NIGERIAN FOREIGN POLICY UNDER GENERAL IBRAHIM BADAMOSI BABANGIDA (1985 – 1993)
1.1. BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY’
Africa as noted by Chaplan (1966:376), “is an important strategic arena in contemporary world politics”. Osuntokun (1999:19) argues further “being the most populous black country in the world, Nigeria is being compelled to shoulder willingly and unwillingly the leadership of the black world. This led to Nigeria’s
feeling that she had a responsibility far beyond her borders as noted by Joe Nanven Garba…” In all our dealings with international organizations we are guided not by selfish national interests, but a high sense of responsibility and concern for countries (particularly in Africa) whose needs in some respect are greater than ours”. Ambassador Jolaoso stated further that Africa has always been the centre-piece of Nigeria’s foreign policy, with West Africa being the most crucial sector of this piece. He further stated that since foreign policy, represents the initiatives or responses by a country to issues which directly aect the interest of the country to that extent, it is related to the domestic as well as the international system.
Aghahowa (2007:59) posits that “the nature of man compels interaction and mutual dependence. According to him, man cannot survive in isolation, therefore, the associational tendencies of man manifest locally, nationally and globally. Nigeria’s understanding of her leadership position in Africa compelled Prime Minister Tafawa Balewa to declare while answering questions on Africa’s involvement in the cold war:
“We shall make every effort to bring them together so that having been made aware of the danger we may find a way to unite our effort and prevent Africa from becoming an area of crises and world tension”.
Nigeria in the African continent belongs to the global world of interdependence. Its relations externally can best be illustrated thus: “If you drive a ford Escort, chances are that your transmission was made in Japan, your wiring in Taiwan, your door assembly in Brazil, your steering gears in Britain, and assorted other parts elsewhere?.
A states foreign policy is not operated in a vacuum. How far has Nigeria been able to carry out this rather uneasy responsibility and what have been the obstacles to Nigeria’s proclaimed position as “the giant of Africa?” It is the position of this research paper, therefore, to examine Nigeria’s foreign policy over the years and General Ibrahim Babangida’s era vis-à-vis development in the International system.
According to Mr. Kunle Adeyemi of the Ministry of External affairs, Nigeria as a result of her size, status and economic potential has a number of corresponding responsibilities she cannot shy away from. This responsibility is more significant considering that one of every five African is a Nigerian while one of every six black persons is a Nigerian. This in fact is the basis of Nigeria’s historical responsibility to Africa and the black diaspora.
The foreign policy of Nigeria as a merchant state was to consolidate traditional external market for Nigeria’s cash crops, establishing favourable conditions for attracting foreign participation in the economy and then of course, adopting an international image required to attract and sustain the good will of foreign friends and donors