An Analysis Of The Obasanjo’s Administration In International Diplomacy

Project and Seminar Material for International Relations

An Analysis Of The Obasanjo’s Administration In International Diplomacy


Nigeria had overwhelmingly given both solicited and unsolicited supports to African neigbours: intervened positively in their internal crisis, provided humanitarian services, doled out billions of dollars as charity, sent technical aid corps, formed and sent military supports, and so on. In most cases, these flamboyant gestures were defiantly done against home interest and survival. However, there seems to be a disconnection between what is given out and what is given in return. Therefore, this paper seeks to comparatively analyse the Afro-centive foreign policy of Nigeria; a case study of Obansanjo Administration and Nigeria’s International Diplomacy.T he qualitative mechanism of data collection and analysis is applied and the hypothesis was assessed based on the following interventions; Actors in Nigeria’s Foreign Policy, the African-centered foreign policy of the Nigerian government, an Overview Of Nigerian Foreign Policy (1999-2007) and Political Environment Of Nigeria’s Foreign Policy.

Chapter One


1.1 Background of the Study

A country’s foreign policy consists of self-interest strategies chosen by the state to safeguard its national interests and to achieve its goals within the international relations milieu. It is the aggregate of a country’s national interest which results from the interaction of internal and external forces as perceived by the foreign policy decision makers. The approaches used are strategically employed to interact with other countries. In recent times however, due to the deepening level of globalization and transnational activities, relations and interactions have been known to exist between state and non- state actors in the international political arena. These relations in their own way have influenced several foreign policies between nation states.

Nigeria’s foreign policy since independence has been viewed from different perspectives (Aluko, 1981); Macridis (1985:xiii),Anyaele, (2005) in recent times. One of the most prevailing perspectives of her foreign policy is that “it is chameleon in nature”, (Anyaele, 2005) a foreign policy constantly in a state of flux as a result of internal and external dynamics inherent in any given administration or regime. Some writers however maintained that irrespective of the frequent changes, the substance of Nigeria’s foreign policy has remained the same. The later parts of this study will however argue otherwise. Buttressing the above point, (Anyaele, 2005:2) upholds the view that “the protection of our national interest has remained the permanent focus of Nigeria’s foreign policy, but the strategies for such protection have varied from one regime / government to another”.

The formation and execution of Nigeria’s foreign policy from independence has been carried out in no fewer than fourteen different administrations through the external affairs ministry. From Tafawa Balewa’s administration in 1960 to President Obasanjo’s administration in 2003; from the administration of President Musa Yar’Adua to the current administration of President Goodluck Jonathan. These various administrations – including the different military regimes which took over administrative power in Nigeria for over a cumulative period of 35 years, of the entire 53 years of the existence of Nigeria’s foreign policy- claimed to pursue the same national interest with regards to the nation’s foreign policy.

The consequence of the fluxy nature of Nigeria’s foreign policy, there has been a plethora of conceptual ideological transitions in Nigeria’s foreign policy machinery (Pine, 2011). Studies (Aluko, 1981); (Vision 2020 Report, 2009); (Pine, 2011); (Akinboye, 2013); and indicate that past administrations strove towards an epistemological construction and definition of the thrust of Nigeria’s foreign policy. These conceptualizations are often regime specific and born out of a psychological and selfish hunger of various administrations or regimes to carve an identity which will leave a lasting impression in the minds of Nigerians. To this end, (Pin, 2011) laments: “…these ideologies are not necessarily products of deep and profound philosophical reflections”. This paper will argue that these ideologies are rather collections of selfish efforts by these various administrations to make a name or an identity for themselves and their regime or administration as the case may be. (Pin, 2011:1) strongly believes this factor was one of the major causative avenues / agencies of project abandonment and foreign policy failure in Nigeria. Concepts and ideologies that have been proposed over the years since independence include: Africa as the center piece of Nigeria’s foreign policy, Dynamic foreign policy, National consensus in foreign policy, Economic diplomacy, Citizen Diplomacy and The transformation agenda of Nigeria’s foreign policy are a few examples among many other ideologies which in many ways have not lived up to expectations.

While adopting the traditional critical and rationalist methods of analysis in philosophy, the study shall review and offer conceptual clarifications of relevant literature, arguments, texts, library and archival materials in the areas of the subject matter of the study, with the view to evaluate these conceptual mutations in Nigeria’s foreign policy engineering. The paper will further show how such misdirected polices breads operationally barren and philosophically vague policies which when applied resulted to more conceptual confusion and groping in the dark.

1.2 Statement of Problem

The main concern of Nigeria’s policy makers is how to emancipate Africa from the shackles of colonialism, apartheid, racismand imperialism. It is therefore not surprising that Nigeria focused its policy since independence on Africa.

In spite of this African policy posture, some people criticized Mohammed/Obansanjo regime as shrouded with uncertainties in relation to her African policy as fallen short of expectation considering its economic resources, others, hailed it has been dynamic and pragmatic because of its militancy. On the other hand, Babangida’s Afro centric policy style is a far departure from that of Obasanjo.

It is in light of the above observations that this study intends to find out the reason(s) for the policy shift despite the fact that both regimes pursue the same African-centred policy. To effectively do this, the following questions are posed

1.3 Research Questions

The following research questions were formulated to guide the study:

  1. What are the approaches adopted by both Babangida and Obasanjo in theirseparate pursuit of Nigeria Afro-centric foreign policy?
  2. Does contemporary African situations promote Afro-centric foreign policy?
  3. To what extent does personality of a regime leader affect a country’s policy?

1.4 Research Hypotheses

  1. The approach of both Babangida and Obasanjo in the pursuit of Nigerian Afrocentric foreign policy were the same.
  2. The contemporary African situation differs from what it was during the era of Nigerian adoption of afrocentric foreign policy.
  3. Babangida and Obasanjo though pursued the same foreign document, their personality difference affected the policy implementation and outcome.

1.5 Objectives of the Study

The general objective is to comparatively analyse the Afro-centive foreign policy of Nigeria; a case study of Obansanjo civil regime and Babangida.

The specific objectives include

  1. To compare Babangida’s and Obansanjo’s approach to implementation of Afrocentricforeignpolicy.
  2. To assess the contemporary African situations for possible review of Nigerian Afrocentric foreign policy.
  3. To evaluate the impact of personality (character) of a regime leader on Nigerian foreign policy using Babangida and Obansanjo as a study.

1.6 Significance of the Study

This study will aid researchers in understanding the contributions of Nigerian’s past presidents on the foreign policies that has impacted on the development of Africa, irrespective of the situations in the country.This study will equally serve as a repository in understanding the various roles thatour country’s past presidents played in improving national development in Nigeria.

Finally, politicians, stakeholders and future political aspirants intending to rule in various sectors of the government would be able to utilize the findings in this study as a guide and resource document, taking into consideration the impact of the foreign policy on the administration and the importance of making Africa a focal point of her foreign policy.

1.7 Scope and limitations of the study

1.7.1 Scope.

The scope of this study focuses on the Afro-centric foreign policy of Nigeria during the Obasanjo’s Civil Regime and Babangida’s Administration with the following it compares the contemporary afro centric situations and those of the two regimes.

1.7.2 Limitations.

Financial resources required in obtaining primary data are often on the high side considering the amount required in producing the questionnaires required for the study. Also considering the combination of both my studies and the project, time was not adequate for a more elaborate study.

1.8 Theoretical Framework

This study is largely based on the theory of state relative autonomy theory, which is situated within the ambit of the neo-Marxist political economy paradigm. The theory of relative state autonomy depicts the degree of aloofness of the state in the discharge of its tasks such as mediating inter-class and intraclass struggles. Thus, this theory suggests that in any state, there are two levels of contradiction, primary and secondary. Primary contradiction depicts inter-class struggle or class struggle between two antagonistic classes such as the ruling class and the ruled class or the bourgeois class and the proletariat. Whereas, secondary contradiction is the intra-class struggle, denoting class conflicts within the rulingclass or between different segments of the ruling-class. Marx and Engels (1977) demonstrated this intractable nature of class struggle in the preface of their book, that “the history of all the hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles” (Okeke and Aniche, 2012b).

The proponents and exponents of the theory hold that a state can exhibit either low or high relative autonomy (Alavi, 1972). A state exhibits relatively high autonomy when there is high commoditization of capital or excessive penetration of capital into the economy; such that the bourgeois class engages in accumulation of capital through direct exploitation of the working class or appropriation of surplus value, private capitalism, when they enter into social relationships of production. Here, the state is not interventionist; it does not intervene in the domestic economy like participating in the productive activities, public/state enterprises or controlling or nationalizing means of production. The role of state here is largely to regulate (Ake, 1976). By doing so, the state is relatively an impartial umpire mediating inter-class and intra-class struggles through harmonization and reconciliation of class interests (Ake, 1981; Okafor et al. 2012; Okeke and Aniche, 2012b). The developed capitalist states of the West are, therefore, considered to exemplify this high degree of relative autonomy, and thus the high level of human rights observance and protection. On the other hand, a state exhibits relatively low autonomy when there is low commodification of capital or low penetration of (private) capital into the economy. The ruling class is constantly indulging in primitive accumulation of capital through embezzlement of public fund. A state constituted in this way becomes the only avenue for capital accumulation. The state is, thus, interventionist for engaging in productive activities, public corporation, by nationalization of major means of production. This state does not restrict itself to regulatory role and is hence compromised, such that instead of rising above class struggle it is deeply immersed in it (Ake, 1985; Okafor et al., 2012; Okeke and Aniche, 2012b).

The Nigerian state like other developing states exhibits a relatively low level of autonomy of the state as a result of low commoditisation of capital. Under the eclectic mixture of economy, pseudocapitalism or quasi-capitalism, Nigeria experiences the phenomenon of poor penetration of (private) capital into the economy. This gives rise to a parasitic petty bourgeois class whose major source of accumulation of capital is the state. So, the Nigerian state becomes the only avenue for primitive accumulation of capital through which the governing class. petty bourgeoisie, produces and reproduces their dominance. The implication of the low autonomy of the Nigerian state is that it is heavily involved in the class struggle rather than rising above it; leading to intense struggle for the control of the state for primitive accumulation of capital (Ake, 2001; Okeke and Aniche, 2012b). The point is that the implementation of citizen diplomacy suffered as President Yar’Adua’s ill-health degenerated. Consequently, there was political intrigue, infighting and schism among the ministers, and the Northern political elite who wanted by all means to prevent the vice president from becoming the acting president. In the context of this intense class struggle for the state power everything was marginalized including citizens’ wellbeing at home let alone in Diaspora. Not surprisingly, the policy was deemphasized owing to the events leading to the emergence of the then Vice President, Goodluck Jonathan as the Acting President and later President. The cabinet reshuffled ousted Chief Ojo Maduekwe (the initiator) as the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

1.9 Literature Review

1.9.1 An Overview of Nigerian Foreign Policy (1960-2011)

Nigerian foreign policy soon afterindependence in 1960 under Balewa’sAdministration (1960-1966) was anchored on: one, Africa, the centre-piece of Nigerianforeign policy; two, the policy of panAfricanism;three, the policy ofdecolonization and eradication of racialdiscrimination and segregation; four, thepolicy of good neighborliness; five, thepolicy of non-intervention in the internalaffairs of other countries; and finally, thepolicy of non-alignment. However, the mostenduring foreign policy thrust in Nigeria hasbeen the Afro-centric philosophy ofNigerian foreign policy in which Nigeria spent enormous resources in assisting otherAfrican countries like Namibia, Angola,Zimbabwe, Mozambique, etc, under colonial domination to gain independence. Under theAfrican centeredness of Nigerian foreignpolicy, Nigeria also assisted in the antiapartheidstruggle in South Africa. It alsocontributed in peacekeeping forces in crisisregions in Africa such as Chad, Niger,Liberia, Sierra Leone, Cote d’Ivoire, Sudan,Darfur, Somalia, Democratic Republic ofCongo, etc (Aniche, 2009).
Still under this policy thrust, Nigeria assisted other African countries financiallyand technically in their economy.

Although,the foreign policy posture has been seriouslychallenged or criticized by scholars andpractitioners alike. It was not until recentlythat Nigeria started rescinding andreviewing its foreign policy in line with theforeign policy reform panel set up byYar’Adua’s Administration in 2007, soonafter assuming office. The product of thispolicy reform is citizen diplomacy. Otherforeign policy thrusts like policy ofdecolonization, eradication of racialdiscrimination and segregation, noninterventionand non-alignment naturallyfizzled out with time. For example, policiesof decolonization in Africa, and racialdiscrimination and segregation naturallywaned with the achievement ofindependence and sovereignty in all Africanterritories and elimination of Apartheidpolicy in South Africa. Due to UnitedNations’ (UN) and African Union’s (AU)responsibility to intervene on humanitariangrounds in the crisis regions, the policy ofnon-intervention is falling into disuse.Policy of non-alignment became obsoletewith the events of late 1980s and early1990s leading to the end of cold war and thebeginning of post-cold war era Aniche,2009).

Under Gowon’s Regime (1966-1975) thepolicy of African centeredness was utilizedand geared towards regional integration in West Africa leading to the establishment ofEconomic Community of West AfricanStates (ECOWAS). Whilst, underMurtala/Obasanjo’s Regime and Shagari’sAdministration Nigeria continued with thepolicy of African centeredness assistingmany African countries and contributing inthe National War of Liberation in some ofAfrican territories under colonial rule andanti-apartheid struggle in South Africa(Aniche, 2009).

During Babangida’s Regime (1985-1993), anew lexicon found its way into Nigerianforeign policy, the policy of economic diplomacy. The policy of economic diplomacy was aimed at achieving economicrecovery and development through thecollaboration of Breton Woods Institutions(BWIs), under conditionality of which,Nigeria undertook to implement StructuralAdjustment Programme (SAP) between1986 and 1990. The policy of economicdiplomacy is another enduring foreignpolicy thrust of Nigeria foreign policy. Thus,under Obasanjo’s Civilian Administration(1999-2007), Nigeria revisited the policy ofeconomic diplomacy aimed at receiving debtrelief and attracting foreign directinvestment (FDI) through theinstrumentalities of the Breton Woodsinstitutions (BWIs). Nigeria agreed toimplement the World Bank and InternationalMonetary Fund (IMF) loan conditionality asencapsulated in the National EconomicEmpowerment and Development Strategy(NEEDS) (Aniche, 2010; Okeke and Aniche,2012a).

Citizen diplomacy is a foreign policy thrustof Yar’Adua’s Administration under whichthe Federal Government of Nigeria seeks theassistance of Nigerians at home and inDiaspora in its effort to develop the countryeconomically and politically. For beingpeople-oriented, it is a part of the broad range of Nigerian foreign policy thatpromotes the aspects that look into thewelfare of Nigeria’s citizens and seeks todefend them wherever they are (Dickson,2010).

1.9.2 Political Environment of Nigeria’s Foreign Policy

Linkage politics approach assumes thatdomestic politics and foreign policy areorganically interconnected and that thetotality of the domestic structure determinesor conditions the character of Nigeria’sforeign policy. In other words, the internalpolitical environment shapes the outcomesof Nigeria’s foreign policy making. As aresult the conceptualization of Nigeria’sexternal or foreign relations in a linkagesystem presupposes that Nigeria’s foreignpolicy is a product of the domestic structure.The underlying argument here is that theinternational environment influences. Domestic politics just as domestic politicalenvironment shapes international events.Thus, foreign policy is conceived as theoutcome or product of the dynamic interplaybetween the internal and external politicalenvironments of nation-states (Idang, 1973;Philips, 1973; Akinyemi, 1974; Asobie,1980; Gambari, 1980; Aluko, 1981; Nweke,1986; Ifesinachi, 2001).

Furthermore, the linkage politics approachto foreign policy holds that there is a link ornexus between domestic political structureand external relation or foreign policy. Thus,domestic factors like religion, culture,economy, etc. are seen as considerablesignificance to foreign policy making. Theidea of a linkage or interface between thedomestic political structure and externalpolitical environment allows for an analysisthat adequately examines the extent to whichinteraction between the two can constitute ahindrance to the formulation of effectiveforeign policy thrusts such as citizen diplomacy. As a result, the linkage approachprovides a specific context for identifyingthe extent to which specific forces canpositively or negatively impinge upon theachievement or accomplishment of a givenforeign policy objective such as citizendiplomacy (Holsi, 1967; Rosenau, 1969;Northege, 1968; Nweke, 1988; Birai, 1991;Dauda, 2002).

Perhaps, the import of the above is thatforeign policy is basically a product ofcomplex and diversifying interrelationshipof external and internal circumstances andstimuli. Hence, the actions of a nation-states determined or influenced by bothdomestic and external variables, and as such,foreign policy becomes the continuation orthe extension of domestic policy (Idang,1973; Akinyemi, 1974; Nweke, 1985;Ogunsawo, 1986; Offiong, 2000; Okolie,2001). The point is that there is a linkbetween internal or domestic politics andexternal or international politics known aslinkage politics. The underlying idea oflinkage politics is that the link between theinternal political environment influencesforeign policy making and implementationof states, Nigeria included. The Nigerianinternal or domestic political environment isone where political class engaged inelectoral malpractices in form of electoral rigging and violence. Under thisstate of affairs, Nigerian citizens areconfronted with abject poverty, massunemployment, poor standards of living,low life expectancy, low literacy rate, etc. Inthe human development index.

The Nigerian state is not forthcoming atcatering for the welfare and wellbeing of itscitizens in Nigeria, forcing many Nigeriansto seek greener pastures abroad or to putmore aptly, economic refuge abroad. As aresult many of them are engaged in manyillegal activities to survive harsh treatment abroad where they are not likely to get a decent job. Even the corruption perceptionindex (CPI) of the TransparencyInternational (TI) has not ranked Nigeria favorably since its inception.

For instance, Adejumo (2011) notes thatwith several corrupt former Governors stillparading themselves imperiously on thestreets of Abuja, still on the beck and call ofthe president, and appeared seeminglyuntouchable; it will be hard to convince theworld that we are still waging war againstcorruption in earnest and with sincerity ofpurpose. Successive Nigerian governmentshave nothing to be proud of in terms ofpromoting positive image of Nigeria ortackling corruption. In fact, whatever littlepolicy was made had only been there tobenefit those in the government and not theNigerian masses.

Also, the thinness of socio-economic capitalist based on community repeated premisesthat Nigeria has some of the worst socialindicators in the world: internal insecurity, a deteriorating infrastructural base, corruption,high crime, unbridled violence; ethnicconflict; a disorganized and moribund laboursector, a poor external image crisisexacerbated by a world-wide reputation forastuteness in financial and other relatedcrimes represent some of these problems. Inaddition to this, is the high mortality, whereas majority of the population ostensiblyliving below poverty line in a country wherethe life expectancy is at zero point, and youget a country with a supposedly fragile baseand foundation upon which such a policycan be founded (Eke, 2009).

Adejumo (2011) further opines that for thecitizen diplomacy to succeed, it must bebacked up with the sincere purpose andapproach to Nigeria’s entire problem athome. After fifty years as a sovereign state, and with enormous resources both humanand material, Nigerians are still wallowingin abject poverty and desperation, while ourleaders are looting the treasures all over thecountry and living unimaginable expensivelifestyles, and depositing the loots incountries we are trying to force the citizendiplomacy on.

1.9.3 Conceptualizing the Domestic Structure of Nigerian Foreign Policy

It has become an axiomatic truth that the FP of a country is to a large extent determined by itsDomestic Structure. Many scholars and diplomats have accepted this view. They have attempted to“demonstrate that the various constituent elements in the political system- the government, thepolitical parties, pressure groups, the civil service, the political and bureaucratic elites, publicopinion, and the press- operating within the democratic process provided by the constitution,exert direct or indirect influence in shaping a country’s Foreign Policy ( Nweke, 1986:34 ). It is line withthis assertion that Akokpari (1999:24) has argued that Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) countrieshave to constantly reorient their foreign policies to reflect or accommodate domestic andexternal vicissitudes. Such orientation shifts have rendered SSA’s foreign policies innatelymalleable and pliable, deprived of coherence or consistence. Since the independence decadeof the 1960s, shifts in the orientation of foreign policies of SSA states have been profoundlyevident.

A lot scholars and diplomats have attempted an in-depth assessment of Nigeria’s foreign policy.Idang, Akinyemi, Gambari and Aluko perspectives in analyzing Nigerian FP focused exclusively on limited goals. Idang (1986) focused on the impacts of institutions and socialforces, like parliament, political parties and Foreign Policy elites. Akinyemi on the other hand conducteda dissectional examination of the nature and character of the administrative structure in the FPprocess when subjected to other “pressures” of DS, particularly political parties and attitudesof political elites (1970:2). Gambari has also argued that the domestic political structure andprocess are of great impact on the nature and character of Nigerian FP because they serve asthe channel for internalization of the international environment and events, thus making themintelligible and of value to the participants in domestic political roles (1980:1). Aluko (1976)on his part embarked on the imperative to resolve the impact of colonial heritage and theformative experience of the leadership. Other studies have focused on the evolution ofNigerian FP by demonstrating how “internal pressures” both of administrative structure andof the society as well as how organizations really affect FP formulation (Philips, 1973). Inspite of all these intellectual exercises in clarifying the link between the DS and FP, Nweke(1986:35) has pointed out that a thread that runs through all of these studies is thereshortcomings. One of them was the issue of preference given to institutional forces with lessconsideration given to the impacts of socio-economic structure and social classes. Anothermain weakness is their failure to analyze “beyond the levels of description and explanation”.

1.9.4 Domestic Environment

Conventional thinking holds that foreign policies aim at enhancing a state’s ability to achievea specific FP is “a programme (plan) designed to address some problems or pursue some goalthat entails action towards foreign entities. A country’s FP is determined by two broadconsiderations: the domestic and the external environment. According to Otubanjo (1999:9),“the domestic environment refer essentially to features, factors andforces…peculiar to the state,…foreign policy is being made. The domesticenvironment includes geographical location of the state, its peculiarity, natural andhuman resources, the nature of the political system, quality of leadership, thenature of the interaction among groups in the society etc (p.10).

Domestic environmental factors have great impact on the decision/policy making of acountry. Little wonder, Northedge (1968:15) posits that the FP of any country is a product ofenvironmental factors both internal and external. The strength of a particular domestic factorin influencing a particular foreign policy option of a country however represents a complex calculus asevident in Babaginda administration’s involvement of human and financial resources in theLiberian Crises at a time when public opinion in Nigeria heavily tilted against an involvementin the crises (Nwosu, 1993:17). As noted by Synder (1962:5),

“…the number and complexity of factors that influence national action in theinternational arena are not only enormous, but the task of identifying the crucial variables is also unfinished”.

Marston (1968) on his part postulates that it is in the “home made” and aggregate of all theexternal conditions and influences that affect the life and development of organism, including also FP. Ogene (1998:68-81) and Kissinger (1969:503-05) in their submissions examined the role of domestic structures in a country’s relations with other nations in the world system. Modern diplomatic history has portrayed the FP of a nation as one determined by its domesticstructures (Northedge 1968:20). Domestic environment as a matter of fact determines the rolea nation plays in the international system. Before the collapse of the Soviet Union, USSR wasa champion of communist policy, but today, the effect of perestroika and glasnost has affectedher role-playing in the international arena. The DS plays a crucial role in the way actions ofother states are interpreted. We cannot therefore consider the DS in isolation of theinternational system since the technological achievement of any country has a ready impact on other states (Nwosu,1993:17).

The next sub sections shall consider the following factors: political development,economy, the press, public opinion and pressure groups as been central in the examination ofthe FP response of Nigeria towards Israel.

1.9.5 Political Development

Nigeria’s diplomatic ties with Israel had been in existence before her independence in 1960.Many contacts were facilitated in the late 1950s between Nigerian and Israeli officials throughjoint participation in labour and socialist movement meetings (Ojo 1986:436). Through theseefforts, many Nigerian’s were encouraged to visit Israel, and at a time Israel was aggressivelygalvanizing friendship with the newly emergent Third World countries as to bridge thediplomatic gap between her and the Third World (Curtis and Gitelson, 1976).

The constitutional provisions of the Nigerian government allowed the regions of thefederation to facilitate their own foreign policies, allow regional delegations to be sent abroadto negotiate loans and other forms of assistance for their regions as evident in a WesternRegional delegation led by its Minister of Agriculture, Chief Akindeko, who visited Israel in1958 to observe cooperative movements. The delegation negotiated cooperation agreementsin the field of agriculture and cooperatives, the setting up of a number of joint ventures withIsrael which facilitated the establishment in 1959, the Nigersoil Construction Company andthe Nigerian Water Resources Development Corporation (Ojo, 1986:437).

Counter factually, the Northern Peoples Congress (NPC) in the first republicdominated Nigeria’s domestic cum political environment (Nereus, 1993:19). The Northernoligarchy displayed a disdained attitude towards Israel and preferred external contact withMuslim countries, as shown in Sir Ahmadu Bello’s public hostility and pronouncementstowards Israel. Sir Ahmadu Bello, the Chairman of NPC, and the Premier of the formerNorthern Region is credited with the following statement at the World Islamic League:

“It is also fitting at this juncture for me to mention the numerous attempts made bythe Jews to entice underdeveloped countries to their side. Barely two years ago,they offered a sizable amount of loan to the Federation of Nigeria. The offer wasaccepted by all the governments except we in the North who rejected it outright. I made it vividly clear at the time that Northern Nigeria would prefer to go withoutdevelopment rather than receiving an Israeli loan to aid. We took this step only ingood faith as Muslims (Paden, 1986:541)”.

Sir Ahmadu Bello himself had traced his lineage to Prophet Mohammed (Bello, 1962:239),and as noted in the editorial of West African (1956:606), the receptiveness of the Northernleadership to Arab pressure attracted allegations of Egyptians covert support for NPC before1960. In spite of extreme policy of Mohammedanism adopted by the Northern region, Federal Government in the first republic established diplomatic ties with Israel. Such move must have been necessitated by the adoption of non aligned policy favoured by the National Council forNigeria and Cameroon (NCNC), the junior partner in the federal coalition. Alhaji TafawaBalewa therefore had no other option than to establish formal diplomatic relations with Israelwhen he reiterated that Nigeria would “remain on friendly terms with every nation whichrecognizes and respects our sovereignty and… shall not blindly follow the lead to anyone”(Balewa, 1964:56-7). Ojo (1986:437) is therefore right in his persuasive submission thatNigeria might have adopted “open door” diplomatic policy as the result of the need fornational unity and economic development. Israel was therefore allowed to establish anembassy in Lagos, but the hostility of the northern elite towards her to a greater extent wasresponsible for a major constraint by the Federal Government’s policy towards Israel byrefusing to open an embassy in Tel-Aviv in order to maintain the balance.

The Nigerian-Israeli relations equally suffered a great set back as a result of the 1966military coup d’etat (Adefila, 1979:635) and the subsequent civil war that bedveiled thenation for about 30 months. Nigeria perceived a foul play towards Israel for its allegedsympathetic role played by supporting the defunct Republic of Biafra during the country’scivil war (Aluko, 1976:92). The bloody coup against the first republic brought in GeneralAguyi Ironsi as the first Military Head of State in Nigeria. Before he could settle down to dealwith domestic let alone foreign issues, he was brutally murdered and his regime overthrownvia a counter coup (Operation Massacre) that instituted Gowon Administration. At theinception of Gowon’s regime, it was alleged that Israel was covertly giving military trainingand ammunition to the Ibos (New Nigerian, 1966). Israeli mission in Lagos denied theallegations but throughout the war, the suspicion remained and Israeli Foreign Minister, AbbaEban, confirmed after the war that Israel had exerted herself to a large extent in providing aidto former Biafra, that if a dozen or twenty had also extended the same gesture, the case wouldhave been different (Aluko, 1976:50). The press in Nigeria was furious and reacted angrily toEban’s statement.

General Gowon showed his displeasure by protesting to the Israeli governmentthrough a letter sent to its Ambassador in Lagos. Gowon however believed that Israeli aid tothe defunct Biafra was less significant to that of France and for his regime to single out Israelwould appear “selective” capable of causing “more problematic internal cleavages” (Ojo,1986:440). On the other hand, Mathews (1987:534) has argued that the Nigerian governmentengaged in a wild romance with North Africa and Arabs in the Middle East due to theirmilitary assistance during the civil war. Thus, in 1971, Nigeria joined the Arab-dominated oilcartel- the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).

Nigeria-Israeli relations suffered another setback due to the outbreak of the October1973 Middle East war as Gowon blamed Israel for the renewal of hostility. Despite the factthat the first shots were fired by Egypt, the Nigerian Head of State argued that the hostilitycould not have resurfaced if Israel had withdrawn from Arab territories in accordance with the1967 United Nations Resolution (West African 1973:1508). Yet, he never bowed to bothinternal and external pressures to severe diplomatic ties (West African, 1973: 1545). Israelidefiance in the Middle East, violating the ceasefire agreement and consolidating its presenceon the West Bank of the Suez Canal, made Gowon to angrily accused Israel of breaking “faithwith Nigeria” (Ojo 1986:440). General Gowon had no choice than to severe ties with Israel asChairman of the Organization of the African Union (OAU).

After the Gowon’s administration was overthrown by General Murtala Mohammed,subsequent administrations in Nigeria have towed the pro-Arab FP in the Arab-Israeliconflict. Despite the fact that the Obasanjo’s regime renounced the use of terms like Zionismto categorize the Israeli political system, Major General Shehu Musa Yar’Adua, the second incommand, declared in Saudi Arabia in 1979 that “our friends are the Arabs, we shall alwayssupport them” (Daily Times, 1979). Obasanjo’s government could therefore not do much torestore diplomatic relations Israel,-leaving the issue to be handled by second RepublicGovernment. The leadership of Nigerian Peoples Party (NPP) and the Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN) favored the restoration of ties with Israel (Nigerian Forum 1983:740-45). The NationalParty of Nigeria (NPN) leadership perceived as representing the interest of the NorthernMuslims was unenthusiastic. The UPN and NPP with dominant Christian root supported therestoration of Nigeria-Israeli relations.

However, such debate was ongoing when the military ended the civil rule in 1983.

General Mohammed Buhari regime was dominated by Muslim officers, and no considerationwas shown to the issue of restoring diplomatic ties with Israel. In a way to tell the world thatthe status quo would remain, the militarily junta appointed Ibrahim Gambari as ForeignAffairs Minister. Gambari, known for his outright criticism and condemnation of Israel policytowards the Middle East before his appointment, aggressively opposed to such move toreestablish relations with Israel. The government demonstrated a total commitment to antiIsraelpolicy by suspending the Emir of Kano and the Ooni of Ife for their visit to Israel. TheEmir of Kano was also removed as Chancellor of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (NigerianTribune, 1985).

Buhari regime was overthrown via a coup d’etat that ushered in Babangidaadministration on 27th August, 1985 condemning Buhari’s FP, and describing it as retaliatoryand incoherent (Newswatch, 1985:19). In 1991, the then Nigerian Foreign Minister, MajorGeneral Ike Nwachukwu admitted that “Africa could not allow itself to be left out in thecurrent efforts to bring peace to the Middle East and other parts of the world”. He also admitted that the restoration of diplomatic ties with Israel was “aimed at getting Africa backinto the mainstream of world politics” (African Concord, 1991:24). General Babangida on hispart noted that Nigeria’s renewal of diplomatic relations was deliberately designed for Nigeria by his administration “to remain relevant in the world affairs”, noting “…we don’t want to beleft in an empty shell” (Nigerian Tribune, 1992). He further reiterated the intention ofNigerian Government to be part of the Middle East Peace Process, speculating that Nigeria would host one of the peace meetings. Thus, the accounts between Nigerian government andtheir Israeli counterparts opened, culminating into the decision for the reestablishment ofdiplomatic ties (Nereus, 1993:21). The Foreign Minister made it clear that “diplomacy thesedays is not based on things that divide people but things that unite them (Nigerian Tribune,1992). It should however be noted that Nigeria never sought for OAU consent beforerestoring diplomatic ties with Israel.

1.9.6 Economy

At independence, Nigeria depended basically on the export of agricultural produce whichaccounted for about 61 percent of its foreign earnings. After the Nigerian civil war, theeconomy experienced another economic face, with the development of manufacturing sectorwith a corresponding dependence on foreign inputs like capital, managerial skills andtechnology. This was followed by the oil boom and petrodollar inflow which made Nigeria toembark on a flamboyant FP (Olaniyan, 1988:105-8). At the close of the 1970s, majority of
SSA’s were deep in debt following the cumulative events of crushed primary commodityprices, oil shocks, discredited statist policies and dysfunctional military rule (Akokpari,1999:26). It is therefore not surprising when Nwakwo (1984) argued that, since then, Nigeria has developed a monolithic oil economy which has subjected the country to vagaries ofeconomic downturns. The major oil glut in the world market accounted for a budget deficit of$2,899.3 million in 1982 as against a budget surplus of $1,796.3 million in 1974 thusinstitutionalizing poverty and turning the nation into a beggar status (Nwakwo, 1984:41).

This situation further deteriorated the economy which was dependent, disarticulatedand peripherally integrated into the world capitalist economy. The government in order toaddress these deficiencies adopted several economic policies such as Nigerianisation andIndigenization (which created very unconducive environment for foreign investors) as tobring the nation out of its economic doldrums. The administration of Babangida sought toaddress these galaxies of economic challenges by adopting several economic policies likeStructural Adjustment Programme [SAP] (Babangida, 1985:238) and the “use of economicdiplomacy to attract foreign investors” (Nereus, 1993:18). Nigeria had been engaged inbilateral relations with Israel before 1960 in which there was economic cooperation in theareas of agriculture, cooperatives, construction and water resources etc, particularly, in theEastern and Western regions which were pro Israeli.

In the 1990s, due to economic logjam and alarming withdrawals of foreign investmentfrom the country in spite of the government’s adoption of new economic diplomacy,Babangida administration viewed the restoration of diplomatic relations with Israel as greatagendum to stimulate the national economy so as to encourage American Jewish leaders inpromoting investment in Nigeria. General Nwachukwu in his visit to Israel told hiscounterpart that:

“We know, for instance that you have the command of financial institutions of theworld through your kith and kin in several industrialized and highly developedeconomies and we believe also that your influence can bring some meaningful investment to support such development programs” (The Guardian 1991).

The reluctance shown by Arab states to assist Nigeria and other African countries out of theirserious economic problems left Nigeria with no other option than to extend her friendship to a“former foe” due to Babangida regime’s eagerness to improve the domestic economy. SinceMay, 1992, when Nigeria and Israel restored diplomatic relations, they have exchangeeconomic delegations for the betterment of the duo.

1.9.7 The Press, Public Opinion and Pressure Groups

Nigeria has maintained certain level of freedom of speech even during the military era. Evenduring the Civil War, General Gowon often yielded to “severe press criticisms” as earlierobtained during the democratic regime of Balewa (Chick, 1971:126-27).

Counter factually, the press, pressure groups and different interest groups have beenable to persuade the government and the direction of its policy. Claude (1965:2) has alsoacknowledged that public opinion has always been a political factor guiding a country’s FP.The Nigeria government especially has displayed this sensitivity both in its perception andconduct of its FP. Due to the Israel-South African ties in the 1970’s, Nigerian press was verycritical of this relationship, and its denouncement frosted the ties between Nigeria and Israel.However, there was no monolithic voice from the press as regards how Nigeria shouldinteract with Israel. There were different views by the Nigerian Press on the issue of MiddleEast crisis based on regional and religious sponsors (Daily Express, 1978). According to theNew Nigerian, there was to be total disregard of restoration of diplomatic relation with Israelbecause of it’s role in the civil war, the need to support Egypt, and the fact that the “Israelisthemselves have by their recent elections demonstrated their preference for continuedoccupation by voting into power the extremist Lukud Party”.

In August 1991, followingGeneral Ike Nwachukwu’s visit to Israel, the same New Nigerian, in its editorial columnadvised Babangida regime not to consider the restoration of diplomatic ties with Israel.

The New Nigerian’s view was supported by the Northern elites, who even sponsoredthe distribution of pamphlets creating a negative impression about Israel and the evils done byIsrael in the past to destabilize the Nigerian state. On the other hand, Southern based pressand individuals clamoured for restoration of diplomatic ties with Israel because some of thembelieved that will affect the religious climate in Nigeria. The Nigerian Tribune, The Guardian,Newswatch, NACCIMA, Nigeria/Israeli Association emphatically called for restoration ofdiplomatic ties and when president Babangida announced the restoration of diplomatic tieswith Israel, this was regarded as a triumph over the opposing pro-Arab group who saw suchrestoration as unwise.

1.10 Methodology

1.10.1 Research Design

This is a historical as well as a comparative analysis which evaluates the decisions made in the field of foreign affairs concerning a selected number of issues over a period of 1975-1979 and 1985-1993. It is a descriptive analysis of these issues evaluated in terms of the relationship between words and actions. To accomplish this task, the study will rely primarily on data collection techniques involving;

  1. A careful study of Nigeria’s foreign policy by means of documentation (library research) on primary sources.
  2. Content analysis of research bulletins, speeches, journals and newspapers.
1.10.2 Method of Data Collection

The source used in the collection of data in this work is the secondary data, whereby updates and information about this study were gotten from various textbooks, journals, magazines, newspapers, bulletin, internet, directions and other publications and documents both from private and government.

Chapter 2, Chapter 3 and Chapter 4 are available in the complete material which you will get after reveiwing Chapter 5

Chapter Five

Summary, Conclusion And Recommendation

5.1 Summary

It is apparent that the successive Nigerian leadership has overwhelmingly recognized Africa as the centre piece of Nigeria’s foreign policy. Thus, this directed their foreign policy thrust over the years. However, our study has found that this over burdensomeness of Nigeria’s foreign policy towards the cause of Africa at all times has not really benefited Nigeria; as such they have inadvertently acted against Nigeria’s national interest rather, as JoeGarba (1991) noted “…in bilateral terms which are, after all, the core of relations between states, we gave and gave to Angola, and in return got nothing”.

In fact, the era of decolonization has gone and as such Nigeria should seek effective trade engagement with other African countries if it must, and such engagement should foremost portray our national interest with some concomitant pay offs. Nigeria should in fact, seek a more global partnership that will ensure human developmentand economic prosperity for the country.However, while we accept and encourage Nigeria’s active involvement in a productive engagement/ commitmentin Africa which would yield to development in the region such as Nigeria’s role and initiative in drawing up theConstitutive Act of African Union (AU), The New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) and theAfrican Peer Review Mechanism, Nigeria should seek first economic development after which every other thingshall be added unto her.Nigeria’s attention should be more focused towards achieving our vital national interests such as socio-economicgrowth and development so as to improve the standard of living of the populace. In this respect, Africa should nolonger be the only reason for the existence of our external relations.

Lastly, there is an urgent need for the government to convene a foreign policy summit to, among others, addressissues such as re-defining our national interest, refocusing our foreign policy in such a way that it will radicallyshift from focusing on Africa as the centrepiece of its foreign policy but to a purely national interest driven foreignpolicy thrust which we will minimize loss and increase gains as well as tying it to the socio-economic growth anddevelopment of our great country.Therefore, it is clear that the Nigeria’s acclaimed big brother role in Africa, which encourages her to flamboyantlywaste scarce resources on unfruitful brotherly missions in Africa only gained her a cheap popularity as the giant ofAfrica without any recorded tangible economic prosperity. Hence, we strongly recommend that Nigeria shouldseek first ‘economic development’ and then every other things shall be added unto her.

5.2 Conclusion

Domestic factors have been central, though not the only factors conditioning Nigeria’s Foreign Policy positions, especially towards Israel. The early years of Nigerian-Israel relations were friendly,and though at the beginning there were Nigerian Christians who advocated that such arelationship would benefit both countries, later the majority of Moslems and their leadersjoined in. During the first 13 years (1960-73), many Israeli experts were sent to all parts ofNigeria, at the request of the Nigerians, helping to modernize agriculture, building newhousing projects, highways, universities and assisting in laying foundations for a moderncommunication system. Nigerian scholars, agriculturists, educators and students were sent tostudy in Israel and major Israeli companies and private entrepreneurs became involved inNigeria’s development. However, this fruitful and meaningful relationship came to a halt in1973, when Nigeria adhered to the decision of the OAU, which under hard pressure of itsArab members, called upon its members to break off diplomatic relations with Israelfollowing the Yom Kippur War. It took 19 years until the Moslem Nigerian Head of State ,General Ibrahim Babangida decided to restore and normalize the relations between the twocountries.

To establish the relationship on a reciprocal basis, Nigeria took an unprecedented stepand established, for the first time, an Embassy in Israel, headed by one of its most experiencedAmbassadors. The two countries were preparing for closer cooperation when the Nigeriancrisis erupted during the Abacha’s regime, deteriorating the internal situation, and as in manyother cases, causing a decline in the mutual cooperation. Under the Obasanjo’s government,the relationship has been strengthened for the mutual benefit of the two countries. Nigeria andthe State of Israel have inaugurated a mechanism of holding annual dialogue aimed atstrengthening the existing diplomatic and political relations between the two countries. TheMemorandum of Understanding (MOU) to that effect was signed in Jerusalem by their preventatives of the two countries, in which details of the agreement were outlined. Underthe terms of the agreement, the two Ministries agreed to establish a procedure “for bilateralconsultations at diplomatic level that will constitute a useful mechanism in order to promotetheir bilateral dialogue”. With the recent election of Alhaji Umar Musa Yar’ Adua, a Muslimas the President of Nigeria, we can only hope that the relationship will not nosedive again.

Clearly, the world has become a global village, and interdependence is beenemphasized by foreign policy makers. There is no doubt that Nigerian’s decision to severeand eventual restoration of diplomatic ties with Israel facilitated by both the senior playerslike (President, the External Affairs Ministers etc) and other players (members of businesssector, press, religions leaders etc), constitute important elements on the issue in focus’. Wecan therefore confidently assert that the DS is of fundamental importance in the FP orientationof Nigeria towards Israel

5.3 Recommendation

The Nigerian state exhibits low autonomyand as such is immersed in the class struggle rather than rising above it leading to intense struggle for the control of the state forprimitive accumulation. In the context ofintense struggle for state power every otherthing including citizens’ welfare orwellbeing was marginalized both at homeand abroad. Thus, by adopting linkagepolitics approach we arrived at theconclusion that the internal politicalenvironment in Nigeria hindered theimplementation of Nigerian foreign policythrust embedded in citizen diplomacy. Onthe basis of the above conclusion or mainfinding we recommend, one, and morefundamental that the Nigerian state shouldbe reconstituted in such a way as to floatabove class struggle necessary for increasingits autonomy, and two, that there is need toimprove or transform positively Nigeria’sinternal political environment required forboosting its image abroad and achieving itsforeign policy objectives.

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