Meaning of Foreign Policy
Foreign Policy can be defined as a country's strategy in dealing with other countries. A foreign policy, also called foreign relations or foreign affairs - policy refers to the strategies a country use to pursue her interests within the global system.
National or domestic interest is a major factor in foreign policy implementation.
History of Nigerian Foreign Policy
Since Nigeria's independence in 1960, Nigeria’s foreign policies have been characterised by a focus on Africa as a regional power and by the attachment to several fundamental principles - African unity and independence, capability to exercise hegemonic influence in the region, peaceful settlement of disputes, non -alignment and non - intentional interference in the internal affairs of other nations, and regional economic co-operation and development. In carrying out these principles, Nigeria participates in the organisation of African Unity (OAU) - now African Union (AU), the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), The Commonwealth and the United Nations.
Generally, Nigeria’s foreign policy trends (the development and formulation) since 1960, has consistently been guided by the same principles and objectivity. Although while the main thrust of the country’s foreign policy, the promotion of her national interest and the policy of afro-centricity remained permanent, the strategy and emphasis for such protection by successive regimes varied from one to another.
While the substance of Nigeria’s foreign policy remained largely the same from regime to regime. Nigeria’s foreign policy, however, witnessed various adjustments and modifications depending on the orientations of the political leaderships. In addition, the prevailing domestic (political, economic and socio-cultural realities) and international environments have been major determinants in Nigeria’s foreign policy trends over the years.
Nigeria's Foreign Policy Since Independence
- The Balewa era- ( 1960-66)
- Crises and civil war period (Gowon period, 1960-70)
- Post-war eras of the 3Rs- Reconstruction, Reconciliation and Rehabilitation.
- Gowon era (1970-75)
- The Muritala Obasanjo era (1975-79)
- The second republic era (1979-83)
- The Buhari/Idiagbon era (1983-85)
- The Babangida era (1985-93)
- The Shonekan/Abacha era (1993-June 98)
- The Abubakar era (June 1998-May 1999)
Each of the regimes operated according to the prevailing domestic or national and international environment including the goals set by each of the leaders.
Names of External Affairs Ministers that played crucial roles in Nigeria's Foreign Policies
- Dr Jaja Nwachukwu (1962-65)
- Alhaji Nuhu Bamali (1965-66)
- Dr Okoi Arikpo (July 1966-July 1975)
- Major-General Joseph Garba (1975-1979)
- Major-General Henry Adefope (January 1979-September 1979)
- Professor Ishaya Audu (1979-1983)
- Chief Emeka Anyaoku (October-December 1983)
- Professor Ibrahim Gambari (1984-1985)
- Professor Bolaji Akinyemi (1985-1987)
- Major-General Ike Nwachukwu (1987-89 and 1990-92)
- Alhaji Rilwan Lukman (1989-1990)
Present Nigeria’s Foreign Affairs Minister is Geoffrey Jideofor Kwusike Onyeama. He was appointed for the position in 2015 by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Formulation of Nigeria's Foreign Policy
- The incumbent president is technically responsible for formulating Nigeria’s Foreign Policy
- Consultations: Consultations are made with Nigeria’s diplomats abroad, experts in the universities, the business community, leaders of thought, etc. before taking decisions.
- The minister and the ministry of external affairs: The presidency is assisted in policy formulation by the minister and officials of the ministry of external affairs as well as experts at Nigeria’s Institute of International Affairs.
- Clear and practical policies: Adoption of clear and practical policies regarding Africa with view to bringing about co-operation and progress to all African states.
- Friendship and co-operation: The country maintains friendship and co-operation with other nations of the world that respect their territorial sovereignty.
- Independence of African states: Helping non-independent African states to achieve total independence confirming the statement that Africa is the centerpiece of Nigeria’s foreign policy.
- Respect for territorial integrity: Nigeria has respect for other states based on the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of other states.
- Peaceful resolution of crises: Joining other states to find peaceful resolution to crisis in ECOMOG, troops in Liberia, Sierra-Leone, etc.