International Relations Project Topics

The Analysis of Obasanjo’s Administration in International Organization in 1999-2007

The Analysis of Obasanjo's Administration in International Organization in 1999-2007

The Analysis of Obasanjo’s Administration in International Organization in 1999-2007

Chapter One

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 Afrocentric foreign policy.
  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.



Ibrahim Babangida’s Foreign Policy Initiatives

The period between August 1985 and January 1987 could be regarded as the gestation period of Babangida’s far reaching foreign policy initiatives in Nigeria. Within this period, several unresolved domestic and external issues during the Buhari regime (1984-1985) created the premise upon which the Babangida administration contrived its foreign policy agenda. The domestic situation in the country during this period could be gleaned from the socio-economic situation in Nigeria during the Buhari led administration between 1984 and August 1985. The country’s economy was critically distressed due to the glut in supply which resulted in the collapse of the price of crude oil at the international market in the early 1980s. The country’s oil production dropped from its peak of 2.4 million barrels per day (b/d) in 1980 to 1.3million barrels per day in 1983. As a result of this, the Nigerian government was unable to generate sufficient revenue to meet up its statutory financial obligations. This is because crude oil revenue accounts for more than 90 percent to the nation’s foreign exchange earnings and substantial part of government revenue in the 1980s. The economic crisis by extension, also affected other sectors of the country’s economy. Several manufacturing companies closed down due to lack of raw materials and the huge cost of operations. In addition to this, there was massive corruption in the country. General Muhammad Buhari therefore inherited a battered economy when it assumed office via a coup de tat on December 31, 1983. The situation made Nigerians heaved a sigh of relive and went into joyous mood on January 1,1984 when the news of the military putsch on the dawn of the New Year spread throughout the nation (Obe, 1984).

General Sani Abacha while announcing the coup on January 1, 1984 claimed that the military took over because of the “… grave economic predicament and uncertainty which an inept and corrupt leadership has imposed on our beloved nation for the past four years”. Although the economy was virtually on the verge of collapse when the military took power in 1984, the Buhari regime nevertheless, was unable to resolve the economic crisis after about twenty months in power, (Omokhodion, 1985). In fact, the Buhari regime contemplated the idea of securing a bailout package from the IMF before it was toppled in August 1985, by General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida.

There were other lingering issues such as Nigeria’s membership of the Organisation of Islamic Countries-OIC, which the Buhari regime was unable to venture (Olojede, 1986). The strained relationship between Nigeria and Britain

over the Umaru Dikko kidnap affair also created an avenue for the Babangida regime to re-order the foreign policy priority of the country in 1986. But more importantly, the closure of Nigeria’s borders in April 1984 (Ndibe, 1985) and the expulsion of about a million illegal aliens from Nigeria in May 1985 (Obasi, 1985) by the Buhari led military government also created genuine avenues for the Babangida regime to articulate its ‘big brother Africa’ foreign policy posture in 1986.Another thorny issue unresolved by the Buhari regime which the Babangida government took ample advantage was the South African question.

The aforementioned issues apparently, formed the prelude to Babangida‘s foreign policy initiatives from the inception of the regime in August 1985. During his first major speech to the Nation in August 1985, President Ibrahim Babangida berated the foreign policy of the General Mohamadu Buhari led regime and gave clues as to the direction of his administration’s foreign policy. In his speech, he remarked among other things that:




Foreign Policy

The hypothesis can be assessed based on the following interventions;

  1. Actors in Nigeria’s Foreign Policy
  2. The African-centered foreign policy of the Nigerian government
  3. An Overview Of Nigerian Foreign Policy (1960-2011)
  4. Political Environment Of Nigeria’s Foreign Policy

 Actors in Nigeria’s Foreign Policy

The policy actors in this immense task are both internal and external to the foreign ministry. Although it is primarily a foreign ministry affair, it should be mentioned that internal actors such as the president, the foreign minister, ambassadors and embassies abroad, the press and the business community are all active players in the foreign policy formulation process. The role and place of our embassies should be redefined. A dynamic and performance-oriented foreign policy leaves no room for amateurism as was the case in the past. Our ambassadors and embassies should sit up and live up to national expectations. Nigeria’s foreign policy has to produce results for the country and its citizens. The training programme for our diplomats should be reviewed to give them the necessary knowledge to practise the art and science of diplomacy because they are at the frontline of our foreign policy.

Our vital national interests have to be redefined. Does Africa still represent the cornerstone of our foreign policy when we have more respect from other countries than we get from African nations despite our whole-hearted commitment to them? If the answer to the question is yes, what are the benefits we get from this Afrocentric choice? If the response is no, then we should reorient our foreign policy towards more profitable ventures like economic, scientific, cultural and technical cooperation with more advanced countries including Asia.


Hypothesis 1: The approach of both Babangida and Obasanjo in the pursuit of Nigerian Afro centric foreign policy were the same.

Babangida administration on 27th August, 1985 condemning Buhari’s Foreign Policy, and describing it as retaliatory and incoherent (News watch, 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.




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 Joe Garba (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 development and economic prosperity for the country. However, while we accept and encourage Nigeria’s active involvement in a productive engagement/ commitment in Africa which would yield to development in the region such as Nigeria’s role and initiative in drawing up the Constitutive Act of African Union (AU), The New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) and the African Peer Review Mechanism, Nigeria should seek first economic development after which every other thing shall be added unto her. Nigeria’s attention should be more focused towards achieving our vital national interests such as socio-economic growth and development so as to improve the standard of living of the populace. In this respect, Africa should no longer 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, address issues such as re-defining our national interest, refocusing our foreign policy in such a way that it will radically shift from focusing on Africa as the centrepiece of its foreign policy but to a purely national interest driven foreign policy thrust which we will minimize loss and increase gains as well as tying it to the socio-economic growth and development of our great country. Therefore, it is clear that the Nigeria’s acclaimed big brother role in Africa, which encourages her to flamboyantly waste scarce resources on unfruitful brotherly missions in Africa only gained her a cheap popularity as the giant of Africa without any recorded tangible economic prosperity. Hence, we strongly recommend that Nigeria should seek first ‘economic development’ and then every other things shall be added unto her.


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 a relationship would benefit both countries, later the majority of Moslems and their leaders joined in. During the first 13 years (1960-73), many Israeli experts were sent to all parts of Nigeria, at the request of the Nigerians, helping to modernize agriculture, building new housing projects, highways, universities and assisting in laying foundations for a modern communication system. Nigerian scholars, agriculturists, educators and students were sent to study in Israel and major Israeli companies and private entrepreneurs became involved in Nigeria’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 its Arab members, called upon its members to break off diplomatic relations with Israel following 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 two countries.

To establish the relationship on a reciprocal basis, Nigeria took an unprecedented step and established, for the first time, an Embassy in Israel, headed by one of its most experienced Ambassadors. The two countries were preparing for closer cooperation when the Nigerian crisis erupted during the Abacha’s regime, deteriorating the internal situation, and as in many other 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 and the State of Israel have inaugurated a mechanism of holding annual dialogue aimed at strengthening the existing diplomatic and political relations between the two countries. The Memorandum 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. Under the terms of the agreement, the two Ministries agreed to establish a procedure “for bilateral consultations at diplomatic level that will constitute a useful mechanism in order to promote their 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 been emphasized 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 player slike (President, the External Affairs Ministers etc) and other players (members of business sector, press, religions leaders etc), constitute important elements on the issue in focus’. We can therefore confidently assert that the DS is of fundamental importance in the FP orientation of Nigeria towards Israel


The Nigerian state exhibits low autonomy and as such is immersed in the class struggle rather than rising above it leading to intense struggle for the control of the state for primitive accumulation. In the context of intense struggle for state power every other thing including citizens’ welfare or wellbeing was marginalized both at home and abroad. Thus, by adopting linkage politics approach we arrived at the conclusion that the internal political environment in Nigeria hindered the implementation of Nigerian foreign policy thrust embedded in citizen diplomacy. On the basis of the above conclusion or main finding we recommend, one, and more fundamental that the Nigerian state should be reconstituted in such a way as to float above class struggle necessary for increasing its autonomy, and two, that there is need to improve or transform positively Nigeria’s internal political environment required for boosting its image abroad and achieving its foreign policy objectives.



  • Akinbobola, A. (2001). Regionalism and Regional Influential: The Post Cold War Role of Nigeria in African Affairs, Onitsha Concept Publications.
  • Ibe, O. (1990). Nigeria’s African Policy: A Study of her relations in the African Unification Movement, 1960-1973, Lagos: Cross Continent Press.
  • Olusanya, G. O, & Akindele, R.A. (1986). Nigeria’s External Relations: The First Twenty-Five years, Ibadan: Ibadan University Press
  • Vogt, M.A, & Ekoko, A.E. (1993). Nigeria in International Peacekeeping, Lagos; Malthouse Press
  • Adeniji, A.O. (2004). “Aid as an Instrument of Foreign Policy: The Nigerian Experience” Journal of History and Diplomatic Studies, Vol.1 (September 12) Pg 8-12
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