Nigeria Table of Contents
Nigeria had cordial relations with all its neighbors--Benin, Niger, Chad, Cameroon, and Equatorial Guinea--as well as with other countries in the West African subregion, with most of which it had bilateral agreements. There had been occasional border disputes with Chad and Cameroon, and military action against these neighbors was contemplated by the civilian government in 1982 and 1983. Another problem arose in the early 1980s, when Nigeria decided to expel many illegal immigrants, mainly Ghanaians, but this dispute also was resolved amicably. The guiding principle of Nigeria's regional foreign policy was that of good neighborliness and friendship. In this spirit, it helped to resolve conflicts between Liberia and Sierra Leone, Burkina Faso and Mali, and Togo and Ghana. Nigeria also tried to make its neighbors "safe" friends, partly to reenforce boundary claims and protect human rights of Nigerian citizens who were migrantworkers and partly to stabilize relations between the immediate neighboring countries. For example, since 1988 it has established a strong presence in Equatorial Guinea.
To pursue the economic interests through of foreign relations within West Africa, Nigeria championed the formation of ECOWAS and, in spite of competing allegiances to rival organizations within the subcontinent, continued to support the organization's objectives. Strengthening ECOWAS promoted Nigeria's national interests through encouraging development of the region's economy and discouraging its neighbors' reliance on extra-African countries for military, political, and economic survival, thus serving such security interests as weakening colonial divisions within West Africa, ending border disputes, contributing to African unity, and strengthening West Africa's bargaining positions vis-à-vis the EEC.
Data as of June 1991