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PROJECT TOPIC AND MATERIAL ON OBASANJO’S ADMINISTRATION AND NIGERIA’S INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMACY, 1999 – 2007
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TABLE OF CONTENTS
Title page – – – – – – – – – i
Approval page – – – – – – – – ii
Dedication – – – – – – – – – iii
Acknowledgement – – – – – – – iv
Abstract – – – – – – – – – v
Table of contents – – – – – – – vi
CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION
1.1 Background of the study – – – – – – 1
1.2 Statement of the problem – – – – – – 3
1.3 Research questions – – – – – – – 3
1.4 Research hypothesis- – – – – – – 4
1.5 objectives of the study – – – – – – 4
1.6 Significance of study – – – – – – 5
1.7 Scope and limitation – – – – – – 5
1.8 Theoretical framework – – – – – – 6
1.9 Literature review – – – – – – – 8
1.10 Methodology – – – – – – – 24
1.10.1 Research design – – – – – – 24
1.10.2 Method of data collection – – – – – 25
CHAPTER TWO: COMPARISON OF BABANGIDA AND OBASANJO REGIME IN THEIR FOREIGN POLICY INITIATIVE
Ibrahim Babangida Foreign policy initiatives – – – 26
Olusegun Obasanjo’s Foreign policy 1990-2007 – – – – 36
CHAPTER THREE: THE AFRICAN CENTERED FOREIGN POLICY OF THE NIGERIAN GOVERNMENT AND AN OVERVIEW OF NIGERIAN FOREIGN POLICY.
3.0 Foreign policy – – – – – – – – 39
3.1 Actors in Nigeria’s foreign policy – – – – – 39
3.2 The African cantered foreign policy of the Nigerian government – 41
3.3 An overview of Nigeria foreign policy- – – – – – 41
3.4 Political environment of Nigeria’s foreign policy – – – 44
Hypothesis one: The Approach of both Babangida and
Obasanjo in the pursuit of Nigeria afrocentric foreign
policy were the same – – – – – – – 47
Hypothesis Two: The contemporary African situation differs
from what it was during the era of Nigerian adoption
of afrocentric foreign policy – – – – – 49
Hypothesis three: Babangida and Obasanjo though pursued
the foreign documents, their personality difference affected
the policy implementation and outcome- – – – – – 50
CHAPTER FIVE: SUMMARY, CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATION
5.1 summary – – – – – – – – – 55
5.2 Conclusion – – – – – – – – 56
5.3 Recommendation – – – – – – – – 58
Bibliography – – – – – – – – – 59
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, racism and 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:
- What are the approaches adopted by both Babangida and Obasanjo in their separate pursuit of Nigeria Afro-centric foreign policy?
- Does contemporary African situations promote Afro-centric foreign policy?
- To what extent does personality of a regime leader affect a country’s policy?
1.4 Research Hypotheses
- The approach of both Babangida and Obasanjo in the pursuit of Nigerian Afrocentric foreign policy were the same.
- The contemporary African situation differs from what it was during the era of Nigerian adoption of afrocentric foreign policy.
- 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
- To compare Babangida’s and Obansanjo’s approach to implementation of Afrocentric foreign policy.
- To assess the contemporary African situations for possible review of Nigerian Afrocentric foreign policy.
- 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 that our 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
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.
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 intra class 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 ruling class 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, pseudo capitalism 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.
- Literature Review
1.9.1 An Overview of Nigerian Foreign Policy (1960-2011)
Nigerian foreign policy soon after independence in 1960 under Balewa’s Administration (1960-1966) was anchored on: one, Africa, the centre-piece of Nigerian foreign policy; two, the policy of pan Africanism; three, the policy of decolonization and eradication of racial discrimination and segregation; four, the policy of good neighborliness; five, the policy of non-intervention in the internal affairs of other countries; and finally, the policy of non-alignment. However, the most enduring foreign policy thrust in Nigeria has been the Afro-centric philosophy of Nigerian foreign policy in which Nigeria spent enormous resources in assisting other African countries like Namibia, Angola, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, etc, under colonial domination to gain independence. Under the African centeredness of Nigerian foreign policy, Nigeria also assisted in the antiapartheid struggle in South Africa. It also contributed in peacekeeping forces in crisis regions in Africa such as Chad, Niger, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Cote d’Ivoire, Sudan, Darfur, Somalia, Democratic Republic of Congo, etc (Aniche, 2009).
Still under this policy thrust, Nigeria assisted other African countries financially and technically in their economy. Although, the foreign policy posture has been seriously challenged or criticized by scholars and practitioners alike. It was not until recently that Nigeria started rescinding and reviewing its foreign policy in line with the foreign policy reform panel set up by Yar’Adua’s Administration in 2007, soon after assuming office. The product of this policy reform is citizen diplomacy. Other foreign policy thrusts like policy of decolonization, eradication of racial discrimination and segregation, non intervention and non-alignment naturally fizzled out with time. For example, policies of decolonization in Africa, and racial discrimination and segregation naturally waned with the achievement of independence and sovereignty in all African territories and elimination of Apartheid policy in South Africa. Due to United Nations’ (UN) and African Union’s (AU) responsibility to intervene on humanitarian grounds in the crisis regions, the policy of non-intervention is falling into disuse. Policy of non-alignment became obsolete with the events of late 1980s and early1990s leading to the end of cold war and the beginning of post-cold war era Aniche,2009).
Under Gowon’s Regime (1966-1975) the policy of African centeredness was utilized and geared towards regional integration in West Africa leading to the establishment of Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). Whilst, under Murtala/Obasanjo’s Regime and Shagari’s Administration Nigeria continued with the policy of African centeredness assisting many African countries and contributing in the National War of Liberation in some of African territories under colonial rule and anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa (Aniche, 2009).
During Babangida’s Regime (1985-1993), anew lexicon found its way into Nigerian foreign policy, the policy of economic diplomacy. The policy of economic diplomacy was aimed at achieving economic recovery and development through the collaboration of Breton Woods Institutions (BWIs), under conditionality of which, Nigeria undertook to implement Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) between1986 and 1990. The policy of economic diplomacy is another enduring foreign policy thrust of Nigeria foreign policy. Thus, under Obasanjo’s Civilian Administration(1999-2007), Nigeria revisited the policy of economic diplomacy aimed at receiving debt relief and attracting foreign direct investment (FDI) through the instrumentalities of the Breton Woods institutions (BWIs). Nigeria agreed to implement the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) loan conditionality as encapsulated in the National Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy (NEEDS) (Aniche, 2010; Okeke and Aniche,2012a).
Citizen diplomacy is a foreign policy thrust of Yar’Adua’s Administration under which the Federal Government of Nigeria seeks the assistance of Nigerians at home and in Diaspora in its effort to develop the country economically and politically. For being people-oriented, it is a part of the broad range of Nigerian foreign policy that promotes the aspects that look into the welfare of Nigeria’s citizens and seeks to defend them wherever they are (Dickson,2010).
1.9.2 Political Environment of Nigeria’s Foreign Policy
Linkage politics approach assumes that domestic politics and foreign policy are organically interconnected and that the totality of the domestic structure determines or conditions the character of Nigeria’s foreign policy. In other words, the internal political environment shapes the outcomes of Nigeria’s foreign policy making. As a result the conceptualization of Nigeria’s external or foreign relations in a linkage system presupposes that Nigeria’s foreign policy is a product of the domestic structure. The underlying argument here is that the international environment influences. Domestic politics just as domestic political environment shapes international events. Thus, foreign policy is conceived as the outcome or product of the dynamic inter play between the internal and external political environments of nation-states (Idang, 1973;Philips, 1973; Akinyemi, 1974; Asobie,1980; Gambari, 1980; Aluko, 1981; Nweke,1986; Ifesinachi, 2001).
Furthermore, the linkage politics approach to foreign policy holds that there is a link or nexus between domestic political structure and external relation or foreign policy. Thus, domestic factors like religion, culture, economy, etc. are seen as considerable significance to foreign policy making. The idea of a linkage or interface between the domestic political structure and external political environment allows for an analysis that adequately examines the extent to which interaction between the two can constitute a hindrance to the formulation of effective foreign policy thrusts such as citizen diplomacy. As a result, the linkage approach provides a specific context for identifying the extent to which specific forces can positively or negatively impinge upon the achievement or accomplishment of a given foreign policy objective such as citizen diplomacy (Holsi, 1967; Rosenau, 1969;Northege, 1968; Nweke, 1988; Birai, 1991;Dauda, 2002).
Perhaps, the import of the above is that foreign policy is basically a product of complex and diversifying interrelationship of external and internal circumstances and stimuli. Hence, the actions of a nation-states determined or influenced by both domestic and external variables, and as such, foreign policy becomes the continuation or the extension of domestic policy (Idang,1973; Akinyemi, 1974; Nweke, 1985;Ogunsawo, 1986; Offiong, 2000; Okolie,2001). The point is that there is a link between internal or domestic politics and external or international politics known as linkage politics. The underlying idea of linkage politics is that the link between the internal political environment influences foreign policy making and implementation of states, Nigeria included. The Nigerian internal or domestic political environment is one where political class engaged in electoral malpractices in form of electoral rigging and violence. Under this state of affairs, Nigerian citizens are confronted with abject poverty, mass unemployment, poor standards of living, low life expectancy, low literacy rate, etc. In the human development index.
The Nigerian state is not forthcoming at catering for the welfare and wellbeing of its citizens in Nigeria, forcing many Nigerians to seek greener pastures abroad or to put more aptly, economic refuge abroad. As a result many of them are engaged in many illegal activities to survive harsh treatment abroad where they are not likely to get a decent job. Even the corruption perception index (CPI) of the Transparency International (TI) has not ranked Nigeria favorably since its inception.
For instance, Adejumo (2011) notes that with several corrupt former Governors still parading themselves imperiously on the streets of Abuja, still on the beck and call of the president, and appeared seemingly untouchable; it will be hard to convince the world that we are still waging war against corruption in earnest and with sincerity of purpose. Successive Nigerian governments have nothing to be proud of in terms of promoting positive image of Nigeria or tackling corruption. In fact, whatever little policy was made had only been there to benefit those in the government and not the Nigerian masses.
Also, the thinness of socio-economic capitalist based on community repeated premises that Nigeria has some of the worst social indicators in the world: internal insecurity, a deteriorating infrastructural base, corruption, high crime, unbridled violence; ethnic conflict; a disorganized and moribund labour sector, a poor external image crisis exacerbated by a world-wide reputation for astuteness in financial and other related crimes represent some of these problems. In addition to this, is the high mortality, whereas majority of the population ostensibly living below poverty line in a country where the life expectancy is at zero point, and you get a country with a supposedly fragile base and foundation upon which such a policy can be founded (Eke, 2009).
Adejumo (2011) further opines that for the citizen diplomacy to succeed, it must be backed up with the sincere purpose and approach to Nigeria’s entire problem at home. After fifty years as a sovereign state, and with enormous resources both human and material, Nigerians are still wallowing in abject poverty and desperation, while our leaders are looting the treasures all over the country and living unimaginable expensive lifestyles, and depositing the loots in countries we are trying to force the citizen diplomacy 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 its Domestic 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, the political parties, pressure groups, the civil service, the political and bureaucratic elites, public opinion, 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 with this assertion that Akokpari (1999:24) has argued that Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) countries have to constantly reorient their foreign policies to reflect or accommodate domestic and external vicissitudes. Such orientation shifts have rendered SSA’s foreign policies innately malleable and pliable, deprived of coherence or consistence. Since the independence decade of the 1960s, shifts in the orientation of foreign policies of SSA states have been profoundly evident.
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 social forces, like parliament, political parties and Foreign Policy elites. Akinyemi on the other hand conducted a dissectional examination of the nature and character of the administrative structure in the FP process when subjected to other “pressures” of DS, particularly political parties and attitudes of political elites (1970:2). Gambari has also argued that the domestic political structure and process are of great impact on the nature and character of Nigerian FP because they serve as the channel for internalization of the international environment and events, thus making them intelligible 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 the formative experience of the leadership. Other studies have focused on the evolution of Nigerian FP by demonstrating how “internal pressures” both of administrative structure and of 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 there short comings. One of them was the issue of preference given to institutional forces with less consideration given to the impacts of socio-economic structure and social classes. Another main 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 achieve a specific FP is “a programme (plan) designed to address some problems or pursue some goal that entails action towards foreign entities. A country’s FP is determined by two broad considerations: the domestic and the external environment. According to Otubanjo (1999:9),“the domestic environment refer essentially to features, factors and forces…peculiar to the state,…foreign policy is being made. The domestic environment includes geographical location of the state, its peculiarity, natural and human resources, the nature of the political system, quality of leadership, the nature of the interaction among groups in the society etc (p.10).
Domestic environmental factors have great impact on the decision/policy making of a country. Little wonder, Northedge (1968:15) posits that the FP of any country is a product of environmental factors both internal and external. The strength of a particular domestic factor in influencing a particular foreign policy option of a country however represents a complex calculus as evident in Babaginda administration’s involvement of human and financial resources in the Liberian Crises at a time when public opinion in Nigeria heavily tilted against an involvement in the crises (Nwosu, 1993:17). As noted by Synder (1962:5),
“…the number and complexity of factors that influence national action in the international 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 the external 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 domestic structures (Northedge 1968:20). Domestic environment as a matter of fact determines the role a nation plays in the international system. Before the collapse of the Soviet Union, USSR was a champion of communist policy, but today, the effect of perestroika and glasnost has affected her role-playing in the international arena. The DS plays a crucial role in the way actions of other states are interpreted. We cannot therefore consider the DS in isolation of the international 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 of the 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 through joint participation in labour and socialist movement meetings (Ojo 1986:436). Through these efforts, many Nigerian’s were encouraged to visit Israel, and at a time Israel was aggressively galvanizing friendship with the newly emergent Third World countries as to bridge the diplomatic gap between her and the Third World (Curtis and Gitelson, 1976).
The constitutional provisions of the Nigerian government allowed the regions of the federation to facilitate their own foreign policies, allow regional delegations to be sent abroad to negotiate loans and other forms of assistance for their regions as evident in a Western Regional delegation led by its Minister of Agriculture, Chief Akindeko, who visited Israel in1958 to observe cooperative movements. The delegation negotiated cooperation agreements in the field of agriculture and cooperatives, the setting up of a number of joint ventures with Israel which facilitated the establishment in 1959, the Nigers oil Construction Company and the Nigerian Water Resources Development Corporation (Ojo, 1986:437).
Counter factually, the Northern Peoples Congress (NPC) in the first republic dominated Nigeria’s domestic cum political environment (Nereus, 1993:19). The Northern oligarchy displayed a disdained attitude towards Israel and preferred external contact with Muslim countries, as shown in Sir Ahmadu Bello’s public hostility and pronouncements towards Israel. Sir Ahmadu Bello, the Chairman of NPC, and the Premier of the former Northern 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 by the 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 was accepted 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 without development rather than receiving an Israeli loan to aid. We took this step only in good 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 Northern leadership 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 for Nigeria and Cameroon (NCNC), the junior partner in the federal coalition. Alhaji Tafawa Balewa therefore had no other option than to establish formal diplomatic relations with Israel when he reiterated that Nigeria would “remain on friendly terms with every nation which recognizes 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 that Nigeria might have adopted “open door” diplomatic policy as the result of the need for national unity and economic development. Israel was therefore allowed to establish an embassy in Lagos, but the hostility of the northern elite towards her to a greater extent was responsible for a major constraint by the Federal Government’s policy towards Israel by refusing 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 bed veiled the nation for about 30 months. Nigeria perceived a foul play towards Israel for its alleged sympathetic role played by supporting the defunct Republic of Biafra during the country’s civil war (Aluko, 1976:92). The bloody coup against the first republic brought in General Aguyi Ironsi as the first Military Head of State in Nigeria. Before he could settle down to deal with domestic let alone foreign issues, he was brutally murdered and his regime overthrown via a counter coup (Operation Massacre) that instituted Gowon Administration. At the inception of Gowon’s regime, it was alleged that Israel was covertly giving military training and ammunition to the Ibos (New Nigerian, 1966). Israeli mission in Lagos denied the allegations 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 aid to former Biafra, that if a dozen or twenty had also extended the same gesture, the case would have been different (Aluko, 1976:50). The press in Nigeria was furious and reacted angrily to Eban’s statement.
General Gowon showed his displeasure by protesting to the Israeli government through a letter sent to its Ambassador in Lagos. Gowon however believed that Israeli aid to the defunct Biafra was less significant to that of France and for his regime to single out Israel would appear “selective” capable of causing “more problematic internal cleavages” (Ojo,1986:440). On the other hand, Mathews (1987:534) has argued that the Nigerian government engaged in a wild romance with North Africa and Arabs in the Middle East due to their military assistance during the civil war. Thus, in 1971, Nigeria joined the Arab-dominated oil cartel- 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 fact that the first shots were fired by Egypt, the Nigerian Head of State argued that the hostility could 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 both internal and external pressures to severe diplomatic ties (West African, 1973: 1545). Israeli defiance in the Middle East, violating the ceasefire agreement and consolidating its presence on the West Bank of the Suez Canal, made Gowon to angrily accused Israel of breaking “faith with Nigeria” (Ojo 1986:440). General Gowon had no choice than to severe ties with Israel as Chairman 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-Israeli conflict. 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 in command, declared in Saudi Arabia in 1979 that “our friends are the Arabs, we shall always support them” (Daily Times, 1979). Obasanjo’s government could therefore not do much to restore diplomatic relations Israel,-leaving the issue to be handled by second Republic Government. 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 National Party of Nigeria (NPN) leadership perceived as representing the interest of the Northern Muslims was unenthusiastic. The UPN and NPP with dominant Christian root supported the restoration 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 consideration was shown to the issue of restoring diplomatic ties with Israel. In a way to tell the world that the status quo would remain, the militarily junta appointed Ibrahim Gambari as Foreign Affairs Minister. Gambari, known for his outright criticism and condemnation of Israel policy towards the Middle East before his appointment, aggressively opposed to such move to re establish relations with Israel. The government demonstrated a total commitment to anti Israel policy by suspending the Emir of Kano and the Ooni of Ife for their visit to Israel. The Emir 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 Babangida administration on 27th August, 1985 condemning Buhari’s FP, and describing it as retaliatory and incoherent (Newswatch, 1985:19). In 1991, the then Nigerian Foreign Minister, Major General Ike Nwachukwu admitted that “Africa could not allow itself to be left out in the current 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 back into the mainstream of world politics” (African Concord, 1991:24). General Babangida on his part 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 be left in an empty shell” (Nigerian Tribune, 1992). He further reiterated the intention of Nigerian 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 and their Israeli counterparts opened, culminating into the decision for the reestablishment of diplomatic ties (Nereus, 1993:21). The Foreign Minister made it clear that “diplomacy these days 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 before restoring diplomatic ties with Israel.
At independence, Nigeria depended basically on the export of agricultural produce which accounted for about 61 percent of its foreign earnings. After the Nigerian civil war, the economy experienced another economic face, with the development of manufacturing sector with a corresponding dependence on foreign inputs like capital, managerial skills and technology. This was followed by the oil boom and petrodollar inflow which made Nigeria to embark 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 commodity prices, 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 of economic 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 thus institutionalizing poverty and turning the nation into a beggar status (Nwakwo, 1984:41).
This situation further deteriorated the economy which was dependent, disarticulated and peripherally integrated into the world capitalist economy. The government in order to address these deficiencies adopted several economic policies such as Nigerianisation and Indigenization (which created very unconducive environment for foreign investors) as to bring the nation out of its economic doldrums. The administration of Babangida sought to address these galaxies of economic challenges by adopting several economic policies like Structural Adjustment Programme [SAP] (Babangida, 1985:238) and the “use of economic diplomacy to attract foreign investors” (Nereus, 1993:18). Nigeria had been engaged in bilateral relations with Israel before 1960 in which there was economic cooperation in the areas of agriculture, cooperatives, construction and water resources etc, particularly, in the Eastern and Western regions which were pro Israeli.
In the 1990s, due to economic logjam and alarming withdrawals of foreign investment from the country in spite of the government’s adoption of new economic diplomacy, Babangida administration viewed the restoration of diplomatic relations with Israel as great agendum to stimulate the national economy so as to encourage American Jewish leaders in promoting investment in Nigeria. General Nwachukwu in his visit to Israel told his counterpart that:
“We know, for instance that you have the command of financial institutions of the world through your kith and kin in several industrialized and highly developed economies 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 their serious 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. Since May, 1992, when Nigeria and Israel restored diplomatic relations, they have exchange economic 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. Even during the Civil War, General Gowon often yielded to “severe press criticisms” as earlier obtained during the democratic regime of Balewa (Chick, 1971:126-27).
Counter factually, the press, pressure groups and different interest groups have been able to persuade the government and the direction of its policy. Claude (1965:2) has also acknowledged 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 and conduct of its FP. Due to the Israel-South African ties in the 1970’s, Nigerian press was very critical 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 should interact with Israel. There were different views by the Nigerian Press on the issue of Middle East crisis based on regional and religious sponsors (Daily Express, 1978). According to the New Nigerian, there was to be total disregard of restoration of diplomatic relation with Israel because of it’s role in the civil war, the need to support Egypt, and the fact that the “Israelis themselves have by their recent elections demonstrated their preference for continued occupation by voting into power the extremist Lukud Party”. In August 1991, following General Ike Nwachukwu’s visit to Israel, the same New Nigerian, in its editorial column advised 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 sponsored the distribution of pamphlets creating a negative impression about Israel and the evils done by Israel in the past to destabilize the Nigerian state. On the other hand, Southern based press and individuals clamoured for restoration of diplomatic ties with Israel because some of them believed that will affect the religious climate in Nigeria. The Nigerian Tribune, The Guardian, News watch, NACCIMA, Nigeria/Israeli Association emphatically called for restoration of diplomatic ties and when president Babangida announced the restoration of diplomatic ties with Israel, this was regarded as a triumph over the opposing pro-Arab group who saw such restoration as unwise.
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;
- A careful study of Nigeria’s foreign policy by means of documentation (library research) on primary sources.
- 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.
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