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THE IMPACT OF CIVIL WAR ON NIGERIAN FOREIGN POLICY

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THE IMPACT OF CIVIL WAR ON NIGERIAN FOREIGN POLICY

 

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

 

  • Background of the study

The Nigerian Civil War, commonly known as the Biafran War (6 July 1967 – 15 January 1970), was a war fought between the government of Nigeria and the secessionist state of Biafra. Biafra represented nationalist aspirations of the Igbo people, whose leadership felt they could no longer coexist with the Northern-dominated federal government. The conflict resulted from political, economic, ethnic, cultural and religious tensions which preceded Britain’s formal decolonization of Nigeria from 1960 to 1963. Immediate causes of the war in 1966 included a military coup, a counter-coup and persecution of Igbo living in Northern Nigeria. Control over the lucrative oil production in the Niger Delta played a vital strategic role

 

Within a year, the Federal Government troops surrounded Biafra, capturing coastal oil facilities and the city of Port Harcourt. The blockade imposed during the ensuing stalemate led to severe famine. During the two and half years of the war, there were about 100,000 overall military casualties, while between 500,000 and 2 million Biafran civilians died of starvation.

 

In mid-1968, images of malnourished and starving Biafran children saturated the mass media of Western countries. The plight of the starving Biafrans became a cause célèbre in foreign countries, enabling a significant rise in the funding and prominence of international non-governmental organisations (NGOs). Britain and the Soviet Union were the main supporters of the Nigerian government in Lagos, while France, Israel and some other countries supported Biafra. France and Israel provided weapons to both combatants.

Nigerian civil war (which was fought from 1967 to 1970) was considered to be one of the major internal determinants of the country’s foreign policy. The civil war was perceived from two different perspectives which explain the stands of the two different camps during the war period (Biafrans and Federal Government). To the ‘Biafran’ secessionists, the Nigerian civil war was a war of freedom and independence while the Federal Government of Nigeria saw the civil war as the war to preserve national unity and maintain territorial integrity (in Enuka and Odife, 2014) . This was supported by Dudley (1982: 283)that “for much of this period Nigeria was fighting to contain the threat of secession and possible disintegration, and policy was dominated by the [sic] primary consideration of maintaining the unity of the state”. This necessitated the need for the re-evaluation of the Nigerian foreign policy. The secessionist camp headed by Colonel Emeka Ojukwu unilaterally proclaimed the independence of the region on May 30, 1967 and renamed the region ‘Republic of Biafra’ (Enuka and Odife, 2014). His action was countered by Colonel Yakubu Gowan through the creation of stat,e and proclamation of state of emergency (Dudley, 1982 and lzah, 1991). The Ojukwu’s order and Gowon’s counter order plunged the country into disorder for about 30 months (Enuka and Odife, 2014).The occurrence of civij war in Nigeria was predicated by a myriad configuration of factors, among which are located in the structural division that is referred to as North-South dichotomy. Right from the colonial days, the unity of the country was on a fragile foundation, regionalism and regional political consideration and controversy over the 1962/63 census results which culminated into serious regional political tension among others (Yusufu, 2011, Enuka and Odife, 2014). The factors that led to the collapse of the First Republic were exacerbated by the interpersonal clash between Gowan and Ojukwu which resulted into the Civil War

The evolution of Nigerian’s foreign policy cannot be understood without first knowing what is foreign policy? For the sake of this study I shall define foreign policy as a strategy or planned course of actions developed by the decision makers of a country aimed at manipulating the international communities in order to achieve certain national interest. From the above one could infer that foreign policy is the articulation of a country’s national objectives and how such objectives is related to other countries. The evolution of Nigerian’s foreign policy could be divided into two, namely pre-colonial times and post-independent period. The pre-colonial times is when the entity Nigeria came into existence i.e. from 1914-1960, when the country was still under the colonial rule of the British government, while the second phase is from independence to date. I will focus on the second stage of the Nigerian’s foreign policy because that is when we can say that she really has an interest. From 1914- the later part of 1960, the interest of the British is the interest of the entity called Nigeria. A writer put is this way, the interest of her Majesty government in England is the interest of the then dependent state of Nigeria. The post independent period saw the formation of a truly indigenous foreign policy that was truly called a Nigerian’s foreign policy, with the coming of successive government the policy has been mortified. Since independence in 1960, the foreign policy of Nigeria has been like a chameleon, it changes in colour but its substance remains the same, Anyaele states as follows, the protection of our national interest has remained permanent in Nigerian’s foreign policy, but the strategies for such protection has varied from one regime to another. This means that all the government from independent to date has pursued the same goal and objective but in deferent way. The formation and execution of Nigerian’s foreign policy from independence to date has been carried out fewer than twelve administrations through the External Affairs Ministry. From the administration of Sir Balewa on October 1st, 1960 to the administration of president Obasanjo on May 29th, 2003, they have all pursued the same national interest, the prevailing domestic and international affairs determines the actions and responds of external matters. The strength or weakness of Nigerian’s domestic economy and socio-political conditions have been the basic problem of implementation of her foreign policy, Anyaele states that foreign policy is a reflection of domestic policy, it is the promotion of national interest at international level. One can therefore state that the evolution of Nigerian’s foreign policy stated when Nigeria gained independent as a sovereign nation and not when she was under the colonial authority of Her majesty government, because as a dependent nation she has no interest of her own except that of her colonial master

 

  • Statement of the problem

There may have been previous researches in this subject. This work gives further explanations and analysis in the impact of civil war on nigerian foreign policy

 

  • Objectives of the study
  1. To understand the impact of civil war on Nigeria’s foreign policy
  2. To understand the relationship between the experiences of the Nigeria civil war, and the development of Nigeria foreign policy
  3. To come up with recommendations on proper implementing of experiences and knowledge gathered from the civil war experience in Nigeria national and foreign policy development
    • Research questions
  4. What is the impact of civil war on Nigeria’s foreign policy
  5. What is the relationship between the experiences of the Nigeria civil war, and the development of Nigeria foreign policy
  6. What are recommendations for proper implementing of experiences and knowledge gathered from the civil war experience in Nigeria national and foreign policy development

 

 

  • Research hypothesis

H0: There is no relationship between the experiences of the Nigeria civil war, and the development of Nigeria foreign policy

H1: There is a relationship between the experiences of the Nigeria civil war, and the development of Nigeria foreign policy

 

 

 

 

 

 

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