All heads of state of independent Nigeria have left their mark on the formation of national foreign policy, including the policy for Africa, and brought their vision to the development of this sphere, although the greatest contribution to the formation of relations of the Giant of Africa with other states of the continent was made during the years of the Fourth Republic (1999 – present), when, after a long period of military rule, civilian politicians came to power in the country.
Throughout the entire period of independent development, the main principles of Nigeria’s formation of contacts with other countries were respect for equality and territorial integrity of sovereign states; non-interference in their internal affairs; active membership in international organizations; non-alignment with military-political blocs, etc. However, the main priority of Nigeria’s foreign policy in the post-colonial period was the development of relations with African countries – a phenomenon that has come to be known as Afrocentrism.
In accordance with the principles declared in all Constitutions of the country (1960, 1979, 1993, and 1999), Nigeria made a great contribution to the struggle for the true political and economic independence of African countries, for the liberation of the continent from the remnants of colonialism and apartheid. Since the 1970s, when the country became one of the world’s largest oil producers and exporters and began to provide financial and logistical assistance to African countries in need, a new objective has appeared in its foreign policy – gaining the status of “the leader of the continent”. This desire has been fueled by the fact that Nigeria is the most populous state on the continent and has one of the largest and fastest growing economies in Africa.
Not all Nigerian leaders were able to correctly identify political priorities and to a certain extent demonstrated naiveté, limiting their foreign policy primarily to the African direction. While in the first years of independence this was legitimate and justified, with the advent of globalization, the development of a multipolar world, and the transformation of the world political and economic order, it became necessary to ensure that Nigeria’s foreign policy was adapted to modern realities.
Meanwhile, thanks to its economic potential, huge reserves of hydrocarbons, which all countries in the region need, and military-political power, Nigeria quite rightly claims a central role in coordinating joint efforts to achieve true economic and political independence by West African states, although one of the obstacles to the transformation Nigeria into a real “hegemon” both in West Africa and throughout the continent remains political instability in the country.
Nigeria, foreign policy, Afrocentrism, conflicts, territorial disputes, collective security
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