Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Nigerian Foreign Policy: A Classroom Perspective for IR Students

Last Updated on November 29, 2023


Nigerian Foreign Policy Classroom Perspective for IR Students: Nigerian foreign policy refers to the principles and actions that guide Nigeria’s relations with other countries.

The purpose of this blog post is to provide a classroom perspective on Nigerian foreign policy for IR students.

Nigerian Foreign Policy Overview

Nigeria’s Stance in International Affairs

  1. Nigeria plays an active role in international affairs, reflecting its commitment to global peace and stability.

  2. The country has been an advocate for the principles of sovereignty, territorial integrity, and non-interference in international relations.

  3. Nigeria aims to promote African unity and solidarity, and actively participates in regional and international organizations.

  4. The country seeks to enhance its economic development through foreign policy, attracting investments and forging beneficial partnerships.

  5. Nigeria’s foreign policy is guided by the country’s national interests, including security, economic development, and regional stability.

  6. As the largest economy in Africa and a key regional power, Nigeria has significant influence in shaping African and global affairs.

Historical Context and Evolution of Nigerian Foreign Policy

  1. Nigeria’s foreign policy has evolved since its independence in 1960, adapting to changing domestic and global realities.

  2. During the early years of independence, Nigeria focused on decolonization, supporting liberation movements across Africa.

  3. The country actively sought to establish diplomatic relations with other newly independent African nations and became a leader in the Pan-African movement.

  4. In the 1970s, Nigeria emerged as a key player in regional conflicts, mediating in disputes and providing peacekeeping troops.

  5. However, the country faced challenges due to domestic issues, such as corruption, military rule, and economic instability, affecting its foreign policy objectives.

  6. In the 1990s and early 2000s, Nigeria transitioned to democracy and pursued a policy of economic diplomacy, focusing on attracting foreign investments and fostering regional integration.

  7. A major milestone in Nigerian foreign policy was its active involvement in regional peacekeeping efforts, particularly in West Africa.

  8. Nigeria played a crucial role in resolving conflicts in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and more recently, in the Niger Delta region.

  9. The country also seeks to forge strong partnerships with both developed and developing nations, aiming to enhance its global standing and influence.

  10. Recently, Nigeria has faced challenges such as terrorism, insurgency, and other security threats, which have shaped its foreign policy priorities.

  11. The government has intensified efforts to combat terrorism and insecurity, collaborating with regional and international partners.

  12. Nigeria’s foreign policy continues to evolve, adapting to new geopolitical dynamics and focusing on addressing emerging challenges.

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Key Principles of Nigerian Foreign Policy

Non-alignment and neutrality

  1. Nigeria follows a policy of non-alignment and neutrality in global affairs.

  2. It aims to maintain friendly relations with all nations, irrespective of their political ideologies.

  3. This principle allows Nigeria to pursue its own national interests without aligning with any power bloc.

  4. It helps Nigeria to maintain an independent foreign policy and avoid getting entangled in conflicts.

  5. Nigeria’s non-alignment and neutrality stance also contribute to regional stability in West Africa.

Promotion of African unity and regional integration

  1. Nigeria places a strong emphasis on promoting African unity and regional integration.

  2. It believes that a united Africa can better address common challenges and achieve economic development.

  3. Nigeria actively supports regional organizations like the African Union and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

  4. It engages in bilateral and multilateral efforts to strengthen cooperation among African countries.

  5. Nigeria’s promotion of African unity and regional integration aims to enhance peace and stability in the continent.

Respect for international law and the United Nations

  1. Nigeria firmly upholds the principles of international law and respects the United Nations.

  2. It believes in peaceful settlement of disputes and adheres to international legal norms.

  3. Nigeria actively participates in the United Nations’ activities and supports its initiatives.

  4. It advocates for the reform of the UN to give African countries a stronger voice in global decision-making.

  5. Nigeria’s respect for international law and the United Nations contributes to its credibility and reputation in the international community.

Factors Shaping Nigerian Foreign Policy

Economic interests

  1. Nigeria’s foreign policy is greatly influenced by its economic interests and objectives.

  2. The government aims to promote and protect Nigerian businesses and attract foreign investment.

  3. Trade agreements and economic partnerships with other nations shape Nigeria’s foreign policy decisions.

  4. The country seeks to enhance its energy sector, diversify its economy, and reduce dependency on oil.

  5. Economic considerations play a crucial role in Nigeria’s relationships with other countries.

Domestic politics and governance

  1. Nigeria’s domestic politics and governance impact its foreign policy decisions.

  2. The government’s popularity, stability, and legitimacy affect its approach to international relations.

  3. Political leaders’ priorities, ideologies, and personal interests shape Nigeria’s foreign policy agenda.

  4. National elections and power transitions can lead to shifts in Nigeria’s foreign policy orientation.

  5. Domestic challenges, such as corruption and social unrest, also influence Nigeria’s international relations.

Security concerns and regional stability

  1. Nigeria’s foreign policy is shaped by security concerns, particularly related to terrorism and conflicts.

  2. The government aims to protect Nigeria’s territorial integrity and maintain regional stability.

  3. Nigeria actively participates in regional organizations like ECOWAS to address security challenges collectively.

  4. Efforts to combat Boko Haram insurgency and maritime piracy influence Nigeria’s foreign policy choices.

  5. The government seeks international collaboration in intelligence sharing and capacity building to address security threats.

Global power dynamics and alliances

  1. Nigeria’s foreign policy is influenced by global power dynamics and its alliances.

  2. The government seeks to position Nigeria as a regional power and enhance its global influence.

  3. Nigeria maintains relationships with major powers like the United States, China, and the European Union.

  4. The country carefully navigates the dynamics of global politics to advance its national interests.

  5. Alliances and partnerships with other nations shape Nigeria’s stance on international issues and engagements.

In fact, Nigeria’s foreign policy is shaped by a combination of economic interests, domestic politics and governance, security concerns and regional stability, and global power dynamics and alliances.

Each factor plays a significant role in influencing Nigeria’s international relations and decision-making processes.

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Nigerian Foreign Policy: A Classroom Perspective for IR Students

Nigeria’s Relations with Major Powers

United States

Nigeria and the United States have had a longstanding relationship, characterized by trade and security collaboration.

The United States is Nigeria’s largest trading partner, with bilateral trade reaching billions of dollars annually.

Furthermore, the U.S. has provided significant military assistance to Nigeria in its fight against terrorism, particularly Boko Haram.

Diplomatically, both countries have worked together on various regional and global issues, fostering mutual understanding and cooperation.

Overall, the Nigeria-U.S. relationship has been instrumental in promoting economic growth and countering security threats.


China has emerged as a major player in Nigeria’s foreign policy, particularly in the economic realm.

Chinese investments in Nigeria have significantly increased, with a focus on infrastructure development, such as roads and railways.

The two countries have also strengthened their political ties through high-level visits and exchanges.

While Nigeria benefits from China’s investment, there are concerns about the sustainability of these projects and the impact on local industries.

Nonetheless, the Nigeria-China relationship has become increasingly important in shaping the country’s foreign policy and economic development.

European Union

The European Union (EU) is another major partner in Nigeria’s foreign policy, particularly in areas such as trade and development.

The EU is Nigeria’s largest export market, providing a significant market for Nigerian goods and services.

Additionally, the EU has provided substantial development assistance to Nigeria, focusing on areas such as education, governance, and healthcare.

However, issues such as illegal migration, human rights, and corruption have occasionally strained the EU-Nigeria relationship.

Despite the challenges, both parties continue to engage in dialogue and work towards strengthening their partnership.

African Union

As a prominent member of the African Union (AU), Nigeria plays an active role in shaping the continent’s foreign policy agenda.

Through the AU, Nigeria collaborates with other African countries to address regional challenges and promote peace and stability.

Furthermore, Nigeria has contributed troops to AU-led peacekeeping missions, demonstrating its commitment to African solidarity.

The AU serves as a platform for Nigeria to advocate for its interests and ensure African countries have a united voice on the international stage.

Other significant regional players

In addition to the major powers mentioned above, Nigeria also maintains relationships with other significant regional players.

For instance, Nigeria has close ties with countries like South Africa, Ghana, and Egypt, among others.

These relationships encompass various aspects, including trade, security cooperation, and cultural exchanges.

Nigeria recognizes the importance of building strong alliances within its region to promote regional integration and development.

Through these regional partnerships, Nigeria aims to advance its foreign policy objectives and safeguard its national interests.

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Nigeria’s Role in Conflict Resolution and Peacekeeping

Contributions to Regional and International Peacekeeping Efforts

  1. Nigeria has played a significant role in regional peacekeeping efforts in Africa.

  2. The country has contributed troops and resources to various peacekeeping missions.

  3. Nigerian soldiers have served in conflict zones such as Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Sudan.

  4. They have helped maintain peace, protect civilians, and facilitate post-conflict reconstruction.

  5. Nigeria’s commitment to peacekeeping has earned it recognition and respect within the international community.

  6. The country has also actively participated in peacekeeping missions organized by the United Nations.

  7. Nigerian peacekeepers have been deployed to countries like Lebanon, Iraq, and Afghanistan.

  8. Their presence has significantly contributed to the overall stability and security of these regions.

Involvement in Mediating Conflicts within Africa

  1. Nigeria has established itself as a prominent mediator in resolving conflicts within Africa.

  2. The country has initiated and led diplomatic efforts to negotiate peaceful resolutions.

  3. Nigerian leaders have played key roles in brokering peace deals and ceasefire agreements.

  4. For example, Nigeria facilitated the peace process that ended the Liberian civil war in 2003.

  5. They also played a crucial role in the negotiation and implementation of the Abuja Peace Agreement in Sudan.

  6. Nigeria’s leadership and mediation skills have helped prevent further bloodshed and instability.

  7. The country’s approach to conflict mediation is rooted in the principles of non-interference and sovereignty.

  8. Nigeria believes in finding African solutions to African problems, emphasizing dialogue and negotiation.

In essence, Nigeria’s contributions to regional and international peacekeeping efforts, as well as its involvement in mediating conflicts within Africa, are crucial for maintaining peace and stability in the continent.

The country’s active participation in peacekeeping missions and its diplomatic efforts in conflict resolution have earned it recognition and respect globally.

Nigeria’s commitment to finding African solutions to African problems is commendable and serves as a valuable lesson for IR students studying Nigerian foreign policy.

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Challenges and Criticisms of Nigerian Foreign Policy

Lack of coherence and inconsistency in policy execution

The Nigerian foreign policy has often been criticized for its lack of coherence and inconsistency in execution.

This inconsistency becomes evident when observing Nigeria’s approach to international issues over the years.

The country has frequently changed its stance on various global matters, causing confusion among its foreign partners.

One reason for this lack of coherence is that policy changes are often influenced by domestic politics rather than a long-term strategic vision.

The lack of a consistent policy framework can make it difficult for other countries to rely on Nigeria as a reliable partner.

Corruption and resource mismanagement affecting diplomatic relations

Corruption and resource mismanagement have had a detrimental impact on Nigeria’s diplomatic relations.

The misappropriation of funds meant for foreign policy initiatives has led to a loss of credibility and trust in Nigeria’s commitments.

Foreign partners are cautious in engaging with a country plagued by corruption, as it raises concerns about the transparency of any agreements made.

Additionally, the diversion of resources intended for foreign policy has weakened Nigeria’s capacity to effectively pursue its diplomatic objectives.

Such challenges have even resulted in strained relationships and reduced support from other nations.

Regional and ethnic tensions within Nigeria impacting foreign policy decisions

The regional and ethnic tensions within Nigeria have a significant impact on the country’s foreign policy decisions.

These tensions arise from the diverse cultural, religious, and political backgrounds of its citizens.

Different regions and ethnic groups often have varying interests and priorities when it comes to international relations.

This can lead to disagreements and conflicts in defining Nigeria’s stance on certain international issues.

Foreign policy decisions are therefore influenced by the need to balance the interests of different regions and ethnic groups.

As a result, Nigeria’s foreign policy might not always align with international expectations or objectives.

The challenges and criticisms of Nigerian foreign policy outlined above highlight the complexities faced by the country in its international relations.

The lack of coherence, corruption, and regional tensions all contribute to the difficulties in maintaining a consistent and effective foreign policy.

However, it is crucial for Nigeria to address these challenges in order to enhance its position on the global stage and strengthen diplomatic relations.

Implications for IR Students

Analyzing the complexities of Nigerian foreign policy for IR students

  1. Nigerian foreign policy presents a unique set of complexities that are valuable for IR students.

  2. Studying Nigeria’s interactions with other nations helps students understand the intricacies of diplomacy.

  3. The diverse interests and challenges Nigeria faces contribute to a comprehensive understanding of international relations.

  4. Analyzing Nigeria’s foreign policy decisions provides a practical case study for IR students.

  5. IR students can gain insights into the factors shaping Nigerian foreign policy through rigorous analysis.

Learning from Nigeria’s experiences in managing international relations

  1. Nigeria has encountered various diplomatic challenges that offer important lessons for IR students.

  2. Studying Nigeria’s successes and failures in international relations aids students in developing effective strategies.

  3. Nigeria’s engagement with regional organizations provides valuable insights into cooperative diplomacy.

  4. IR students can learn from Nigeria’s efforts in promoting peace and stability in conflict-ridden regions.

  5. Understanding Nigeria’s response to global issues helps students enhance their problem-solving skills.

Understanding the role of emerging powers in shaping global politics

  1. Nigeria’s rising influence in global affairs highlights the significance of emerging powers.

  2. IR students must comprehend the impact of Nigeria’s growing economy on the international stage.

  3. Studying Nigeria’s role in African affairs fosters an understanding of regional power dynamics.

  4. Exploring Nigeria’s alliances and partnerships provides insight into the changing landscape of global politics.

  5. Nigeria’s pursuit of development initiatives displays the evolving role of emerging powers in shaping global priorities.

Basically, studying Nigerian foreign policy offers numerous implications for IR students. Analyzing the complexities of Nigeria’s foreign policy enables students to gain a comprehensive understanding of diplomatic relations.

Learning from Nigeria’s experiences in managing international relations equips students with practical strategies and insights.

Furthermore, understanding the role of emerging powers, exemplified by Nigeria, allows students to comprehend the dynamics of global politics.

Overall, exploring Nigerian foreign policy provides valuable lessons and perspectives for IR students.


This blog post has examined the main points of Nigerian foreign policy from an active perspective.

The study of Nigerian foreign policy is crucial for IR students as it provides valuable insights into the country’s international interactions.

It is essential to encourage further research and engagement with this topic to gain a deeper understanding of Nigerian foreign policy and its implications in global affairs.

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