Foreign Policy Analysis : Compare and Contrast Nigeria’s Relationship with the U.S.A.

A country’s foreign policy is a set of goals outlining how the country will interact with other countries economically, politically, socially and militarily, and to a lesser extent how the country will interact with non-state actors. The aforementioned interaction is evaluated and monitored in attempts to maximize benefits of multi-lateral international cooperation. Foreign policies are desired to help project a country’s national interest, national security ideological goals and economic prosperity. This can occur as a result of peaceful cooperation with other nations or even through exploitation.

Foreign policy analysis is the systematic study of and research into the processes and theories of foreign policy.
This paper seeks to evaluate the relationship (economic and military) that has existed between Nigeria and the United States of America. (U.S.A) in two very different epochs. (1960-1966), post independence, and between 1999- 2003, the immediate democratic era after a lengthy post-military interregnum. The paper shall consist of an introduction and segments on conceptual clarifications, theoretical framework, X-ray of topic under study, and the conclusion drawn from the study shall also be presented.

International Relations: Rossenau, (1961). Views international relations as the study of the transactions, contacts, flows of information between and among separately organized nation state. Holsti, (1972). Defines international relations to encompass all forms of interaction between the members of distinct societies. Adeniran, (1983). submits that international relations is an area of study which focuses on the political, economic and other interactions among international actors and the inter-state systems. Economic relations: is a relationship between two or more states that revolves around the promotion, exchange of finance, industry and general trading activities.

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Military relations: A military is an organization authorized by its nation to use force, usually including use of weapons, in defending its country by combating actual or perceived threats. The military is made up of a force or forces with a capability to execute national defense policy. Military relations deal with the interaction between and among nation states to enhance capability development especially as it affects the strategic, operational, logistic and tactical requirements their military forces. Military relations are characterized by the exchange of combat arms and support services. THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK

The theoretical framework within which this study shall be conducted, is the decision making approach. The theory focuses attention on the processes of public decision making. A political action has the character of a decision taken by some actors in a specific situation through a particular process. Political actions can be understood by referring to the person who took the decision and the inter-active processes by which the decision was reached. While following the decision making approach, the political scientist has to encounter a complex set of social psychological and institutional processes. Hence, this approach has to draw on several concepts developed in sociology, social psychology and psychology. Mahajan, (2000:39).

The decision making approach has two fundamental purposes one is the identification of “crucial structures” in the political realm where changes take place, where decisions are made, where actions are initiated and carried out. While, the other is a systematic analysis of the decision making behaviour which leads to action. In other words, the decision approach focuses inquiry on actors called decision makers and on the state defined as the decision unit. Hence, the actions of the state are seen through the actions of the decision makers. The crux here is that if a sufficient knowledge of the behaviour and activities of the known actors is established, it can lay the foundation for the explanation of a decision. Okere, (2000:115) NIGERIA’S FOREIGN POLICY OBJECTIVES

Foreign policy objectives are built upon some general principles or national interests which is embodied in the nation’s constitution. Foreign policy objectives of any nation can be classified into a trinity of military strategic, political/diplomatic and economic/cultural imperatives. In the first republic, (1960-1966) which constitutes a part of this study’s focal point the principal objectives that guided Nigeria’s foreign policy, were enunciated by sir, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa the first prime minister of Nigeria, to include among others; -Respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of other states. -Non-interference in the internal affairs of other states.

-The promotion of functional cooperation among African states. Chapter II, sub section 19 of the 1999 constitution outlines the foreign policy objectives of Nigeria between 1999-2003. Which constitutes the second leg of the study’s time frame. What is however certain is that under the two different epochs that Nigeria’s foreign policy is to be subjected to scrutiny by this study, the principal objective of the foreign policy has been to promote and protect the country’s national interest in its interactions and relationships with specific countries in the international system. (Abdullahi: 2004). NIGERIA-AMERICA RELATIONS: Motives for Collaboration

President Kennedy once noted that:
“Every nation determines its policies in term of its own interest”

The traditional American foreign policy encompasses both moral idealism and raw self-interests. The United States’ primary interest in relation to Nigeria is oil. As a voracious consumer of the country’s “sweet” (i.e., low-sulfur) petroleum, America recognizes Nigeria’s worth as the largest oil producer in Africa and the fifth largest in the OPEC. Nigeria has been one of the largest exporters of crude oil to the United States. American companies such as shell, Exxon Mobil, and Chevron have substantial investments in the lucrative Nigerian oil industry, which, along with other Western oil companies, they dominate. Nigeria led a peacekeeping mission as part of the Economic Community of West Africa States Monitoring Group (ECOMOG) that helped to stabilize long-time U.S. allies Liberia and Sierra Leone. A third U.S. interest is the maintenance of America cultural-historical linkages to the country of Nigeria. A great number of Americans trace their roots to Africa. Many of those Americans, including entertainer-scholar Paul b. Robeson (1898-1976), trace those origins to Nigeria. Last, but certainly not least, America needs Nigeria’s help in its campaign against international drug trafficking.

The economic hardships in Nigeria, resulted in the emergence of a significant drug-dependent culture and in the conversion of Nigerian borders into a major route for the trafficking of cocaine and heroin into the United States. The United States also looks to Nigeria to help reduce the number of Americans victimized by the offer of Nigerian business opportunities that are “too good to be true.” according to one estimate, “Americans lose $2 billion annually to white [collar] crime syndicates based in Nigeria.” Nigeria sees in the United States a steady buyer of its oil. Although Nigeria’s share of the U.S. market has fluctuated over the years, the United States remains a primary purchaser of Nigerian crude oil. Second, Nigeria values political ties with America. The United States is one of the most powerful countries in the world, and the two countries share similar demographic features such as ethnic, economic, and religious complexities. Nigeria relies on these political connections as it experiments with a presidential style of government. Third, like many developing countries, Nigeria seeks to tap into America “technological capabilities” for its manpower development needs.

Tens of thousands of Nigerians have flocked to the United States in search of higher education. Nigeria will maximize the benefit of its relationship with the United States by identifying and exploiting the points at which the two nations’ interests overlap. Nigeria and U.S. interests converge with respect to the purchase and sale of crude oil and the necessity of maintaining cordial political relations. (Aka, 2005) It should be noted that in the period under review, (1960-1966), it was the prime minister that maintained a near monopoly of control over the country’s foreign policy (Aluko, 1977). For Nigeria on the other hand, there was a compelling need to industrialize the economy and modernize agriculture immediately after independence. To achieve this objectives, the country would require foreign aid and the diversification of the country’s overseas market – America was one of the countries she looked up to for the injection of the required capital to fund her development plans. NIGERIA UNITED STATES’ RELATIONS (1960-1966)

For centuries, United States foreign policy has been outwardly characterized by its diplomatic and economic encouragement of fledging democracies around the world. In particular, the nations of Africa and particularly Nigeria are seen to benefit from America’s idealistic foreign Agenda. (Aka, 2005). It should however be noted that few foreign political actions are based entirely in good will; they are more often rooted in prudence and rationality. Although promoting democracy may, as was earlier stated, be a sufficient national interest in and of itself, such idealistic abstraction is usually augmented by more concrete or material considerations. This is certainly true for the United States’ interest in relations with Nigeria. (Aka, 2005). There are a plethora of cultural, historical and political reasons why Nigeria has been important to the U.S. These range form population, oil, resource and strategic military importance. Nigeria’s colonial history left behind external economic relations policy that was closely linked with the west. This continued to have profound impact on the country’s external behaviour even after independence on 1st October, 1960 (Aluko, 1977). Therefore, The Nigerian foreign policy between 1960 – 1966 was politically and economically aligned (in spite of the non-alignment principle) to the west especially Britain and America. In main, due to
colonial hangover (Abullahi, 2004).

In recognition of the newly independent Nigeria’s potentials for a mutually beneficial relationship, the United States of America was represented at the independence celebrations by the Governor of New-York State, Mr. Nelson Rockefeller. Immediately after, on October 7, 1960, Prime Minister Balewa traveled to New-York to register Nigeria as the 99th member of the United Nations thereby becoming a recognized member of the international community. While in the U.S, the prime minister met and invited President Eisenhower to visit Nigeria at the earliest opportunity. Thus, it is clear that from the first week of independence, Nigeria had established a cordial relationship with the United States of America. (Clark, 1991). It was in the spirit of this warm relationship between these two giant states that President Kennedy extended an invitation to Nigeria’s prime minister to visit the U.S. on 21st July 1961. While in America, the Nigerian Head of Government was accorded the rare honour of addressing a joint session of the United States congress. Wherein he stated, “Our affinity with the U.S is two fold – a history of common struggles to achieve freedom from anything that is oppressive to the human spirit. Also, a blood affinity- between our two countries, there resides the largest concentration of peoples with African blood”. (Clark, 1991)

The Americans stated that Nigeria was a very important friend of the United States. Balewa held a meeting with President Kennedy at the oval office together with secretary of state Dean Rusk to discuss military relations between the two states as well as the situation in Angola and Congo. Situations where the two nations had conflicting interests. On the economic front, Nigeria appealed to the U.S for assistance in building the Niger dam for power generation purposes, comparing the project to the Tennesse Dam Authority. At the end of the visit, a joint statement was issued by the two nations emphasizing the U.S economic aid to Nigeria in the areas of agricultural production and public health care services. American investments into the Nigerian economy grew and amounted to over $800 million and over a third of American total investments in Africa. (Clark Ibid, Aluko: 1977)

In concluding this part of the work, it is evident that America had a profound security, political, and economic interest in Africa and Nigeria as a regional power was seen as bellwether nation in the period under study. This explains the warm economic and military relations between the two nations. NIGERIA – AMERICA: 1999 – 2003

(The years of Restoration)
The election of Olusegun Obasanjo, a retired general and former military head of state from 1976 to 1979 marked a historic point in the history of the Nigeria-U.S relations. Obasanjo’s ascendancy to the Nigerian Presidency was warmly received by the United States especially because the preceding regime of Gen. Sani Abacha had a very strained relationship with the United States over a wide range of issues that included Human rights violations and Democratization.

The optimism and excitement of the Americans derived from a past experience of friendly relations with General Obasanjo as Head of state. In fact, the first American President to visit Nigeria was Jimmy carter when Obasanjo was military Head of state. (Abdullahi, 2004). At the political level, shortly after assumption of office in May 1999, president Obasanjo had paid a visit to then President Bill Clinton to hold bilateral talks and also with incumbent President Bush. American-Nigeria relations grew in bounds within this period. The removal of visa restrictions, increased high-level visits of US officials, discussions of future assistance and the granting of a national interest certification on counter-narcotics effective in March 1999, strengthened the ties of friendship between the two nations and Nigeria emerged as a key partner of the U.S on the continent. (

Two American Presidents, Bill Clinton and George Bush visited Nigeria in August 2000 and July 2003 respectively. ECONOMIC RELATIONS
Economic assistance from the U.S to Nigeria increased within the period under study. Rising to $78.5 million in 2000 from 23.6 Million in 1999. In 2003, US economic assistance to Nigeria is estimated at $ 65.2 million. The American challenge in its policy towards Nigeria was to formulate a substantive partnership against the background that Nigeria provides 8 percent of America’s oil needs. ( The United States worked closely with the central bank of Nigeria and other relevant institutions to improve the environment for investment in agriculture through policy reforms at the national and state levels. Other trade initiatives by the U.S government included capacity building in customs operations, policy reforms to encourage trade exchanges, African growth and opportunity act (AGOA) incentives for bilateral trade. Nigeria also benefited from the initiative to end hunger in Africa plan, among several other programmes. ( What all of this demonstrates is the fact that between 1999-2003 the economic relations between Nigeria was not only very cordial and engaging, but it was characterized by the inflow of several technical aid packages intent to help boost the fortunes of the Nigerian economy. MILITARY RELATIONS

In the area of defense relations between Nigeria and the U.S, the United States has supported the peacekeeping and simulation centres at the war college in Abuja-the only one of its kind in Africa. Other areas of U.S Nigeria defense relations in the period under review included personnel training, developmental and technical aid, arms sales to Nigeria, law enforcement co-operation in border control and against arms smuggling and oil theft. Military cooperation between Nigeria and U.S has been clearly manifested in the effort at resolving the Liberian crises. Wherein the U.S provided logistical equipment to the Nigerian military.

The training of Nigeria military personnel in American institutions intensified. The United States also offered to provide specialized training and some facilities to the Nigeria police within this period. However, the military relationship between Nigeria and America was not without challenges or even tensions, for example, Nigerians, civilians and military alike were not keen on U.S military presence in their country. Many still attribute General Obasanjo’s replacement of Victor Malu as army chief to Malu’s open opposition to the increased military co-operation with the United States. It is the thought out opinion of this paper, that Nigeria-U.S relations within this period, especially as it concerns the economic and military ties, was in a state of growth and expansion (Aka; 2005). A COMPARATIVE ANALYSIS OF THE TWO EPOCHS

American – Nigerian relations in the first republic (1960-1966) was
predicated upon a mutual need for each other by the two nations. It was a relationship of mutual respect and friendliness. But most importantly, it was a dignified relationship for Nigeria which though a very young independent state, had effectively mobilized her resources to earn a respectful height within the community of nations in such a short time. (Clark 1991). Nigeria had cause to request for the in flow of American capital into her economy but even this did not diminish her sense of pride and independence. Whenever the need arose, Nigeria did not shy away from taking a different position to that of America. e.g. on the division of the world into blocs, Angola etc. The Head of Nigerian government in this period, Sir, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa was awarded a honorary doctorate of laws by the university of New York. He was also made an honorary citizen of three cities: Chicago, New York and New Orleans (Clark: 1991). Between 1999 and 2003, was a period of reengagement for the two nations after a near total breakdown in relations. But this, time the power dynamics were radically different from what obtained between 1960 and 1966.

In 1999, the United States’ of America was not just an alternative power bloc in the world that had another power bloc to contend with. She was now a sole, undisputed world power with an unrivalled economic and military might. (Abdullahi, 2004), whereas Nigeria, in spite of the potentials she is endowed with and the promise she had held in 1960, was a nation almost on her knees, a nation that had retarded in just about every aspect of its life and was attempting to rediscover itself. Prior to 1999, the U.S had stood with the Nigerian people in their struggle against dictatorship. In this era, it was not a relationship of two equals or near equals, No! It was an interaction between a world power and an oil producing strong state, that had fallen into a deep socio-economic comma. It was a “hand out” relationship. Nigeria looked up to the United States for every form of assistance. The U.S provided much for Nigeria supposedly, in the spirit of encouraging democratic governance. Especially, in form of economic and military aid packages. However, American oil corporations had unfettered access to Nigeria’s oil in return. But despite the exchange of visits between the presidents of the two countries, and the increased co-operation between the two countries, America refused to grant Nigeria’s request for a debt cancellation. It maintained that Nigeria had the resources to pay off her debts. The best Nigeria was offered is a debt rescheduling. CONCLUSION

In conclusion, this work was introduced within the frame work of foreign policy analysis, a conceptual clarification of relevant theoretical framework within which the study is located has been stated, Nigeria’s foreign policy objectives has been examined, motives for the collaboration between Nigeria and the U.S was X-rayed. The work also attempted an incisive analysis of the economic and military relationship between the countries in the two different epochs as it was required to do. This work shall now proceed to state some recommendations that should form the basis of a policy of relationship between Nigeria and the United States of America. First, greater consistency in the U.S-Nigeria military-security relationship. Washington should recognize that its national interest is best served if Nigeria is able to be a force for democracy and stability in the region. Military and security collaboration between the two countries and in Africa generally, can only increase, given the threat of terrorism world wide. Second, increasing America’s diplomatic reach within Nigeria by establishing arenas for U.S. Exchanges with critical areas, such as its oil-producing areas in the Niger Delta and in Northern Nigeria where the U.S closed consular offices. Such diplomatic reach could help the U.S to make a contribution to conflict management in Nigeria.

Third, developing a strategy for an economic action agenda in Nigeria, which must involve business and government actors in the U.S and Nigeria, as well as inviting input from the non-governmental sector. Such a strategy should focus on three priorities: first, an acknowledgement of the business community’s responsibility to be a constructive player in Nigeria’s economic and democratic transition; second, a focus on restructuring the extractive industry to curb corruption; and third, a focus on restoring agricultural industries to help alleviate rural poverty, curb rural-urban pressures and strengthen trade and export. Fourth, eliminating debt overhang and investing in education, health and human development; and fifth, strengthening democratic institutions and governance structures which involves supporting democratic dialogue across the political spectrum, as well as assisting in training for elections and parliamentary and political party development. Lastly, America’s support for Nigeria should now be stronger than ever, with the re-institution of democratic government. The touchstone should be “genuinely reciprocal and mutually beneficial” relationships unaffected by the vagaries of power and party affiliation in Washington; a policy that constantly engages the people and the leaders of Nigeria, that is not an appendage of any general policy that constantly engages the people and the leaders of Nigeria, that is not an appendage of any general policy, and that recognizes the fact that only a fundamental restructuring of the political and economic systems can bring about true democracy in Nigeria. (Aka, 2005; Clark, 1991; Abdullahi, 2004)

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