Publisher: Covenant University

Nigeria and The Dilemma of Global Relevance: Foreign Policy Under Military Dictatorship (1993-1999)

Dr. Sheriff F. Folarin
KEYWORDS: Abacha, Abubakar, foreign policy, isolation


This paper examines the metamorphosis of Nigeria‘s foreign policy from its traditional posture of a responsible nation in the international community, to a reckless player under the military between 1993 and 1999. Nigeria‘s reputation as a respectable state diminished under the Abacha regime, whose tyranny led to multiple violations of human rights and breaches of international moral and legal codes. This infamous posture eroded Nigeria‘s track record of provision of regional and global leadership. Its mineral and oil wealth had naturally imposed extra burdens of leadership in the continent of Africa and the world. The paper critically appraises this significant transition and departure from traditional foreign policy posture and international image during the Abacha era; and using the decision-making model of analysis, it discovers that with the Abacha intervention, a new chapter of domestic travails (anti-democracy activities, state- sponsored terrorism, poor human rights records, large-scale corruption and financial crimes, and the creation of artificial insulation against the world), coupled with an unorthodox manner of dealing with the international community commenced, which clouded the good image of the past.  Nigeria thus got alienated in the global system. This paper identifies the pacifist role of the successive Abubakar regime, but submits that despite that approach, the grey areas such as the sudden death of Chief MKO Abiola (winner of the June 12 presidential elections) in his (Abubakar‘s custody), did not allow for a complete restoration of Nigeria‘s golden era of internationalism. Both regimes had thus bequeathed to the nation an unorthodox foreign policy and an unusual image, a development that compels a curious enquiry. The paper adopts a theoretical approach and relies exclusively on secondary data for analysis.  

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