Saturday, July 13, 2024

The Nexus Between Nigerian Politics & International Relations Theory

Last Updated on November 28, 2023


Exploring the nexus between Nigerian politics and international relations theory reveals intriguing intersections and influences.

A. Overview of Nigerian Politics

Nigerian politics, marked by complexity, regional dynamics, and socio-cultural nuances, is a captivating arena with diverse stakeholders.

B. Definition and Significance of International Relations Theory

  1. Defining International Relations Theory: International Relations Theory encompasses diverse perspectives like realism, liberalism, and constructivism, guiding global interactions.

  2. Significance in Nigerian Context: Understanding these theories is crucial for comprehending Nigeria’s foreign policy decisions, alliances, and diplomatic engagements.

This section unravels the entwined narratives of Nigerian politics and international relations theory, providing a nuanced perspective.

Historical Overview of Nigerian Politics

The historical journey of Nigerian politics provides crucial insights into the country’s current political landscape.

Examining the pre-colonial and colonial eras helps understand the nexus between Nigerian politics and international relations theory.

A. Pre-colonial era

In the pre-colonial era, Nigeria was inhabited by various ethnic groups, each with its unique political system.

These indigenous political systems were diverse, ranging from monarchy to democratic councils.

The decentralized nature of political power shaped the dynamics of governance in this period.

Moreover, interaction with neighboring kingdoms influenced Nigerian politics significantly.

The relationships between these kingdoms often involved political alliances, trade, and occasional conflicts.

These interactions forged strong political networks that influenced the socio-political dynamics within Nigeria.

B. Colonial era

The arrival of British colonial rule marked a turning point in Nigerian history. The British established political structures to assert control and exploit the country’s resources.

They introduced indirect rule, which involved using traditional rulers as intermediaries to govern the Nigerian population.

This system aimed to secure British interests while maintaining a semblance of indigenous authority.

However, British rule also had a profound impact on Nigerian societal and political dynamics.

The new political structures disrupted existing power dynamics and fostered divisions among different ethnic groups.

The creation of artificial boundaries and administrative units further exacerbated these tensions.

The introduction of Western education and Christianity also played a crucial role in transforming Nigerian society.

Educated Nigerians began to question the legitimacy of British rule and sought greater political participation.

This gradual awakening of nationalist sentiments laid the foundation for the struggle for independence.

Overall, the historical overview of Nigerian politics reveals the interplay between local dynamics and external factors.

Indigenous political systems and interactions with neighboring kingdoms shaped Nigeria’s political landscape before colonialism.

The imposition of British rule introduced new political structures that had lasting effects on Nigerian society.

Understanding the historical context is essential for comprehending the nexus between Nigerian politics and international relations theory.

The legacy of colonialism, ethnic divisions, and nationalist movements continue to influence Nigeria’s engagement with the global community.

This interconnectedness highlights the relevance of international relations theory in analyzing Nigerian politics today.

In the next blog post, we will delve into the post-independence era and examine Nigeria’s diplomatic relations, foreign policies, and the intersection with international relations theory.

Stay tuned for a comprehensive exploration of the nexus between Nigerian politics and international relations.

Read: How International Relations Shapes Nigeria’s Diplomatic Strategies

Theoretical Perspectives on International Relations

In examining the nexus between Nigerian politics and international relations theory, it is crucial to explore different theoretical perspectives.

The following sections will discuss realism, liberalism, and constructivism, highlighting their key principles, assumptions, and applications to Nigerian politics.

A. Realism

Realism is a dominant paradigm in international relations that focuses on power, states’ pursuit of national interests, and security.

Realists believe that international politics is inherently anarchic, with states driven by their own self-interests.

They argue that states act rationally and strategically to maximize their power and security in a competitive global environment.

In the Nigerian political landscape, realism can be observed in the fierce competition for resources, influence, and power among political elites.

This competition often leads to the formation of alliances, power struggles, and corruption.

Realism helps explain why Nigerian politicians prioritize their personal and political interests over national development.

B. Liberalism

Liberalism offers an alternative perspective to realism, advocating for cooperation, international institutions, and the promotion of democracy and human rights.

Liberalists argue that by working together, states can achieve collective security and common interests through international cooperation and organizations, such as the United Nations and regional bodies.

In Nigeria, liberalism can be seen in the efforts to foster democratic governance, protect human rights, and promote the rule of law.

The country’s transition from military rule to democratic governance in 1999 exemplifies the liberal principle of promoting democratic norms and institutions.

International pressure and support from democratic countries played a significant role in this transition.

C. Constructivism

Constructivism takes a social approach to international relations, arguing that norms, identities, and ideas shape state behavior.

It suggests that social interactions, cultural beliefs, and shared identities influence political actions and outcomes.

Constructivists emphasize the role of ideas, collective societal beliefs, and the construction of meanings in shaping international relations.

In the Nigerian context, constructivism helps elucidate the impact of cultural and religious factors on politics. Nigeria’s diverse ethno-religious composition shapes political alignments and conflicts.

For example, the tensions between Christians and Muslims have influenced electoral dynamics and political alliances, as politicians exploit these divisions for their own gain.

Basically, understanding the nexus between Nigerian politics and international relations theory requires considering different theoretical perspectives.

Realism, liberalism, and constructivism provide valuable frameworks to analyze the motivations, behaviors, and dynamics that shape Nigeria’s political landscape.

By examining these theories, we can gain insights into the complexities and nuances of Nigerian politics within the global context.

Read: How IRM is Reshaping Nigeria’s Academic Landscape: A Deep Dive

Nigerian Politics in the Context of International Relations Theory

In the context of international relations theory, understanding Nigerian politics requires an analysis of different perspectives such as realism, liberalism, and constructivism.

A. Realism and Nigerian politics

Realism, as a theoretical framework, views Nigerian politics through a state-centric lens, emphasizing power dynamics within the state.

This perspective recognizes that power plays a crucial role in shaping Nigerian politics.

State actors, such as government officials and political elites, engage in strategic maneuvers to maintain or gain power.

Power struggles among different factions within the state contribute to the complexities of Nigerian politics.

Furthermore, the influence of regional and international actors cannot be overlooked in the Nigerian political landscape.

Nigeria’s position as a major regional power in Africa and its significant oil reserves make it an attractive player for both regional and international actors.

These actors, such as neighboring countries, international organizations, and powerful states, have a vested interest in Nigerian politics.

Their interventions, through diplomatic negotiations, economic aid, or military support, can shape outcomes and policy decisions in Nigeria.

B. Liberalism and Nigerian politics

Contrasting with realism, liberalism offers a different perspective on Nigerian politics.

Liberal theorists prioritize democracy, institutions, and human rights as essential components of a functioning political system.

In the Nigerian context, liberalism advocates for democratic processes, fair elections, and the protection of individual rights.

The role of international organizations, such as the United Nations and the African Union, becomes significant as they promote democratic norms and provide assistance in building democratic institutions in Nigeria.

These organizations work to ensure that Nigerian politics aligns with liberal values.

C. Constructivism and Nigerian politics

Constructivism, another influential theory in international relations, analyzes the role of norms, identity, and social factors in shaping Nigerian politics.

Cultural and historical factors play a significant role in Nigerian political behavior.

Ethnic divisions, social norms, and historical grievances shape the actions and attitudes of different political actors.

Constructivists argue that by understanding these factors, it is possible to predict and explain political developments in Nigeria.

The impact of cultural and historical factors on Nigerian politics cannot be ignored when studying the country’s political landscape.

In short, Nigerian politics can be analyzed through different lenses offered by international relations theory.

Realism emphasizes power dynamics and state-centric views, while liberalism focuses on democracy, institutions, and human rights.

Additionally, constructivism highlights the influence of norms, identity, and social factors.

To fully grasp the complexities of Nigerian politics, one must consider the interplay of these perspectives and the impact of regional and international actors.

By delving into these theories, we can gain a comprehensive understanding of Nigerian politics and its nexus with international relations theory.

Read: Impact of Local Cultures on International Relations Studies in Nigeria

The Nexus Between Nigerian Politics & International Relations Theory

Case Studies and Examples

A. Nigerian foreign policy in the Cold War era

During the Cold War, Nigeria found itself at a crossroads, having to choose between alignment with either the United States or the Soviet Union.

The choice was not solely driven by ideological factors, but also based on Nigeria’s strategic interests.

Nigeria’s foreign policy decisions were influenced by various international relations theories, which played a crucial role in shaping its approach towards the global political landscape.

Realism, for instance, emphasized the pursuit of national interests and power dynamics, leading Nigeria to align with the superpower that could provide the most benefits.

Similarly, Nigeria’s decision-making process was influenced by liberal internationalism, which emphasized cooperation, diplomacy, and the promotion of democratic values.

This theory guided Nigeria’s engagement with other nations, and it sought to strengthen its ties with countries that shared similar values and principles.

B. Nigerian engagement with regional organizations like ECOWAS or AU

Nigeria actively participated in regional organizations such as the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the African Union (AU).

This engagement was driven by Nigeria’s desire to play a leading role in regional integration and promote stability and economic development.

International relations theories were applied in the context of regional integration efforts.

For example, the theory of functionalism highlighted the importance of economic cooperation and integration to achieve shared goals and address common challenges.

Nigeria’s active involvement in regional organizations aimed at harnessing the collective strength of West African nations and advancing their political and economic interests.

Nigeria’s engagement with ECOWAS and the AU had a significant impact on its political and economic strategies.

It enabled Nigeria to leverage its position as a regional power, enhancing its influence and creating opportunities for trade, investment, and development cooperation.

Additionally, these regional organizations provided a platform for Nigeria to address regional security challenges, such as conflict resolution and counterterrorism efforts.

In the end, the case studies and examples discussed in this section demonstrate the nexus between Nigerian politics and international relations theory.

Whether it was Nigeria’s alignment with the United States or the Soviet Union during the Cold War or its engagement with regional organizations like ECOWAS and the AU, international relations theories played a vital role in shaping Nigeria’s foreign policy decisions and influencing its political and economic strategies.

Read: Bridging Academia & Industry: Real-World Labour Relations in Nigeria

Challenges and Criticisms

A. Limitations of applying international relations theory to Nigerian politics

Applying international relations theory to Nigerian politics is challenging due to cultural and historical differences.

The context of Nigerian politics is unique, making it difficult to directly apply established theoretical frameworks.

Local dynamics and socio-economic factors often overshadow the applicability of international relations theory in Nigeria.

Traditional theoretical perspectives may not adequately capture the complexities of Nigeria’s political landscape.

B. Unresolved conflicts and power struggles in Nigerian politics

Nigerian politics is characterized by persistent conflicts and power struggles, hindering effective application of international relations theory.

The deeply rooted ethno-religious divide within Nigeria exacerbates conflicts and undermines attempts to apply theoretical frameworks.

Fragmented and competitive political parties further complicate the application of international relations theory in Nigerian politics.

The dominance of personalized politics and patronage networks hinders the implementation of theoretical models.

C. Critiques of Nigerian foreign policy decisions based on theoretical frameworks

Nigerian foreign policy decisions have been criticized for deviating from established theoretical frameworks.

Critics argue that policy decisions based on realpolitik rather than theoretical principles undermine the effectiveness and coherence of Nigerian foreign policy.

Some argue that Nigeria’s foreign policy lacks consistency and a clear theoretical underpinning, leading to strategic uncertainties.

The realities of global power dynamics often render theoretical frameworks inadequate in guiding Nigerian foreign policy decisions.


A. Recap of key points discussed

Throughout this post, we have explored the intricate connection between Nigerian politics and international relations theory.

We began by examining the role of international relations theory in understanding Nigerian politics.

Then we delved into the historical context of Nigerian politics and its impact on international relations theory.

We discussed how Nigeria’s struggle for independence and its subsequent political developments shaped the country’s foreign policies.

Additionally, we analyzed Nigeria’s involvement in regional and global organizations, such as the African Union and the United Nations.

These engagements highlighted the significant influence Nigerian politics has on international relations theory.

B. Overall assessment of the nexus between Nigerian politics and international relations theory

The nexus between Nigerian politics and international relations theory is undeniable.

Nigeria’s political landscape is intricately linked to the principles and concepts put forth by international relations theories.

Understanding this relationship is crucial in comprehending Nigeria’s actions on the global stage.

Nigeria’s foreign policies, influenced by domestic political dynamics, have implications for global security, economic development, and cooperation among nations.

Nigeria’s position as a major African power further reinforces the importance of studying this nexus.

C. Importance of understanding this relationship for policymakers, scholars, and the general public

For policymakers, understanding the nexus between Nigerian politics and international relations theory is essential for designing effective foreign policies.

It allows them to grasp the motivations behind Nigeria’s actions and build strong diplomatic ties.

Scholars benefit from studying this relationship as it provides valuable insights into the application of international relations theories in real-world contexts

It enables them to refine existing theories and develop new frameworks specific to Nigerian politics.

The general public also benefits from understanding this relationship as it fosters informed discussions surrounding Nigeria’s role in global affairs.

It promotes an understanding of Nigeria’s challenges, opportunities, and contributions in international relations.

The nexus between Nigerian politics and international relations theory is a dynamic and influential connection.

It shapes Nigeria’s foreign policies, impacts global relations, and holds significant importance for policymakers, scholars, and the general public alike.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *