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chapter one

  • Introduction/background to the study

Foreign policy determines the mode of interaction and relation between various states in the international arena. It is an extension of countries domestic policies geared towards achieving and enhancing the prestige and status of a state towards the world community of states. According to Lock. Johnson, foreign policy contains a set of actions, strategies or tactics, which states adopt in their relationship with other actors in the international environmen1.

Maintaining the same ground, Gorge. A. Obiozor argues that by virtue of her size, population and rich natural resource endowments, Nigeria has been expected to play a leading role in African politics and relationship with the outside world. Therefore, the broad consensus about her manifest destiny has changed over the years from a mere expectation of a leadership role in Africa2.

In his lecture on “Nigerian foreign policy” Ogo C.N. observed that “Between 1861 and 1960, the hand of colonialism covered the entity known today as Nigeria; but by 1914, the colony of Lagos, protectorates of Northern and southern Nigeria were amalgamated into one Nigeria. Hence between 1914 and 1960, Nigeria was ruled from the colonial office in London through the resident governor General residing in Lagos”.

By virtue of this arrangement, Nigeria had no external relation that could be called her own since it was not an independent or a sovereign state. Britain retained the ultimate control of Nigerians external affairs and only permitted Nigerians incursions only the minor aspects of the foreign affairs like the Liaison office in Washington, to deal with Nigerian students and official visitors. Britain also represented Nigeria in the Trustee-ship council at the united Nation Agency3.

By 1960, Nigeria emerged as an independent and a sovereign state. This state hood was facilitated by 1648 Treaty of Westphalia arrangement on state hood and clarified by the treaty of Montevideo of 1933, which endowed all nations with the trappings of sovereignty, territory, population and government, with the attainment of independence and federal constitutional arrangement, external affairs or relations fell into the exclusive list.

Thus, for the formulation and conduct of external relations and foreign policy, the federal government of Nigerian developed an organizational apparatus and patterns of diplomatic relations similar to those maintained by other developed independent countries, though on a more modest and less complex frame work.e argued that, much of the foundations of what we know today as Nigerian foreign policy since independence in 1960 is owed to the vision of Sir Abubakar Tafawa Belewa, the then and first prime minister of Nigeria.

As the head of government between 1960 and 1966, he carefully articulated and enunciated the fundamental principles that would underpin Nigerian foreign relations. Hence at independence, Nigerian government under Belewa gave a broad outline of Nigeria foreign policy objectives situated within the confines of Nigerian national interest and by extension, Africa has been the target of Nigerian foreign policy4.

The Belewa regime ended abruptly with the January 15, 1966 coup of major General Chukwuma Kaduma Nzeogwu. A counter coup by General Yakubu Gowon removed General Aguiyi Ironsi. Gowon’s regime lasted from July 29, 1966 to July 29, 1975. Nigeria foreign policy during this regime is regarded as a relations of bitter lessons which characterized the Nigerian civil war and taught the Nigerian leaders that there is no permanent friend or enemy but instead permanent interest.

Therefore, Nigerian foreign policy began to take the tune of positive non-alignment; thus, the capitalist and the communist blocs were courted in the hope of maximizing the country’s external relations5. Nigeria experienced so many coups and counter-coups which bedeviled the foreign policy initiatives of the country. The period 1993 to 1998 brought General Sani Abacha to power. General Abacha removed chief Ernest Shonekan on November 17, 1998. This period inherited an unfriendly environment both local and externally.

The aggressiveness which characterized the Abacha’s foreign policy was a reflection of the siege mentality under which the regime operated. According to Steve Egbo, Russian diplomats became more prominent at state functions in Nigeria during this regime than in other regimes. Thus, Abacha’s foreign policy was a regime based, rather than Nigeria centered6. “He went on to say that the death of Abacha on June 8, 1998 paved way for the coming in of Gen. Abdulsalam Abubakar.

This regime marked a watershed in the restoration of the image and status of Nigeria in the international arena. Inorder to re-integrate Nigeria into the mainstream of international relations with the rest of the world. Gen. Abubakar understood the need to re-establish Nigerians link with the global train which can only function on the basis of respect for the role of law and the free flow of international capital labour and information”7.

General Abdulsalam Abubakar handed the mantle of leadership of Nigeria to a People Democratic Party (PDP) led government of Chief Olusegun Mathew Aremu Obasanjo on May 29,1999. Several factors conditioned the foreign policy formulation of Nigeria during this period. During the regime of Gen. Abacha, Nigeria was given a derogatory appellation of an international “Pariah status”.

Therefore the Onus now fall on the Obasanjo democratic regime to embark on a radical and positive image-building and good relations which will restore the prestige of Nigeria inorder to play her active role among the international community of states. It is true that beyond the national frontiers of the country, the interest of Nigeria is often times at variance vis-à-vis those of other actors, which is often affected either by persuasion or coercion, example Nigeria and Benin Republic in 2003. But the foreign policy of Nigeria within the period in review maintained the foundation principle of Nigeria foreign policy which states that Africa is and will remain the center-piece of Nigerian foreign policy.


  • Purpose of the Study

The purpose of this study is to show the essence of foreign policy initiative in Nigeria as a modern state. As is often said without a good foreign policy initiatives, a state will be linked to a flock of sheep without a shepherd and thus will stray aimlessly. Thus, the study will show the importance of ideology as the guiding principle of every nation, which serves as the searchlight to the path of goals attained8.

Therefore, a good and positive ideological construct is a much-needed recipe for every foreign policy initiative. Hence, a nation with renowned international image has good guiding principle, which, to a great extent, is the summation of the popular aspirations of the citizenry. To show that there are certain interest which a state cannot achieve within the confirms of its geo-political environment, proper plans and ideas need to be initiated for a country to be able to achieve those interests in the

international arena bearing in mind that no matter how richly endowed a country might be, it can never stand in isolation from world community of states. This study will show that every foreign policy has a “pattern”. “Pattern according to I.K. Nwokike, in this context, shows the existence of goals, which countries want to realize and the mechanisms and practice through which such goals are to be realized.

A goal is like a filter mechanism or lens through which the World looks at information that comes in and relates them to the goals of their nations”9. For instance, the pressure mounted on the government of Sir Tafawa Belewa over the Anglo-Nigerian defence pact in 1962, by some pressure groups made the government to council the pact. This really showed that the Nigerians really wanted anon-aligned foreign policy programmes.

The work will show that foreign policy is basically seen from the psychological perspectives and disposition of leaders who are the major determinants of the policy. One of the determinants of state power is the will of the leader. Strong-willed leaders embark upon aggressive foreign policy while weak-minded ones embark upon sluggish policy. So no matter how endowed a state is, such endowment will amount to nothing if a weak-minded leaders heads the political machinery.

Therefore, strong-willed leaders are highly needed in promoting Nigerian’s interest in the international arena. But in doing this, diplomacy is needed because inorder to properly avoid conflict of interest that could lead to war, a good diplomatic setting needs to be created. Finally, positive image-building has become a realistically desirable political strategy whose goal is to move Nigeria away from the latter’s post-1993 international pariah status into a proactive and respected member of and actor in the international community of states10.


The study in question is “Nigerian foreign policy Between 1999-2005: An Appraisal”. The study restricts itself to the foreign policy formulations, executions and evaluation, problems and successes of president Olusegun Obasanjo’s foreign policy from the period of inception on May 29, 1999 till 2005. The work shall focus on those factors, which determines Nigerian foreign policy in relation with Europe and the foundations in which those relations are built.

It shall also discuss the policies of the financial institutions and their policies in enhancing the image of the country in the international arena. Thus, it will focus on the president’s quest for debt relief, the fight against corruption and his effort towards attracting foreign aid and investment. According to Semiu Babalola, ‘‘the focus of the administration’s policy reflects its desire to correct the mistakes of the immediate past regime’’.

The desire to return the country to its previous role as a leading African nation was clearly articulated in the inaugural address of the president. The president stated that, “We shall pursue a dynamic foreign policy to promote friendly relations with all nations and will continue to play a constructive role in the United Nations and African Union and other international bodies”11.


The foreign policy of a nation determines the relation and interaction between a country and other actors in the international arena. The significance of the study is to expose the effect of Nigerian foreign policy initiatives in the international environment. This is very necessary based on the fact that no country can exist in isolation and since nations cannot provide all they need, it becomes necessary for a country to extend beyond its national frontiers.

Another significance of the study is to show that for a country to achieve its aims in the international arena, such policies should be conducted in an atmosphere of peace. Peaceful co-existence among nations is necessary. This issue is very vital for the core significance of Nigerian foreign policy. Therefore, the protection of the image of Nigeria, its people, and its values, along with offering assistance for the security of its friends can be achieved only if Nigeria and others prove able to resolve them international disputes and conflict of interest through non-violent means.

Furthermore, the foreign policy outlook of a country is a factor in the relation of other state with the country in question. A country whose foreign policy is subservient to any regional power or global power cannot stand boldly on their foreign policy initiatives because it will be greatly influenced from outside. The significance here is that the foreign policy of Nigeria within the period in review stemed from Nigeria domestic policy and this has been treated with respect.

Therefore, Nigerian foreign policy should be an effective tool towards national development, political and economic independence. Hence D.J. Rothkoff opines that a nations foreign policy could be used to awaken the spirit of nationalism and thus pave he way for national development and nation-building12. Finally, foreign policy in this context is a significant and important instrument, which is aimed at enhancing and improving the general well being of every country, which is exactly the significance of the study.


Nigeria’s constitution is full of ambiguities and irrelevances, which are inimical to the nations political development. This has made the Nigeria peoples curious and highly alienated from the nations foreign policy aspirations. Communication gap between the Nigerian policy makers and the grass roots has prevented the people from identifying with the country’s foreign policy aspirations.

As will be shown in the work, Nigeria faces many limitations on its ability to achieve foreign policy objectives. Nigeria, like other Nations is therefore forced to accept a gap between its aspirations and what is can actually achieve in a world of competing nations. So, the problem facing the country’s foreign policy formulation in the field of professionalism is the low level of capacity to generate positive results in information that would help Nigeria in many of our Foreign Service officers.

Nigeria’s vital interests have to be redefined. Government officials cannot continue to oppress their own people, steal their money and still ask the international community to be indifferent while the same government asks for foreign aid and investment13. It has been said time without a number that Africa is the corner stone of Nigerian foreign policy. The truth of the matter is that in spite of all the commitment of Nigeria to continental issues, more respects are been accorded to Nigeria from other countries than from Africa.

On this note, Nigerians foreign policy should be re-focused and re-channeled towards more profitable ventures like economic, political and technical co-operation with more advanced countries of the world. The quality of leadership to man and the foreign affairs of the country should not be compromised. It is quite unfortunate that men with least expertise and low profile sometimes head foreign mission, may be, for compensation. These groups of political appointees hardly realize that the prestige of the country is at stake due to improper assessment of information and inefficient execution of duty. Therefore, the inputs (feed back) from this foreign mission is a veritable tool for foreign policy formulation and execution.


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