Publisher: Bachudo Science Co. Ltd

Nigeria and South Africa: The Politics of Continental Leadership

C. N. Odock
KEYWORDS: Globalization, Nigeria, South Africa, Co-operation, economy.


The evolving trend of globalization in the international political economy is leading to the emergence of a new regime of close cooperation between many states that were formerly strong competitors. Two of such States are Nigeria and South Africa. This paper seeks to account for the transformation of the bilateral relations of the two countries from a configuration of competition to one of mutual cooperation. In doing so, the paper has relied on the concept of national interest which has been considered somewhat obsolescent by some analysts, as the basis of our explanation. This is because in spite of the apparent vagueness of the concept, the dual character of the content of national interest in terms of fixed or core elements and the variable elements makes the concept a useful instrument for the study of the changing character of the relationship between States. This utility derives from the fact that the differential understanding, interpretation and pursuit of the variable components of national interest by the leaders of different States accounts for the oscillation of the relations of countries between conflict and cooperation. In this paper, we have shown that the evolution in and interpretation of the national interests of both Nigeria and South Africa combined with their strategy of continental leadership in Africa to account for the transformation of their bilateral relationship from one of competition to that of mutual cooperation. The paper however, reached two important conclusions with respect to the evolving close cooperation between the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Republic of South which have both a practical and theoretical import. At a practical or policy level the paper came to the unfortunate conclusion that given the extensive domination of the productive sectors of the economies of both countries by the local branches of foreign multinational corporations, these global enterprises are likely to be the ultimate beneficiaries of the growing cooperation between the two countries. At the theoretical level, the paper pointed to the limiting effect which differences in interval class structures of the domestic ruling class of the two cooperating States are likely to pl~ce on the capacity of both countries to institute a regime of comprehensive political. economic, strategic and commercial cooperation. Consequent upon these limitations on the extent of cooperation between the two states, it is doubtful whether both countries can respond effectively to the challenges of globalization.

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