Nigerian leaders often see their country as the “natural leader” of the African continent. And the country’s foreign policy is best understood and assessed in the context of its regional and continental ambitions largely designed by the presiding head of state or president. Thus, a study of Nigeria’s foreign policy under Abubakar Tafawa Balewa (1960-1966) and Murtala/Obasanjo (1975-1979) will expose us to understand better the actors and factors that shape the country’s foreign policy.
Generally, Nigerian historians and political scientists regard the Murtala/Obasanjo regime (1975 – 1979) as a period that Nigeria became the “Giant of Africa” due to her confrontational foreign policy posture. Coupled with the transition programme initiated by General Murtala Mohammed and later implemented by General (Rtd.) Olusegun Obasajo, the regime was tagged a successful one. When this is compared to the foreign policy Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, one realizes that the two different regimes pursued the same foreign policy objectives but differently. They both have their peculiarities in building the country’s power status within the African sub-region. This study therefore seeks to provide well researched and comparative study regarding Nigeria’s foreign policy under Murtala/Obasanjo and Abubakar Tafawa Balewa.