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.