AN APPRAISAL OF GENERAL SANI ABACHA FOREIGN POLICY (1993 – 1998)
1.1 Background of the study
Since Nigeria became independent in 1960 its foreign policy, like that of most other countries, has witnessed successes and failures. The foreign policy of all nations indicates the national interest to be pursue by the country. Similarly, the objective of such policy is part of the determinant factors of the country‘s image at the global system. Nigeria like many other countries of the world, has been purposive on this, which yielding positively to the country. This is because both actions and reactions of Nigeria to issues concerning it, is arguably guided by its foreign policy objectives. Apart from the issues affecting Nigeria, the country also ensure that Africa matters are adequately taken care of in its foreign policy objectives. In other word, Nigeria‘s favourable policy towards Africa has given it an edge over other countries in the continent. As described by Northedge (1968), a country foreign policy is ―interplay between the outside and inside‖ (p. 15). This arguably shows that foreign policy of a country is one of the determinant factors for countries to relate with one another. The foreign policy of Nigeria has influenced the action and decision of the country on the issues in African continent. This has also made Nigeria a reckoning point for any meaningful development in Africa. Hence, this has canvassed for a number of studies on Nigeria‘s foreign policy such as Inamete (2001), Osuntokun (2007), Ashaver (2014) and Gambari (2017) where the study focused on how Nigeria‘s foreign policy has influenced the country in terms of decision making process.
However, successive military dictatorships in Nigeria have used the Africa cornerstone slogan to lure compliant like-minded African regimes to support their unpopular regimes. This was the price Nigeria had to pay for the support of dictatorial African states. This research therefore examines the metamorphosis of Nigeria’s foreign policy from its traditional posture of a responsible nation in the international community, to a reckless player under the military between 1993 and 1999.
1.2 Statement of the problem
On November 17, 1993 when General Sani Abacha took over from the Interim National Government led by Chief Ernest Sonekan, he took a number of measures that were clearly antediluvian in an age of globalized democracy. His dissolution of democratic structures and institutions, adoption of full martial laws and assumption of sweeping powers, massive arrests and detention of political opposition, clampdown on the press and hunting of the winner of the June 12 election after the latter’s Epetedo (Lagos) Declaration as President, demonstrated a clear disinterest in resolving the 1993 presidential election crises or stabilizing an already pulverized polity. Nigeria’s reputation as a respectable state diminished under the Abacha regime, whose tyranny led to multiple violations of human rights and breaches of international moral and legal codes. This infamous posture eroded Nigeria’s track record of provision of regional and global leadership. Its mineral and oil wealth had naturally imposed extra burdens of leadership in the continent of Africa and the world. The research critically appraises this significant transition and departure from traditional foreign policy posture and international image during the Abacha era; and using the decision-making model of analysis, it discovers that with the Abacha intervention, a new chapter of domestic travails (anti-democracy activities, state-sponsored terrorism, poor human rights records, large-scale corruption and financial crimes, and the creation of artificial insulation against the world), coupled with an unorthodox manner of dealing with the international community commenced, which clouded the good image of the past. and got Nigeria alienated in the global system.
1.3 Objective of the study
The broad aim of this study is appraise General Sani Abacha Foriegn Policy (1993-1998). Specifically the study seeks :
1. To examine the preoccupation of conflict and resolution that ushered Sani Abacha Regime
2. To investigate the genesis of Nigeria-Cameroon Boundary Dispute
3. To appraise the Abacha's Foreign Policy Conundrum and Image Problems
1.4 Research Question
1. What are the political preoccupations that ushered Sani Abacha Regime?
2. What is the genesis of Nigeria-Cameroon Boundary Dispute?
3. What was the situation of Abacha's Foreign Policy Conundrum and the Image Problems his regime posed at the international community.
1.5 Significance of the study
Findings from the study will be relevant to government, policy makers and academia. The understanding gained from the result of the study will shape the law makers perception and guide them into making relevant policy that is of significance to achieving millennial goals and enhance sustainable economic development while promoting good Nigeria public image at the international community. The study will contribute to empirically to the body of knowledge and serve as reference material to both student and scholars who wishes to conduct further research in related topic.
1.6 Scope of the study
The scope of this study borders on foreign policy with particular reference to General Sani Abacha military regime. The study will further uncover the Nigeria’s reputation as a respectable state diminished under the Abacha regime, whose tyranny led to multiple violations of human rights and breaches of international moral and legal codes. The study is however delimited to 1993-1998 as was the regime of the General Sani Abacha.
1.7 Limitation of the study
During the course of the study, the researcher encountered constrains such as time and dearth of data owing to the fact that the research made use of secondary sources only for the information. It was tedious gathering materials that relates to the topic while most literature focused on the political perspective of the regime none concisely unearthed the foreign policy of the regime. Also the researcher combined other academic activities with the research which limited her from given so much time to the researcher. However in the midst of the constraint the researcher ensured painstakingly the success of this research.
The study adopts a a historical descriptive approach and with the aid of systems theory the review of literature focused on foreign policy, diplomacy, genesis of Nigeria-Cameroon Dispute, ICJ decisions, Abacha Policy Conundrum was unearthed. The study is a qualitative type which utilized data from secondary sources. The secondary sources of data involve the published materials of experts gathered in the field of international relations. Similarly, the literature on Nigeria‘s foreign policy settings reported in journal articles,books, policy documents, Newspapers among others were also used as materials for the study.
1.9 Theoretical Framework
The study makes use of systems theory to appraise the Nigeria‘s role through its foreign policy under a military. The theory is used to analyze the nature of foreign policy and what it is supposed to be to the country and to the entire Africa at large. Systems theory is also known as the systems science. It is originated from biological sciences by its founders Bertalanffy Ludwing and Maturana Humberto (Boulding, 1956; von Bertalanffy, Ludwig, 1974). It was later employed by many disciplines to investigate phenomena from a holistic perspective. Scholars who subscribe to systemic perspective of analyzing events, believe that it is impossible to understand an event or issue by breaking it into small components. Rather, they assumed that global assessment is require to understand phenomenon. The scholars viewed an individual or group as ―an ecosystem with moving parts that affect each other‖ (Adams, Hester & Bradley, 2013).
The theory is featured in a group of parts that interact to form a coherent whole. It is also described as having a ―distinct boundary separating the system from external elements and distinguishing between inputs, or factors that impact the system, and outputs, or effect and products of the system‖ (Mele, Pels & Polese, 2010, p.130). The systems theory is emphasizing on the connectivity of every part of the system with one another. Meaning that, if any part of human body is suffering from pain or any deficiency, the entire body will be feeling such pain which arguably can make the whole human body to malfunction. Therefore, the theory is relevant to the study due to the fact that, the foreign policy of Nigeria is designed is such a way that the country will be concerned with happening within Africa. This is because, it maybe irrational for Nigeria not to show concern over any problem/difficulty that maybe encountered by any African countries, particularly the neighbouring States (Ashaver, 2014; Dauda, Sakariyau & Ameen, 2018). Apart from being irrational if Nigeria turn a blind eye to the problems facing by other African countries, the aftermath of such problems on Nigeria will be greater than the cost to be incurred if the country in crisis is rescue on time (Wapmuk, 2014). Hence, another relevance of systems theory to the study is that it serves as a protective signal to Nigeria. This is because, the theory assists Nigeria on the needs to maximize its favour or benefit to other African countries which at the same protecting the country from sharing or inheriting products of such crises (like refugees, insurgence, terrorism, and other social vices) from other country.