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Background to the Study

The history of Nigerian foreign policy since 1960 has constantly been changing, though the principles guiding its foreign relations remain the same.[1] Nigerian leaders are largely responsible for these unstable external relations. Since Nigeria’s foreign policy is deeply rooted in Africa with strategic emphasis on political and economic cooperation, peaceful dispute resolution, and global nonalignment,[2] Nigerian leaders also have their attention fixed on the successful implementation of these principles. However, the influence of personality on Nigeria’s relations with other countries cannot be totally ignored as different leaders adopt different styles in conducting external relations.

Examining the personality of the leader both at the theoretical and practical levels is therefore important in understanding Nigeria’s foreign policy. Again, analysis of Nigeria’s foreign policy show that her leaders operate within four “concentric circles” of national interest. The innermost circle represents Nigeria’s own security, independence and prosperity and is centered on its immediate neighbours – Benin, Cameroon, Chad and Niger; the second circle revolves around Nigeria’s relations with its West African neighbors; the third circle focuses on continental African issues of peace, development and democratization; and the fourth circle involves Nigeria’s relations with organizations, institutions and states outside Africa.[3] With this in inind, each Nigerian head of state or president work to ensure that no single part is defected in pursuing the country’s foreign policy. Evidences abound on how past Nigerian heads of state or presidents have worked within these four concentric circles.

At independence, Nigeria as a sovereign state began to conduct her foreign relations under the political and governmental leadership of its Prime Minister, the late Alhaji (Sir) Abubakar Tafawa Balewa whose administration emphasized Africa to be centerpiece of Nigeria’s foreign policy. His own foreign relation was pro-west particular with Britain, Nigeria’s erstwhile colonial master. With the bloody military coup of January 15, 1966, the late Major General J.T.U. Aguiyi Ironsi came to power only, to be killed in a counter coup staged six months later. This development brought the General Yakubu Gowon to power. Gowon borrowed a leaf from Balewa by being pro—West in his foreign affairs. He entered into agreement with Britain, the United States and other Europeans countries. However, his administration reluctantly allowed the Soviet Union to open its embassy in Lagos.

The Gowon led Federal Military Government was sacked in a bloodless coup which led to the assumption of power by the late General Murtala Ramat Mohammed and the General (now Chief) Olusegun Obasanjo who was his second in command and Chief of Staff Supreme Headquarters.

The assumption of power by these two men served as a catalyst in the history of international relations as far as Nigeria was concerned. Their government injected new innovations and dynamism into the nation’s foreign affairs. Mohammed was prepared to counter the imperial moves of the Western powers especially the United States who had emerged as a major power broker in Africa particularly in Angola. Britain and Portugal also became targets of the new military administration while not leaving Cube, a surrogate of the Soviet Union both of whom were present in Angola, challenging the United States (US) presence there. These Western Powers, Cuba as wells as South Africa became the target of Mohammed/ Obasanjo military regime in Africa.[4]

One basic fact that must be stressed is the fact that this was the age of the Cold War during which the US and the Soviet Union were competing for military supremacy and searching for satellite countries who would support them in their bid to permanently polarize the world into Capitalist and Communist Blocs under the US and Soviet Union respectively.

Given the above situation the Muhammed Obasanjo regime arose as a diplomatic gadfly ready to sting these powers in its resolve to emancipate African countries that were still under the tyranny of colonial masters; eradicate neo—colonialism, racism and apartheid on the African continent particularly in Portuguese colonies in Africa and racism/apartheid in Southern Africa. .

With all these involvements in international politics, Nigeria became a regional power and centre of influence, particularly in Africa. This combined. With a viable economy until the mid—1980s, Nigeria was a toast of many states seeking either its influence or support on global issues or financial assistance. Concomitantly, Nigerians were respected abroad, while the tendency to emigrate abroad was not popular. Fraudulent tendencies on the part of Nigerians abroad were at the lowest ebb.

However, the post-Shagari administration’s military regimes played deciding roles in the image- destruction of the Nigerian state in foreign affairs. Thus, the period covering 1980-1999, Nigeria’s foreign policy during this period received some setbacks. First, the draconian policies of the Buhari regime attracted wide criticism from the international community. Second, the failure of the economic diplomacy of Gen. l.B. Babangida through the Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) and subsequent annulment of June 12, 1993 general elections led to the breakdown of domestic policies in the country. Third, the Bazuka foreign policy style of late Gen. Sani Abacha further deteriorated the foreign image of Nigeria especially with its key allies in Europe and America. These were the situations when President Olusegun Obasanjo came to power in 1999.[5]

President Olusegun Obasanjo, at inauguration in May, 1999, inherited a nation with a battered image and without credibility externally. In his determination to regain Nigeria’s lost glory and re-integrate it to the civilized world, he engaged in a deft shuttle diplomacy across the major capitals of the globe. The president, during his extensive foreign trips, have addressed the UN, ECOWAS, the Group of 8 (G-8), Group 77 (G-77), the Commonwealth, African Union (AU) and EU.

The nation has achieved significant gains through the regime’s shuttle diplomacy. Apart from the psychological relief following its re—integration and accommodations into the world affairs, Nigeria had assumed the leadership of several international organizations notably the ECOWAS, AU, and G-77. It had hosted very important international summits including those of the Commonwealth Heads of State and Government and the AU in 2004, the New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD) in 2005, and severally, the ECOWAS since 1999. The nation had also hosted the All Africa Games in 2004. Obasanjo had been the guest of honour to the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in May 2004.[6] All these imply that the international system has restored its confidence in Nigeria. The regime’s economic diplomacy also has yielded economic dividends for the nation. In addition to increased Development Finance ln-flow (DFT) and foreign investments, the Paris Club had cancelled $18 billion (60%) of the nation’s over $30 billion external, a gesture, which signifies the Club’s confidence in the nation’s economy and credibility as an external debtor.[7]

Generally, Nigeria’s increasing profile in its foreign relations implies that the nation has regained its role as a leading player in multilateral politics and diplomacy. lt can be said therefore that period covering 1999-2007 Nigeria’s foreign policy received a new turn in restoring the image of the country through a global shuttle diplomacy of President Olusegun Obasanjo.

Objectives of the Study

This study seeks to achieve the following objectives:

(i) Provide a detailed background to Nigeria’s foreign policy under successive governments from 1960 to 2007 focusing on their achievements and shortcomings;

(ii) Examine the impact of personality of the leaders on foreign policy decision making in Nigeria;

(iii) Analyse the policy of economic partnership especially with the western powers and the implication of this partnership on Nigeria economic growth between 1960 and 2007; and lastly,

(iv) Discuss the contributions of (Nigeria under the various administrative governments to the security and peace—building in Africa;

Scope and Limitations of the Study

This study focuses on Nigeria’s foreign policy from 1960 to 2007. It looks at the influence of personality on the conduct of foreign policy. Other areas which this study covers include the domestic factors that influenced Nigerian foreign policy since 1960. Moreover, the key achievements of various administrations in domestic economic growth, political stability, regional security, and international participation are covered in this research. However, the research will be limited to the foreign policy implementations of the various administrations and does not intend to provide a comprehensive study of all the foreign policy decision making process in Nigeria.

In producing such a work like this, the problem confronting the researcher is not the scarcity of materials but its availability some of which are bias in their presentation. Finally, there is the question of time and fund which may serve as impediments to this research.

Nevertheless, these imitating factors will greatly be managed to make the research work more objective in its presentation.

Literature Review

Review of literature in historical research is sin qua non in determining the nature of the research as it provides the basis for the understanding of what others have said or written about the subject matter. It therefore becomes imperative to review what other scholars have written about Nigerian foreign policy since 1960 with special attention on the correlation between foreign policy and economic development from 1960 to 2007.

One of the most important works on Nigerian foreign policy is Ufot Bassey lnamete, Foreign Policy Decision-Making in Nigeria,[8] which examines Nigeria’s foreign policy decision—making system together with the other factors that shape and determine foreign policy. It gives the reader an understanding of the foreign—policy structures, processes, dynamics, and outputs in Nigeria. It also looks at how personalities affect foreign policy decision making in Nigeria. The reader also gains an understanding of how foreign-policy decision—making system impact on foreign-policy outputs in medium-sized countries. Although, no special attention was given to the correlation between foreign policy and economic development, which is the major concern of this study, this work is of importance to this study as it discusses the issues of personality in the development of Nigerian foreign policy.

Bassey Ate’s Decolonization and Dependence: The Development of Nigeria-US Relations, 1960-1984[9] is a good-contribution to the study. Despite the variations in the years, the work systematically analyses the development of the relationship between Nigeria and the US during the dynamic era of decolonization with special attention, on General Olusegun Obasanjo first outing as head of state. This study serves as a basis for analyzing Nigeria’s stand on some key issues with the major world powers. Although, Bassey is not directly connected to the present study, it gives a vivid background on the historical pastof the friendly Olusegun Obasanjo when he was the military head of state between 1976 and 1979 and how this later helped in running the affairs of Nigeria from 1999 to 2007.

Ray Ofoegbu’s Foreign Policy and Military Rule[10] examined three military governments in Nigeria and played much emphasis on the third military Government (1975-1979). To Ofoegbu, it was the third Military Government first led by General Murtala Mohammed that brought radicalism into Nigeria’s foreign policy. The radicalism which was introduced into Nigeria’s foreign policy led to confrontation with major powers which invariably caused diplomatic conflict especially with the United States in 1975. Prom 1977, the relationship began to normalize. Lieutenant General Olusegun Obasanjo, being the new leader of Nigeria, renewed Nigeria’s radical foreign policy and once again, began to make close ties with President Jimmy Carter of the United States. Ofoegbu’s work will be of immense value to this study. Once again, one notices that the work does not centre on economic policies of the various governments but did provide a detailed background three military governments as well as their foreign policy process.

Olayiwola Abegunrin, Nigerian Foreign Policy under Military Rule, 1966-1999,[11] provides a significant and comprehensive examination of Nigerian foreign policy (1966-1999) during the almost 33 years of military rule, punctuated by the four-year civilian interregnum, 1979-1983. He analyzes what led to the military rule in 1966, and the foreign policy performance of each military regime that ruled the country since 1966. He also discusses extensively the economic dimension of the nation’s foreign policy. He shows that the last 15 years, the period of Generals Babangida and Abacha, were the most corrupt and brutal that Nigeria had seen since independence. The mysterious sudden death of Gejneral Sani Abacha led to the appointment of General Abubakar, who handed power over to an elected civilian government in May 1999, led by President Olusegun Obasanjo. Of particular interest to scholars, students, and other researchers involved with African politics and foreign policy and the role of the military in political affairs. This work is directly useful to this study as it help in providing information regarding Nigeria’s political and economic situations before the coming of President Olusegun Obasanjo in 1999.

Adekeye Adebajo and Abdul Raufu Mustapha,(eds.) Gulliver‘s Troubles: Nigeria’s Foreign Policy offer the Cold War,[12] examines Nigerian foreign policy during the first 12 years after the end of the Cold War in order to answer questions associated with changes in the global arena and determines whether Nigerian foreign policy remains relevant in this new period of international relations. The sixteen chapters provide incisive analytical coverage, conceptual insights and empirical richness, pointing to the factors and imperatives which have shaped Nigeria’s foreign policy since the end of the Cold War. That it succeeds so admirably is a tribute to the editors and well—chosen authors. Each chapter helps to impose order on this complex mosaic.

There are challenges for Nigeria’s foreign policy, especially with a change of guard since the significant but deeply flawed elections of April 2007. Critically, how it meets these challenges will depend on how it balances the demands and dynamics of the three concentric circles that underpin its foreign policy. This book is path- breaking in helping us to understand why this ’ giant with clay feet’ under the leadership of President Olusegun Obasanjo shaped the fortunes of Nigeria in the world.[13]

Osita C. Eze, Beyond 50 Years of Nigeria’s Foreign Policy: Issues, Challenges and Prospects looks at fifty years of Nigeria’s relationship with the rest of the world and how it has generally reflected its efforts at promoting Africa’s interests and at the same time grappling with its domestic development. The work examines how other institutional actors affect Nigerian foreign policy under Obasanjo. The foreign policy implementers and monitors identified in part two are the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Directorate of Technical Aid Corps, the Directorate of Technical Cooperation in Africa, and the Mass Media. The issues and challenges with which they are faced are explicated. For instance, Ummuna H. Orjiako of the Foreign Ministry, analysed some major constraints facing the Ministry and noted that ’to stem the tideof eroding professionalism and decline, to take advantage of the prospects and opportunities presented by a changing domestic and external environment, the Nigerian foreign policy establishment must seek to confront and address the litany of known challenges in the Foreign Ministry.[14]

However, as authoritative as these works were, there is much to be covered on Nigeria’s foreign policy and how other countries view or relate with Nigeria since 1960. This research work therefore seeks to update and cover areas such as the historical evolution of Nigeria’s external relations and how it has helped to shape her economic development.

Significance of the Study

This study is very important for certain reasons.

First, the study is of paramount importance to decision makers and the would-be diplomats for it traces the historical development of Nigeria foreign policy since 1960.

Second, it helps to re—affirm the bold attempt made by the various successive governments to establish Nigerians a major player in the comity of nations.

Third, this research work will help at providing information on the domestic factors that influenced Nigeria’s foreign policy since 1960.

Finally, it is useful to scholars’ especially diplomatic historians, political scientists, economists and international relations experts in their research. Diplomats like ambassadors, high commissioners and staffers of foreign ministries will benefit from the work.

Research Methodology

Historical research method is used in carrying out this study. However, a critical examination of the dramatic relations between Nigeria and other countries since independence will be analyzed using findings from both primary and secondary sources.

The primary sources include written documents such as government publications, letters, correspondence, documentaries and newspapers. Oral interviews were conducted to complement the other sources.

Furthermore, this research work depends largely on archival materials to gather relevant materials on the study. Field trips will also be employed to access information from the Nigerian Institute of International

Affairs and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in order to get relevant information regarding the research work.

Moreover, this study depends on secondary sources such as books, journals, conference proceedings and internet sources which are to be explored to enrich this work.


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