Since independence, Nigeria has been concerned about the position of Africa in the context of world politics. Africa as the centrepiece of Nigeria’s foreign policy implies that Nigeria’s foreign policy is essentially based and centered on issues and affairs affecting the continent of Africa as a whole. In effect, Nigeria gives priority attention to African affairs, and identifies and defends the legitimate interests of the continent at all times.
Reasons For Adoption of Africa as the Centrepiece of Nigeria’s Foreign Policy
1. Nigeria’s call for decolonization
Since independence, Nigeria has not relented in her call for eradication of all forms of colonialism throughout the continent of Africa. Nigeria’s representatives in international organizations have repeatedly reaffirmed the stand of the country on the need for the freedom of people to choose their leaders, and non-interference in the affairs of other states.
2. Nigeria’s leadership position in Africa
Nigeria wants to unite and bring the countries of Africa to speak with one voice in international organizations such as the Non-aligned Movement, Commonwealth and the United Nations.
3. Resistance to neo-colonialism in Africa
Nigeria is interested in mobilizing African states against the emerging neo-colonial strategies of the western world on the continent.
4. Protection of Nigeria’s Domestic Interest
It is the belief of Nigeria that her domestic interests cannot be protected when the continent of Africa is under one form of domination or the other. It therefore implies that Africa’s collective self-reliance is the basis of achieving Nigeria’s socio-economic and political development.
5. Size and Population
Nigeria is large in population and size, and blessed with abundant human and natural resources that could be utilized to project the collective image and aspirations of the African continent.
6. Defence of leadership position
Nigeria wants to counter the influence of the other powers in respect of domination of Africans, and to project the prestige of Nigeria and other African countries in international organizations.
7. Defence of the black man
Nigeria has the largest concentration of black people in the world and therefore sees herself as the leading black country in the world-ready to defend the cause of black people all over the world.
Implementation of the Concept of Africa as the Centrepiece of Nigeria’s Foreign Policy
The concept of Africa as the centrepiece of Nigeria’s foreign policy is implemented through the following mechanisms:
- Nigeria is the leading member of the AU (formerly OAU)
- Successive governments in Nigeria since independence have all contributed in one way or the other to liberation movements in Africa both financially and other wise.
- Nigeria has participated in various conflict resolutions in order to bring peace to the African continent. The country sent peace keeping troops to resolve the Congo crises and mediated in the conflict that involved Togo and the Republic of Benin in 1975. Nigeria’s leadership role provided ECOWAS the opportunity of forming a sub-regional peace keeping organization called the ECOWAS Monitoring Group (ECOMOG) where Nigeria’s contribution both in troops and in finance was the highest.
Merits/Advantages of Africa as the Centrepiece of Nigeria’s Foreign Policy
- It is a fact that Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa. This gives her an opportunity to influence decisions about Africa.
- In terms of human and material resources, most especially oil, Nigeria stands a better chance in influencing decisions concerning Africa in the international Arena.
- Nigeria has the material resources to play the big brother role for smaller African countries and indirectly influence some of their leanings.
- Nigeria’s attempts to protect the interests of the black race pace the country i an advantageous position to influence decisions concerning the continent and the black race.
Demerits/Disadvantages of Africa as the centrepiece of Nigeria’s Foreign Policy
- Many African countries do not appreciate Nigeria’s generosity and sacrifice on behalf of the African continent.
- Some African countries fear that Nigeria may use her position in terms of size and resources to dominate the continent.
- The policy of the indirect rule and assimilation respectively introduced by Britain and France in Africa, brought about sharp political differences between the two blocs. The French speaking countries view any effort at the continental level by Nigeria with suspicion.
- Nigerians cannot appreciate Nigeria’s generosity to other African countries especially in the face of local deprivations, e.g. supplying electricity to Niger republic when local consumption is inadequate.
- The use of Nigerian troops in foreign conflicts is viewed as a diversionary tactic.
- It is also expensive and Nigeria hasn’t got enough means to effectively play the big brother role.