Political Science Project Topics

The Effect of the Fourth Republic Regime’s Foreign Policy on Nigeria’s National Security (2015-2023)

The Effect of the Fourth Republic Regime's Foreign Policy on Nigeria's National Security (2015-2023)

The Effect of the Fourth Republic Regime’s Foreign Policy on Nigeria’s National Security (2015-2023)

Chapter One

Research Objectives

The main objective of the study is assess the effect of the fourth republic regime’s foreign policy on nigeria’s national security (2015-2023), and the specific objectives are:

  1. To assess the impact of the Fourth Republic regime’s foreign policy on Nigeria’s national security between 2015 and 2023
  2. To evaluate the effectiveness of the regime’s foreign policy initiatives in countering terrorism and promoting regional stability
  3. To analyze the regime’s economic diplomacy efforts and their impact on Nigeria’s national security and resource security



Conceptual Review

Concept of Foreign Policy

Foreign policy, as is the case with many other concepts in the social sciences, does not possess a universal meaning, thus several scholars have different conceptions of foreign policy. In this light, Ade-Ibijola (2013) sees foreign policy as the objectives which constitute a comprehensive plan that serve as goals that a country hopes to achieve in its relation with other members of the world. In other words, Ade-Ibijola (2013) states that every country constructs a plan with certain key goals that it seeks to achieve in its relations with other states in the international system so as to avoid steering without direction in the waters of international relations.

Ota & Ecoma (2015) identify foreign policy as a strategy that is properly articulated and designed in a coordinated manner by institutionally-designated decision-makers in a bid to manipulate the international environment to achieve identified national objectives. This conception presents foreign policy as an instrument of power via which states can react to events in the international environment by its actions or inactions for the purpose of advancing national goals.

In explaining the interplay between domestic and foreign policy, Ukwuije (2015) conceives foreign policy as an offshoot of public policy that cannot actualize certain aspects of domestic policy without full and proper interaction with other countries. This assertion connotes that public policy subsumes foreign policy, therefore foreign policy serves the purpose of achieving domestic policy on international front.

Eze (2010) simply states that foreign policy is the basis on which a state can engage with another state or subjects of international law, such as international organizations.

This view is corroborated by Barika (2014) who argues that the concept of foreign policy is implicit in the fact that national interest is the guiding factor for nations in the formulation and execution of their foreign policies. However, he boldly identifies that the formulation of foreign policy is limited by the dictates of international law, treaty obligations and the leadership roles and responsibilities in international organizations assumed by the state with proper consideration to the foreign policy of other states. Inherent in these conceptualizations by Eze (2010) and Barika (2014) is the role of international law, non-state actors and very importantly, the foreign policies of other states.

Their position on the subject is that when states begin to formulate or restructure their foreign policies, they should do so bearing in mind the need to align with statutes of international law, their commitments in regional or international institutions and the nature of foreign policies of other states, especially the neighboring countries. The fulfillment of these criteria will not only enable the state to properly pursue national interest, but within the ambit of international law and the capacity to respond to actions of other states in the region or globe. The next section reviews Nigeria’s foreign policy in retrospect.

 Foreign Policy Expectations and Practicality

According to Hill (2003: p-43-45), Foreign Policy is expected to protect citizens who pursue life or work abroad, from prison sentences for possessing drugs to labour exploitation and a country’s identity abroad through cultural activities, language acquisition, maintain territorial integrity and social peace against external aggression. Ajayi (2005) sees foreign policy as a transaction among states entailing high diplomacy aimed at achieving certain national objectives. To Goldstein and Pevehouse (2011:103), it entails strategies that guide actions of governments in spelling out these objectives in international system. Rolenc (2013) sees it as the positioning of the state towards its surrounding, hence towards other players in international system. Matt (2015) calls it issues on “internationalist” agenda while Petric (2013) sees it as activities with which a state fulfils its interests within the international arena.

For Celenk (2015), foreign policy enables states to identify certain political, economic and military interests of concern and pursue them through different channels. Chibundu (2003) says it’s a State’s external action which can be friendly or aggressive, casual, intense or complex. To Hill (2003), it is about mediating a two way flow between internal and external dynamics and cannot be detached from the domestic where it springs from. Ayam (2004), Dokubo and Oluwadare (2010), Alao (2011) also attest to this relationship between internal and external dynamics.

Foreign policy could be based on economics, politics, military, morality, culture or establishment of relationships and cooperation with the rest of the world. While Kisangani and Pickering, (2015), Preble (2010) attests to this military approach/intervention, Bernie Sanders (2017) in his address at Westminster College affirms that foreign policy is not just tied to military but directly connects with economics, taking into account the outrageous income and wealth inequality that exists today, global peace and security and should be employed to prevent an oligarchic form of society where a few exert influence over the economic and political life of our world.

This study defines foreign policy as a set of goals and course of actions a state wishes to pursue in its external relations, either to build goodwill and appreciation for itself as a responsible member of the society or promote international development. It entails financial aid, technical support, scholarships, development programs, diplomacy, etc. These understandings and definitions demonstrate a general consensus on the role and aims of foreign policy. It generally presents foreign policy as a governance tool that could be used to question the extent to which societies are obligated to one another and decide the principles of international order (Hill, 2003). This consensus rightly establishes the linkage between foreign policy, foreign aid and domestic dynamics that impacts on foreign aid positively or negatively.

Decision-Makers, Agency and Actors in Foreign Affairs

Decision-making, the starting point in foreign policy rests within the agency. In foreign policy, this agency is the State and those responsible for making decisions are bureaucrats and politicians. Titles and locations may vary according to the type of system or international actor represented (Guerlain, 2014). Foreign policy sums up official external relations conducted by an ‘independent actor’ in international relations (Hill, 2003). Actions taken by transnational, international organizations, International Non-Governmental OrganizationsINGOs are counted as foreign policy initiatives, depending on the issues at stake. Support for single currency project of the European or African Union or opposition to nuclear testing by Greenpeace, CONCORD Europe can impact on foreign policy. This makes NGOs and lobby groups critical foreign policy actors (Abelson, 2014; Hafsa, 2014; Snider, 2003).

Financiers like George Soros (Soros Foundation), Bill Gates (Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation) and multinationals like Shell Petroleum; ExxonMobil may not be fully involved but also share vulnerability in cases of unpleasant incidents. The conflict over oil exploration, between Royal Dutch/Shell, Nigerian Government and Host Communities in the Niger Delta especially the Ogoniland serve as example. The execution of the Ogoni 9, including Ken Saro Wiwa, a playwright and environmental activist impacted negatively on Royal Dutch/Shell activities. Shell has faced many legal actions following these incidents and ceased operating in Ogoniland since the executions in 1997. The publicity following the incidents demonstrates the critical role of the Press in foreign policy (Hennchen, 2015; Obayiuwana, 2001; Schutz, 2017; Ugwu and Moko, 2014:151).

Authority for implementation of external policy lies with the ministry of foreign affairs under supervision of a minister, or Secretary of State like the United States. Some ministers are believed not to have full powers and often refer to heads of Governments. Conversely, some heads of Governments serve as Ministers while some are often sucked into the roles, for instance, the Presidents of United States of America and France (Fuchs and Richert, 2016; Slovak Academy Press, 2010). In Nigeria, the Minister and Nigerian Ministry of Foreign Affairs is statutorily established to reinforce Nigeria’s external dealings (Mimiko and Mbada, 2014:147-148)






The Administration of Retired General Muhammadu Buhari

Retired General Muhammadu Buhari’s election was the first transfer of power from ruling to opposition party in Nigeria. His campaign cardinal agenda was hinged on fighting corruption, insecurity and economy, job creation which reflected in his foreign policy. Buhari embarked on extensive travels and engagement with the G-7 and other Western countries, including China, the G-20 Meeting in Germany and African Union Summit in South Africa (Schneider, 2015). Buhari’s known personal integrity won him the trust of the West who helped him recover about $230 million from the Swiss Bank (Onyeama, Foreign Affairs Minister 2016 in Salau, 2016).

Buhari visited neighbouring countries that are affected by boko haram and renewed commitment to the fight. The Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) in place since 1998 yielded little result due to mistrust over small border issues dating back to 1980s. Intelligent sharing was hindered making it easily overrun by the insurgents. The visit therefore enhanced opportunities for firmed decisions on the alliance to fight boko haram (Schneider, 2015). Buhari’s government signed more Agreements with China and assured of a oneChina Policy by recognizing China, Taiwan and Mainland China as single State of China and relocated the Taiwanese Embassy from Nigeria’s Federal Capital, Abuja to Lagos and downgraded its activities (Yusuf, 2017, in Bello et.al, 2017; Mama, 2016).



National Security

The assertion that the definition of concepts in the social science discipline is not new, hence, Buzman(1991) stipulates that security is a contested concept which defies pursuit of an agreed general definition. In spite of this ambiguity, some scholars have sought to conceptualize the term. Cohen and Tuttle(1972) define security as a protective condition which statesmen either try to acquire, or perceive, in order to guard the various components of their polities from either external or internal threats. Wolfers(1973) stated that security points to some degree of protection of values previously acquired.

Generally viewed in the context of “national security”, the word security has different meanings for different people, and it is for this reason that the concept is believed to be ambiguous. Harold Lasswell, for example, saw national security lying in the “…best balance of all instruments of foreign policy, and hence in the coordinated handling of arms, diplomacy, information, and economics, and in the proper correlation of all measures of foreign and domestic policy” (Lasswell, 1950:75).




This study examined the effect of the Fourth Republic regime’s foreign policy on Nigeria’s national security between the years 2015 and 2023. A comprehensive analysis was conducted to understand how the regime’s foreign policy decisions influenced Nigeria’s security landscape and its ability to address various security threats during that period.

The research utilized a secondary source methodology, relying on existing data, literature, and information generated by other researchers, scholars, government reports, policy documents, and academic publications. This approach facilitated a thorough analysis by incorporating diverse perspectives and existing knowledge.

The study began with a comprehensive literature review, which analyzed relevant theories and concepts, such as Realism and Constructivism, to provide a theoretical framework for the research. Realism emphasized power, national interests, and security as key drivers of state behavior, while Constructivism focused on ideas, norms, and social interactions in shaping state behavior.

The analysis considered the Fourth Republic regime’s foreign policy decisions through these theoretical lenses. From a realist perspective, the study examined how power considerations, national interests, and security concerns influenced the regime’s engagement with major powers and its response to security threats such as terrorism and insurgency. The constructivist analysis explored how ideas, norms, and social interactions shaped the regime’s engagement with regional organizations, neighboring countries, and international actors in relation to security cooperation and conflict resolution.

The study assessed the regime’s approach to countering terrorism, with a focus on the Boko Haram insurgency in the Northeast region of Nigeria. It evaluated the effectiveness of Nigeria’s counterterrorism strategies and its cooperation with regional and international partners in promoting regional stability and eradicating terrorism.

Furthermore, the study examined the regime’s economic diplomacy efforts and their impact on Nigeria’s national security and resource security. It analyzed initiatives aimed at attracting foreign investment, promoting trade relations, and securing critical resources. The study assessed how these policies contributed to Nigeria’s economic growth and resilience to external economic shocks. The research also explored the regime’s diplomatic engagements with neighboring countries, regional organizations, and major powers. It analyzed how these engagements influenced Nigeria’s national security interests and its position within regional and global power dynamics.


This study examined the effect of the Fourth Republic regime’s foreign policy on Nigeria’s national security between 2015 and 2023. Through a comprehensive analysis of secondary sources, the study shed light on the various aspects of Nigeria’s national security and how the regime’s foreign policy decisions influenced these dynamics.

The findings of the study revealed that the Fourth Republic regime’s foreign policy decisions played a significant role in shaping Nigeria’s national security landscape. The realist perspective highlighted the regime’s focus on power considerations, national interests, and security concerns, which influenced its engagement with major powers and its response to security threats. The constructivist lens emphasized the role of ideas, norms, and social interactions in shaping the regime’s engagement with regional organizations and neighboring countries.

Regarding countering terrorism, the study revealed that the regime’s counterterrorism strategies and cooperation with regional and international partners contributed to addressing the Boko Haram insurgency and promoting regional stability. Economic diplomacy efforts were found to have a positive impact on Nigeria’s national security and resource security, as initiatives aimed at attracting foreign investment and securing critical resources enhanced economic growth and resilience.

Furthermore, the study highlighted the significance of diplomatic engagements with neighboring countries, regional organizations, and major powers in advancing Nigeria’s national security interests. These engagements influenced Nigeria’s position within regional and global power dynamics, further shaping its security landscape.

The research contributed to the existing body of knowledge by providing a comprehensive analysis of the Fourth Republic regime’s foreign policy and its implications for Nigeria’s national security. The study emphasized the importance of considering both realist and constructivist perspectives to gain a holistic understanding of the complex dynamics at play.


Based on the findings of the study on the effect of the Fourth Republic regime’s foreign policy on Nigeria’s national security (2015-2023), the following recommendations are proposed:

Strengthen Counterterrorism Efforts: The study revealed the importance of effective counterterrorism strategies in addressing security threats like the Boko Haram insurgency. The Nigerian government should continue to enhance its counterterrorism capabilities, including intelligence gathering, security coordination, and military operations. Additionally, regional and international cooperation should be further strengthened to combat transnational terrorist networks and prevent the resurgence of extremist groups.

Foster Regional Security Cooperation: The study emphasized the significance of regional organizations, such as ECOWAS and the African Union, in promoting peace and stability. Nigeria should actively engage with these organizations and collaborate with neighboring countries to address common security challenges. Joint efforts in intelligence sharing, border security, and coordinated military operations can help mitigate cross-border security threats and promote regional stability.

Diversify Economic Diplomacy: The study highlighted the positive impact of economic diplomacy on national security. Nigeria should continue to attract foreign investment, promote trade relations, and diversify its economy to reduce vulnerability to external shocks. Efforts should focus on developing key sectors, such as agriculture, manufacturing, and technology, to enhance economic resilience and create employment opportunities, which can contribute to social stability and national security.

Strengthen Diplomatic Engagements: The study emphasized the importance of diplomatic engagements with neighboring countries, regional organizations, and major powers. Nigeria should maintain active and constructive diplomacy to advance its national security interests. Building strategic partnerships with key regional players, such as South Africa and Kenya, can help enhance Nigeria’s influence and position within the African continent. Engaging major powers, including the United States, China, and the European Union, should be based on mutual interests and strategic objectives, ensuring that Nigeria’s security concerns are effectively addressed.

Enhance Information Sharing and Collaboration: The study underscored the need for improved information sharing and collaboration among security agencies within Nigeria. The government should prioritize the establishment of efficient mechanisms for sharing intelligence and coordinating efforts among security agencies at the national, regional, and local levels. This will enable a more integrated and proactive approach to tackling security challenges, particularly in areas prone to insurgency and other forms of threats.

Continual Assessment and Adaptation: The study emphasized the dynamic nature of national security and the evolving nature of security threats. Nigeria should regularly assess and reassess its foreign policy and national security strategies to adapt to emerging challenges. This entails conducting regular security audits, evaluating the effectiveness of policies and initiatives, and making necessary adjustments to address evolving security concerns.

Invest in Human Capital Development: The study highlighted the importance of investing in human capital development, particularly in the areas of education, healthcare, and skill acquisition. Enhancing the quality of education, promoting vocational training, and improving healthcare services will contribute to social development, reduce inequality, and create opportunities for the population. This, in turn, can foster social stability and resilience, ultimately enhancing national security.


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