NIGERIAN FOREIGN POLICY AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT SINCE INDEPENDENCE

CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCTION 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. 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, 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 shows 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. With this in mind, each Nigerian head of state or president work to ensure that no single part is defected in pursuing the country’s foreign policy. Evidence 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

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