A study in Nigeria’s foreign policy over time has quite often under –scored the potency of its domestic contents. Notable scholars on Nigerian external relations such as Akinyemi, Aluko, Gambari, Birai etc demonstrated the influence of domestic conditions on the country’s attitude and behaviour to other actors in the international system. The influence of domestic politics on Nigeria’s foreign policy was made obvious to the international community on 1st October, 1960, by the then first Prime Minister, Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa himself in a moving address to the United Nations General Assembly in New York. He observed that: Nigeria does not intend to ally itself as a member of routine with any of the ideological power blocs and Nigeria hopes to work with other states for the Progress of Africa and to assist in bringing all other African territories to a state of responsible independence.
Given the domestic nature and the country’s size and at the same time natural resources, it was assumed that Nigeria would play a leading role in the continent of Africa. Some scholars even spoke of the country’s “manifest destiny” to lead Africa surrounded by small and weak states.
CHAPTER ONE1.0 INTRODUCTION1.1 HISTORICAL BACKGROUND OF NIGERIAN FOREIGNPOLICYA study in Nigeria’s foreign policy over time has quite often under –scored thepotency of its domestic contents. Notable scholars on Nigerian externalrelations such as Akinyemi, Aluko, Gambari, Birai etc demonstrated theinfluence of domestic conditions on the country’s attitude and behaviour toother actors in the international system. The influence of domestic politics onNigeria’s foreign policy was made obvious to the international community on1st October, 1960, by the then first Prime Minister, Sir Abubakar TafawaBalewa himself in a moving address to the United Nations General Assembly inNew York. He observed that: Nigeria does not intend to ally itself as a memberof routine with any of the ideological power blocs and Nigeria hopes to workwith other states for the Progress of Africa and to assist in bringing all otherAfrican territories to a state of responsible independence.Given the domestic nature and the country’s size and at the same time naturalresources, it was assumed that Nigeria would play a leading role in the continentof Africa. Some scholars even spoke of the country’s “manifest destiny” to leadAfrica surrounded by small and weak states.1
Abubakar, O.S reviewing Gambari said that; the first phase, one of uncertaintyand timidity of Nigerian Foreign Policy coincided with the period of the FirstRepublic (1960-65). The major issue at that time were the official foreign policydeclaration itself; the Anglo Nigerian Defence pact, the Congo Crisis andAfrican Unity; Negotiations for associate status with the European EconomicCommunity (EEC): the Rhodesian Crisis and Common Wealth relations; andthe Arab – Israeli antagonism and the search for a cohesive policy towards theMiddle East. Nigeria throughout this period operated a Pro- West foreign policydisposition. The conservative nature in her external relations was dictated byNigerian Federalism which professes three strong regions with a weak centre.Prime Minister Balewa then had a constitutional authority which was notalways matched by the political power needed to override these divergentgroups encroachment upon Nigeria’s foreign policy. The coming together of thetwo parties’ i.e. Northern Peoples’ Congress (NPC) and National Council forNigerian and Cameroon (NCNC) which formed a coalition government thenforced the Balewa government to make adjustment in order to keep thepartnership viable.Consequently, Nigerian foreign policy during the 1960-65 periods was lessdynamic than it would have been if the NCNC had been solely responsible. Bythe same token, it was far more assertive, Pan Africanist and neutralistespecially on the Middle – East than it would have been if the NPC hadexclusive control. The need to adjust in order to accommodate the sometimes2
contrasting views of the governing parties and save the alliance, made Balewa’sforeign policy liable to such criticism as lacking in consistent imagination anddynamism and characterized by Ad-hoc decision making which tended to becontradictory and self-defeating.The second phase of Nigerian Foreign Policy was the period between 1966-1975 under which a lot of changes took place at the domestic political level.The Nigerian external relation was marked by active, positive and influentialrole especially in the continent. The fragile nature of the Federalism wasreplaced by a stronger centre with 12 states constituting the Federating Unit.The assertion of the military rule under General Yakubu Gowon dramaticallychanged the dimension of authority Domestic politics and Nigerian ForeignPolicy.The discovery of oil boom also assisted in great measure in allowing thecountry to play more decisive leadership role in World affairs, as it increasedthe revenue accruing to the Federal government. The previous low keyed,resistant and often apologetic approach to African affairs had to be changed.The aftermath of Biafra experience was also instructive as the country came upwith a coherent policy to her fellow African countries. The integrative efforts ofGowon with the establishment of ECOWAS and the financial and moralassistance to neighbouring West African countries were remarkable. Nigeria’sextension of hand of fellowship to the Eastern bloc countries such as China andSoviet Union was seen as a policy shift from the earlier position. The country
Samuel, G (2019). THE ROLE OF DOMESTIC FACTORS IN NIGERIAN FOREIGN POLICY. Afribary.com: Retrieved February 26, 2021, from https://afribary.com/works/the-role-of-domestic-factors-in-nigerian-foreign-policy
Gifted, Samuel. "THE ROLE OF DOMESTIC FACTORS IN NIGERIAN FOREIGN POLICY" Afribary.com. Afribary.com, 24 Jul. 2019, https://afribary.com/works/the-role-of-domestic-factors-in-nigerian-foreign-policy . Accessed 26 Feb. 2021.
Gifted, Samuel. "THE ROLE OF DOMESTIC FACTORS IN NIGERIAN FOREIGN POLICY". Afribary.com, Afribary.com, 24 Jul. 2019. Web. 26 Feb. 2021. < https://afribary.com/works/the-role-of-domestic-factors-in-nigerian-foreign-policy >.
Gifted, Samuel. "THE ROLE OF DOMESTIC FACTORS IN NIGERIAN FOREIGN POLICY" Afribary.com (2019). Accessed February 26, 2021. https://afribary.com/works/the-role-of-domestic-factors-in-nigerian-foreign-policy