The framework of Nigerian foreign policy formed the basic perception how it sees the world from ideological, political, economic, and religious standpoints. These factors decide its foreign policy response to regional and continental affairs. Nigeria is a key player in West Africa sub-region, Africa, and global stage, especially in the activities of the regional inter-governmental organization ECOWAS. Nigerian foreign policy approach towards ECOWAS regional agenda is based on Afrocentric foreign policy doctrine which is the premise of its foreign policy direction after attaining independence to support the cause of African countries struggling for independence in the 1960s. Nigerian Afrocentric foreign policy doctrine was effective at the regional level which was directed at its West African neighbors because Nigeria sees the West African region as its natural territory.


The Afrocentric foreign policy doctrine is the cardinal point of Nigerian foreign policy direction over the years. According to Akintola, Nigeria has maintained a relatively consistent foreign policy because the country had experienced varied forms of government within this period. Right from independence Africa was the centerpiece of Nigeria’s foreign policy with emphasis on the emancipation, development, and unity of Africans both within and outside the continent (Akintola, 2007, p.439).

The enormous contribution of Nigeria to regional development coincided to the emergence of ECOWAS in 1975 as an inter-governmental regional organization. The effort was to prove its ability to play a larger role in the international community beyond the West African region. The end of the bipolar world in the 1990s allowed regional state actors to play more active role in regional affairs, which also gave rise to Nigerian influence in West African regional affairs. In the assessment of Otunbajo, Nigeria could play a leadership role in Africa because of the dwindled strategic significance of major external powers (Otunbajo, 1989). However, Nigerian foreign policy towards ECOWAS is two-level approach through bilateral and multilateral diplomatic dealing with state actors in regional affairs. Thus, foreign policy is a plan of action adopted by one nation regarding its diplomatic dealings with other countries. Foreign policy is established as a systemic way to deal with issues that may arise with other countries (Business Dictionary, 2017).


The contemporary globalization agenda of the world system, no nation can afford to be in isolation in thisperiod of uneven distribution of scarce natural resources and human labor in this era of interdependence. Emphasis is now attached to the foreign policy direction of a nation.Accordingly, foreign policy has a range of actions, as well as a set of principles influencing these actions, taken regarding external situations and factors, the summation of thoughts, actions, and principles on external affairs taken by decision-makers with the intention of achieving long-range goals and short-term objective(Frankel, 1978). The aim of this article is to analytically review Nigerian foreign policy towards ECOWAS as an inter-governmental organization in the West African region within the framework of 1975-2017.

1.1 Background To The Study


Brief Historical Background of Nigerian foreign policy formation

Nigerian foreign policy evolution is tied to its political-ideological foundation as ex-colony of Great Britain. Its early role in the international scene was dictated by its ex-colonial administrator Great Britain even after becoming an independent nation on 1st October 1960. Nigerian first Prime Minister Abubakar Tafa Balewa is the pioneering government official whose efforts at foreign policy-making and implementation laid the groundwork of Nigeria’s role and influence in international politics, and unconsciously, casting a part and credible image for the country in the community of nations. Since gaining independence, Nigerian foreign policy has progressed despite setback along its political and developmental stages which include decolonization, regime change from civilian to the military; unitary, federal, parliamentary, and presidential systems of government, the endless transition to democratic rule.


Howbeit, the presence of Nigeria as a newly independent nation became known at the international political front because of its membership of various international organizations, according to Adebajo, et al, (2008) Nigeria is a member of the United Nations, Commonwealth of Nations, Non-Alignment Movement, pioneer member of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) and equally played an instrumental role in its eventual transformation into the African Union (AU) in 2002 (Adebajo, et al, 2008). Meanwhile, the work of most historical researchers concerning African affairs analyzed it from a historical perspective that, most African countries foreign policies were influenced by ex-colonial administrators in the early stages after they got independence. They argue that the development was due to political link and economic dependence on their ex-colonial administrators by countries in the continenteven after the end of colonial rule. This observation madeBondarenkosaid that most African nations’ foreign policies are patterned in line with colonial ideology having been colonized by most of the European countries, thus trying to create an identity for themselves but still have a strong tie with their colonial administrators (Bondarenko, 2008, p.3).


Furthermore, Nigeria colonial history as a former British colony and a member of the Commonwealth invariably constrained Nigeria’s predisposition to be pro-Western on most issues despite its nonaligned status to avoid neocolonialism (Folarin, 2010). In fairness, Nigeria’s independence in 1960 came at the period of the Cold War. Nigeria, thus, celebrating its new status as an independent country with a bright prospect based on its available natural resources and its human potential spread across the board was caught in the contention between the superpower nations dilemma. Nigeria found a relief in the foreign policy of non-alignment which was informed both by its refusal not to take sides in the battle of supremacy and by its membership of the OAU [Shaw, et al, 1983]. This neutral stand by Nigeria became necessary during the cold war because the fight for independence among African countries formed the core of their foreign policy in this era. While the end of the Cold War resulted in a fundamental change in the dynamics of contemporary international relations. Nigeria was notably at the forefront of this fight along with most African countries as anti-colonialism became the most obvious and consistent, and all-embracing common denominator of African foreign policy at the time ([Ibid: Otubanjo, 1989).


Besides, the Nigerian Ministry of Foreign Affairs is a statutory body saddled with the responsibility to reinforce foreign decision making and implementation processes in Nigeria and handle the external promotion of Nigeria’s domestic and foreign visions and ideas in conjunction with specialized agencies in helping to formulate these ideas such as the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (NIIA), Lagos, National Intelligence Agency (NIA) and other statutory bodies. Although, at the early stage of Nigeria’s nationhood, the ex-colonial authority was still dictating Nigerian foreign policy abroad. Thus, the enduring nature of the British influence on Nigeria’s foreign policy and its ruling elites continued until the late 1960s when the lessons of the civil war of 1967-1970 compelled Nigeria foreign policy elites to reappraise its stand towards external relations (Nuamah, 2003, p.4). The historiography of Nigeria’s foreign policy since the formation of ECOWAS can be classified into two broad phases which are the formative stage of ECOWAS when Nigeria was mostly under military rule and the second stage when Nigeria returned to democratic rule.



The goal of every foreign policy is to establish and maintain a cordial relationship with other nations as well as to build a good image for a nation and meet its national and domestic interests. This invariably means that a good foreign policy is important in formulating, maintaining and sustaining a nation‟s positive image. However, Nigeria‟s reputation is at a very low ebb under the Goodluck Jonathan and Muhammadu Buhari‟s administrations. It is alleged that violent crimes is a bane of Nigeria‟s development. The Boko Haram terrorism, the Niger Delta crises, and the IPOB agitations have earned Nigeria a place amongst the least safe countries of the world (Martin, 2016). The violent crimes perpetrated by these (and many other) groups have led to the death of over 1.3 million Nigerians and the displacement of over 20,000 people, pallid national integration, and ethnoreligious chauvinism (Duke & Agbaji, 2017). Also, bedeviled by corruption and the maddening disregard for transparency and accountability, Nigeria‟s image tarnishes while she simultaneously loses huge foreign direct investments (FDI) and herenergetic young human resourcesthat migratebecause theybelieve the country haslittle or nothing to offer them. Thus, the nation is unable to successfully combat internal insurrections and stands amongst nations with a smeared image of bad governance. This weakens the economy, increases insecurity and maladministration. In fact, according to Transparency International‟s (TI) Corruption Perception Index (CPI) of 2017, Nigeria ranked 148th out of 180 nations that were surveyed which is a slippery dash below her 136th position in TI‟s 2014, 2015 and 2016 rankings making a mockery of the Nigerian government‟s acclaimed anticorruption blitz. Added to this is the fact that the Jonathan and Buhari‟s administrations, like many other administrations in Nigeria, have never lacked good foreign policies. The problem of Nigeria‟s foreign policy that is affecting the country‟s image is not in formulation, but in implementation



The main objective of this study is to examine Nigerian foreign policy under president Muhammad Buhari from 2015 to 2019 .


  1. Is there any significant impact of Muhammad Buhari,s Foreign Polic?
  2. Has Muhammad Buhari’s foreign policy been grossly sabotaged and undermined by image crisis both nationally and internationally?
  3. To what extent do Nigerian foreign policy under Buhari administrations has impacted on the nation‟s global image?



The scope of this study centers on terrorism and Nigerian foreign policy.

Limitations of study

Financial constraint- Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview).

Time constraint– The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the research work.


Global security: is the efforts taken by the community of nations to protect against threats which are transnational in nature.

Security: this is an investment vehicle offered by an insurance company, that guarantees a stream of fixed payments over the life of the annuity.

Foreign policy: is the manner and objectives that are important for establishing and maintaining relationships with other countries and people of other lands.

Policy: A plan or course of action, as of a government, political party, or business, intended to influence and determine decisions, actions, and other matters


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