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NIGERIAN FOREIGN POLICY: a case study of the Obasanjo regime (1999-2007)c
1.0c ü  is policy?c

As much as there are different scholars of policy out there, there are different
views to what policy means or the definition of policy, But for the purpose of this
presentation and time, we shall look at the views of a couple of scholars.
Ladipo (1985) defines policy as ´a course setting involving decisions of the
wildest ramifications and longest time perspective in the life of an organization´. A.S
Hornsby went further to say that ´a policy is a plan action, statement of aims and
deals made by a government, political party, business company and so onµ.
According to Holsti (1972: 21) a policy is the decision that defines goals, set
precedents or by down causes of action and the actions taken to implement these
From all of the above definitions of policy we will discover that they all have
something·s in common. They are determined course of action and /or setting of
any organization and for which they aim at, as the ends at any given point in time.
This is why Ray Ofoegbu defined it as ´a course of action adopted by a
government, group of person etcµ.

2.0 ¬oreign Policy

We should therefore agree that there is no universally acceptable definition of
foreign policy, though many scholars see it as having everything to do with what is
to be done about external matters, diplomacy and how it affects their national
interest. Francis Pyn defines foreign policy as ´The projection abroad of a country·s
values and aspirationsµ. While F.S. Northedge and D. vital define foreign policy as ´a
product of interaction between internal and external forcesµ.
Internal forces like political culture and process, political leadership, the state
of the economy, military might and even the well being of the citizenry determine to
a great extent the foreign policy of a particular country.
Foreign policies are designed to promote, protect and defend a nation·s vital
interests such as the preservation of national sovereignty, the defence of territorial
integrity, the promotion of economic, military, strategic and diplomatic interests. To
pursue defined vital interest states in the international system whether rich or poor,
small or big, strong or weak, democracies or totalitarian systems, within or outside
established alliances, use various methods and instruments of foreign policy to
influence, and sometimes even dictate the role orientations, objectives and actions
of other states.
Following from the above, let us consider the Nigerian foreign policy from 1999
² 2007.

NIGERIAN FOREIGN POLICY: a case study of the Obasanjo regime (1999-2007)c

3.1c Inroducion
The broad objective of Nigeria·s foreign policy is to promote and protect the
country·s national interest over which a national interest have clearly emerged.
Prominent among these interests are: ("bachu, 2008)
a.c The defense of the country·s sovereignty, independence and
territorial integrity / propinquity.
b.c The restoration of human dignity to the black men & women all
over the world.
c.c The eradication of colonialism and terminate minority rule from
the face of Africa.
d.c The creation of the relevant political and Economic conditions in
Africa and the rest of the world which will not only facilitate the preservation
of the territorial integrity of all Africa countries, and
e.c The Promotion of World peace with Justice.

The conduct of Nigeria·s foreign policy relations by numerous Nigerian

governments since Independence in 1960 has been guided by the above principles
which have acquired wide respectability and have almost become permanent and
However, the pursuit of Nigerian foreign policy objectives/relations like other
State actors rest on a tripod, namely:
©c Defence
©c Deference or Recognition by other state Actors or Respect,
©c Wealth creation and Economic Prosperity
There are also three (3) stages of relationship with other state actors, namely:
©c Co operation stage
©c Competition stage and
©c Conflict stage
These three stages require different foreign policy posture or approach.

´Nigeria is the most populous single unit in Africa« we are not going to
abdicate the position which God Almighty has placed us« .The whole black
continent is looking up to this country to liberate it from the thraldomµ.
Î Nwc ukwu

In contrast Olayide Aluko views it thus:

´Vast size and population, and abundance of resources do not guarantee in

any automatic way the leadership of this (African) continent. Until we are able to
establish a stable political order at home, industrialize and take ² off technologically
and improve the quality of life of our people, no country within and outside Africa
will accept our claim to the leadership in Africa seriously except to flatter usµ.
NIGERIAN FOREIGN POLICY: a case study of the Obasanjo regime (1999-2007)c

3.2c T e Person & Profile of Obsno

wofarmata in 2007 described, President Chief "athew Okikiola Aremu
Olusegun Obasanjo- So far, as the luckiest Nigerian (Leaving or dead). He is a
traditional chief: a five star general; a civil war hero; a former federal commissioner
(minister) and member of federal executive ruling council under two defunct
military regimes, a former second in command under the defunct military
government headed by General "urtala "uhammad, a former Head of state,
commander ²in-chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria (1976 ² 1979) after the
assassination of General "urtala "uhammed; one time condemned political
prisoner under the defunct military government of General Sani Abacha, a freed
condemned prisoner; a two term Nigerian civilian President, Commander ²in chief,
Armed forces of the federal republic of Nigeria (1999 ² 2007); a national and
international statesman and a successful modern large ² scale commercial chicken
farmer and strategic investor, the list is endless.
´Apart from the fact that President Obasanjo enjoys tremendous personal
clout abroadµ but also that he continuously seeks to transfer that personal clout
into a national, clout. Ogunbiyi (2002) presented his international profile Thus:
1983 ² 89. "ember independent commission of disarmament and security, co-
chairman, Common wealth eminent persons, group on South Africa.
1987 ² 93. Director, Better world society, Washington DC.
1988 ² 99. "ember board of trustees, Ford foundation.
1989 ² 99. Advisory panel, United Nations World conference on women and
development, etc.

3.3c Nigerin ¬oreign Policy before My 1999

The Nigerian foreign policy will be reviewed under the theoretical frame work
of classical realism and neo liberalism, but in order to effectively analyse the foreign
policy of Nigeria during the Obasanjo regime of 1999 ² 2007, it has become
pertinent to understand the kind of environment he met on ground, the state of
affairs in the country and the perception of the international community of Nigeria.
Before "ay 1999, dictatorial stance and ´Area Boyµ diplomacy was what
characterized the Abacha·s era which made Nigeria become a pariah state with
which none except compliant African countries talked to (Ebenezer Okpokpo).
The violation of several human rights ranging from the hanging of the ´Ogoni
Nineµ including wen Saro wiwa, unjust imprisonment of civilians including ex-
president Olusegun Obasanjo to the misuse of power was the order of the day.
During this period witnessed the international press negative campaign against the
country, many ambassadorial positions remained vacant and no diplomats were
posted out helping to further tarnish the country·s Image. According to records,
Nigeria was like a country without a foreign minister and a foreign policy.
Though Gen. Abubakar·s transition tenure after the untimely death of General
Sani Abacha recorded some success in bringing Nigeria out of her pariah status, his
stay was too brief to really create any significant impact.

NIGERIAN FOREIGN POLICY: a case study of the Obasanjo regime (1999-2007)c

3.4c My 1999 ² April 2007

We are going to discuss this Era from 5 stand points;

3.4.1c Serc nd ppel for ¬oreign Invesen

Following the international isolation of the Abacha regime, President
Obasanjo right from his Inauguration as Nigeria·s executive president on "ay 29,
1999, has shown an incurable optimism that the earliest and best way of developing
the Nigerian economy is through attracting foreign investment into the country after
a number of foreign countries shielded away from Nigeria. At this time, Nigeria was
rated the 26th poorest country in the world. (UN Journal 2007).
President Olusegun Obasanjo believed that the best way to attract investors
into the country was going to their various countries to appeal to them to come and
invest in Nigeria. According to official sources, the Presidential as at mid August
2002, travelled out of the country for a hundred and thirteen times since he took
over the leadership of the country at the end of "ay in 1999, and as June 2002 he
had been out of the country for a period of 340 days (Akindele 2005). The
implication of this is that, in a period of three years, the president has been out of
the country for a combined period of a year less two weeks. This was termed ´Ajala
Diplomacyµ by Akindele.
External affairs ministers at this time were nothing more than the presidents·
companions on foreign trips.
Despite Criticism, President Obasanjo believes that his approach is still in order.
Thus he argues that ´I have devoted much time and energy journeying virtually all
corners of the globe in my personal effort to positively reintegrate our country into
the international community and attract investment. We are happy to report that
the results from these trips have been encouraging enough to confirm my personal
belief and the advice of marketing experts, namely that personal contact is the
best way to way to market your product, and my product is Nigeria (Obasanjo

3.4.2c Econoic devluion nd privision

Obasanjo·s administration completely embraced the policies of economic
deregulation and privatisation as ushered by the I"F through a programme called
the ´Washington Consensusµ. This phrase is a term in development policy proposed
in 1990 by the Washington ² based financial institution of the World Bank, the I"F
and their subsidiary agencies. It signifies neo-liberal, neo ² colonial, market
economic policies which are not meant to provide an effective frame work for
combating poverty nor for generating rapid economic growth. Rather, it is
designed to tie perpetually the economies of client economies to the apron string of
the metropolitan Western economiesµ. In its broad terms, the principles enunciated
in the ¶Consensus· were meant to continue to control and direct the economic
policies of countries that have no independent economic policies of their own and

NIGERIAN FOREIGN POLICY: a case study of the Obasanjo regime (1999-2007)c
was designed principally for the Latin American countries and not for African
Countries, especially Nigeria. (Sam Aluko 2007).
The original proponents of this consensus have however now admitted that
the imposition of the propositions is harmful to developing economies, particularly
currency devaluation, privatisation, trade liberalization, deregulation, market
determined economic policies and dependence on the free flow of direct foreign
investment(all of which characterized the Obasanjo·s regime).
Privatisation in Nigeria was handled by the Bureau of Public enterprises (BPE)
aimed at privatising publicly owned enterprises and reduction of governmental
inference and control in the economy, thus, leaving it to the prevailing market
forces. It was inclined towards trade liberalization and free open markets with
minimal governmental control. The BPE itself confessed it continued to enjoy the
best support from World bank and its affiliates as partners in progress and that an
arm of the World bank, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), has been
serving as the sole adviser of the Federal Government with respect to the effective
implementation of its privatisation programme since its inception in 1999, inspite the
fact that such privatisation orgy has not succeeded in any part of the developing
The major scandals during this period were the privatisation of NITEL, Nicon Noga
Hilton Hotel and Presidential library.

3.4.3c Deb Relief for Nigeri

Apart from the search for foreign investment, the other key issue which the
Obasanjo administration sees as key instrument towards Nigeria·s economic revival
is debt relief. As at when Obasanjo took over power, Nigeria owed N537.5 billion
domestic debt and N633. 1 billion external public debts (Aluko 2007).
The Paris club had a meeting on the 29th June 2005 where the issue of
Nigeria·s debt was discussed. Nigeria owed the club $31 billion. According to the
deal, Nigeria will make an upfront payment of $6 million of existing arrears to the
club thereby reducing the debt to $25 billion. Out of this, the club will write off 67%
amounting to between $ 17-18 billion. This leaves a balance of $9 billion which the
Nigerian authorities hope to buy back at a market related discount of $ 6 million.
As expected, the debt relief attracted a lot of interest and analysis by
Nigerians. Initially, the majority believed it was really a good bargain. However, as
the euphoria of the celebration reduced, the implications of the Paris club terms
started sinking in and those who from the onset were uncomfortable with the deal
won more converts.
Firstly, the announcement by the Paris club was not a debt cancellation; but
a statement of intent which they hope to fulfil if Nigeria met certain conditions,
which means Nigeria would first of all negotiate with the I"F and conclude a Policy
Support Instrument (PSI).

NIGERIAN FOREIGN POLICY: a case study of the Obasanjo regime (1999-2007)c
Secondly and more importantly, the debt relief terms simply implies that
Nigeria will be making a down payment of $12 billion to be eligible for the
cancellation. This was simply suicidal for a poor country like Nigeria.
The Irony of the Paris clubs demand becomes clear where one understands
how the club rope nations into the debt trap. According to Dr. Abraham
Nwankwo, the Director portfolio management in Nigeria·s Debt "anagement
Office (D"O) Nigeria had in the past 38 years paid about $42 billion to the Paris club
as interest and penalties on $ 15.5 billion loans to Nigeria. Despite this outrageous
amount the country still owes the club $ 31 billion which is due mainly to accrued
Interest. According to him the Paris club had become debt enhancing rather than
debt reduction association (obi 205).

3.3.4 Relions ip wi  e super Powers

Nigeria·s relationship with great powers since "ay 1999 has been exceedingly
warm; President Obasanjo has tried all in his powers to make sure that Nigeria·s
remains in the good books of these countries.
The reason for this is not farfetched. First, as pointed out above, Nigeria is
indebted to them so it simply makes sense to maintain a very cordial relationship
with them so as to be able to get a listening ear and consequently sympathy for the
Nigeria case. Secondly, as the African Union (AU) chairman the onus lies on him to
try and maintain a good relationship with the western nations from whom Africa is
demanding a lot of concession trade debt relief and many more from.
However, in maintaining such relation, there should be an objective analysis
and balancing of the costs and benefits. In the case of Nigeria Akindele (2008) has
asserted that it is arguable that Nigeria under President Obasanjo had no realistic
alternatives to strengthening Nigeria·s trade relations with the U.S. which is the
largest single buyer of Nigeria most important Commodity, oil, with Britain, a
historically important trading partner and Nigeria·s largest creditor State and with
European Unions, Germany and France which are also Nigeria·s major creditors and
trading partners.
Because of President Obasanjo·s stance regarding Robert "ugabe·s human
right abuses in Zimbabwe, Britain and U.S were glad to have an African ally when
many other African nations (including South African) were taking a softer stance.
This further enhanced Nigeria·s relationship with the big powers as they did not want
to risk the nascent democracy in Nigeria and being among the world·s 10 biggest
oil export as well as fears that as the continent·s most populous nation, Nigerian
Internal divisions risked negatively affected the entire continent.
A further sign of the friendly relations between Nigeria and the U.S. is the
military cooperation agreement signed by both countries in the year 2000.
The scheme is known as the military professional Recourses initiative (".P.R.I).
Under this scheme the U.S. undertook to send military institutions and help Nigeria
to procure military and also assist Nigeria in retraining and re-equipping Nigerian
NIGERIAN FOREIGN POLICY: a case study of the Obasanjo regime (1999-2007)c
soldiers to enable them perform their peace keeping roles in sierra Leone more
efficiently and effectively and effectively (Asobie 2005).
Asobie (2005) went further to assert that two considerations informed the U.S.
Policy in this regard. The first the resorting that regional military actors could be
more effective than traditional united nations peace keepers for complex domestic
wars such as the ones in Sierra Leone. The second was the conviction that
Obasanjo·s Civilian regime needed to be secured and strengthened since Nigeria
under a liberal democratic regime is the only country except South Africa that
could be aided to some as a major force for stability in Africa.

3.4.4c Response/pricipion in  e Developenl iniiive of  e Globl Syse

If there is an area where president Obasanjo has really made a mark in his
foreign policy pursuit, it is on the response to developments in the world. These
developments are globalization, proliferation of intra-state conflicts in Africa and
lastly response to international court of justice.
Globalization has been defined as the process of increasing interdependency
and global enmeshment which occurs as money, people, images, values and Ideas
flow ever more swiftly and smoothly across national boundaries (Hurrel and Woods
1995). Obasanjo·s administrative response to globalization was to deepen it·s
commitment of continental and regional economic cooperation and integration in
Africa and to make it a top ranking item in its foreign economic policy agenda in
Africa and West Africa in particular.
On the continental scale, Nigeria has shown a strong determination toward
the success of the New Partnership for African Development (N.E.P.A.D.). As the
chairman of NEPAD implementation committee of head of state, President
Obasanjo has been constantly in touch with the new partners of Africa toward the
successful implementation of the scheme.
Because of the nascent nature of Nigeria·s Democracy at this time and
president Obasanjo·s quest to pleasing the international community and attracting
foreign investors to the country, the ceding of the battled Bakassi to Cameroun did
not come as a surprise as President Obasanjo being the AU chairman had to lead
by example by showing that he had respect for the International Court of Justice

4.0c T ird Ter Agend

After Presidents Obasanjo first two terms, he was embroiled in a controversy
regarding his ´third term Agendaµ a plan to modify the constitution so he could
serve a third, four ² year term as president. The bill was ratified by the National
Assembly. Consequently, President Obasanjo stepped down after the April 2007
general elections. The third term Agenda not only succeeded in dividing the nation
into anti and ¶pro· third term but also succeeded in planting a seed of doubt in the
minds of the International community as to the future of Nigeria.

NIGERIAN FOREIGN POLICY: a case study of the Obasanjo regime (1999-2007)c
5.1 Criicis of Presiden Obsno·s Regie
a.c The administration was criticized for spending billions of tax payers
money touring the global when all he had to do was to fix the economy of the
country first then investors would come willingly. Foreign investors are core capitalist
who have a sharp eye for profit and will only go to places where they are sure of
their investment and their personal security and the risk of doing business in
Nigeria in Nigeria was too high.
b.c Presidential Obasanjo was criticized for refusing to pay domestic debt
by paying pensions, gratuities and other domestic creditors in order to enhance a
more rapid growth of the economy, he rather embarked upon the repayment of
external debt. According to Sam Aluko (2007) ´while some of the other debtors in
Africa, Asia and Latin America, 42 of them, are obtaining complete debt write off,
Nigeria paid such a huge ransom, because the Nigerian Government has more
money than senseµ.
c.c Although Obasanjo made fighting corruption the stated aim of his first
term and managed to pass some anti ² corruption laws, critics both at home and
abroad accused him of selectively targeting this drive against political opponents
and ethnic militants, ignoring growing concerns about wide-scale corruption within
his own inner political circle.
d.c He was criticized by Conformation (2007) for Auctioning of choice
companies, properties and businesses at ridiculously low prices to family members,
friends and cronies of the presidency in a bid to implementing the privatization
e.c At home, the regime was marked by widespread criticism over the
Nigerian government response to violent crises in the North ² waduna and wano as
well as in the central eastern state of Benue and the Southern oil ² rich Niger Delta.
f.c The administration was also criticised by economists for the gross
devaluation of the country·s currency from N68 to $1 when it assumed power to
N130 when it handed over in 2007. This was due to the slavish adoption of the
´Washington consensusµ.

Conclusion nd ¬uure c llenges

There is no doubt that president Obasanjo has really succeeded in re-lunching
Nigeria into the orbit of international politics, from her pariah status of the Abacha
years. Probably his personal clout, contact and commitment helped a lot in this
regard. However, it must be pointed out that the introduction of democratic rule in
Nigeria was a critical success factor, which made the world very eager to welcome
the country back into fold, in order to perform her natural role as a leader in the
West African sub-region and indeed Africa. Though one may argue that much of
the economic problems of Nigeria could be ameliorated through diplomacy by
attracting foreign investment, aid, regional economic integration, debt relief and
concessional trade terms but the truth of the matter is that with the amount of
resources available to the country, especially since the Obasanjo regime, she
should not be going cap in hand all over the globe a begging for sorts of

NIGERIAN FOREIGN POLICY: a case study of the Obasanjo regime (1999-2007)c
concessions. If the president has devoted half the time and energy he spent on his
foreign travels on fighting corruption, Nigeria would have been better off, since most
of these resources siphoned to foreign accounts by government officials would
have been used in fixing the country.
Ebenezer Okpokpo (1999) posited that ´The scope of Nigeria·s foreign policy
should no longer be limited to continental affairs. It should be focused world-wide
and geared toward the promotion of our cultural heritage, and scientific, economic
and technical cooperation with viable partners. Its goal should aim at enhancing
our national development, and military arrangements with NATO countries in order
to give peace a permanent character in our societal needs and our sub-region.µ
This argument is anchored on the fact that intimately what gives strength,
confidence, respect and influence to the conduct of any country·s foreign policy is
the vibrant existence of a politically, socially and economically healthy society
under democratic governance. The president while paying heed to the problems of
Africa must pay greater attention to the numerous problems militating against the
Nigerian nation which he was elected to lead. Charity they say ought to and must
begin at home.
After General Obasanjo handed over the reins of government to civilians in
1979 and eventually the sixteen long years of military rule, he resumed the
presidency again in "ay, 1999 and remarked that Nigeria made no significant
economic progress since he left office In 2007, President Obasanjo·s regime
repeated the same mistake of 1979 by preventing the best candidates in the
regime from seeking nomination for the presidency of Nigeria at the PDP
convention. Instead, it hand-picked a very good and amiable Nigerian, whose
highest political ambition was to be the Governor of watsina State for eight years. So,
if President Obasanjo lives long enough, for the next 20 years, and we pray for his
long life, the same period between 1979 and 1999, he may again in 2027 moan that
Nigeria had moved some steps backwards from when he handed over power on
"ay 29, 2007; he prevented the most capable Nigerians from ruling Nigeria after

NIGERIAN FOREIGN POLICY: a case study of the Obasanjo regime (1999-2007)c


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