Nigeria’s non alignment policy and Aan Africanism to a great extent affected the way Nigeria responded to the cold war in the 20th century. Many feared the which was more economic and diplomatic than physical brought about a lot of set back and devastation for those who were part of it. This study seeks to examine the role Nigeria played during the cold war and effects it had on her economy. Basically however, the war would later not have any direct effect on a tactical Nigeri



Nigeria as a regional power has always focused on African unity and liberation. The nation’s foreign policy since independence has been structured around its hegemonic influence within Africa, and to strengthen the foreign policy objectives, Nigeria participates in African Union, Ecowas, Commonwealth, United Nations and Non-Aligned Movement.

The era of cold war in the world was a period the loyalty and relationships of many countries were put to test. While Russia, U.S.A, North korea and the others slugged out in a war that had more economic downturn or the other, 3rd world nations were the fiddle upon which the game and war of assertion of power was tested.

At the heart of researchers and policy makers on Nigeria’s foreign policy in the post-Cold War era was the question of whether a relatively resourceful and ambitious country like Nigeria can be a force for stability and democratization in Africa. This is an important question, given the enormity of Africa’s problems and the limited interest and commitment of many external actors to the continent following the end of the Cold War.

The end of the Cold War had resulted in a fundamental change in the dynamics of contemporary international politics. Developing countries, like Nigeria, with oil wealth, a large army and a large pool of well-educated citizens were now able to play a leadership role in Africa, due to the reduced strategic significance of the continent for major external powers. However, while policymakers and executors of Nigeria’s foreign policy appeared to be committed to responding to demands, pressures and influences from the external environment to contribute to regional peacekeeping, they also needed to respond appropriately to domestic pressures and influences, especially those derived from popular public opinion. These needs were what pre occupied the policy makers and guided the kind of foreign policies they made for Nigeria after the cold war.

  • Background of the Study

A country’s foreign policy consists of self-interest strategies chosen by the state to safeguard its national interests and to achieve its goals within the international relations milieu. It is the aggregate of a country’s national interest which results from the interaction of internal and external forces as perceived by the foreign policy decision makers (Yusuf, 2003). The approaches used are strategically employed to interact with other countries. In recent times however, due to the deepening level of globalization and transnational activities, relations and interactions have been known to exist between state and non- state actors in the international political arena. These relations in their own way have influenced several foreign policies between nation states.

All through the period of 1914 to the later part of 1960, the interest of the British were the soul interests of the entity called Nigeria. A writer puts it this way, “the interest of Her Majesty’s government in England was the interest of the then dependent state of Nigeria” (Ogo & Emakpo, 2005). The post-independent period saw the formation of a truly indigenous Nigerian foreign policy that could truly be called “a Nigerian’s foreign policy”. With the coming of successive governments in the following years after independence – the military and other subsequent civilian administrations – the foreign policy of Nigeria had, via various epistemological and ideological constructions, evolved to what we now have today. These policies have remained with some amendments to capture local, global, political and economic changes. (Olusanya, Oga, AlliBalogun, (1986). According to Aluko (1981), in 1960, these principles were the usual respect of sovereign equality of other countries, non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries as well as commitment to cooperation as a means of promoting African unity.

Nigeria has seen itself and been perceived by others, as a global player on the world stage, from its role in the African liberation struggle and its leadership of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) during the Cold War era to more recent peacekeeping operations in Liberia and Sierra Leone. Nigeria’s approach to both Africa and its immediate neighbors is based on a policy of decolonization, non-interference, and respect for inherited borders, economic integration and commitment to practical policies that promote African unity (Christopher, 2003).

Externally, since its independence in 1960, Nigeria has sought to play a full and active role in the international community. Its leaders have attached even greater importance to this role because Nigeria has felt a special responsibility, as Africa’s most populous nation, to act as an unofficial spoke s person for Africa and for all black people in international fora. Some have defined this as a Pax Nigerian, an effort to achieve hegemonic leadership in Africa by a country that accounts for over half of West Africa’s population and economic strength and has a 94,000- strong army that dwarfs the combined strength of those of its fourteen ECOWAS neighbors (Chibundu, 2003).

The cold war by the way is a state of geopolitical tension after World War II between powers in the Eastern Bloc (the Soviet Union and its satellite states) and powers in the Western Bloc (the United States, its NATO allies and others). Historians do not fully agree on the dates, but a common timeframe is the period between 1947, the year the Truman Doctrine (a U.S. foreign policy pledging to aid nations threatened by Soviet expansionism) was announced, and 1991, the year the Soviet Union collapsed (Boyd, 2006).

Ogo (2005), the term “cold” is used because there was no large-scale fighting directly between the two sides involved in the conflict, although there were major regional wars, known as proxy wars, and supported by the two sides. The Cold War split the temporary wartime alliance against Nazi Germany, leaving the Soviet Union and the United States as two superpowers with profound economic and political differences. The USSR was a Marxist–Leniniststate led by its Communist Party of the Soviet Union, who in turn were led by a leader, with different titles over time, and a small committee called the Politburo. The Party controlled the press, the military, the economy and many organizations. It also controlled the other states in the Eastern Bloc, and funded Communist parties around the world, sometimes in competition with Communist China, particularly following the Sino-Soviet split of the 1960s. In opposition stood the West, staunchly democratic and capitalist with a free press and independent organizations. A small neutral bloc arose with the Non-Aligned Movement; it sought good relations with both sides. The two superpowers never engaged directly in full-scale armed combat, but they were heavily armed in preparation for a possible all-out nuclear world war. Each side had a nuclear strategy that discouraged an attack by the other side, on the basis that such an attack would lead to the total destruction of the attacker: the doctrine of mutually assured destruction (MAD). Aside from the development of the two sides’ nuclear arsenals, and their deployment of conventional military forces, the struggle for dominance was expressed via proxy wars around the globe, psychological warfare, massive propaganda campaigns and espionage, rivalry at sports events, and technological competitions such as the Space Race.

The cold war was more economical and political than physical with the capitalist America seeking to dominate the world with the capitalist and democratic systems of government and the USSR hustling to dominate the world with their communist ideology. Third world countries like noted earlier soon became a testing ground and the war front with both sides sponsoring government over throws and seeking to assert influence where ever they could, Nigeria was the centre piece of the African war, especially West Africa.

In identification of the role Nigeria played during this cold war revolving around politics and the world economy, it is therefore no doubt that in one way or the other, the Nigeria economy and politics must have being affected by the cold war in Nigeria.

  • Statement of Problem

The cold war which may be termed as an economic ideology driven war between the Soviet Union or USSR and the United States had been fought on the premise of fear of dominance whether economic, military or political by both aggrieved parties. A war based on allies an-d control of lesser States. It was a period of much influence and fear of nuclear bomb explosions with a lot of tension in the world. The Cold War which dominated the second half of the 20th century would later result in the collapse of communism. Though cold war which later saw to the collapse of the Soviet Union had many dare effects on allied countries. Africa especially Nigeria was in a very huge dilemma but with a major non-allied policy and policies that were mostly pro America, they did not suffer much from the cold war especially like countries that aligned with Soviet Union and had to suffer at their collapse but rather rose to become the giant of Africa and major player in international affairs in the African continent.

Notwithstanding, with Nigeria was at this same time faced with a lot of internal leadership crises which also threatened her non alignment policy during the war and other major international policies as every emerging leader came in with his own unique policy framework. The consequences of this policy framework was constantly unleashed on the Nigeria people directly and indirectly with due course. Also, Nigeria’s new role in Africa came along with a lot of other implications for her people, military and economy.

This study therefore intends to answer such questions as; what brought about the cold war? What was Nigeria’s role in the cold war in terms of foreign policies? What effect did the cold war have on Nigeria’s political and economic development at the time? What Nigeria’s foreign policies looked thereafter, challenges that came with it, how it positioned Nigeria International and what this means for Nigeria?

  • Objectives of the Study

The general objective of this study is to examine Nigeria’s foreign policy after the cold war, its challenges and prospects.

The specific objectives are;

  1. To identify the challenges of Nigeria’s foreign policy after the cold war.
  2. To identify the prospects of Nigeria’s foreign policy after the cold war.

1.4     Literature Review

Foreign policy is one of the wheels with which the process of international politics operates. Foreign policy is not separate from the national policy; instead it is a part of it. It consists of national interests that are to be furthered in relation to other states. Almost all the states determine the course of their foreign policies within the limits of their strengths and the realities of the external environment. The nonpolitical relations also fall in the scope of foreign policy (Olukotun, 1962). Ikedinachi, Muyiwa and Chidozie (2015) argued that a country’s foreign policy consists of self-interest strategies chosen by the state to safeguard its national interests and to achieve its goals within the international relations milieu. It is the aggregate of a country’s national interest which results from the interaction of internal and external forces as perceived by the foreign policy decision makers. The approaches used are strategically employed to interact with other countries. In recent times however, due to the deepening level of globalization and transnational activities, relations and interactions have been known to exist between state and non- state actors in the international political arena. These relations in their own way have influenced several foreign policies between nation states. Ashiru (2012) defined foreign policy as the decisions and actions taken by a state to pursue her interests within the global system. The ability of a nation to influence the decisions and actions of other nations within the comity of nations is of great importance. He further identified Nigeria’s foreign policy as the totality of Nigeria’s interaction within the international system. In defining and planning their foreign policies, government most essentially consider the enhancement of national interests at international level. National or domestic interest is a major factor in foreign policy implementation.

Abait (1972) identified the determinants of foreign policies; he said that foreign policy is that part of national policy which the states adopt in relation to other sovereign states. All these states are the components of the international system. They are sovereign, independent and to a large extent cling to the idea of Nationalism. Thus, the sovereignty of the states,  their inter-dependence, and  their domestic and international circumstances are the three elements which generate and determines the foreign policy and its direction. The first element is the sovereignty of the state which determines the principle of safeguarding the territorial integrity of the states. The element of interdependence necessitates the principle of bargaining in foreign policy as the states endeavor to achieve the maximum possible advantage under all circumstances. The third element, the domestic and international circumstances adds the factor of realism. The foreign policy of all states is based on these three principles. The idea of Africa as the center piece of Nigeria’s foreign policy is premised on the understanding that Nigeria’s engagement in the international system will be looked at through the binoculars of Africa. As Hon. Jaja Nwachukwu averred on the imperative an Afrocentric policy, argued that since ‘charity begins at home, any Nigerian foreign policy which does not take into consideration, the peculiar position of Africa and Africans is unrealistic’. This enunciation is the philosophical origins of Afrocentrism in Nigeria’s foreign policy. Studies however revealed that it is the Adedeji Report that coined the concept: ‘Africa as center-piece’ Adedeji, (1976). Previously in an official statement just before independence, on August 20, 1960, Prime Minister Tafawa Balewa at the Federal House of Assembly stated that Nigeria was “adopting clear and practical policies with regard to Africa; it will be our aim to assist any country to find solution to its problem”. Similarly, one significant event that took place under late General Ironsi’s regime was the June 1966 Ambassadors’ Conference held in Lagos to re-examine the premises and directions of Nigeria’s foreign policy. Among many other things, the conference re-dedicated Nigeria to the total emancipation of all African territories still under colonial tutelage and racial discrimination. This position was further reinforced when General Ironsi stated that “in the whole sphere of external relations, the Government attaches greatest importance to our African policy” (Adedeji, 1976). Under the framework of an Africa-centered foreign policy, studies such as Alli-Balogun (1986) & Okoye (1997) further demonstrated how Nigeria got involved deeply in the decolonization struggles in Angola, Mozambique, Namibia, and anti-apartheid struggles in South Africa and in the process, earned for itself, the appellation a ‘frontline nation’, even though she is geographically far removed from the theater of the struggles which is in the Southern African region. To this end, Nigeria is central to the formation of ECOWAS and ECOMOG bodies (Okoye, 1997), through which Nigerians spearheaded the containment and the restoration of peace and order in war turn countries such as Liberia, Sierra Leone, etc. In terms of proactive engagement with major sociopolitical and economic issues of continental importance (Onyeisi, 2011) through institutions such as the African Development Bank (ADB) ECOWAS and NEPAD in the last fifty two /three years, Nigeria towers far above any other African country. Since this phraseology appeared on Nigeria’s foreign policy scene, it has continued to reproduce itself, in many different ways in various administrations. The foreign policy elite and political leadership of successive governments seems to be carried away by its philosophical allure rather than its rational ideation. In this sense, therefore, the considerations of the economic benefits, continental political leadership, national interests, and military partnerships and strategic engagements are sacrificed on the altar of good neighborliness and psychological gratification (Pin, 2011). This policy so far tends to accounts for the huge financial expenditures and massive loss of human and material resources in the Liberian and Sierra Leone wars. Nigeria has not been able to reap any economic benefits from these countries. To date, one cannot identify a single Nigerian company involved in the post-conflict reconstruction activities going on in these two countries.

During the Cold War, United States foreign policy toward Sub-Saharan Africa had little to do with Africa. Micheal, (1998), as with other developing regions, African countries were first and foremost pawns in the great global chess game. Republican and Democratic Administrations alike supported American clients and sought to undermine Soviet ones. Economic and military assistance was directed to key allies, such as Mobutu Sese Seko of Zaire and Haile Selassie of Ethiopia, and anticommunist rebel organizations, such as Jonas Savimbi’s UNITA (União Nacional para a Independência Total de Angola) in Angola. Peter, (1994) because the U.S. perceived few if any direct strategic or economic interests in Africa, engagement with the region was largely defined by Cold War logic from the late 1950s until the late 1980s, and remained relatively limited. As it became clear that the Cold War was winding down, Africa watchers began to ponder the future of U.S. relations with the continent. Idealists hoped that the United States would now be free to pursue policies that would address Africa’s own problems, most of which were traced to the failure of economic development, authoritarian governance, and/or ongoing conflicts, while realists feared that Africa would become even more marginalized. Micheal, (1998) in fact, U.S. Africa policy writ large passed rapidly through two quite different transitional phases, before settling in somewhere between them. Olusanya, (2003) noted that the Cold War dominated the second half of the 20th century, resulting in the collapse of communism. The Cold War was a period of tension and hostility between the United States of America and the Soviet Union from the mid-40s to the late 80s. It began with the end of the Second World War. Free society would have termed it as World War III, but instead, used a whimsical name pertaining to no direct military confrontation between the two nations, fearing nuclear escalation assured mutual destruction. Nevertheless, both the nations indulged in indirect conflicts and proxy wars by supporting allied nations in places like Korea and Vietnam. Cuban missile crisis in 1962 was the closest the world ever came to a nuclear war; when an American U2 spy plane took photographs of Soviet intermediate ballistic missiles capable of carrying nuclear payloads, sending a total of 42 medium range missiles and 24 intermediate range missiles to Cuba. The US, then threatened to invade Cuba over the issue forcing the Soviets to remove the missiles on America’s assurance of not invading Cuba. In the later part of his work, Nicholas, (2003) identified the causes of the cold war to include; the fact that the Soviet Union wanted to spread its ideology of communism worldwide, which alarmed the Americans who followed democracy, the acquisition of atomic weapons by America caused fear in the Soviets, both countries feared an attack from each other adhering to mutual mass destruction, the Soviet Union’s action of taking control over Eastern Europe was a major factor for US suspicions, the US President had a personal dislike of the Soviet leader Joseph Stalin, America was annoyed by the Soviet Union’s actions in the part of Germany it had occupied, the Soviets feared that America would use Western Europe as a base to attack it. He further researched into effects the war had at the end from where he concluded that both the USA and the Soviet Union built up huge arsenals of atomic weapons and ballistic missiles, the military blocs, NATO and the Warsaw Pact were formed, led to destructive conflicts like the Vietnam War and the Korean War, the Berlin Wall was demolished and the two German nations were unified, the Warsaw Pact disintegrated, the Baltic States and some former Soviet Republics achieved independence, America became the sole superpower of the world and Communism collapsed worldwide.
Sylvanus (2017) by breaking up Africa into economic and commercial compartments the colonial powers did their greatest harm. The effect of their policy has been the economic isolation of peoples who live side by side, in some flagrant instances within a few miles of each other, while directing the flow of resources to the metropolitan countries. For example, although I can call Paris from my office telephone here in Lomé, I cannot place a call to Lagos in West Africa only 250 miles away. Again, while it takes a short time to send an airmail letter to Paris, it takes several days for the same letter to reach Accra, a mere 120 miles away. Other problems are more serious. Trade is the most effective method of creating good will among nations, but in Africa trade barriers are legion. Railroads rarely connect at international boundaries, and where they do, differences in gauges necessitate transloading. Highways have been constructed from the coast inland, but very few connect at economic centers of trade. The productive central regions of Togo, Dahomey and Ghana are as remote from each other as if they were on separate continents. These are the problems which we must tackle first. Then we will be on the way to true African Unity.

Ukaeje, (2014) while commenting on Nigerian foreign policy noted that “Our false generosity abroad and penury at home are proof that we are pretending to be what we are not, in reality, we have been overstretching ourselves”. Akinboye, (2013) in his Beautiful Abroad but Ugly at Home also emphasized and corroborated Ukaeje’s fears. One seem to agree with the above assertions taking into consideration the enormous funds the nation expend in trying to solve various problems in Africa while internally, almost all the sectors in the country are yearning for massive injection of funds. The standard of living on the other hand has been grossly low. Although Nigeria is rich in strategic mineral resources, through which the nation earned excessive wealth with which it fund several activities towards solving other African problems, the scale of such expenditure greatly hurts our domestic aspirations. It is obvious that the various leaders in the different administrations and regimes have not been able to set their priorities right. (Okpokpo, 1999); Abati (1999) and others like Akinboye (2013: 39-42) gives an interesting and complete overview of the influence of a weak and corrupt institution of leadership and the part it plays in influencing Nigeria’s foreign policy image abroad and in the process of formulating and implementing the same in Nigeria. They rightly noted that Nigerian leaders have been extraordinarily naive by restricting its foreign policy to Africa as its cornerstone (Guardian Newspaper, 1999). It was a laudable goal before the 1990s, but its evolution is needed for Nigeria to meet the needs of today’s diplomacy as we move into the next millennium. ‘Africa as the centrepiece of Nigeria’s foreign policy’ no longer suffices; a broader perspective is necessary. Nigerian leader’s needs to endeavour to take current trends in internationals relations, diplomacy, globalization, human rights, and democracy into consideration in determining what her foreign policies should be. The issue of June 12 had not been resolved when General Sani Abacha pushed the transition president Chief Ernest Shonekan out and took his seat without any agenda on how to improve relations between Nigeria and the international community, outside its traditional African brother countries. That coup d’état worsened the international image of Nigeria. No creditworthy transition programme was published; instead General Abacha embarked upon a self-aggrandising effort that led Nigeria to the brink of war because of the most flagrant human rights abuses any military regime had ever committed in the country since independence. It is important to add that under General Abacha, foreign policy was crudely mishandled. Records: (Ogunseye, 1996) show that Nigeria was like a country without a foreign minister and a foreign policy during those periods. The regime, from the other actions that followed, intentionally or unintentionally declared an aimless intentional tug-of-war against the international community when the regime carried forward, the death sentencing by hanging, the “Ogoni nine”, including Ken Saro Wiwa (Okpokpo, 1999:3).

1.5     Significance of the Study

For every student, government, historian, diplomat, politician, investor and researcher, a good knowledge on topical issue like the cold war and foreign policies made around it is an issue worthy of much interest. The interests and use of this study by individuals could be theoretical, that is for reference and further studies while for others, it would be practical implying that knowledge gathered from it may be put to practical use.

For an academic, a student, a librarian, an archive collector or a researcher, this material will greatly be significant in facts finding and further research.

For a responsible government however, this material could be consulted when there is need to make a basic decision on Nigeria’s foreign policy. It would identify areas where the policies failed Nigeria and where it benefitted her and what brought about such post cold war policies. It would arm a politician who intends to impress her people with his knowledge and mastery of international politics and foreign affairs with enough facts to go into an argument relating to international politics. Also, diplomats will no doubt be armed with knowledge on international responses to Nigeria’s post cold war policies and how to tactical sustain or withdraw from draining policies. Historians are not left out as they will have great bits of stories to build their stories when they want to tell it to history enthusiasts.

1.6     Theoretical Framework

The researcher will attempt to support his research with the neoliberalism theory.

Neoliberal institutionalism Similar to realism, neoliberalism sees states as rational actors. A crucial difference between the two theories is that where realism sees states as unitary actors, maximizing their interests in terms of power, with a strong focus on the military, neoliberalism argues that there is a large variety of factors influencing what constitutes the national interest. State behavior is shaped by a process of internal bargaining among and within bureaucracies, NGO’s, IGO’s, non-state actors, interest groups and individuals, making it much more difficult to predict and explain why states behave in the way they do. The national interest for neoliberals is not necessarily a maximization of power. For neoliberalism, long term economic prosperity and regional stability are two concepts which seem more central to the national interest than power. In the process of pursuing these long-terms goals, neoliberalism stresses the importance of international institutions in reducing the stress in the international system which might prevent states from achieving these goals. It is through international institutions that states institutionalize mutual rules and norms through which the possibility of behavior that fosters mutual gain is enhanced. This is based on the core liberal idea that seeking long-term mutual gain is often more rational than realizing individual short-term goals (Nye, 1988).

In our analysis of the cold war, a neoliberal would thus not downplay the importance of regional and international interests in the process leading up to the cold war. According to neoliberalism, regional and international interests are highly relevant in coordinating and promoting certain types of state behavior, even if we adopt the realist assumption that states are rational and self-interested actors (Axelrod and Keohane 2005). Similar to realism, neoliberalism assumes that through their foreign policy, states attempt to maximize their utility, which is defined by their national interest. Where realists define the national interest in terms of security issues, neoliberalists acknowledge the complexity of the process that precedes the formation of the national interest, after which they come to the conclusion that it is generally better to formulate it in terms of a long-term goal to maximize a states’ wealth (Florini 1996). Also, both theories do not deny the existence of norms in the international community.

In the international regimes literature, a definition of norms is given which seems much more suited to the processes that dominate international relations according to neoliberalism: Norms are considered to be part of a regime. Regimes are “principles, norms, rules, and decision-making procedures around which actor expectations converge in a given issue area” that serve to “constrain immediate, short-term power maximization” (Krasner 1983). This norm definition leaves room for a broader set of international norms, especially because neoliberalism acknowledges that part of the function of international norms is to encourage states to look beyond their short-term interests. Still, neoliberalism does not allocate too much influence to international norms, since they are still in service of the national interest.

The neoliberalist theory thus justifies the fight to project and protect first, national interests; technological, power, military, political, ideology or economic. The argument justifies the parts played by the different parties in the cold war especially the principal actors who seek to impose their ideology on others.

1.7     Hypothesis

  1. H0: Terrorism, corruption, insecurity and lack of credible leadership are some of the challenges of Nigerians foreign policy after the cold war.

          Hi:    Terrorism, corruption, insecurity and lack of credible leadership are not some of the challenges of Nigerians foreign policy after the cold war.

  1. H0: Nigeria foreign policy can be made to restore the loss glory of Nigeria as the giant of Africa, position her for greater influence around world trade, commerce and leadership.

          Hi:    Nigeria foreign policy cannot be made to restore the loss glory of Nigeria as the giant of Africa, position her for greater influence around world trade, commerce and leadership.

1.8     Research Methodology

This study will adopt the analytical approach in trying to find out the challenges and prospects that exist that Nigeria faced after the cold war. The case study method will single out post graduate students from the faculties of Social Sciences, management Sciences and Arts in Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka whose faculties disposes to the knowledge of foreign policies in Nigeria. Data will be gathered by administering questions to the students who will be randomly selected from the department. An accidental sampling method which will involve the researcher visiting lecture halls of the post graduate students and administering the questions on them according to the first twenty people he pumps into will be deployed for this study. Data gotten will be used to test the hypothesis raised in this study. The Chi-square hypothesis statistical testing tool will be used for this study purpose.

1.9     Definition of Terms

Foreign Policy: This refers to policies made by a country for self preservation, interest’s projection and personal goals attainment. It simply a law to guard against external maneuver and geared towards national growth.

Cold War: This is a war situation that arises when political hostility arises between two countries and is characterized by threats, propaganda and other measures short of open warfare, in particular.

Challenges: This refers to difficulty or stumbling block experienced over an issue, an action, and course of action. It is something that intends or tries to alter an original course of plan.

Prospects: This is the possibility of a future event occurring, something which is mostly successful, a positive prospect or expectation.