is based on the fact that Nigeria has the largest number of black people in the entire world and it therefore follows that whatever affects Nigeria affects Africa.
This was the background of my reflection whilst watching the just ended conventions of both the democrats and the Republicans during which time the duo of President Donald Trump and former vice president Joe Biden were nominated officially to lock horns on November 3rd 2020 in the general elections that is definitely going to shape the world’s view of the human race for the foreseeable future.
Besides, Nigeria matters a lot in the political calculation of the election that would take place in the USA because of the obvious reason that the new headquarters of Islamic terrorism is in the Sahel region of Africa in which the boko haram terrorists are rated as some of the most dreaded terror groups in the entire world.
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It follows therefore that a knowledge of whose foreign policy outlook amongst the duo of Joe Biden and Donald Trump Favours Nigeria cum Africa matters so much to millions of Nigerian observers most of whom will not vote even though a chunk of the voters in the USA have Nigerian Origin. By some estimates, Nigeria is said to have the largest number of skilled and well educated black workforce both in the formal and informal sectors of the economy of the United States of America.
Perhaps Donald Trump’s realizes how critical Africa is when he stated in his acceptance speech at the just ended convention which held amidst pomp and ceremony in the white House’s complex that he is one President that has done so much for African Americans much more than anyone since Abraham Lincoln who was the first Republican president between 1861 to 1865. He believes that his rival has nothing in stock for the African Americans because he is simply a rabble rousing figure playing up on rhetoric and sentiments.
What then are the African policies of these two personalities drawn from the Republican and Democratic Party Platforms?
To the Joe Biden’s Camp we will visit first and in his calculation, these are his African Driven policies if elected on November 3rd 2020.
Joe Biden is promising to Create Wealth in the Black Community. Through his policies from education to housing, Joe will ensure that Black families can build and sustain wealth for themselves and their communities. Because homeownership is key to building wealth, he will ensure first time homebuyers are able to get $15,000 in federal down payment assistance. He will invest over $70 billion in HBCUs and other MSIs, and on top of that provide loan forgiveness that works for public servants. And, Joe will double funding for the State Small Business Credit Initiative to $3 billion to assist small businesses, especially those owned by people of colour;* To invest in Black Communities through Housing;* To invest in Black Students and Educators;* To Support Education Beyond High School. Joe will provide two years of community college or other high-quality training program without debt for any hard-working individual. He will help tackle barriers, such as child care and transportation costs, that prevent students from completing their community college degree or training credential. He will also make a $50 billion investment in workforce training. And, he will create a “Title I for postsecondary education” to help students at under-resourced four-year schools complete their degrees. Joe will rectify the funding disparities faced by HBCUs and other minority-serving institutions by investing over $70 billion in them to lower students’ costs, establish research centres’, strengthen graduate programs, build high-tech labs, and more;*To invest in a clean Energy Revolution and Environment Justice;* to make a Transformational Investment in U.S Infrastructure;*To Strengthen America’s Commitment to Justice. He says that “Our criminal justice system cannot be just unless we root out the racial, gender, and income-based disparities in the system”. Joe says he will create a $20 billion competitive grant program to spur states to focus on prevention and reduce incarcerated populations, inspired by a Brennan Centre proposal. He will expand and use the power of the Justice Department; under authority created by legislation he authored, to address systemic misconduct in police departments and prosecutors’ offices. Joe will also invest in public defenders’ offices, eliminate the death penalty and mandatory minimums, and end the federal crack and powder cocaine disparity. He will decriminalize the use of cannabis and automatically expunge all cannabis use convictions, end incarceration for drug use alone, and expand effective alternatives to detention. He will end cash bail and private prisons. Joe will invest $1 billion per year in juvenile justice reform. He will also set a goal of ensuring 100% of formerly incarcerated individuals have housing upon re-entry and expand access to mental health and substance use disorder treatment, as well as educational opportunities and job training during and after incarceration;* End Violence Against Women. Joe will build on the landmark Violence against Women Act, which he wrote and championed, by expanding the safety net for survivors and changing the culture that enables sexual violence. He will support the diverse needs of survivors of violence against women by expanding grants for culturally-specific services, making existing federal programs for victims more responsive to the unique needs of different communities, investing in the well-being of adolescent girls of color, strengthening investment in alternative justice approaches, and combating the epidemic of violence against transgender women of colour.
The Republican party is not left out of advertised policy frameworks to make America great again and to make Black Americans great again just as some of the African friendly policies were discussed at a meeting held at the Woodrow Wilson centre recently.
An official of the Donald Trump led White House who read out a speech on Trump’s African policies said It is truly an honor and a pleasure to be back here. It was a year and a half ago when I last spoke at this venue.
He stated further: “When I began my role as Assistant Secretary for African Affairs, the Wilson Center afforded me the opportunity to share my vision for Africa policy.
So, it is only appropriate that I return to this venue, review the priorities I set out, and reflect on what has been accomplished.
I will also assess the ongoing problems we need to address in the coming year and beyond.
As I often note, I’ve been an “Afro-Optimist” since my first posting on the continent in 1978. I am even more so now.
In this job I have visited over 25 countries and held hundreds of meetings with African leaders, businesspeople, young people, and civil society representatives.
And, importantly, Africa is getting the attention it deserves from senior U.S. officials.
Last month Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited Senegal, Angola, and Ethiopia.
Under Secretary for Political Affairs David Hale travelled in February to Senegal, Mali, Burkina Faso, and Mauritania.
In 2019, he visited Kenya, Somalia, Sudan, Cote d’Ivoire, and Niger.
These visits are significant. They signal that Africa matters to the United States.
The last time I spoke here, I set out the following priorities:
To harness the potential of Africa’s youth as a force for ingenuity and prosperity.
To work with African governments to create a level playing field for U.S. companies and encourage U.S. companies to do business in Africa.
To advance peace and security through partnerships with African governments and regional mechanisms.
To counter China’s narrative and make clear that the breadth and depth of the U.S. commitment to Africa is unmatched.
I also promised to reach out to African diaspora communities across the United States.
During a trip to Houston and meetings here in Washington, I have met with representatives of diverse African diasporas. I am continually reminded how much such groups can help overall U.S.-Africa relations.
They contribute significantly to the economic growth of their countries of origin and to American understanding of Africa. I plan on more engagements like these in the near future.
Right now, I’d like to review some areas where Africa has seen positive change and progress in U.S.-African relations. Ethiopia: Ethiopia’s reform agenda is breath-taking in its scope and ambition to improve the economic, political, and social life of its citizens.
Since coming to power in 2018, Prime Minister Abiy has released political prisoners and journalists.
He has formalized peace with Ethiopia’s longstanding adversary Eritrea.
He has lifted restrictions on civil society and decriminalized opposition groups.
Abiy views the opposition as competition, not the enemy.
These developments are also having a positive effect on the participation of women in politics.
Women now fill half of Ethiopia’s cabinet and 37 percent of its legislature. Ethiopia also has its first female president, Sahle-Work Zewde.
These are milestones undreamed of just a short time ago.
We recognize that Ethiopia’s reform agenda will require increased support from the United States and other partners.
One example of our support is the Women’s Global Development and Prosperity Initiative. This initiative invests in projects to improve women’s ability to own, inherit, or use land.
We are also supporting the National Election Board and helping to build the capacity of the Attorney General’s Office.
The U.S. government is also providing eight million dollars to help fight a massive locust outbreak in the region.
To foster greater private sector investment in Ethiopia, we brought together hundreds of potential investors in 2019 for the Ethiopia Partnership Forum at the State Department.
Separately, the Secretary’s Office of Global Partnerships led an investment delegation to Ethiopia in November 2019.
During the Secretary’s recent visit, he announced that Coca-Cola is making a new 300 million dollar investment that will create thousands of jobs.
Companies like FedEx and Citibank are exploring new opportunities as well.
On The Democratic Republic of Congo he said:
For the first time in its history The Democratic Republic of Congo has a chance to live up to its name as both democratic and a republic.
The election of Felix Tshisekedi marked the first peaceful transfer of power from an incumbent President to the opposition since the Congo’s independence in 1960.
After his inauguration, Tshisekedi pardoned scores of political prisoners, including opponents of former President Kabila. He opened political space and welcomed exiled dissidents back to the DRC.
When Secretary Pompeo and I hosted President Tshisekedi last April, the Congolese leader stated that his priorities were fighting corruption, strengthening governance, advancing human rights, and combatting human trafficking.
Tshisekedi injected a sense of urgency to combating the Ebola outbreak that continues to wreak havoc in the eastern DRC.
The country may finally be turning a corner in terms of containment of the Ebola outbreak.
HHS Secretary Azar, USAID Administrator Green, and other senior U.S. health officials visited eastern DRC to strengthen joint efforts to contain the outbreak.
The United States remains the largest single-country donor to helping the Congolese combat the spread of Ebola.
I remain optimistic that President Tshisekedi is someone we can work with on trade and investment, countering corruption, and promoting peace and stability in the region.
GE just announced a multi-billion dollar investment in DRC hydro and gas power, as well as health care, over the next few years.
We are stepping up our support for anti-corruption efforts and prosecutions and investigations.
We are also backing improved fiscal transparency in the extractive industry.
We are helping increase local governments’ capacity to manage new mining royalties that communities are now receiving for the first time.
On Sudan the Trump’s official says:
In Sudan, former President Bashir’s ouster after 30 years in power was an historic moment. In a matter of months, Sudan transitioned from an adversarial regime to a potential partner.
The United States played an important role to bringing about a civilian-led transitional government.
Soon after Bashir’s ouster, we dispatched Deputy Assistant Secretary Makila James for an initial round of discussions with all the factions. We also appointed veteran diplomat Ambassador Don Booth as Special Envoy for Sudan.
Under Secretary Hale visited Sudan days after the Transitional Military Council and Forces for Freedom and Change agreed to form a transitional government.
His visit underscored our interest in seeing a civilian-led government that reflects the will of the people.
And we hosted the first “Friends of Sudan” gathering here in Washington to build international support for the new regime.
In January, I met with the head of the civilian-led government, Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, in Khartoum to discuss our shared vision of Sudan’s democratic future.
I also met with Chairman of the Sovereignty Council of Sudan, Al Burhan. I was impressed with the willingness of both leaders to work together for Sudan’s future.
On the U.S. Economic Partnership with Africa, he noted thus:
“Furthermore, the administration has had significant achievements on the economic front.
For one, The BUILD Act establishes the new Development Finance Corporation, or DFC.
This gives the U.S. government new tools and resources to further expand our support for market-based, sustainable investment in Africa.
This includes doubling the investment capital available to 60 billion dollars and giving DFC the ability to make limited equity investments.
These commitments will contribute to job growth and economic opportunities both in the United States and Africa by having our Missions in the field identify “bankable projects.”
In April 2019, DFC joined Advisor to the President Ivanka Trump in Ethiopia to launch the 2X Africa Initiative—a commitment to catalyze one billion dollars of investment that economically empower women.
Prosper Africa is a new U.S. Government-led initiative to substantially increase two-way trade and investment between Africa and the United States.
Finally, for the first time, there will be a “one-stop shop” within the government to support U.S. companies seeking business in Africa.
We have also created “Deal Teams” at our African missions to support U.S. businesses and to work with local governments to strengthen the investment climate.
The Deal Team model, developed in the Africa Bureau, has been replicated for all our Embassies worldwide.
The Millennium Challenge Corporation, or MCC, continues to make major transformative investments in African countries that are committed to reform and good governance.
Around seventy percent of MCC’s investments are in Africa, with three billion dollars in active compacts and another 1.8 billion dollars in the pipeline.
And this year we are celebrating 20 years of the African Growth and Opportunity Act, or AGOA.
In 2019, 39 countries were eligible for AGOA benefits. AGOA requires countries to make progress toward developing a stable, attractive environment for investment. Other criteria include rule of law, a market-based economy, workers’ rights, and combatting corruption.
The Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement, or AfCTA, is a promising start to truly promote a seamless Africa for trade and investment.
However, the proof will come in its implementation and the elimination of non-tariff barriers that hinder cross-border trade.
We support AfCTA. We also made it a priority to negotiate a bilateral free trade agreement with one or more African countries in the coming year.
We are pleased that a free trade agreement with Kenya is now in the works.
As I have stressed in almost every speech, a youth tsunami is hitting Africa. The continent’s population will double by 2050. This poses a huge problem for governments that do not create jobs and opportunity.
These young people are as wired, connected, and savvy as their counterparts anywhere in the world. They want the same things – a good job, a nice house, and a safe and secure future for their families.
At the forefront of our engagement with the continent’s youth is our Young African Leaders Initiative, or YALI. YALI is now entering its tenth year.
At every stop in my travels, I meet with YALI Alumni. These engagements have reinforced my belief that YALI participants and Mandela Washington Fellows are some of the most impressive young men and women in the world.
One 2016 YALI alum from Ghana was named the 2017 Daily Trust African of the Year for his work in the de-radicalization and re-integration of would-be extremists.
Others have been recognized by numerous publications, such as Forbes and Time Magazine.
In Sudan, one of the new ministers in the transitional government, Walaa Isam Elbushi, is also a 2016 YALI alumna.
YALI alumni are CEOs and entrepreneurs creating jobs. They are dedicated civil servants and activists, journalists, doctors, and scientists. All share a desire to build their countries.
What I do know is that dollar for dollar YALI is one of the best programs we have ever devised to build capacity in Africa.
And the State Department has launched another program to help address Africa’s growing need for educated, employable youth.
The University Partnerships Initiative will strengthen existing ties between U.S. and African higher education institutions.
It will deepen cooperation on student and faculty mobility, joint research, administrative capacity, and public-private partnerships.
Last month I hosted a forum attended by more than 170 guests from over fifty U.S. and African universities and government officials. Countries such as Ethiopia, South Africa, Rwanda, and Ghana are leading the way in U.S.-Africa higher education partnerships.
There is no shortage of good ideas. What we need in the next phase of the initiative is to identify the resources to implement them.
On China in Africa, he asserted as follows:
“With respect to China, we are challenging their narrative and strengthening our own public diplomacy outreach.
We are reminding Africans that no one can match America’s contributions. We are Africa’s primary partner in areas such as health, empowering women, promoting human rights, supporting free and fair elections, combating child labor, and building the capacity of African peacekeepers.
China continues to assert itself on the continent. We must encourage African leaders to choose sustainable foreign investments that employ Africans in good jobs and ensure that skills are transferred to African workers.
Now, for the continuing problems and those ahead:
The activities of Violent Extremist Organizations, or VEOs, are spreading from the Sahel, to Burkina Faso. They are threatening coastal states such as Togo, Guinea, Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, Benin, and Senegal.
While Somalia has emerged from state failure to begin rebuilding the country, instability and VEO activity remain a persistent threat.
Cameroon and Zimbabwe have demonstrated little willingness to confront domestic problems or to open up political space.
The international community must also remain engaged in CAR and South Sudan to encourage internal peace and stability.
We welcome the South Sudan transitional unity government that was agreed to on February 22 by President Salva Kiir and Dr. Riek Machar.
I have appointed a distinguished three-time U.S. Ambassador, Stuart Symington, as Special Envoy for South Sudan.
He will lead our efforts to urge the parties to fulfil the terms of their 2018 peace agreement.
The people of South Sudan must see the real peace and prosperity that they deserve. The United States will continue to work with regional leaders and international partners to support peace and stability in South Sudan.
Despite these problems, I remain encouraged by Africa’s successes. During the UN General Assembly last September, my meetings with African leaders underscored that the U.S. is seen as an indispensable and trusted partner for Africa.
I also promise you that as long as I am in this job, I will continue to look for every opportunity to strengthen and expand America’s partnerships with the continent.
As we say in the Africa Bureau, let’s continue to look at Africa through the windshield and NOT the rearview mirror.”
Reading through these presentations, Africans can only benefit from either of them if the impacts of the implementation of these well articulated African friendly policies are tailored towards promoting the agenda of promotion of Security of the continent, expansion of respect for the dignity of their human person of the Africans and for the democratic systems and processes to comply with global best practices. During the Barack Obama and Joe Biden presidency for eight years, much of Africa was destabilise including Libya. The destruction of Libya through the connivance of the Democrats in the White House then escalated the effects of terrorism in Nigeria and the rest of Sahel. The current administration in the White House in the last four years played a passive role on the issue of stability and security of Africa. So it is better to conclude that whether it is the Republicans to remain in the Whitehouse or the Democrats comes November 3rd 2020 Presidential election, Africa and Nigeria may still remain in a state of organised confusion and this quagmire which is self made by Africans can only be resolved by the collective determination of the African people to reclaim their lands from the dictators that have held much of it down in gross underdevelopment.
To your tent oh Africans!
Emmanuel Onwubiko is the Head of the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria
Read from source Nigerian Voice