ROLE OF NIGERIA IN MULTILATERAL PEACEKEEPING OPERATIONS IN AFRICA


Background to the Study

The last twenty-five years have witnessed the intensification of intrastate conflicts in Africa. The region’s leaders have tried to resolve these conflicts using various traditional conflict resolution mechanisms. These mechanisms have included commissions of mediation, ad-hoc committees, mediation by African Heads of State and the use of the Chieftaincy Institution. Recent conflicts in the region have, however, revealed that the use of these mechanisms alone has not helped much in resolving the conflicts and preventing the outbreak of violence. Since 1960, Nigeria has, through multilateral organizations such as the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), African Union (AU) and United Nations (UN) resorted to employing military intervention forces as a major part of its conflict resolution mechanisms. These interventions have created an atmosphere conducive for diplomatic means and the traditional conflict resolution means to be employed to resolve conflicts in the region.

Generally, some of the peace initiatives that Nigeria have been involved in includes: Congo (ONUC) 1960-1964, Battalion operations; New Guinea (UNSF) 1962-1963, Military Observers; Tanzania (Bilateral agreement) 1964, Battalion operations; India-Pakistan (UNIPOM) 1965-1966, Military Observers; Lebanon (UNIFIL) 1978-1983, Battalion operations and Staff Officers; Chad (HARMONY I, bilateral agreement) 1981-1982, Battalion operations and Staff Officers; Chad (HARMONY II, OAU) 1982-1983, Brigade operations; Iran-Iraq (UNIIMOG) 1988-1991, Military Observers; Liberia (ECOMOG) 1990- Division (-) operations; Iraq-Kuwait (UNIKOM) 1991, Military Observers; Angola (UNAVEM II) 1991-1992, Military Observers; Sierra Leone (NATAG) 1991, Training Team; Angola (UNAVEM III) 1992-1995, Detachment; Namibia (UNTAG) 1989-1990, Military Observers; Western Sahara (MINURSO) 1991, Military Observers; Cambodia (UNTAC) 1992- 1993, Military Observers; Somalia (UNOSOM) 1992-1994, Battalion operations and Staff Officers; Former Republic of Yugoslavia (UNPROFOR) 1992, Battalion operations and Staff Officers; Mozambique (ONUMOZ) 1992 Military Observers; Rwanda (UNAMIR) 1993, Battalion operations; Gambia (NATAG) 1993, Training Team; Aouzo Strip (UNASOG) 1994, Military Observers; Israel (UNTSO) 1995, Military Observers; Liberia – ECOMOG; Sierra Leone – UNMIL; and Dafur peace initiative.

The end of the Cold War witnessed intensification of intrastate conflicts in the West African subregion. Prior to this era, the West African subregional body, Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), had used traditional conflict resolution mechanisms to resolve conflicts. These notwithstanding, with the outbreak of conflict in Liberia in November 1989, ECOWAS employed ECOWAS Ceasefire Monitoring Group (ECOMOG), a military intervention force, in August 1990 as another conflict resolution mechanism. The endstate of ECOMOG was to stop the carnage, destruction of property, and create the conditions for diplomacy and dialogue to be employed hopefully resulting in a long-term political settlement. Since then, ECOMOG has been employed on four subsequent intervention operations in the countries of Sierra Leone, Guinea Bissau, Côte d’ Iviore, and Liberia for a second time.

The history of Nigeria’s involvement in peacekeeping in West African States is based on its foreign policy approach which since 1960 has constantly been changing, though the principles guiding its foreign relations remain the same.[1] Nigerian leaders are largely responsible for these unstable external relations. Since Nigeria’s foreign policy is deeply rooted in Africa with strategic emphasis on political and economic cooperation, peaceful dispute resolution, and global nonalignment,[2] Nigerian leaders also have their attention fixed on the successful implementation of these principles.

Over the years, implementation of Nigeria’s foreign policy show that her leaders operate within four “concentric circles” of national interest. The innermost circle represents Nigeria’s own security, independence and prosperity and is centered on its immediate neighbours – Benin, Cameroon, Chad and Niger; the second circle revolves around Nigeria’s relations with its West African neighbors; the third circle focuses on continental African issues of peace, development and democratization; and the fourth circle involves Nigeria’s relations with organizations, institutions and states outside Africa.[3] With this in mind, each Nigerian head of state or president work to ensure that no single part is defected in pursuing the country’s foreign policy. Evidences abound on how past Nigerian heads of state or presidents have worked within these four concentric circles.

The African-centeredness of Nigeria’s foreign policy stemmed from the various speeches made by Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa in the House of Representatives on August 20, 1960; Independence Day Address on October 1, 1960; and Acceptance Speech of Nigeria’s admission into the United Nations in New York on October 8, 1960. These famous speeches became the fundamental principles that guided different Heads of State and Presidents of Nigeria towards other West African states for more than 50 years.[4] More important is that the overall operation of Nigeria’s foreign policy since 1960, whether conservative, dynamic or confrontational, was conducted based on shared pre-colonial and colonial experiences, intra-African cultural relations and post-colonial geopolitics. Hence, the problems of West Africa are not only shared by Nigeria, but are seen as a priority which has made its leaders to sometimes severe relations with other countries, particularly the western powers.[5]

Several factors have continually driven Nigeria’s foreign policy towards its West African neighbours. One of them is centered on the protection of over 160 million Nigerians who might be negatively affected by the spill-over of wars from ‘ring countries’ such as Chad, Niger, Cameroon and Republic of Benin.

Added to the above is the boom and bull of ‘Petro-Dollar’ which have significantly shaped the way in which Nigeria implements its foreign policy towards West African states. Nigeria is the largest donor to the ECOWAS as well as one of the largest donors to the African Union.[6] Again, the military strength of Nigeria which soared after the civil war plays important role in the conduct of foreign policy on the African soil. Nigeria dominates the ECOMOG, and remains one of the largest contributors of military personnel to different United Nations peacekeeping missions in the sub-region.

Thus, between 1960 and 2014, Nigeria has been actively involved in various ways in the struggle against disintegration of the West African sub-region. This made her to champion the establishment of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS in 1975) and other sub-regional organizations concerned with bringing peace to the sub-region and peoples across the West African sub-region.

In all, Nigeria’s contributions to the economic development and socio-political stability of the West African sub-region call for scholarly attention. This is because the country’s significant financial backing, troops and resources that made ECOWAS as well as ECOMOG’s creation possible, cannot be separated from the African-centeredness of Nigeria’s foreign policy.

Nigeria’s reputation as a regional stabilizer, conciliator, and peace builder in the West African sub-region remains unmatched. Nigeria’s positive and successful intervention in the Sierra Leonean civil war, Liberia, Niger, makes Nigeria to be a major player towards global peace, security and stability. Nigeria’s long-term leadership of peacekeeping missions in Chad (1979-82), Liberia (1990-98), Sierra Leone (1991-2000), Guinea Bissau (1998-00) and Cotê d’Ivoire (2000-Date) are all reflections of its commitment and role to peace building, peace keeping, conflict resolution, economic development and political integration of the West African sub-region.

1.2       Objectives of the Study

This study seeks to achieve the following objectives:

(i) Provide a detailed background to Nigeria’s role in multilateral peacekeeping operations in Africa with focus on civil wars in Sierra Leone (Nigeria, ECOWAS and UN), Sudan (Nigeria and AU);

(ii) Examine the factors that shaped Nigeria’s mediatory role in these bodies;

(iii) Analyse the peacekeeping operations of  Nigeria; and

(iv) Discuss the contributions of Nigeria under the various administrative governments to the security and peace—building in Africa

1.3       Scope of the Study

This study examines the factors that shaped Nigeria’s peacekeeping operations through mulitalateral bodies i.e ECOWAS, AU and the UN. The key achievements of various administrations in sub-regional economic integration, political stability, sub-regional security were covered in this research. However, the research is limited to case studies of Nigeria’s  involvement in civil wars across Africa

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.

1.4       Periodisation

This study begins from 1990 and terminates in 2014. Specifically, the period covered includes Nigeria’s peacekeeping operations through ECOMOG Operations/UNOMSL) in Sierra Leone,and African Union Mission in Sudan (from 2003 -2009).

1.5      Literature Review

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1.6       Significance of the Study

The significance of this research project is to determine the relevance and importance and future role of Nigeria in ECOMOG peacekeeping operations in West Africa. The study will seek to establish the need for Nigeria to continue employing multilateral organisations by reviewing its security protocol, to include establishing a standing headquarters for the force. Since the evolution of ECOMOG, it has been hailed as a model for sub-regional intervention operations. It has also served as a stop-gap in containing conflicts in the subregion before the U.N. gets involved. Against this background, the research will determine how Nigeria can overcome its internal problems and continue to play that vital role in the subregion

1.7       Research Methodology

Historical research method was used in carrying out this study. However, a critical examination of the dramatic relations between Nigeria and other West African countries since independence was analyzed using findings from both primary and secondary sources.

The primary sources include written documents such as government publications, letters, correspondence, documentaries and newspapers. Oral interviews were conducted to complement the other sources.

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.



[1] I. A. Gambari, Theory and Reality in Foreign Policy Making: Nigeria After the Second Republic, Atlantic Highlands, New]ersey: Humanities Press International, 1989, p.21.

[2] M. B., Ogunbanjo, “Theoretical Perspectives on Nigeria Foreign Policy” Monograph Series, Department of Political Science and Sociology, Babcock University, Ilisan Remo, 2002, No. 2, p.2 I

[3] A. Adebajo and A.  Mustapha, eds. Gulliver’s Troubles: Nigeria’s Foreign Policy after the Cold War. Scottsville, South Africa: University of KwaZulu Natal Press, 2008.

[4] Ajaebili, C.N. “The Option of Economic Diplomacy in Nigeria’s Foreign Policy”. International Journal Of Humanities And Social Science, Vol. 1 No. 17, 2011, p. 227  

[5] Ajetunmobi, R.O. and Omotere, T.F. (2012) “African-Centeredness of Nigeria’s Foreign Policy: Moving from Anthropological Diplomacy to Citizen Diplomacy”. Paper presented at the 2nd International Conference on Diplomatic History organized by the Department of History, University of Abuja, Abuja, 25th – 28th, September, 2012.

[6] Ajetunmobi, R.O. and Omotere, T., African-Centeredness Of Nigeria’s Foreign Policy: Moving From Anthropological Diplomacy To Citizen Diplomacy, p. 8

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