THE ROLE OF FOREIGN POLICY IN THE MANAGEMENT OF NATIONAL SECURITY UNDER THE OBASANJO ADMINISTRATION IN NIGERIA (1999-2007)
1.1 Background of the Study
A critical examination of the role of foreign policy in the management of national security in Nigeria clearly shows that there is no better time than now, to dwell on this subject. This is because in Nigeria today, there are contentions as to whether the system of national security management is functioning effectively or not. Of course, most of the opinions emanate from lack of understanding and appreciation of the dimension of the threat to national security and its management in a dynamic international environment.
Since security is the first precondition for peace, progress and development of the state and its people, the first and the most fundamental obligation of a state to its citizens is the protection of the lives and property of its citizens at home and abroad. Katsina (2011) rightly observed that “a state that lacks the basic capabilities-political, economic, industrial and technological, to ensure the security of its core values and citizens is vulnerable to threats, which undermine its stability and progress. It should be noted that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), which was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 10th December, 1948, stipulates that every individual has the right to social security which is realized through national effort and international cooperation.
Perhaps nothing demonstrated the challenges of national security in Nigeria between (1999 to 2007) than the problems of ethno-regionalism, religion, transnational criminality and armed insurgency. These challenges are attributed to poverty, illiteracy, injustice, corruption, unemployment and poor leadership, which have stalled development in the country. Thus, in the words of Nigeria’s former Foreign Affairs Minister, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, the country “…has teetered between confidence and conflict and between exuberance and exhaustion”. Hence, the Obasanjo government’s intervention, alternating between the use of negotiation and force in resolving these issues.
According to Aka (2003) President Obasanjo argued during an interview he granted in 2001 that “although Nigerian democracy is essentially our own, development partners such as the United States can contribute positively towards bringing about the democratic dividends that will make Nigeria’s democracy more firm”. Therefore, through foreign policy, decision-makers are able to engage important external inputs in the search for solutions to domestic problems. In other words, for developing countries such as Nigeria, foreign policy is only effective if it can contribute effectively to their development agenda, such as in the areas of security and democratic advancement. Former United States Secretary of States, Madeleine Albright, stated that “America has a profound security and economic interest in helping to build an Africa that is stable, democratic and increasingly prosperous” and Nigeria, as a regional partner is a “bellwether nation” (Aka: 2003).
This backdrop has framed the contemporary national security issues that have informed Nigeria’s conduct in African and global affairs. This study, therefore, beams the searchlight on Nigeria’s foreign policy during the Obasanjo era, with a view to examining the role it played in enhancing national security in the period under review.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
President Obasanjo assumed the Presidency on 29th May, 1999, with an avowed commitment to combating many of the ills that plagued the country at the time. It was, therefore, surprising when, in late 1999, the small Northern State of Zamfara introduced Islamic law or Sharia. It is estimated that in the years following the inauguration of the Obasanjo administration, Nigeria endured more than 50 ethno-religious conflicts, claiming more than 25,000 lives. The more deadly and destructive of these conflicts since 2000 were in Kaduna (ethno-religious in nature), Jos (ethnic and ethno-religious), Tiv-Jukun (ethnic), Lagos (ethnic) and Kano (religious) (Omo-bare: 2013).
It is noteworthy that religion and ethnic crises were not the only forces behind the increasing incidence of civil strife in Nigeria. Economic considerations were also at work. In the volatile Niger Delta region, violence from militants seeking more local control over oil wealth, as well as the Bakassi peninsula boundary dispute between Nigeria and Cameroon equally contributed to the loss of confidence in the ability of the Obasanjo administration to ensure the security and safety of Nigerians.
A reflection of sorts took place when 40 Nigerians and political science experts from the United States, Britain and other countries attended a conference on the state of Nigeria’s democracy at the Kennedy School at Harvard University in the United States in December, 2002. They expressed their profound distress at the parlous state of Nigeria’s democracy. Conference participants identified and suggested possible solutions to Nigeria’s nine critical governance problems: over – centralization of powers on the federal government, lack of transparency, lack of economic diversification, corruption, the Sharia (Imposition of Islamic Law), insecurity, human rights, a national conference to debate constitutional reform and leadership (Omo-bare, 2013). While recognizing the importance of all these problems, their focus was specifically on national security.
In an attempt to bring about peace, security and stability, the Obasanjo administration solicited the cooperation of the U.S government. Between 2000 and 2001, there were frequent movements of U.S military personnel in and out of Nigeria, giving rise to speculations that Nigeria had signed a military pact with the U.S. However, there was no evidence for the allegation; rather, the suspicion seemed to have arisen from Nigeria’s past experience when the Balewa government entered into a military pact with Britain, which was later abrogated as a result of protests from the domestic public (The Peoples Daily, February 11th, 2014). The Obasanjo government denied the allegation, but admitted that Nigeria had cooperative agreement with the United States government to assist in its reprofessionalization of the military with a view to enhancing Nigeria’s national security.
In the light of this, the study focuses on the linkage between foreign policy and the management of national security by the Obasanjo administration, with particular reference to Nigeria’s strategic partnership with the United States.
The following research questions are to guide this study:
- To what extent could foreign policy measures influence Nigeria’s national security?
- What were the national security challenges that characterized the Obasanjo Administration in Nigeria?
- What were the United States assistance to Nigeria during the Obasanjo regime?
1.3 Objectives of the Study
This study is geared towards achieving the following Objectives:
(1) Main Objective
To examine Nigeria’s foreign policy partnership with the United States under President Obasanjo’s Administration from 1999 to 2007, with emphasis on the management of Nigeria’s national security in the Niger Delta region.
(2) Specific objectives
(a) To critically assess Obasanjo’s defence policy partnership with the United States and the implication of this partnership for Nigeria’s national security between 1999 – 2007.
(b) To evaluate those factors which accounted for the state of insecurity in Nigeria.
(c) To highlight those factors which militated against the successful management of national security challenges in the Niger Delta.
(d) To make recommendations based on the findings.
1.4 Research Hypothesis
- Nigeria’s foreign security partnership under Obasanjo’s administration tended to positively affect the management of national security in the country.
- The United States trade relations with Nigeria tend to affect positively the fight against insurgency in the Niger Delta.
- Nigeria’s inability to resolve the Niger Delta crisis was a function of its dependence on military power.
1.5 Significance of the Study
This work has thrown more light on the rationale behind Nigeria’s foreign policy. I have learned that through foreign policy, a country can advance its national security interest, but not without tackling the fundamental problems affecting its people. I’ve learned that in tackling insecurity, Nigeria needs to combine military options with strong socio- economic programmes.
Thus, this study is essentially poised to elucidate the perspectives on the Nigeria’s foreign policy, with regard to national security. Hence, the study will be useful to academics, foreign policy decision-makers, security experts, and of course, the general public in enhancing Nigeria’s national security.
To the scholars, it will add to their knowledge, intellectual curiosity and inquisitiveness
To foreign policy decision makers, the enduring continuities on the basis of lessons learned and conclusions drawn could form the basis of a better formulation of Nigeria’s foreign policy, which will ultimately promote the management of Nigeria’s national security in the contemporary period.
1.6 Scope and Limitations of the Study
The study is aimed at examining the role of foreign policy in the management of national security under the Obasanjo administration in Nigeria (1999-2007), with emphasis on the Niger Delta crisis. This proposition was examined in the context of Nigeria’s foreign policy relationship with the United States of America.
In the course of carrying out this study, the researcher encountered some impediments. These include: the dearth cum paucity of data as it relates to the interface between foreign policy and national security; financial constraints, as well as limited time frame.
1.7 Definition of Key Concepts
The key words are: National Security, Foreign Policy and National Interests.
This is a coordinated strategy in which designated decision makers in a country seek to manipulate the international environment in order to achieve certain national interests or objectives (Handrieder, 1967). Thus, every sovereign nation in the contemporary world has a foreign policy framework over which it conducts her external relations. Regimes and challenges not withstanding, foreign policy is supposed to be a collective national affair. This explains why Hain (2001) sees foreign policy as a system of activities evolved by communities for changing the behaviour of other states and for adjusting their activities to the international environment.
From the above indications, it becomes lucid that foreign policy goes beyond spontaneous reaction to international events or policy statements, but rather, it is a calculated and empirical attempt to achieve a state’s short and long term goals pursued in a vigorous manner.
The concept of national security is geared towards safeguarding the various political, military, economic, social, ideological, territorial, environmental and cultural assets of a nation. In other words, there is a paradigm shift on the meaning of national security away from its traditional conception. Hence, in its civilized or modern sense, national security is not just viewed within the narrow confines of the operations of security and defence outfits to safeguard a country internally and protect it from external aggressions. Rather, national security’s modern application seeks to guarantee food, social, political, economic, environmental, cultural and territorial security of a given country. Therefore, there is a focus on human security, which includes protection from threats such as hunger, disease and repression, and against sudden and violent disturbances in life. Security now pertains to people rather than territories on the one hand, and development rather than military on the other hand.