Journal of Social Sciences and Humanities, Vol. 1, No. 4, September 2015 Publish Date: Aug. 4, 2015 Pages: 434-444

The Pursuance of Nigeria’s Domestic and Foreign Policy in the Fourth Republic: Complementarity or Contradiction

Adeola Gabriel Lanre1, *, Ogunnoiki Adeleke Olumide2

1Department of Political Science and International Relations, College of Business and Social Sciences, Crawford University, Igbesa, Ogun State, Nigeria

2Postgraduate Student in International Law and Diplomacy, University of Lagos, Akoka, Lagos State, Nigeria


The foreign policy of a nation is a reflection of its domestic demands, needs and aspirations. Much as there is a relationship between a state domestic policy and those foreign to it, the outcomes in the course of their implementation could turn out to be complementary or simply contradictory. In the case of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in this fourth republic heralding the transition from military dictatorship to civilian rule in 1999, paved the way for democratic dispensation with the leadership endeavouring to steer the nation’s foreign policy in accordance with democratic ethos. This became expedient in order to re-integrate the country into the international community from a pariah state and to embark on economic growth, social infrastructure and development, also the challenge of combating sectional militia and insurgent groups among others are key issues of domestic policies which must be balanced by equally robust external policies. The focus of this paper is to interrogate on whether there was a synergy between domestic and foreign policies or contradictions during the period in question. The methodology is basically qualitative. At the end, it was discovered that the leaders have maintained to a large extent the status quo in the pursuance of the nation’s foreign policy in which case, the domestic policy has dictated the external course of actions.


Domestic Policy, Foreign Policy, National Interest, Economic Diplomacy, Citizen Diplomacy, Shuttle Diplomacy

1. Introduction

National governments of States around the world are known for implementing of programmes and to set agendas for their administration. Driven by such motives, the day-to-day dealings of incumbent administrations are targeted at actualizing their goals and objectives in the process of governing their countries. While some of the goals can be attained by the States on their own, (Nwankwo, 2013: 212) in most cases, they seek the active cooperation and sometimes assistance of other States in order to achieve their national objectives. Because of this, a State necessarily has to be in communication with its external environment (Ojo & Sesay, 2002:113).

Theoretically, a State’s domestic and foreign policy are complementary. Though, the former is to be implemented in the domestic environment, that is, within the territory of that State while the latter is designed for the international milieu. Though both policies often enjoy a smooth relationship, a State domestic policy can sometimes run contrary to those that are foreign oriented. It is on these premises that this paper would be analyzing the domestic and foreign policy of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in the fourth republic.

Writing on Nigeria’s international relations, Alao (2011: 21) remarked that since the return of democracy in 1999, Nigeria has focused on developing strategic partnerships with traditional, and emerging global powers, to support its domestic priorities. It has strengthened old relations and developed new ones, and has tried to balance its role as a regional and continental power, which addresses domestic concerns. No wonder as commented by Okerafor (2011), Chief Obasanjo’s foreign policy objectives were easily identifiable. For instance, his number one priority was to restore or repair where necessary so that Nigeria can regain its position as a key player in the committee of nations. An image of gross irresponsibility, inherited through General Sani Abacha’s five years of totalitarianism, had to be fixed. Most of the country’s economic partners, especially the prominent ones like the United States, European Union, Commonwealth of Nations, World Bank and the I.M.F  had to be brought back. On the part of his successor, Yar’ Adua, he moved swiftly after taking office to engage the rebels in the Niger Delta, who had led violent campaign of sabotage against the oil industry since 2006… The unrest in that region had reduced Nigeria’s oil output by a fifth and helped drive up world oil price (Arizona-Ogwu, 2008). But following the death of President Umar Yar’Adua, Jonathan’s administration was caught in between a domestic environment of sectional centrifugal forces. Unfortunately for him, combating the insurgent terrorist group, the Boko Haram was a serious distraction to the pursuit of his vision 20:2020, a repackaged economic initiative of President Umar Yar’Adua with the goal of moving Nigeria from the disadvantaged third world status to the league of the top twenty leading economies in the world by the year 2020. This introduction was followed by conceptual clarifications in section 2, Statement of Problem in section 3 and President Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration (1999 – 2007) formed the analysis in section 4. The administration of President Umar Yar’Adua (2007 – 2010) was analysed in section 5, while President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan’ administration (2010 – 2015) was the topic of analysis in section 6. The paper was rounded up in section 7 with concluding remarks. The limitation encountered was the inability to interrogate the presidents concerned which would have enabled us to get more facts. However, the importance of this article is to make our leaders to be focused in handling foreign policy so that the nation’s interest are not trampled upon or handled with levity.

2. Conceptual Clarifications

There are three concepts which not only capture the whole essence of this paper but have been repeatedly used in its analysis. The three are: domestic policy, foreign policy and national interest.

i)      Domestic Policy

Beginning with the concept of policy, Akinboye & Ottoh (2005: 115) viewed policy as a course of action or a reasoned choice emerging from the consideration of competing options. Looking at domestic policy in this context, domestic policy can be said to be the course of action which a state’s government not only formulates but also implements within its territory. Policy in this respect becomes public policy. Several Political Scientists have given scholarly definitions to the concept. According to Friedrich (1963:79), public policy is a proposed course of action of a person, group, or government within a given environment providing obstacles and opportunities which the policy was proposed to utilize and overcome in an effort to reach a goal or realize the objective or a purpose. Anderson (1975: 3) also shared similar view with Friedrich, perceiving public policy to be a purposive course of action followed by an actor or set of actors in dealing with problem or matter of concern. In all, domestic or public policy is whatever governments choose to door not to do (Dye, 1978: 3).

ii)    Foreign Policy

According to Aluko (1981), nobody has really formulated a universally acceptable definition of the concept of foreign policy and probably nobody will succeed in doing so. This notwithstanding, quite a number of scholars in the discipline of International Relations has over the years formulated definitions which are adjudged to represent the concept of foreign policy.

For instance, Modelski (1962: 6) explained that a State’s foreign policy is the system of activities evolved by communities for changing the behaviour of other states and for adjusting their own activities to the international environment. While Frankel (1963, 9), defined foreign policy as referring to those decisions and actions, which involve, to an appreciable extent, relations between one state and others. Unlike the above intellectuals, Northedge, (1968:15)opted for a more simplified definition. Accordingly, he defined foreign policy as interplay between the outside and the inside. Therefore, it can be concluded that the decisions in form of actions or reactions, dealing with such matters requiring cooperation and or active support of others across the borders of a given State for their attainment, fall within the ambit of foreign policy (Nwankwo, 2013: 212).

Domestic and foreign policy when placed side by side are set of policies interconnected and flowing one to the other. The intensity of this interdependency is so tight that the external reality of the dynamic world is central to the public policy domain which makes foreign policy an extension of public policy (Jinadu, 2005: 18).

iii)   National Interest

The point of convergence between domestic and foreign policy crystallises to what is known as national interest. According to Ojo & Sesay, (2002:87) the concept of national interest remains one of the most controversial concepts in contemporary international relations due to various interpretations and misconceptions by analysts and practitioners as well as politicians and decision makers throughout the world. Also, the concept is not easily susceptible to rigorous academic analysis, and the lack of universally acceptable overriding definition of what constitutes the national interest of a state. However, the challenge behind the conceptualization of national interest lies whether to stick to its definition as the aggregate or totality of individual groups – ethnic or religious interest groups within a polity or opt for an understanding of the concept to mean what decision-makers conceive them to be (Rosenau, 1968:259). Going by the more popular subjective misnomer statesmen think and act in terms of national interest (Morgenthau, 1951:242). Thus when statesmen and bureaucrats are expected or are required to act in the national interest…what is meant is that they are being called upon to take action on issues that would improve the political situation, the economic and social wellbeing, the health and culture of the people as well as their political survival. They are being urged to take action that will improve the lots of the people, rather than pursue policies that will subject the people to domination by other countries (Adeniran, 1983: 191).

3. Statement of Problem

Nigeria has since independence pursued an afro-centric foreign policy. This was informed by the circumstances of the conditions of African states in the wake of decolonization. The fact that not all countries got their independence on a platter of gold such as the Republic of South Africa, Angola among others and the peculiar role of Nigeria as the giant or the most populous black nation not only in the continent but the world over put great burden on her as demonstrated by her role in decolonization process. As a result, successive governments under the military as well as civilian have pursued this policy of putting Africa first. However with globalization and the wave of democratization blowing across the continent which has also affected the country coming out of totalitarian regime, it is appropriate to interrogate whether 16 years in the fourth republic under civilian dispensation whether the leadership is still on course in the pursuance of the nation’s domestic and foreign policy in line with her tradition.

4. President Olusegun Obansanjo’s Administration (1999-2007)

The death of General Sani Abacha on the 8th of June, 1998, brought General Abusalami Abubakar to the helm of the nation’s affairs. On assumption, he set up a transitional programme of return to civilian rule. The programme transformed into political parties with the emergence of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, the presidential candidate of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) who won the presidential election of 1999. On May 29, 1999, Olusegun Obasanjo was officially sworn in as the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria with Alhaji Atiku Abubakar as the vice.

Chief Olusegun Obasanjo upon receiving the presidential mandate, embarked on a number of reforms and policies including a rebranding of the nation’s image abroad as an important aspect of his foreign policy. On the domestic scene, the Niger Delta region of Nigeria is very strategic to the country’s economic survival; this is because the main minerals – oil and gas – are concentrated in the region. The Delta accounts for almost all of Nigeria’s gas and oil production, which in turn represents 80% of governments’ revenue, 95% of export receipts and 90% of foreign exchange earnings (Imobighe, 2004).

Table 1 shows the geometric growth in oil production since 1977 quickly displacing agricultural and other mineral products as the nation’s export earner. This can be well appreciated in Fig. 1 which due to economic down turn in the 80’s corresponding to structural adjustment programme, there was a fall in oil production but as from the 90’s began to pick up reaching a very high level in 2006. Fig. 2 complements the whole picture showing that since 1990s oil has been the backbone of the economy. Due to omission or commission the region that produces the wealth of the nation was neglected by the successive regimes which provoked restiveness among the youths and the attendant militarization. To assuage the people of the area, the president had to set up the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) to oversee development of the region. He also adopted the National Economic Empowerment Development Strategy (NEEDS) designed to promote export and woo foreign investors through a variety of reforms, including macroeconomic stability, deregulation, liberation, privatization and transparency (Zaki, 2011). President Obasanjo took a bold step in the fight against corruption by initiating anti-corruption strategy involving a wide variety of measures, three of which were particularly outstanding. The first one was the creation of specialized anticorruption agencies, the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) in September 2000 and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in April 2003, to investigate and prosecute corrupt individuals. The other two included a comprehensive reform of the public service with particular reference to recovering funds stolen and stashed away in Western banks

Table 1. Crude Oil Production (‘000 barrels per day).

Year Crude oil production (000 barrels per day) Year Crude oil production (000 barrels per day)
1973 2053.16 1992 1943.00
1974 2255.08 1993 1960.00
1975 1783.00 1994 1930.90
1976 2067.33 1995 1992.75
1977 2085.67 1996 2000.53
1978 1895.75 1997 2132.45
1979 2302.50 1998 2153.46
1980 2055.00 1999 2129.86
1981 1433.00 2000 2165.00
1982 1295.00 2001 2256.16
1983 1241.00 2002 2114.86
1984 1388.00 2003 2275.00
1985 1495.00 2004 2328.96
1986 1467.00 2005 2627.44
1987 1341.00 2006 2439.86
1988 1450.00 2007 2350.00
1989 1716.00 2008 2165.08
1990 1810.00 2009 2207.91
1991 1891.80 NA NA

Source: United States Energy Information Administration (US EIA).

(Enweremadu, 2010:6). The effectiveness of the anti-graft bodies translated in the gradual decline of Nigeria in Corruption Perception Index of Transparency International (TI) from 147th position in 1999 to 98th corrupt country in 2007.There was also the privatization of public enterprises such as the telecommunication industry which brought in foreign investors into a telecom market hitherto dominated by public parastatal, the Nigerian Telecommunication (NITEL). On the international scene, President Obasanjo followed through a deliberate foreign policy which in the end revived the inflow of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and bilateral trading relations between Nigeria and the United States as well as United Kingdom, China, India and Brazil.

i)      Nigeria and International Community: Shuttle Diplomacy

The task before Obasanjo’s administration was to bring Nigeria back to into the international community from its isolated position as a pariah state. This involved extensive diplomatic moves to Nigeria’s former allies. Thus between the months of May, 1999 and mid-August 2002, Obasanjo embarked on 113 foreign trips, spending a total of 340 days outside the country (Akindele, 2003). Commenting on those travels, he was quoted as saying;

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 market your product. And my product is

Nigeria (Oyedoyin, Nigeria World News, 18 July 2002).

He was the most widely travelled president in the history of Nigeria who in a giant stride visited international and regional institutions such as the United Nations (UN), Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the Group of 8 (G-8), Group of 77 (G-77), the Commonwealth, African Union (AU) and the European Union (EU).The international community responded quite positively to Chief Olusegun Obasanjo’s diplomatic shuttles, rebranding diplomacy, charm and creative initiatives which in the end marked the reintegration of the country into the global community. The strategy soon yielded result as on April 14, 2002, the Chinese President Jiang Zemin paid a visit to Nigeria. This was followed on August 2002 by President Bill Clinton of the United States who on his four-day African tour flew into Nigeria and addressed a joint session of the National Assembly. In December 2003, Nigeria hosted the Commonwealth’s Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) at the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja with the Queen of England Elizabeth II in attendance. This goodwill gestures continued in April, 2006 when the Communist leader, President Hu Jintao of the People’s Republic of China was in Nigeria and relations between the two countries was consummated with the signing of bilateral agreements.

ii)    Nigeria and International Financial Institutions: Debt Forgiveness

The other aspect of President Obasanjo’s diplomacy was centred on addressing the country’s debt. On the assumption of office, he met an accumulated debt burden inherited from years of corruption and personal aggrandizement of the leadership. An external debt which at 1997 was $27.008 billion making Nigeria the highest indebted country in Africa (CBN, 2002). This debt was owed to the Paris Club of creditors from previous military regimes; President Obasanjo on October, 2000 instituted the Debt Management Office (DMO) with the mandate of managing the country’s debt. Not only did Chief Olusegun Obasanjo come to terms with the country’s financial burden and the challenge of servicing it, which was starving the Nigerian economy of growth and development, he also enlisted the dexterity of her Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala in pleading for the forgiveness of Nigeria’s debt owed to the Paris Club. At the end, Nigeria was able to reach an agreement with the Paris Club in June 2005 to pay $6 billion out of $31 billion owed. This made Nigeria pay an upfront deposit of $6 billion thereby reducing the debt to $25 billion. In return, the club was to write off 67% of the remaining debt, amounting to $17–18 billion (Alao, 2011: 21). The debt reduction by the Paris Club to Nigeria was a remarkable achievement for the Obasanjo’s administration. As a follow up to the write off of part of the debt, the Obasanjo’s administration entered into a debt rescheduling plan that lasted till the end of his tenure in 2007. As a result, Nigeria’s debt was drastically reduced to about $3.035 billion made up of $2.65 billion multilateral debt, $326 million bilateral debt and $101 million commercial debt (Ezeabasili, 2011: 13) Consequently, Nigeria’s foreign reserves rose from $2 billion in 1999 to $43 billion at the end of his tenure in 2007 (Ajetunmobi, Osunkoya & Omotere., 2011: 313).

Fig. 1. Oil Revenue in Nigeria (1970-2008).

Source: Central Bank of Nigeria Statistical Bulletin.


Source: Central Bank of Nigeria Statistical Bulletin

iii)  Nigeria and the Development of African Continent: New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD)

President Obasanjo was among the initiators of the new programme for the continent which was designed to revolutionise the economic fortunes and development of African states. Prior to its realization, President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa had pioneered the initiative when he came up with Millennium Africa Recovery Plan (MAP) which he presented at the World Economic Forum, Davos, Switzerland in January, 2001. The same year, President Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal tabled before the Summit of Francophone African Leaders in Cameroun, a similar plan to that of Thabo Mbeki’s which he christened the Omega Plan. In order not to have a clash of objectives between these two development plans for Africa floating around the corners of the world, the task of harmonizing both the MAP and Omega Plan became inevitable which brought about the New African Initiative (NAI) which became the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) as adopted and ratified by the continental body, the Organization of African Unity (OAU) in the year 2002. (Adeola & Adeola., 2015) President Olusegun Obasanjo with his fellow counterparts President Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal, Abdelaziz Bouteflika of Algeria and Thabo Mbeki of South Africa all shared the vision for floating NEPAD whose objectives include the reduction of the continent’s level of poverty, promotion of sustainable development, the attraction of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) into the continent and the necessity to ensure political stability, democratic rule and good governance in African countries.

iv)   Nigeria’s Relations with other Sub-African Regions and the World

In pursuance of her foreign policy objectives centred on Africa, Nigeria has been persistently committed to the objectives of the defence and protection of the political independence, territorial integrity and stability of every state in the West African sub-region. Nigeria as the most populous country in the sub-region has always played the role of Big Brother in ensuring peace and stability in troubled countries such as Sierra Leone and Liberia. Thus in 2003, President Olusegun Obasanjo granted asylum to the former President of Liberia, Charles Taylor in order to encourage that the peace building process that has started in Liberia after the civil war was consolidated. But after pressure from the international community to extradite Charles Taylor to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) at The Hague, Netherlands, so that he Charles Taylor could face charges of abetting the crisis in Sierra Leone, he Taylor was unfortunately apprehended at the Nigerian border on flight to the Cameroon in 2006 where he was arrested.

President Olusegun Obasanjo was instrumental in the mediation between the warring factions of the Dafur crisis in Sudan. He also hosted the Sudanese delegates at Abuja to facilitate talks for the resolution of the crisis. On the issue of Bakassi Peninsula, it was more of win-lose game. In 2002, the U.N handed down the Green Tree Agreement which compelled Nigeria to cede the Peninsular to Cameroun. Though President Olusegun Obasanjo through his legal officers challenged the ceding of the Bakassi peninsular to the Cameroon before the ICJ, Nigeria’s legal argument was thrown out in favour of Cameroon whose claim of the Peninsular dated to colonial Anglo-German treaty of 1913 and the Maroua Declaration of 1975 signed by General Yakubu Gowon. On August 2008, the formal handing over of the peninsular took place in Calabar, Cross River State, followed by hoisting of the Cameroonian flag over the Bakassi peninsula. Though the Obasanjo’s government was praised for its compliance to ICJ decision, the hand over without adequate consultation was seen by Nigerians as a hurried affair by the government.  Beside, Nigeria’s loss of Bakassi Peninsular, Nigeria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity was put to the test, this time from the world super power, the United States. On January 6, 2007,President George Bush tabled a proposition requesting to station a U.S military base called the Africa Command (AFRICOM) at the Gulf of Guinea, precisely around the oil rich Niger Delta in the South-South region of Nigeria to combat terrorism and other threats to the U.S and African countries’ interests. President Olusegun Obasanjo diplomatically turned down the request, as such military base on Nigerian soil was perceived to constitute military intimidation of Nigeria as an independent and sovereign state.

5. President Umar Yar’Adua’s Administration (2007-2010)

In 2007, President Obasanjo successfully completed two terms of eight years in office as stipulated in the 1999 Nigerian Constitution. At the tail end of his tenure, news of a plot to manipulate the constitution for a Third Term was unveiled. It engineered media attention and serious public criticism. The centrality of the Third Term Agenda is based on the controversial attempts by supporters of Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo to change the constitution to allow for a third term in office (Ajetunmobi et al.2011:314). Though the lobbying of parliamentarians at the lower house of the country’s legislature called the National Assembly in respect of the purported Third Term bid was covertly done but, the amendment to the 1999 constitution on the tenure of the presidency did not receive the consent of the Senate. In the end, former Katsina State Governor, UmarYar’Adua, of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) won the party’s primary election thus emerged as the Presidential candidate with his running mate, Goodluck Jonathan, the immediate Governor of Bayelsa State. The duo, Umar Yar’Adua and his vice won the Presidential elections in what was widely tagged a controversial general election in the country’s history.

President Umar Yar’Adua administration’s domestic policy was guided by his7 Point Agenda of (i) power and energy – to generate adequate energy to drive the Nigerian economy, ((ii) food security – to modernize the agricultural sector for better yield, (iii) wealth creation – to diversify the economy of Nigeria away from petroleum which in turn would create more jobs for the unemployed, (iv) transport sector – to afford Nigerians good network of roads and also to develop other alternative means of transportation, (v) land reforms – to reform the land use and laws of the country, (vi) security – to resolve the national security challenge bedevilling the country in particular, the Niger Delta region and (vii) education – to reform the educational system and facilities from primary to tertiary level. Among the above mentioned domestic policies, the resolution of the restiveness of youths turned militias in the oil rich South-South region became a success story of his administration. The armed revolt in the oil rich region of Nigeria which became problematic and attracted the fury of General Sani Abacha (1993-1998) reached a crisis in 2007 with the spate of attacks on strategic installations of oil and gas facilities. It was compounded with the abduction of expatriate workers attached to the oil companies (Bassey, 2011: 78). President Umar Yar’ Adua wisely dealt with the crisis by adopting the carrot approach. Thus in 2009, he offered amnesty to the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), the Niger Delta Vigilante (NDV) and other militia groups in exchange for the total surrender of arms and ammunitions in their possession.

i)      Yar’ Adua’s Administration and Nigeria’s Image Abroad: The Rebranding Campaign

 Professor Dora Akunyili, the former Director-General of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) who became President Jonathan’s Minister of Information and Communications worked assiduously on the Rebrand Nigeria Project (RNP) which was directed at correcting the bad image of Nigeria abroad.

The perception of Nigeria in the eyes of the world is fraught with negative descriptions as criminals, fraudsters, narcotic peddlers and corrupt leaders to mention a few. The RNP initiative was launched in Abuja on the 17th of March, 2009 with the unveiling of the logo and slogan Nigeria: Good People Great Nation. During the official launching Professor Akunyili said in her address titled: the Time is now

That today as a nation, we begin a new journey. We open a new chapter in our attempt as a people to take conscious steps at redefining our nation, re-examining our values and character and re-dedicating ourselves to the ideals of our founding father. In this renewed effort to improve our image, we aim at birthing new patriotic spirit and ensuring that our name and battered image as a people are restored. This is a journey we must undertake at this time as a nation and as a people. We are all gathered here to begin this journey today, powered by the desire to see this great nation shed its toga of untrustworthy, unreliable and ungovernable people. This will no doubt be a journey like no other (Akunyili, 2009).

The rebranding revolution was brought to Nigerian doorsteps as the slogan and logo were aired on television and broadcast in radio stations to create a new mindset of New Nigeria in the minds of Nigerians thereby reviving the spirit of patriotism and nationalism. In furtherance, Prof. Dora Akunyili was hard on the U.S based multinational corporation; Sony over the latter’s commercial advertisement which portrayed Nigerians as fraudulent. She demanded that Sony tender an official apology to Nigeria. The impact of Akunyili’s rebranding campaign yielded fruit to the effect that Sony apologized to Nigeria. Another company to be reprimanded by Professor Akunyili in the entertainment industry was the U.K, Hollywood. The Hollywood film District 9 was banned from viewing in Nigerian by the Nigerian Film and Video Censor Board. The film which was shot in South Africa, fictionally characterized Nigerians as cannibals was perceived by the government of President Umar Yar’ Adua to be infra dignitatem on the dignity of Nigeria as a country and the entire citizens.

The Rebranding Campaign can be said to have achieved its objectives internationally, such cannot be said internally. In the course of the campaign, there was an increased call for the Nigerian government to attend to the structural and institutional decadence at home which is anathema to the rebranding campaign.

ii)    President Umar Yar’ Adua and Economic Diplomacy: Vision 2020

President Umar Yar’ Adua vision 2020 is an exceedingly ambitious economic strategy designed to launch Nigeria from the class of third world countries to that of developed country. The whole essence of the vision 2020 was to ensure that Nigeria will be one of the 20 largest economies in the world by 2020, thereby consolidating its leadership role in Africa and establishing itself as a significant player in the global economic and political arena (Nigeria Ministry of Information and Communication, 2010).

The idea of economic diplomacy in Nigeria’s foreign policy is not new in the history of the country. Under the Babangida’s administration (1985-1993), economic diplomacy was at the centre of Nigerian foreign policy which led to the 1986 Structural Adjustment Progamme (SAP) as recommended by the I.M.F. the same was repackaged in the fourth republic under President Olusegun Obasanjo as NEEDS and was accentuated by the Umar Yar’Adua’s culminating in the Vision 2020.

iii)  President Umar Yar’Adua Administration and Nigerians in the Diaspora: Citizen Diplomacy

Okeke and Aniche (2014: 75) were able to record that it was not until recently that Nigeria started rescinding and reviewing its foreign policy in line with the foreign policy reform panel set up by Yar’Adua’s Administration in 2007, soon after assuming office. The product of that policy reform was citizen diplomacy. It was a concept popularized in Nigeria’s foreign policy by Umar Yar’ Adua’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ojo Maduekwe, According to the minister, citizen diplomacy is geared towards protecting the image and integrity of Nigeria and retaliates against countries who are hostile and who brand Nigeria as corrupt (Okocha & Nzeshi, 2007: 3). In other words, the concept was so fashioned to take into consideration Nigerian citizens residing in the diaspora who on their part were to be agents of changing the wrong perception of Nigeria as well as represent Nigeria positively in their respective countries of abode.

The concept did suffer a setback barely a month when the president flew out of the country for treatment in Saudi Arabia that a Nigerian, a UK trained engineer, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, was apprehended on a flight bound for the United States over his failure to detonate a strapped bomb below his waist. This tragic event on Christmas Day, 2009, cast a further aspersion on the image of Nigeria within the international community especially in the eyes of the United States and its security agencies which in response to the incidence blacklisted Nigeria among the countries accommodating radical Islamic terrorists who pose threat to their national security and the world in general.

6. President Goodluck Jonathan’s Administration (2010-2015)

In November, 2009 President Yar’ Adua was flown out of the country to receive treatment for his Kidney disease, pericarditis in Saudi Arabia. According to Okerafor (2011), at the time of his departure, he was already the chairman of ECOWAS. On a number of occasions, before he flew to the Holy land for medical attention, the ailing ECOWAS leader was forced to cancel regional summits. There had emerged problems in and around West Africa by then. For instance, the shooting of Captain Mousa Dadis Kamara in Guinea in December had thrown that country into a crisis and ECOWAS badly needed Nigeria’s leadership and was getting little of it. The issue of the Nigerian Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab in a flight bound for Detroit, United States on Christmas day found with a bomb was also in the news.

President Yar’Adua, like President Obasanjo administered Nigeria more personally than institutionally. Thus, in the absence of the President Yar’ Adua his vice, Goodluck Jonathan  could not stand in for him except insituations where members of the President’s inner circle could not handle such as chairing the Federal Executive Council. In other situations, when the incapacitated President could not perform, he was also unable to delegate his Vice. The consequence was that the ship of Nigerian State virtually lacked a captain on the foreign scene (Nwankwo, 2013: 215).Internally, the over six month of the absence of the country’s number one on the seat of power was indeed a dangerous political event which opened up the country to palpable consequences. Should the presidential seat remain vacant any further; the incursion of the military again in the country’s political affairs would not have surprised Nigerians. In the end, on the 5th of May 2010,the ailing President Yar’ Adua died paving the way on May 6, 2010 for the Vice President, Goodluck Jonathan to be sworn in as the President. On August 2, 2010, President Jonathan launched the Road Map for Power Sector Reform a reform of the inept power sector of the country. In 2011Goodluck Jonathan and his vice, Namadi Sambo won the Presidential election under the platform of the Peoples’ Democratic Republic (PDP) in the country’s freest and fairest election after that of 1993. On January 01, 2012, his administration removed oil subsidy which caused a public condemnation. Though the subsidy removal met Nigerians unawares, on the foreign scene, it put an end to the purchase of oil by neighbouring countries from Nigeria at a subsidized price. The signing into law of the Same Sex Prohibition in January by the President also sparked a global human rights denunciation from the Western countries. They threatened Nigeria with slashing of aid in order to pressurise President Jonathan into reconsidering the law. In all, the Jonathan administration’s foreign policy has been tailored to that of his former boss, late President Umar Yar’ Adua.

i)      President Goodluck Jonathan and Shuttle Diplomacy

The first diplomatic move of Goodluck Jonathan on assuming office was geared towards the delisting of Nigeria’s name from the United States Terrorist Watch List following the failed terrorist attempt by 23 years old Nigerian Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab to detonate a bomb in the Northwest Airlines Flight 253 he boarded from Amsterdam, the Netherland to the densely populated city of Detroit in the United States in 2009. On his trip to the U.S, President Jonathan held talks with President Barack Obama requesting the removal of Nigeria from the list of until 2011.

President Jonathan in pursuit of his administration’s economic diplomacy resulted to shuttle diplomacy from one country to another. Although President Barack Obama could not visit Nigeria in his two-day visit to Africa in July 2013, Nigeria was listed among the African countries for future date. President Obama pledged that Nigeria would benefit from the financial package worth $7 billion he promised Africa to boost the power sector and power generation capacity of their respective countries. Notwithstanding President Barack Obama’s hesitation to visit Nigeria, President Jonathan paid trade visit with member of his key cabinet ministers to China where they were warmly received by China’s President Xi Jiping. He was able to secure $1.1 billion low interest loan for the improvement of Nigeria’s hydro power, road transportation and light-rail system as well as airport terminal infrastructures.

ii)    Jonathan’s Economic Diplomacy and Vision 2020

Vision 2020 is a comprehensive development framework encompassing economic, political and social and more than domestic policies can achieve. It is the pursuance of President Umar Yar’ Adua’s economic package. The goals of both strategies remain the emergence of Nigeria by the year 2020 into the league of the twenty leading economies in the world. With an economic growth rate of 7% as at the 7th of April, 2014 adjusted to worth $510 billion by Bureau of biggest in Africa ahead of South Africa. The impact of the entertainment industry to Nigeria’s economy in terms of youth employment and revenue generation was noted by President Goodluck Jonathan who remarked it in his address to the Corporate Council on Africa in the United States. He said:

Let me restate here that Nigeria’s foreign policy is now anchored on the realization of this Transformation Agenda through the attraction of Foreign Direct Investment. Under the new policy thrust, our Diplomatic Missions abroad have been directed to focus more on attracting investment to support the domestic programmes of government with a view to achieving not only our vision 20:2020, but to bequeathing an enduring legacy of economic prosperity (Bello, This Day Live, 27 Sept, 2012)

At the 26thWorld Economic Forum on Africa (WEFA) held between the 7th and 9th of May, 2014 in Abuja, President Jonathan used the forum for the benefit of the country by selling  Nigeria’s economic potentials to the world as a way to attract foreign investors into the  country.

iii)  Jonathan’s Administration and National Security

Since 2009, Nigeria’s independence and national territory have been threatened by the radical Islamic sect Boko Haram. In combating this terrorist group, the government has taken some measures to make Nigeria a secured place. Initially it was the use of force which later includes a combination of warnings, moral persuasion and deployment of troops to flash points where the groups are domiciled. There is also the inauguration of committees to investigate the causes of the threats and proffer necessary solutions as well as the passage of a bill to tackle terrorist activities (Omede, 2011: 97)

At the international level, the horrendous killings of innocent citizens by Boko Haram spurred President Goodluck Jonathan in September 2013, to hold talks with President Barack Obama of the U.S over the security challenges posed by the group in North Eastern Nigeria. France also hosted the Elysee Summit on African security in December 5, 2013 with Boko Haram on the front burner. The adoption of more than 200 girls in Chibok, Bornu States in 2014 by the group was a terrible blow on the psychic of Nigerians. That incident brought the President under heavy domestic pressure particularly from the Bring Back Our Girls campaign led by former Minister of Education, Ngozi Ezekweseli. Internationally, it triggered a widespread condemnation from eminent political leaders and personalities such as the first lady of the United States, Michelle Obama, Nobel Prize winner Malala Yousevzia of Pakistan and the British Prime Minister, Donald Cameron. The adoption of the girls brought a new dimension to the fight against the insurgent such that countries like the United States, France, Britain, China, Israel and even Syria pledged to assist Nigeria to put an end to the insurgency. The U.S immediately deployed surveillance drone planes in search of the missing Chibok girls as well as training the Nigerian Army in intelligence gathering.

iv)   Nigeria Relations with African States

On the assumption of office of President Goodluck Jonathan, the strain in Nigeria-Libya relations came to the fore, to the extent that the president had to recall Nigeria’s Ambassador to Libya Alhaji Isah Mohammed in 2010 for consultation over a statement credited to Col. Muammar Gaddafi suggesting the split of Nigeria into the Christian dominated South and the Muslim majority North following the religious clash in Jos, Plateau State. The action of the president was to checkmate the excesses of the then Libyan leader and let him know that Nigeria can no longer tolerate such undue interference in the nation’s internal affairs (Nwankwo, 2013:  2016). In the same year, when the civil unrest that ousted Col Muammar Gaddafi from power became intensified, Nigerian government had to dispatch aircrafts to Libya to bring Nigerians residing in that country as they could be easy prey to racial militias who with impunity were killing Nigerians and raping the female gender.

Nigeria-South Africa relations also witnessed some diplomatic rumpus. In March 2012, South Africa deported 125 Nigerians who they claimed did not possess yellow fever vaccination stamp. Nigeria retaliated by deporting 84 South Africans. The misunderstanding was quickly resolved as South Africa tendered apology to Nigeria. In 2014, there was the collapse of a portion of Synagogue Church building in Lagos which killed 81 South Africans and the smuggling of $9.3 million on board a private plane into South Africa for the purchase of arms to combat Boko Haram were issues of significant proportion.

In the West African sub-region, Nigeria has always been committed to peace, security and stability of the sub region. As a result, the Jonathan’s administration was not different from his predecessors. In January 2013, as a measure of solidarity the Senate gave approval to the deployment of 1,200 troops as part of the African International Support Mission to Mali (AFISMA). It was an organized military support by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) for the government of Mali against the Islamist rebels in the northern part of the country (Ilevbare, Punch, January 23, 2013).

v)     Jonathan’s Administration and Nigerians in the Diaspora: Citizen Diplomacy

President Goodluck Jonathan like his predecessor also witnessed the tarnishing of the image and dignity of Nigeria by Nigerians living abroad. In the Indian town of Goa, banners and bill boards were displayed in 2013 with the inscription: Say no to Nigerians, say no to drugs owing to the incessant trafficking of drugs by Nigerians in the town. Nigerians therefore who happen to reside within the tourist centre of Goa were not just labelled as drug peddlers but were subjected to all manner of inhuman maltreatment. Nigerians elsewhere were jailed for criminal charges, the most common being the trafficking in narcotics across borders. All these have dented the image of Nigeria abroad. In South Africa alone, there are about 409 Nigerians in the prison. The chairperson of the Committee on Diaspora in the Nigerian House of Representatives, Abike Dabiri-Erewa while lamented this development saying that:

There are a lot of Nigerians in Prisons in other countries of the world like India, Brazil and China. There are more than 1,000 in China. In all, of course, they are uncountable because we are talking of thousands (Dabiri-Erewa, 2014).

The over 9,000 Nigerians in foreign prisons have not been attended to by this administration. In fact, the government has failed to take a stand before the international court of law for their repatriation or exchange as the case may be being some of the weakness of this administration.

7. Concluding Remarks

The focus of this paper was anchored on the domestic and foreign policies of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in the fourth republic pursued under the administrations of Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo, Umar Yar’Adua and Goodluck Jonathan. Appreciably, they have been more of complementarity and continuity than contradiction. However, at some points there were strains arising from human errors or lack of adequate consultations. A typical example was the ceding of the Bakassi peninsular to the Cameroun by President Olusegun Obasanjo in compliance to the ICJ ruling which was not only in conflict with the country’s national interest of defending and safeguarding its territorial integrity and sovereignty, but also portrayed the National Assembly as non-consequential in ratifying treaties before they become binding on the country. There is also the enormous cost of playing the Big Brother of Africa especially in sustaining the Nigerian Army in peacekeeping operations in war torn African countries and other parts of the world. These are some of the sacrifices Nigeria must pay in order to pursue a veritable foreign policy especially in respect to Africa while also safeguarding the nation’s domestic interests.


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