An Appraisal of The Issues and Challenges Facing Nigeria’s African Diplomacy in The Twenty-First Century
The study interrogated the contents of Nigeria’s African diplomacy from 2000-2015; examined the nature, dynamics and impact of Nigeria’s African diplomacy; identified the issues and challenges debasing Nigeria’s African diplomacy and investigate the mechanisms employed for implementing Nigeria’s African diplomacy in the face of contemporary global challenges. These were with a view to providing information on Nigeria’s diplomatic challenges in global affairs. The study obtained data from primary and secondary sources. Primary data were sourced through the conduct of in-depth interviews and Focus Group Discussions (FGDS). For the in-depth interviews, eight respondents were selected from different target group and ten respondents from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs were selected for the Focus Group Discussions using purposive sampling technique for both to make a total of eighteen. Secondary data were sourced from textbooks, academic journals, newspaper publications and the internet resource materials. Data collected was analyzed using content analysis. The findings identified Afro-centric posture as the contents and defining characters of Nigeria’s foreign policy between 2000 and 2015. It was however discovered that many Nigerians clamour for a paradigm shift in which the global order of economic multilaterialism should be a framework for Nigeria’s foreign policy. The study also revealed that Nigeria’s African-diplomacy was not in itself “system-driven” but “personality-driven.” This was because political leaders, particularly the body language of a president dictated the pace and direction of the foreign policy. Therefore, because it was not system-driven, Nigeria’s foreign policy did not react naturally in line with the principle of reciprocity whenever changes occurred in the international system. The findings also showed that the Afro-centric phraseology of Nigeria’s foreign policy has continued to reproduce itself in many different ways amongst the various administrations within the fifty-five years of the nation’s existence. Successive governments seem to be carried away by the philosophical allure of afro-centrism rather than what would benefit the larger population. Consequently, the considerations for any economic benefits, continental hegemonic pursuit, national interest, military partnerships and strategic engagements for Nigeria were often sacrificed on the altar of good neighborliness. Finally, the findings also revealed that at the specific level of foreign policy formulation and implementation, government adopted a top-bottom approach in which the citizens at micro and macro levels have no input. Closely related to this, the neglect of the multi-disciplinary intelligentsia in foreign policy making in Nigeria has been one of the “Achilles” heels. This to all intents and purpose has been dysfunctional and unproductive. The study concluded that while Nigeria has shown commitment towards playing the ‘big brother role in Africa through Afro-centric foreign policy, deploying huge human and material resources, its benevolence has not been requited in same measure by other African nations.