Nigeria’s Role In The Formation Of A Regional Organization (A Case Study Of ECOWAS)

Project and Seminar Material for International Relations

Nigeria’s Role In The Formation Of A Regional Organization (A Case Study Of ECOWAS)


The purpose of this study is to examine the role of Nigeria in the formation of regional organization (ECOWAS) considering the need for West Africa to have a regional organization with common goals and the formative years of ECOWAS. This research also examine the Nigeria’s interest in ECOWAS and the successes/challenges of the regional organization. Data was obtained from the secondary sources like Journals, textbooks, internet and all other secondary sources. More data were also gathered through interviews. The data obtained was analyzed using thematic format and a descriptive essay and the result revealed that Nigeria played a major role in the formation of ECOWAS because their special interest is in regional and borderless organization uniting the West African countries to improve trade and transportation with an introduction of common currency. Nigeria has played a leading role in funding the organization. However, the organization has not been able to achieve many of the goals in the mission system due to several challenges and the non-supportive nature of some member countries. This study concludes that Nigeria should continue playing the big brother role to ensure the success of the regional organization.

Chapter One


1.1 Background of the study

Nigeria has since Independence been playing a significant leadership role in the West African Sub-region and indeed the African continent. Africa has remained the centerpiece of Nigeria’s foreign policy since independence in 1960. With a population of about 150 million people, almost one quarter of the African continent and being endowed with immense physical and human resources, Nigeria is destined to play leadership roles in the affairs of the continent. This is exactly what the country has been doing for decades, notwithstanding the financial, political, social and diplomatic challenges. Successive Nigerian governments have consistently accorded special attention to the plight and conditions of her brothers and sisters in Africa, which has made the basic principles of Nigeria’s foreign policy “Afro-centric” and that of its brother’s keeper. In Nigeria’s Afro-centric foreign policy, the West African Sub-region remains the first line of implementation. Given the vast size, natural, economic and human resources, large market drive, Nigeria perceives itself as having an historic mission to exercise hegemonic influence in the West African Sub-region and indeed, the black world. Her economic strength and the high level of human resources at her disposal have allowed her a measure of autonomy in the pursuit of Africa’s genuine interests in global politics. This can be seen in her role in the Organization for African Unity, which later metamorphosed into the African Union (AU), other sub regional groupings such as Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the Chad Basin Commission and Commonwealth of Nations. Africa has been, and continue to be, the most vulnerable and most externally threatened region in the world. The growing marginalization of Africa will worsen unless urgent and protective measures of regional and sub-regional integration, cooperation, and collective security are implemented as a matter of urgency. This is what the increasing hostility of the increasing hostility of the intentional environment calls for. There is a strong movement towards regional and sub-regional cooperation in Europe, North America, East Asia and Latin America. And despite their global prescription of liberalization policy, and their head-start advantage in the development project, the advanced countries are today themselves the champions of regionalism as a defensive mechanism. We in Africa must follow suit by pooling our national efforts. Europe and North America need integration for strength and prosperity but Africa needs it for survival. What is crucial but missing is strong political and far-sighted statesmanship, for effective regionalism requires at least a limited surrender of national sovereignty to supra-national organs. Indeed, the centrality of the leadership issue has been apparent in the literature on regional integration. With respect to West Africa, Nigeria is expected to play that role, in view of its status as the largest market in the sub-region, with vast natural and human resource endowments, a relatively developed manufacturing capacity, and a pervasive influence on the economies of its immediate neighbors. This study therefore, intends to evaluate the role that Nigeria has played in the Economic Community of West African State (ECOWAS) at achieving its objectives as a leading member of the community.

1.2 Statement Of The Problem

The role that Nigeria has played in various international organizations over the years has been proactive, especially in the AU. Nigeria has vigorously articulated and consistently defended African concerns and interests as a member of various international organizations. She has used this platform to champion the interests of Africa in the true spirit of Pan- Africanism. It is in view of this that the researcher intend to investigate the role of Nigeria in the formation of regional organizations

1.3 Objective Of The Study

The main objective of this study is to ascertain the role of Nigeria in the formation of regional organization. But for the successful completion of this study the researcher intends to achieve the following objectives;

  1. To ascertain Nigeria’s role in the formation of international organization
  2. To ascertain the economic benefit of regional organization to her member countries
  3. To ascertain the role Nigeria has played in the development of regional organization
  4. To identify the role of member country in the development of regional organizations

1.4 Research Questions

For the successful completion of the study the following research questions are formulated by the researcher;

  1. What is the role of Nigeria in the formation of regional organization?
  2. What is the economic benefit of regional organization to her members?
  3. What role has Nigeria played in the development of regional organization?
  4. What are the roles of member countries in the development of their region?

1.5 Significance Of The Study

This study is a relevant source of knowledge for students and policy makers dealing with Nigeria and West African states. The outcome of the study would be of primary benefits to the Federal Government of Nigeria in the area of foreign policy relating to the integration of ECOWAS member states. Also, Nigeria’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the ECOWAS, policy makers of Nigeria and other ECOWAS States will find this work useful. This study will add to existing literature and also stimulate further research on the subject.

1.6 Scope And Limitation Of The Study

The scope of this study covers the role of Nigeria in the formation of regional organization with emphasis on ECOWAS. Though there are some factors which limited the scope of the study;

a) Availability Of Research Material:

The research material available to the researcher is insufficient, thereby limiting the study.

b) Time:

The time frame allocated to the study does not enhance wider coverage as the researcher has to combine other academic activities and examinations with the study.

c) Finance:

The finance available for the research work does not allow for wider coverage as resources are very limited as the researcher has other academic bills to cover

1.7 Definition Of Terms


The Economic Community of West African States, also known as ECOWAS is a regional economic union of fifteen countries located in West Africa. Collectively, these countries comprise an area of 5,114,162 km2(1,974,589 sq mi), and in 2015 had an estimated population of over 349 million. The union was established on 28 May 1975, with the signing of the Treaty of Lagos, with its stated mission to promote economic integration across the region

Regional organization

Regional organizations (ROs) are, in a sense, international organizations (IOs), as they incorporate international membership and encompass geopolitical entities that operationally transcend a single nation state. However, their membership is characterized by boundaries and demarcations characteristic to a defined and unique geography, such as continents, or geopolitics, such as economic blocs. They have been established to foster cooperation and political and economic integration or dialogue among states or entities within a restrictive geographical or geopolitical boundary.


Regional Interest Groups provide forums in which the mobile industry can discuss and address issues that are specific to particular regions or the regional angle on global issues.

1.8 Organization Of The Study

This research work is organized in five chapters, for easy understanding, as follows.

  • Chapter one is concern with the introduction, which consist of the (background of the study), statement of the problem, objectives of the study, research questions, research hypotheses, significance of the study, scope of the study etc.
  • Chapter two being the review of the related literature presents the theoretical framework, conceptual framework and other areas concerning the subject matter.
  • Chapter three is a research methodology covers deals on the research design and methods adopted in the study.
  • Chapter four concentrate on the data collection and analysis and presentation of finding.
  • Chapter five gives summary, conclusion, and recommendations made of the study.

Chapter Five

Summary Conclusion And Recommendation

5.1 Introduction

It is important to ascertain that the objective of this study wasto ascertain the role of Nigeria in the formation of a regional organization

In the preceding chapter, the relevant literature for this study were presented, critically elaborated upon and appropriate interpretation given. In this chapter, certain recommendations made which in the opinion of the researcher will be of benefits in addressing the Nigeria roles in the formation of a regional organization.

5.2 Summary

Nigeria as the “GIANT” of African nations has played a great role in the formation of Economic Community of West African State ECOWAS. It was the former Nigerian Military Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon who conceived the idea of Economic Community of West African State in 1970. Immediately after the Nigerian civil war from 167 to 1970, the then Head of State expressed the desire to see the African unity in general expressed in concrete terms and not only in Organization of African Unity (O.A.U) resolution. Instead, he would like to start with economic integration in West Africa. In view of the above, General Gowon thereafter raised the issue several times with President Leopold Senghor of Senegal who did not show sufficient interest to the idea. It was later learnt that Senghor’s fear was that the proposed community could turn-out to be a greater Nigeria because of the country’s size. IN 1972, General Gowon Decided to seek the cooperation of another French speaking country (Togo) and during a state visit to Togo in the same year (1972), the suggestion was, made for both Nigeria and Togo to join hands in drafting a proposal for the formation of common market, which eventually become ECOWAS.

5.3 Conclusion

Going by historical antecedent, the Economic Community of West African State simply referred to as “ECOWAS”, for short, was established on 28th May, 1975 by fifteen sovereign states of West African Sub-region. The community came into existence via a multi-lateral treaty signed in Lagos the then capital city of Nigeria. Unfortunately, despite the long life span of the community, it has not been occupying its rightful position among the community of international organizations. The community has been enmeshed in a number of tighten problems such as; civil wars, boundary disputes, inability of member states of meet their financial obligations and political instability. Other are economic depression, disparity in size, population and host of others.

However, despite these tighten problems success have been recorded in the areas of free movement of people and services. Telecommunication, keeping of peace in the West African sub-region. Then summary, if the citizen of ECOWAS countries are planted into the background in the developmental process, within the sub-region, not much can be achieved, since they, as the beneficiaries can not only support what they adjudged acceptable to them but be part of the process at the planning and implementation states. Judged from the broad perspectives therefore, the forum of Heads of State of ECOWAS should always carry along the people in their countries so that, the overall objectives of ECOWAS can be attained without further delay as international organization in the West African sub-region.

5.4 Recommendation

The researcher therefore recommends that The ECOWAS leaders should also try and allow free and easy movement of goods, services and people in the sub-region. 55 The leaders of ECOWAS should try to revive the organization and give greater importance to enable it realize the desire and aspiration of its founding fathers. The progress made towards ECOWAS integration within the past eleven years or so has been very encouraging. Also the proposals which took place in Lome, Togo during the Heads of State and Government, from 9th – 10th December, 1999 where Nigeria came up with the idea on modalities and strategies for accelerating the sub-regional integration process should be encouraged.

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