More information about Nigeria is available on the Nigeria Page and from other Department of State publications and other sources listed at the end of this fact sheet.
The United States established diplomatic relations with Nigeria in 1960, following Nigeria’s independence from the United Kingdom. From 1966 to 1999, Nigeria experienced a series of military coups, excluding the short-lived second republic between 1979 and 1983. The 30-month long civil war, which ended in January 1970, resulted in 1-3 million casualties. Following the 1999 inauguration of a civilian president, the U.S.-Nigerian relationship began to improve, as did cooperation on foreign policy goals such as regional peacekeeping.
Nigeria is the largest economy and most populous country in Africa with an estimated population of more than 190 million, which is expected to grow to 400 million by 2050 and become the third most populous country in the world after China and India. Nigeria had an estimated gross domestic product of 375 billion USD in 2018. Although Nigeria’s economy has become more diversified, crude oil sales have continued to be the main source of export earnings and government revenues. Despite persistent structural weaknesses such as a deficient transportation infrastructure, the Nigerian economy grew briskly for the decade ending in 2013. The growth rate slowed in 2014, owing in large part to the fall in oil prices, and in 2016 and 2017 Nigeria experienced its first recession in over two decades before rebounding in 2018. The gains from economic growth have been uneven; more than 60% of the population lives in poverty.
In the 2015 presidential elections, for the first time in the country’s history, an opposition party won the presidency and control of the National Assembly in generally clean and transparent elections. Notwithstanding important steps forward on consolidating democracy, the country continues to face the formidable challenges of terrorist attacks, inter-communal conflicts, crime and kidnapping, and public mistrust of the government. Nigeria has yet to develop effective systems to address corruption, poverty, and ineffective social service delivery.
President Muhammadu Buhari won a second four-year term in February 2019. The United States continues to support Nigerian institutions and the Nigerian people in their efforts to conduct free, fair, transparent, and peaceful elections, the results of which reflect the will of the Nigerian people.
In April 2018, President Trump hosted President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria at the White House to discuss efforts to deepen our mutually beneficial relationship. Since 2010, under the U.S.-Nigeria Binational Commission (BNC), a forum for high-level discussions, the two countries have met regularly. The most recent BNC was held on November 9, 2017, in Abuja, Nigeria and attended by an inter-agency delegation headed by Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan. The BNC meetings have focused on key areas of mutual interest, including good governance and anti-corruption; trade and investment; development and food security; and security and counter-terrorism efforts.
U.S. Assistance to Nigeria
Through U.S. assistance in Nigeria, the U.S. Government works to protect Americans from terrorism and disease, create opportunity for trade and investment, and support a more stable and prosperous country that is a partner in advancing our global priorities. Through U.S. foreign assistance, the U.S. Government is supporting Nigerian efforts to strengthen democratic institutions, promote good governance and counter corruption, and improve security while addressing the factors that drive conflict and providing life-saving assistance to those affected by terrorism. U.S. assistance also aims to build institutional capacity in the provision of health and education services and increase agricultural productivity and food security.
Bilateral Economic Relations
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. At $2.2 billion in 2017, Nigeria is the second largest U.S. export destination in Sub-Saharan Africa. The United States and Nigeria have a bilateral trade and investment framework agreement. In 2017, the two-way trade in goods between the United States and Nigeria totaled over $9 billion. U.S. exports to Nigeria include wheat, vehicles, machinery, kerosene, lubricating oils, jet fuel, civilian aircraft, and plastics. Nigerian exports to the United States included crude oil, cocoa, cashew nuts, and animal feed. Nigeria is eligible for preferential trade benefits under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).
Nigeria’s Membership in International Organizations
Nigeria and the United States belong to a number of the same international organizations, including the United Nations, International Monetary Fund, World Bank, and World Trade Organization. Nigeria also is an observer to the Organization of American States.
The U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria is Mary Beth Leonard; other principal embassy officials are listed in the Department’s Key Officers List.
More information about Nigeria is available from the Department of State and other sources, some of which are listed here: