Nigeria external relations with the outside world started a long time before she gained her autonomy as an independent State. Her involvement in various international organizations has to a large extent brought her close to the front line of action in the world politics. This study therefore examines the participatory role and contributions played by Nigeria in the Commonwealth of Nations Organization. It is on the foundation of dependency theory that the theoretical framework of this study was built upon. This study briefly analyses the contributions of the organization to the social, political, cultural and economic development of Nigeria as a member State in the areas of debt relief, democratic consolidation, education, sports and culture. In sum, it attempts to answer the question of many critics against the Commonwealth organization as to the whether Nigeria and other third world countries have truly benefitted from the organization.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Title Page i
Table of Contents vi
CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION
Background to the Study 1
Statement of Problem 5
Purpose of the Study 6
Significance of Study 7
Scope of the study 7
Methodology and Sources 8
Theoretical Framework 8
Literature Review 12
Organization of the Study 17
CHAPTER TWO: NIGERIA AND THE COMMONWEALTH OF NATIONS BEFORE 1999
Nigeria’s Foreign Policy and objectives of the Commonwealth 22
Nigeria’s admission and membership Commonwealth of Nations and
Survey of Nigeria’s Commonwealth Relations Before the 1990s 28
The suspension and re-admission of Nigeria into the
Commonwealth of Nations 30
CHAPTER THREE: NIGERIA – COMMONWEALTH RELATIONS FROM 1999 TO 2007
Commonwealth and Democratic Consolidation in Nigeria 35
Abuja Commonwealth Summit and Declaration in 2003 43
Nigeria and the Commonwealth Cooperation: education,
culture and sports. 45
Commonwealth and Nigeria’s Debt Relief 53
CHAPTER FOUR: IMPLICATIONS OF NIGERIA’S MEMBERSHIP OF THE COMMONWEALTH
Implications of Nigeria’s membership of the Commonwealth
in Politics 64
Implications of Nigeria’s membership of the Commonwealth
on Culture 68
Implications of Nigeria’s membership of the Commonwealth in
Economic Sphere 72
Implications of Nigeria’s membership of the Commonwealth
in Education 74
CHAPTER FIVE: CONCLUSION
Background to the Study
Nigeria’s relationship with the outside world started long before independence in 1960, under the colonial government, during which dependent Nigeria had no separate foreign policy outside of the British[i]. During this time, the interest of Her Majesty, the Queen of England was the interest of the colonial Nigeria. The British Colonial government, through its Governor-General administered Nigeria’s foreign relations, which manifested in several ways, including the control of international trade, determination of import and export duties for Nigerians,[ii] use of British colonial offices in other countries as bases for carrying on with external relations, sending of Nigerian soldiers to fight in the Battle of Burma during the first world war, among other developments[iii].
However on attainment of independence, Nigeria as a sovereign state began to conduct her foreign relations which marked the first distinct phase of Nigeria’s foreign policy under the administration of its Prime Minister the late Alhaji (Sir) Abubakar Tafawa Balewa (October 1960) January, 1966. Some scholars in their stock-taking and analyses of the outlook of Nigeria’s foreign policy,[iv] reach a consensus that the basic principles of the country’s foreign policy can be summarized as follows:
- Non – alignment with any of the them existing ideological and military power blocs, especially NATO and the Warsaw Pact;
- Respect for the legal equality, political independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of all states (in Africa);
- Respect for the doctrine of non-interference in the domestic affairs of all other states;
- Seeking membership of both continental and global multilateral organisations for their functional importance to Nigeria’ and
- That Africa would be the cornerstone of the country’s external relations.
Obviously, these principles form the core areas of Nigeria’s relations and participation with other countries, international organizations or associations of the world since independence such as the Africa union, ECOWAS, the non-Aligned movement, the Commonwealth of Nations and the United Nations. Balawa’s relations were pro-west, particular with Britain; Nigeria’s erstwhile colonial master. With the bloody military coup of 15, 1966, the last Major Gen. J.T.U Aguiyi Ironsi came to power, to be killed in a counter coup staged six months later. This development however brought Gen. Gowon administration to power who borrowed a leaf from Balewa by being pro-west in his foreign affairs. He entered into agreement with Britain, the United State and European countries. However, his administration reluctantly allowed the Soviet Union to open its embassy in Lagos.[v]
In the process of time, in a bloodless coup Gowon administration was sacked which led to the assumption of power by late Gen. Murtal Ramat Mohammed and the Gen. (now chief) Olusegun Obasanjo. As his second in command and chief of State Supreme Headquarter, who’s served as great instrument in the history of international relations as far as Nigeria was concerned. His administration however injected new innovations, and dynamism into the nation’s foreign affair. With her involvement in international politics, Nigeria became a regional power and centre of influence, particularly in African. These however brought her to global recognition.[vi]
The common wealth, historically, was an evolutionary outgrowth of the British Empire. However though the evolution of the organisation started in 1867 when Canada attained dominion status, it was rather in 1931 when the statue of West minister was passed that the organisation was known as the British Common Wealth of Nation.
Conceptually, the Commonwealth of Nations is a free association of sovereign states comprising Great Britain and a number of its former dependences who had chosen to maintain ties of friendship and practical cooperation and who acknowledged the British Monarch as the symbolic head of their association. Thus, the ties that bind the commonwealth are highly diverse. Blood ties provide sentimental attachments to Britain while common judicial and educational systems as well as the use of the English language as official language provide strong ties for others. These ties were further cemented and strengthened by trade and investment, currency agreements, population, migrations and sports.[vii] It is important to note that no former colony was bound to join the commonwealth as a precondition of independence. Whether or not any individual former colony became a member of the organisation was entirely a matter of free choice. Nevertheless almost all former colonies freely associated themselves by voluntarily becoming members of the commonwealth upon attainment of independence. Exceptions include Burma, Pakistan and the Irish Republic.[viii] The informal links between the countries of the commonwealth were further consolidated when in 1965 a commonwealth secretariat was established in London and a lean bureaucracy was developed to assist the Secretary-General of the commonwealth in responding to questions of peace, democracy and development, particularly in the developing member countries in Asia, Pacific, Africa and the Caribbean. Therefore, what began as Great Britain and the white dominions had gradually metamorphosed into a multiracial commonwealth with fifty-four nations and territories.
Hence, the study tends to explore the explicit relations between Nigeria and the Commonwealth of Nations before and within the period under review, 1999 to 2007. The contributions of the commonwealth organization to Nigeria in the areas as democracy, education and a brief note on other social welfare of the country.
Statement of Problem
A lot of scholarly materials and literatures have been made available on Nigeria’s relationship with the commonwealth countries. Arguably, most of these works has fail to form a coordinated literature on the relations among the parties involved; to adequately and in an elaborate way explain the role of the commonwealth in the development of Nigeria; reasons for joining the organization? It is obvious that Nigeria joined the commonwealth of nations due to the projected ideals which it holds and which are ultimately in consonance with the foreign policy objectives of the country. Decades after her membership of the association. Nigeria, however, is still uncertain about her roles and position in the association especially its vital ethical codes of conduct which include commitment to human rights, racial and economic justice, democracy and peaceful settlement of disputes.
Although, on a general note, strong criticisms as regards to the association’s impacts on its member states. This critic hold the facts that since no formal treaty nor a central authority, the organization to them is a total failures and is not worthy to stand as an association in the international arena. Notwithstanding, the structural institution and process through which functions are carried out, have to a great extent countered their claim of the existence of the commonwealth of nation as a free association with the spelt out objectives in the international political.
Nevertheless, this research work tries to address and give and oversight on the Nigeria commonwealth relations between 1999 and 2007, it tries to evaluate the contribution of the Commonwealth of Nations to the struggle for the democratization of Nigeria. It tries to answer some questions as to, how far has the commonwealth of Nation gone in the struggle for the democratization of Nigeria. It tries to answer some questions as to, how far has the commonwealth of nation contribute to the social welfare of Nigeria? Are there contributions made by Nigeria to see to the sustenance and growth of the association?. These and few other issues are viewed as the need links missing in many existing body of literature which this work tries to solve.
Purpose of the Study
Based on the foregoing, this paper examines the Nigeria-Commonwealth relations, 1999 to 2007. A background to Nigeria foreign Policy and the Commonwealth and Nigeria Debt Relief, with emphasis on the relevant roles commonwealth of nations played in the full restoration, as well installation of democratic rule in Nigeria which contributed to the restoration of Nigeria’s image in international politics as she took up a leading role in the association in the 1990s; the social welfare of Nigeria as regards to university education, poverty and few other achievement under the period of review and Nigeria role in maintaining, renewing and protecting the core values of the organization whose interest aligns with the country’s foreign policy.
Significance of Study
This study has a lot of promising significance to both students, scholars, policy makers and ministers in practice.
To students, this study will be of immense help to student of international relations, particularly those of them that are interest in the studies concerning the dynamics of international organizations. This will add to the pool of literature from which they could draws to enrich themselves.
To scholars and colleges, this study tends to add to the existing body of literatures and works already done in this area by other researchers; knowing fully well that the process of research is a progressive one and it is unarguably true that this study will spur the minds of other researcher to investigate more on this area.
Finally to policy makers, ministers and political analysts in practice, this work will provide a sought of guide for policy execution. It will aid in them decision and policy making.
Scope of the Study
This study maintains its focal point generally on the Nigeria – commonwealth relation between the period 1999 and 2007 which marks the transition of Nigeria government from a tyrannic military regime to a democratic civilian rule. It looks at the commonwealth influence in the Nigeria polity. It tries explain the participations, contributions and relevant roles played by Nigeria in the maintaining of the free association of independent states.
Methodology and Sources
In this study, the method of thematic analysis was employed as historical research method. Thematic analysis has been described as; “a method of analysis in qualitative research.[ix]This type of analysis is used because it allows for flexibility in the researchers choice of theoretical framework. Both secondary data and tertiary sources were used for the analysis of this data. The primary data were principally information from one-on-one intervals and discussions with some academic scholars. While the secondary data were from books, journal, monographs, conference papers, new papers, magazines and internet as well.
The study of international relations, have long existed with various theories to compliment its existence. These theories to a great length serve as bed rock to every academic enquiry, as its characteristic ability to describe, explain and predict natural phenomena cannot be over emphasized. This is why it is advice that conscious critical efforts and observations be made before choosing a theory to serve as a framework of analysis.
Be that as it may, dependency theory has been opted to be used in explaining the problem at stake in this study. Despite the fact that dependency theorists differ on some issues with regards to the theory (whether it is level of impact, or region/countries of analysis, the exact structure of the economic relationship, along with other issues). Some scholars like Ferrara argues that among dependency theory, there are a few points that scholars and theorists of dependency theory seem to be in agreement upon. He writes:
First, dependency characterizes the international system as comprised of two sets of states, variously described as dominant/dependent, cadre/periphery or metropolitan/satellite. The dominant states are the advanced industrial nations in Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The dependent states are those of Latin America, Asia and Africa which have low per capita GNPs and which rely heavily on the export of a single commodity for foreign exchange earnings.[x]
Secondly, in consonance with some other scholars, he maintains that these definitions of dependence have in common the assumption that external forces are of singular importance to the economic activities within the dependent states. These external forces include multinational corporations, international commodity markets, foreign assistance, communications, and any other means by which advanced industrialized countries can represent their economic interest abroad.[xi]
Thirdly, the definitions of dependency all indicate that the relations between dominant and dependent states are dynamic because the interactions between the two sets of states tend to not only enforce but also intensify the unequal patterns. Moreover, dependency is a very deep-seated historical process, footed in the internationalization of capitalism…[xii]
Dependency theory derived its roots from the Marxist political thinkers like Andre Grunder, Frank, John Gultung, Walter Rodney and so on to explain the continued underdevelopment of the developing countries. These theorists conceptualize politics in terms of the lopsided relationship between the former imperial countries – the metropole and the former colonial countries – the periphery nations and that of the imperial countries has obvious drawn them into the world capitalist economy. This has totally drawn the periphery nations to a state of eternal dependence on the metropolitan countries. This relationship is no longer like that of the period of pure and direct colonialism but be described as new colonialism. The distribution of benefits here forms basically an exploitative relationship between the dominant and dependent states hence the wide gap existence between the rich and the poor countries.[xiii]
In the light of the foregoing, the above explanation expressed the need for the utility of this theory in this study to solve the problem-questions it poses. This is true because despite the fact that the Commonwealth of Nations consist of former colonies of the British now independent states, it is a free or voluntary association in which each state is responsible for its own policies. Consulting and cooperating the common interest of the people. Despite the commitment of the association the Singapore declaration of commonwealth principles, which in 1971 established binding principles,[xiv] is geared to use its efforts to overcome poverty, ignorance and disease, in raising standards of life and achieving a more equitable international society…to achieve the freest possible flow of international trade on terms fair and equitable to all, taking into account the special requirement of the developing countries and to encourage the flow of adequate resources, including governmental and private resources to the developing countries…”[xv] The commonwealth of nations has done practically nulling to achieve the lofty objectives.
On the premise of the research reports above, it is worthy to note that despite its commitment, the Commonwealth of Nations has no mechanism to reduce the inequality and inequity that are inherent in the contemporary global capitalism since some of its members are not only purveyors but equally beneficiaries of the process. This is why despite the challenges that has befall most of the member states, the commonwealth has neither drawn and sincerely implemented broad plan of action to tackle this nor have its economically advanced members displayed any appreciable efforts in this direction, especially in other international fora.
A hand full of works has been done on the topic “Nigeria – commonwealth relations, 1999-2007. The review of these works therefore forms on the contributions and relevance of some materials such as newspaper; journals, magazines relevant books an international relations and internet browsing. Meanwhile, many local and foreign scholarly minds have been attracted in Africa to the issues on relations of Nigeria in the commonwealth, the core values of the commonwealth, Nigeria roles in the organization in question and other things as at pursuance of democratic rule and some socio-economic development attached.
Bourne in his work examined the link between the commonwealth and the limited states within the context of the “unipolar world”. According to the writer, for each member countries of the commonwealth, both bilateral and multilateral for a relation with the United States are of great complexity. They are infused with cultural and economic connections which often lie beyond the reach of politicians and diplomats: of memories going back behind the two gulf wars as far as the Second World War, of friendships, enmities and family ties. To this end, the writer opined that the commonwealth states, to some degree, have a different bias about the US. While they talk of development, the US talks more narrowly of economic growth and usually through an uncompromisingly capitalist prism; while they aim for multilateral deals, at the United Nations and elsewhere, the US, particularly during the early bush era has been acting unilaterally.
Furthermore, the writer insisted that the commonwealth, due to its diversity, can discuss with the US the varied roots of insecurity, which for individuals and communities include unemployment, oppression and neglect. These are not dealt with by simple policing or insecurity techniques but need longer term and culturally sensitive approaches. Hence as the writer conclude, the commonwealth, as a trans-regional body with a mixed membership, ought to be able to do something to disentangle some of the rows which have pitted the US against other global players especially now that the commonwealth and the United States share something of importance, an attachment to democracy; something precious and not unproblematic.[xvi]
To this end, Ogwu stated firmly that the broad policy agenda would enhance Nigeria’s informed participation at the 2003 Commonwealth Head of Government Meeting (CHOGM). According to her, Nigeria, in pursuance of her national interest broadly defined in the context of the issues which constitute the country’s foreign policy agenda; restructuring of the global economic and politic order, promotion of debt relief, pursuance of an international convention for the reparation of looted funds. In conclusion, the writer maintained that Nigeria should take advantage of the CHOGM to table the issues of cooperation and partnership in sustainable development, poverty eradication, equity and redressing the social injustices that characterize the international transactions between the powerful north and the weak global south before the commonwealth.[xvii]
In other hand, Fayemi averred that though the hosting of the CHOGM in Nigeria marked a significant watershed for democratization and development in West Africa, there is a sense in which a deep feeling of disappointment and dissatisfaction and is widespread in Africa with the current democratization and development agenda and this threatens to undermine the long standing partnership with institutions like the commonwealth. To the writer, many new feel that the type surrounding democracy is more than what the eventual product offers. This is obviously why one can see the opposite to the current slow pace of democratic and economic development. According to the writer, the greatest challenge of course is to understand that despite the frustration and impatience of the people with this democratic deficit, there is realization that transitions are inherently, unstable and unpredictable. Fayemi in his works, concluded that hopes were high that the leaders meeting in Abuja in Nigeria would bear the above in mind as they deliberated on this important theme as Development and Democracy – one that secures the world and promote peace. Based on the above analysis of the peace and security dynamics in West Africa, a number of measure seem to suggest themselves to us about a role for the commonwealth, especially in developing a human security approach that promotes human development.[xviii]
More so, Adeleke in his contribution examined Nigeria’s relations and connections with the commonwealth and postulated that, on a weighing balance, it is impossible to deny that Nigeria’s membership in the commonwealth has been beneficial. According to him, the commonwealth has offered Nigeria an international platform to pursue some of its foreign policy goals, particularly those revolving around decolonization on the African continent. Furthermore, the writer maintained that as a third world country without the resources to play in the big league of global politics, Nigeria has used the commonwealth platform to exercise influence on a scale clearly impossible either bilaterally or through multilateral channel. In addition, the writer maintained that the commonwealth offers Nigeria opportunities to interact informally with at least two members of the Group of Eight (G8), Britain and Canada. The fact that it shares similar aspirations with these countries, at least as expressed in commonwealth declarations, provides opportunities to use its commonwealth connection as leverage in its relations with the G8, particularly on issues of debt relief; aid and global economic exchange. However, the writer argues that the commonwealth offers ample opportunities for Nigeria to expand its foreign trade.
In summary of it all, the writer maintained that if Nigeria has not reaped maximum benefits from its commonwealth connection the blame should not be placed on the organization since Nigeria ought to have put its house in order, economically and politically, to maximize the returns on the investment in the foreign policy.[xix]
Finally, Eze focused on the role of the commonwealth in entrenching sustainable development in Africa. According to the writer, through the commonwealth is engaged in various aspect of development such as education, peace and security, democracy and human rights and has taken bold steps in the areas of debt burden, it is difficult to assess the extent to which the commonwealth find for technical cooperation, which is the primary means by which the organization promotes economic and social development and alleviation of poverty in member states has fared in achieving these objectives. In the view of the writer, given the limited capacity of the commonwealth as an organization by itself to have a major impact on sustainable development of African countries, particularly through its educational facilities, capacity building and the commonwealth fund for technical cooperation, its role in this regard must be thorough and through mobilization of other forces promotional of this objective. Such forces should support national and regional actions that promote the adoption of appropriate policies and measures that enhance sustainable development while at the same time restructure the global economic architecture that inhibits it. In sum, the writer maintained that the commonwealth must demonstrate that what is common is not just the trappings inherited from the empire and a large measure of tolerance of differences. It should show the capacity to fight for the common good of all its members which of necessity will be anchored on the principle of redistributive justice based on a core of needs to which every individual has a right to access. The writer finally warned that the organization should move in this direction or else the chances are that those who argue that the commonwealth is unnecessary distraction will definitely have the last laugh.[xx]
Having reviewed some works of this scholar on the issue of discuss we will come to a conclusive understanding that no exercise analogy have been made on the direct efforts on the relationship that exist between Nigeria and the commonwealth within the period of 1999 and 2007, the impact of the relations on the organization and Nigeria as a member state. The answer to the question, how far has the democratic pursuit in Nigeria by the commonwealth and the country in the fourth republic gone. Even though they did a wonderful work in trying to explain the relations that exist between the two variables. Hence, the need for coordination of for better understanding which this study present.
Organization of Study
The chapter one of this study introduced the background to the problem statement and in a nutshell described the specific problem which this study portends to solve likewise embodies the purpose, relevance, scope, methods and sources this research work employed, using dependency theory as the theoretical framework. It also embodies the review of some existing body of literature on this area and the gap this study desires to fill.
Chapter two briefly describes the Nigeria foreign policy and however explains the relationship that had existed prior to the time frame this research work covers, between the two variables of discourse. The Commonwealth and Nigeria Debt Relief; The membership, admission, suspension and readmission of Nigeria into the commonwealth is not left behind in this chapter; as well as the hosting of the 1965 conference in London brought about the creation of the commonwealth secretariat (the principle intergovernmental body of commonwealth, responsible for promoting cooperation among members).
More so, chapter three of this study looks at the major relations that existed within the two variables. Their constructive and contributive efforts to the democratization of Nigeria during the fourth republic, the common wealth summit in Abuja in the year 2003, as well as the organization’s contribution to the university education in Nigeria.
Chapter four, accesses, analyzes and evaluates the effectiveness and implication of the above mentioned issues in chapter three.
And finally, chapter five of this study summarizes, concludes, and recommends the discussion of the work done so far in this study.