Background to the Study

Independent countries use economic indices such as inflation, trade deficits, unemployment and Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to measure the performance of their country’s economic development and the workability of its foreign direct investment policy. Taken together, these statistical leading indicators create a data map that countries use to define their foreign policy.  Understanding the politics of GDP, the President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration directed the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics (NBS) to rebase the country’s GDP which invariably put it to $509.9 billion in 2013 making Nigeria to become the 27th largest economy in the world and first in Africa.[1] This was intended to expose sectors where Nigeria’s economy has recorded dynamic growth and the need for expanded foreign direct investment inflows. However, not every regime in Nigeria has pursued this strategic economic policy. It is therefore, the intent of this study to examine the foreign policy of each regime in lieu of the country’s economic growth taking the GDP as the measuring statistical yardstick for each government since 1960 up to 2015.

The political regimes in Nigeria can be classified into military and civilian. Of the 55 years of independence (1960-2015), 28 years have seen military regimes ruled. The civilian regime following independence was parliamentary, fashioned after the British model,while the 1979-1983 civilian regime was modelled after the American presidential system.[2] A common trend was the military seizing power after accusing the preceding regime (military or civilian) of corruption, nepotism, ineptitude and the inability to offer solutions to the economic problems of the country. Each of the governments had been quick to promise and express the desire to improve the standard of living of the vast majority of the people by stimulating growth and development[3].

Generally, Nigeria’s increasing profile in its foreign relations implies that the nation has regained its role as a leading player in multilateral politics and diplomacy. It can be said therefore that during the period (covering 1960-2015) Nigeria’s foreign policy has changed over time with each regime reflecting the domestic economic environment.

Objectives of the Study

The broad aim of this study is to examine Nigerian foreign policy and economic development from 1960 up to 2015. This study seeks to achieve the following objectives:

(i) Provide a detailed background of Nigeria’s foreign policy under successive governments from 1960 to 2013 by using the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to measure their economic performance;

 (ii) Analyse the policy of economic partnership especially with the western powers and the implication of this partnership on Nigeria economic growth between 1960 and 2015; and lastly,

 (iii) Assess the challenges each government faced in achieving the economic development in Nigeria;

  1. b) Identify and evaluate the role of domestic and international environment in shaping Nigeria’s foreign policy and economic development since 1960.

Scope and Limitations of the Study

This study focuses on Nigeria’s foreign policy and economic development from 1960 to 2015. It looks at Nigeria’s foreign policy under successive governments from 1960 to 2015 by using the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to measure their economic performance.  Other areas which this study covers include the domestic factors that influenced Nigerian foreign policy since 1960. Moreover, the key achievements of various administrations in domestic economic growth, political stability, regional security, and international participation are covered in this research.

In producing such a work like this, the problem confronting the researcher is not the scarcity of materials but its availability some of which are bias in their presentation. Finally, there is the question of time and fund which may serve as impediments to this research.

Nevertheless, these imitating factors will greatly be managed to make the research work more objective in its presentation.

Significance of the Study

This study is important to decision makers and students of International Relations, Defence and Strategic Studies as well as History and Diplomatic Studies; for it traced the historical development of Nigeria foreign policy and economic development from 1960 to 2015.

It helps to re—affirm the bold attempt made by the various successive governments to establish Nigerians a major player in the comity of nations. Also, this research work will help at providing information on the domestic factors that influenced Nigeria’s foreign policy since 1960.

Finally, it is useful to scholars’ especially diplomatic historians, political scientists, economists and international relations experts in their research. Diplomats like ambassadors, high commissioners and staffers of foreign ministries will benefit from the work.


Research Methodology

Qualitative historical research method was used in carrying out this study. Qualitative research methods are often appropriate when researchers seek to describe, explain, and explore or build a theory. Salkind (2003) portrayed qualitative research as a non-experimental method that does not directly test for cause and effect. Qualitative research methodology was most appropriate for this exploratory study because the intent to establish the characteristics of Nigeria’s foreign policy and the patterns of economic expansion, stagnation, or contraction between 1960 and 2013. This conception is consistent with Malizia’s definition of qualitative research as an approach useful for describing trends.[4]

Source of Data:

The research draws on two main data sources: primary and secondary sources.  A critical examination of the dramatic relations between Nigeria and other countries since independence will be analyzed using findings from both primary and secondary sources.

The primary source which acquired data mainly through semi-structured interviews with individuals and groups from relevant organizations and institutions. Seventeen (17) Individuals from the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (5 people), Ministry of Foreign Affairs (4 people), Central Bank of Nigeria (8 people) have been contacted and already interview. Meanwhile, the selection of key informants from the above public sectors was done bearing in mind their position in these institutions as well as their knowledge of the subject area. The other primary sources include written documents such as government publications, letters, correspondence, documentaries and newspapers.

Furthermore, this research work depends largely on archival materials to gather relevant materials on the study. Field trips will also be employed to access information from the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in order to get relevant information regarding the research work. Moreover, this study depends on secondary sources such as books, journals, conference proceedings and internet sources which are to be explored to enrich this work.

Area of study:

Major areas that the study covers include the concepts of foreign policy and economic development;  evolution of Nigeria’s foreign policy; Neo-Liberal Policies and Economic Development (from 1960 to 2013); and Nigeria’s economic engagement with other countries in the period of our study.

Data Analysis

Basically, secondary growth accounting and GDP indices were used to identify periods of economic expansion, stagnation and contraction during the study period. Gaps in the data, if any, were filled from other sources, including publications from the World Bank, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The growth accounting and other economic indices included: the agricultural sector’s share of output; per capita GNP, real GDP, real per capita GDP growth rate, income and investment; capital stock, labor, and Total Factor Productivity (TFP).

      The Engle-Yoo (1991) multivariate cointegration econometrics dynamic model for Nigeria is developed to conduct quantitative policy analysis. This focuses on the linkages between variables of foreign policy implementation and its direct impact on oil, agriculture, manufacturing, mining and quarrying, and other relevant sectors of Nigeria.

Weakness of the methodology

      The major weakness inherent in historical research methods is the over dependence on primary data. The inaccuracies in the analysis of the interviewees as well as the bias nature of some of the documents provided are some of the weakness of the research methods. To correct this trend, economic an empirical analysis of the macro economy-wide framework using the Engle-Yoo dynamic co-integration econometric model for Nigeria’s economic development is deemed suitable and relevant for providing feedback and policy options for attaining rapid economic development success in the country

[1] Vincent Ikuomola , “Economic growth driving Nigeria’s foreign policy, says Jonathan”, Accessed 20/10/2014

[2] Gana, A. T. 2000. Governance and the Economy Under the Military Rule. Bullion. Publication of Central Bank of Nigeria. Volume 24. No. 1 Jan./March. 2000:37

[3]Alalade, F. O. Democracy and Economic Development: Prospect for the Fourth Republic. Bullion. Publication of Central Bank of Nigeria. Volume 24. No. 1 Jan./March, 2000:48

[4] Malizia, E. E. & Feser, E. J. Understanding Economic Development. London: Rutgers, 2000:12




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