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USAID has a long and proud history of assistance to Nigeria that dates back to 1960, the year that Nigeria became the 26th African nation to gain independence. At that time, the U.S. Government awarded grants to four major U.S. state universities (Michigan State, Wisconsin State, Kansas State, and Colorado State) to build colleges of agriculture in four Nigerian universities: the University of Ibadan, University of Nigeria-Nsukka, Ahmadu Bello University-Zaria, and the University of Ife.

From 1994 to 1999, USAID programming in Nigeria was reduced due to political sanctions imposed due to an increase in drug trafficking. During that time, the USAID program was relatively small—about $7 million a year—and implemented entirely by NGOs. U.S. development assistance focused on population, health, child survival, democracy, HIV/AIDS, and support to advocacy groups. Despite their small size, the health and democracy programs achieved impressive results preventing a collapse in the provision of health care services in Nigeria prior to the country’s political transition and, after the transition, provided the building blocks that would help the new government lay a foundation for democracy.

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