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1.1 Background of the study

Nigeria's foreign policy has seen two major phases: the colonial epoch and the post-colonial era. The colonial period in Nigeria was from 1914 to 1960, during which the British government exerted authority over the country. During this era, Nigeria emerged as a political entity. The post-colonial era began subsequent to Nigeria's attainment of independence and continues up to the current day. This study will primarily investigate the post-colonial period of Nigerian foreign policy, since it signifies the period when Nigeria, as a sovereign country, started to cultivate its own national interests. Between 1914 till the late 1960s, the British focused mostly on the welfare and matters pertaining to Nigeria as a unified entity. Not only Nigeria, but also other countries of the Commonwealth were content to entrust the task of representing their diplomatic interests to the administration of Her Majesty in the United Kingdom. According to Manko (2016), in these countries, the Ambassador or Minister for the United Kingdom, chosen by Her Majesty, is responsible for overseeing and protecting the interests of all members of the Commonwealth. Ray Ofoegbu succinctly emphasised that Nigeria's pre-independence foreign policy was controlled by the British to further their own interests.  The British Governor-General of Nigeria exercised absolute authority over Nigeria's external relations. The Governor-General, a British person, had jurisdiction over issues concerning External Affairs. Nigeria's first comprehensive foreign policy text was the sessional paper on Foreign Policy (1956). The development of the project included collaboration between the Governor-General, his Chief Secretary (who was a British citizen), and the British Colonial and Commonwealth Reactions Offices (Olaitan, 2016). The post-independence period saw the creation of a genuinely Nigerian foreign policy, aptly known as Nigerian foreign policy. Since achieving independence, the strategy has undergone modifications under several governments. Although several governments have altered the process of formulating foreign policy since achieving independence in 1960, the fundamental objective of the country's foreign policy has remained constant. Suleiman (2020) contends that the protection of national interests has always been a vital component of Nigeria's foreign policy. Nevertheless, the methodology used to accomplish this goal has varied throughout various regimes. From the time of gaining independence till now, all governments have continually pursued the same aim and objective, using diverse techniques and instruments. From the tenure of Sir Balewa during the First Republic to the present administration of Dr. Goodluck Jonathan. The objectives of Nigerian foreign policy have remained constant. Nigeria's foreign policy emerged as a result of the country's achievement of independence as a self-governing nation. Nigeria, upon gaining independence in 1960, made the liberation of Africa the central focus of its foreign policy and played a significant role in the fight against the apartheid regime in South Africa (Aboje, Abdulfatai, Abdulkareem & Onyeji, 2016). Samora further said that Nigeria's foreign policy was closely examined in the 1970s after the country's successful settlement of a civil war. During this time, Nigeria swiftly committed itself to providing assistance for the liberation movements taking place in the Southern African sub-region.

Before gaining independence in 1960, Nigeria's foreign policy was closely tied with the British objectives. After attaining independence, the main task that the Balewa administration confronted was the development of Nigeria's foreign policy to align with the nation's interests. Nigeria's foreign policy post-independence centred on the Prime Minister, who had substantial influence over the foreign policy machinery. Although he claimed to adhere to a doctrine of non-alignment, he really implemented a conservative foreign policy that showed a preference for the West (Adi & Friday, 2017). While he maintained friendly relations with Western nations, including the United States of America and Britain, he exhibited animosity towards the Eastern bloc, represented by the Soviet Union. The Prime Minister consistently displayed a pro-Western stance on several international issues, including as the Berlin crisis of 1962, the American nuclear test of 1962, and the Vietnam War. Nigeria stood out as the only exception, opting to terminate diplomatic ties with France as a means of expressing its opposition to France's nuclear testing activities carried out in the Sahara.

Tafawa Balewa, upon becoming the first Prime Minister of independent Nigeria in 1960, outlined the fundamental foundations of Nigeria's foreign policy, as stated by Agbu (2015).  Prime Minister Balewa's term was characterised by a steadfast adherence to Nigeria's Afrocentric foreign policy, leaving little room for doubt or confusion. Balewa was committed to the liberation of Africa from colonial domination and the promotion of the well-being of its population. Under Balewa's leadership, Nigeria played a prominent role in the formation of the Organisation of African Unity (now the African Union) and the Chad Basin Commission in 1964 (Akinterinwa, 2017). Nigeria provided substantial financial contributions to the special budget of the OAU liberation committee and played an active role in the expulsion of apartheid South Africa from the Commonwealth of Nations in 1961. Tafawa Balewa restated Nigeria's Afrocentric foreign policy in his address to the United Nations on October 8, 1960, soon after Nigeria achieved independence. He criticised the Western and Eastern bloc powers for using Africa as a theatre for ideological disputes. This took place soon after the Congo war. According to Ajiye (2015), he held the belief that African nations can effectively carry out their required duties in the global community only if developed and industrialised countries stop provoking conflicts in African states based on ideology. Nigeria's foreign policy as an independent nation began under the leadership of Balewa's administration in 1960. The guiding principles of Nigeria's policy, created by Prime Minister Tafawa Balewa, have been adhered to by succeeding Nigerian governments, although with little success. Therefore, the study assess evolution of foreign policy in the Nigerian political landscape.

1.2 Statement of the problem

The institutional structure for the formulation and implementation of foreign policy, especially in relation to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, encounters initial difficulties.  The professional practices of Nigeria's foreign policy face significant obstacles in the areas of staffing, training, and finance. This significantly impairs the overall effectiveness of foreign policy in Nigeria. Nigeria's foreign policy implementation is hindered by a lack of professional competence (Akomolafe, 2015). This is particularly true, considering the fact that diplomacy is a prestigious occupation that demands a strong intellectual foundation and a comprehensive understanding of international events, among other things.

The budgetary resources for international relations have always been insufficient to adequately fulfil the anticipated level of service performance. The foreign affairs ministry gets around one percent of the federal government budget for recurring expenses. Conversely, defence and several other ministries get far more amounts. Nigeria's foreign policy encounters a barrier in the complex connection between the executive and legislative branches of government (Akomolafe, 2015). In addition to the challenge of obtaining approval for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' budget from the National Assembly, ambassadorial candidates must also undergo confirmation by the Assembly. During the regular execution of diplomatic matters, the foreign affairs department and its officers confront obstacles with the legislature. This branch of the government often involves itself actively in the process of implementing foreign policy. Oftentimes, Nigeria's legislative body addresses matters concerning the country's international relations without the advantage of institutional expertise and information about optimal methods and procedures. Hence, the need to assess the evolution of foreign policy in the Nigerian political landscape.

1.3       Objective of the study

The broad objective of the study is to assess the evolution of foreign policy in the Nigerian political landscape. The specific objectives is as follows

i.                    Examine the evolution of Nigeria  foreign policy.

ii.                  Assess the impact of Nigerias foreign policy on the Nigerian political landscape

iii.                Investigate the challenges of Nigerias foreign policy on the Nigerian political landscape

1.4       Research Questions

The following questions have been prepared to guide the study

i.                    What is the evolution of Nigeria  foreign policy?

ii.                  What is the impact of Nigerias foreign policy on the Nigerian political landscape?

iii.                What are the challenges of Nigerias foreign policy on the Nigerian political landscape?

1.5       Significance of the study

Researching Nigeria's foreign policy is significant for several reasons, as it provides insights into the country's diplomatic strategies, international relations, and its role in the global community. The study is significant in the following ways:

Global Influence: Understanding Nigeria's foreign policy helps in gauging the country's influence on the global stage. It allows researchers to analyze how Nigeria engages with other nations and international organizations, and how it contributes to shaping global agendas.

Regional Stability: Nigeria plays a crucial role in maintaining stability and security in West Africa. Researching its foreign policy can provide insights into how the country addresses regional challenges, such as conflicts, terrorism, and economic development, and contributes to regional integration and cooperation.

Economic Diplomacy: Nigeria, as a major African economy, engages in economic diplomacy to foster trade, attract investments, and strengthen economic ties with other nations. Researching its foreign policy can shed light on how the country navigates economic challenges and opportunities in the international arena.

Diplomatic Alliances: Nigeria's foreign policy choices reveal its diplomatic alliances and partnerships. Understanding these alliances helps researchers assess the geopolitical landscape and predict the country's actions in various international scenarios.

The findings of the study will be significant to the academic community as it will contribute to the existing literature.

1.6       Scope of the study

The study focuses on the evolution of foreign policy in the Nigerian political landscape. Hence, the study will examine the evolution of Nigeria  foreign policy, assess the impact of Nigerias foreign policy on the Nigerian political landscape and investigate the challenges of Nigerias foreign policy on the Nigerian political landscape.

1.7       Research Methodology

Research methodology deals with the different ways or methods the researcher applied in order to carry out the research as well as the instrument used for gathering the data. There are several research methodologies appropriate for answering the research questions. The type of research methodology used in this research to gather data and relevant information is the historical research. This will involve the making of oral interviews and collections of materials from secondary sources, such as books, journal articles, magazines, internet sources, international and national conference proceedings, published and unpublished articles.

1.8       Definition of terms

Foreign policy: how a country uses different strategies to guide its relationships with other countries and international organizations

Politics: the activities associated with the governance of a country or area, especially the debate between parties having power.

This material content is developed to serve as a GUIDE for students to conduct academic research


  • Reference(s):

    Yes available

  • Methodology: Yes available

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