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1.1    Background of the Study

1.2    Objectives of the Study

1.3    Statement of the problem

1.4    Literature Review

1.5    Scope and Limitations of the Study

1.6    Significance of the Study

1.7    Research Methodology


Evolution and Development of Nigerian Foreign Policy

2.1    Concept of Foreign Policy

2.2    Evolution of Nigerian Foreign Policy

2.3    Objectives of Nigerian Foreign Policy

2.4    Principles of Nigerian Foreign Policy

2.5    Instrument of Nigerian Foreign Policy

2.6    Institutional Actors of Nigerian Foreign Policy


President Olusegun Obasanjo’s Foreign Policy

3.1    Foreign Policy Under Obasanjo’s Administration

3.2    Philosophy Guiding Nigerian Foreign Policy

3.3    Domestic Factors Influencing Nigeria’s Foreign Policy

3.4    Influence of the Personality of President Olusegun Obasanjo

on Nigerian Foreign Policy

3.5    Nigeria’s Relations with Major Powers

3.6    Relations with Rising Powers and African Countries


Evaluation of President Olusegun Obasanjo’s Foreign Policy,

4.1    Obasanjo’s Shuttle Diplomacy: Successes and Failures

4.2    Achievements of President Olusegun Obasanjo’s Foreign


4.3    Challenges Faced by President Olusegun Obasanjo in the

Implementation of Nigerian Foreign Policy


Summary, Conclusion and Recommendation.


This study examines Nigeria’s foreign policy under President Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration (1999-2007). It provides a detailed background on the impact of Obasanjo’s shuttle diplomacy in re-building Nigeria’s image in international politics. The study analyses the domestic policies of the Obasanjo’s administration and how it shaped the country’s policy of partnership especially with the western powers and the implication of this partnership on Nigeria economic growth between 1999 and 2007. Historical research method was employed in this study. Both primary and secondary source materials were used by the researcher. The study established that while President Olusegun   Obasanjo   had   his   shortcomings   in   foreign   policy implementation, the nation has achieved significant gains through the regime’s shuttle diplomacy. 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.



1.1    Background of the Study

The history of Nigerian foreign policy since 1960 has constantly been changing, though the principles guiding her 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

1       I. A. Gambari, Theory and Reality in Foreign Policy Making: Nigeria After the Second Republic,

Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey: Humanities Press International, 1989, p.21.

2       M. B., Ogunbanjo, ‘’Theoretical Perspectives on Nigeria Foreign Policy’’ Monograph Series, Department of Political Science and Sociology, Babcock University, Ilisan Remo, 2002, No. 2, p.2

 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       A. Adebajo and A. R. Mustapha, eds. Gulliver’s Troubles: Nigeria’s Foreign Policy after the Cold War. Scottsville, South Africa: University of KwaZulu Natal Press, 2008. 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 centre piece 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

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 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

4       A., Ogunsanwo, Nigerian Military and Foreign Policy, 1975-1979 Unpublished Manuscript, University of Lagos Pol. Science Dept. 1980, pp 190-201. 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 the economic diplomacy of Gen. I.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

5 U. B. Inamete, Foreign policy decision-making in Nigeria, Susquehanna University Press, 2001, Pp. 290-203 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 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 Inflow (DFI) 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.

1.2    Objectives of the Study

This study seeks to achieve the following objectives:

(i)      Provide a detailed background to Nigeria’s foreign policy under President Olusegun Obasanjo from 1999 to 2007 focusing on his achievements and shortcomings;

(ii)     Examine the impact of Obasanjo’s shuttle diplomacy in re-building Nigeria’s image as a regional power in Africa;

(iii)    Analyse Obasanjo’s policy of partnership especially with the    western   powers   and   the   implication   of   this partnership on Nigeria economic growth between 1999 and 2007; administration  of  President  Olusegun  Obasanjo  to  the security and peace-building in Africa; and lastly,

(v) Provide a critique of the personality of  President Olusegun Obasanjo and its influence in the implementation of Nigeria’s foreign policy towards other states as well as international organizations.

1.3    Statement of the problem

Relations between Nigeria and other state and non–state actors in international politics from 1999 onward were based on democratic principles. The tit-for-tat diplomacy of late Gen. Sani Abacha, de facto President of Nigeria from 1993 to 1998 had greatly damaged the image of Nigeria. The government was accused of human rights abuses and was repeatedly condemned by the U.S. State Department. There were break in relationship with many countries with threats of economic sanctions from others. Apart foreign policy which made Nigeria a scorn in the comity of nations. The coming of President Olusegun Obasanjo and the various reforms which he embarked upon actually brought Nigeria out of the messy situation that Gen. Sani Abacha led the country into. For President Olusegun Obasanjo to have achieved such a feat in restoring the image of the country deserves scholarly attention. This study therefore aims to provide a critical appraisal of Obasanjo’s foreign policy with emphasis on his use of expatriates in the conduct of external relations; shifting of policy to accommodate China, India and other rising powers; reintegration of Nigeria into the African Union, the United Nations and other international organizations; and the revolution in domestic policies that favoured strategic repositioning of Nigerian economy.

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 other 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 President Olusegun Obasanjo’s foreign policy from 1999 to 2007.

One of the most important works on Nigerian foreign policy is Ufot Bassey Inamete, 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 policy decision-making system impact on foreign-policy outputs in medium-sized countries. Although, no special attention was given to the administration of President Olusegun Obasanjo 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, 1960-19849 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 9  A. Bassey, Decolonization and Independence: The Development of Nigerian-US Relations, 1960- 1984, Colorado: West View Press Inc., 1987, p. 193.

background on the historical past of 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 Rule10 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. From 1977, the relationship began to normalize. Lieutenant General Olusegun Obasanjo,  being  the  new  leader  of  Nigeria, renewed

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 President Olusegun Obasanjo but did provide a detailed background of his past activities which will make us to understand his policy positions between 1999 and 2007 on international relations.

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

Generals Babangida and Abacha, were the most corrupt and brutal that Nigeria had seen since independence. The mysterious sudden death of General 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 after the Cold War12 examines Nigerian foreign policy during the first 12 years after the

12 A. Adebajo and A. R. Mustapha,(eds.) Gulliver’s Troubles: Nigeria’s Foreign Policy after the Cold War, Scottsville, South Africa: University of KwaZulu Natal Press, 2008, Pp . 1-22

changes in the global arena and determines whether Nigerian foreign policy remains relevant in this new period of international relations. Its 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 shaped the fortunes of Nigeria in the world.

Osita C. Eze, Beyond 50 Years of Nigeria’s Foreign Policy: Issues, Challenges and  Prospects,13 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 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 President Olusegun Obasanjo’s on Nigeria’s foreign policy and how other countries view or relate with Nigeria since 1999. This research work therefore seeks to update and cover areas such as the long term effect of Obasanjo’s foreign policy on Nigeria’s external relations.

This study focuses on Nigeria’s foreign policy under the administration of President Olusegun Obasanjo from 1999 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 the foreign policy of President Olusegun Obasanjo. Moreover, the key achievements of Obasanjo’s foreign policy as regards 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 President Olusegun Obasanjo and does not intend to provide a biography of the man nor do a comprehensive study of all his political activities 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. Moreso, this research

therefore is confronted with the problem of interpretation of the actions of President Olusegun Obasanjo as some of the policies initiated are still an on-ongoing process.

Finally, there is the question of time and fund which may serve as impediments to this research. Nevertheless, these limitating factors will greatly be managed to make the research work more objective in its presentation.

1.6    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 democratic government under the leadership   of              President comity of nations by addressing the issues of corruption, debt and political tensions in the country.

Third, this research work will help in providing information on the domestic factors that influenced Nigeria’s foreign policy under President Olusegun Obasanjo from 1999 to 2007.

Fourth, 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.

Finally, the political and military class will learn, through this study, the need for them to be patriotic like President Olusegun Obasanjo who acted as Nigeria’s arrowhead in the international arena.

Historical research method is used in carrying out this study. However, a critical examination of the dramatic relations between Nigeria and other countries during President Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration from 1999 to 2007 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 books,  journals,  conference  proceedings  and  internet  sources which are to be explored to enrich this work.


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