Nigeria Table of Contents
The prevailing perception in Nigeria's foreign policy was that, as predominant the African leader, it should play a bigbrother role in relations with African states. Nigeria was a founding member of the OAU and often channeled major policy initiatives through that organization. Most of its relations with other African states took place outside the OAU framework but were guided by OAU principles. Nigeria's primary African commitment was to liberate the continent from the last vestiges of colonialism and to eradicate apartheid in South Africa. Promoting liberation had grown from a weak and conservative stance during the 1960s to an increasingly firm push after the civil war. This commitment was pursued most actively after Murtala Muhammad successfully backed the Movimento Popular de Libertação de Angola's ascent to power in Angola in 1975 by providing the swing vote in the OAU decision to recognize the MPLA. Nigeria had played a role in the independence of Zimbabwe and in the late 1980s was active in assisting Nambibia to achieve independence of Namibia. In the latter case, it contributed about US$20 million to assist the South West Africa People's Organization in the 1989 elections and other preparations for Namibian independence. The country also contributed financially to liberation movements in South Africa and to the front line states of Zambia, Tanzania, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe, which were constantly harassed by South Africa. Although Nigeria's armed forces were among the largest in black Africa in the early 1990s, sizable military might has rarely been used in foreign policy (see Local and Bilateral Issues; African and Regional Issues , ch. 5). The army participated in peacekeeping forces, either alone or through the OAU and contributed personnel to United Nations peacekeeping missions. In line with its ECOWAS comunitment, Nigeria was one of the main contributors of troops to the ECOWAS Cease-fire Monitoring Group (ECOMOG) sent to Liberia August 23, 1990 after the peace talks there failed. Additional forces were sent in late September 1990 under a Nigerian field commander, General Doganyaro. Threats to fight for southern African liberation were made but not acted on, but Nigeria did give military and financial aid to the African National Congress for its efforts against the apartheid regime in South Africa and provided military equipments to Mozambique to help its struggle South African-backed guerrillas.
In addition, Nigeria gave aid and technical assistance to several African states, often through the African Development Bank of which it was a major benefactor. In 1987 a Technical Aid Corps, operating along the lines of the United States Peace Corps, was established. Under it, young Nigerian professionals served in other African, Caribbean, and Pacific countries where their expertise was needed. Nigeria also provided scholarships and fellowships, training facilities, grants, equipment, and medical supplies, and subsidized oil during the 1970s' oil crisis to African countries under certain conditions.
In July 1974, the Gowon government decided to sell crude oil at concessionary rates to African countries on condition that they had their own refineries and would not re-export to third countries. The decision came despite Nigeria's role as an Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) member generally in favor of higher prices and after more than two years of deliberations. Nigeria acted largely in response to external pressures: international actors attempted to divide Third World countries into OPEC members and nonoil producers; various African countries, especially Liberia, begged for less expensive oil; and both the Organization of the Islamic Conference and the Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries had established programs to aid poor countries while encouraging other oil producers, especially African nations, to follow suit. Providing subsidies for African countries was a safe move for Nigeria because Africa comprised only a small portion of the country's total oil export market, it enhanced Nigeria's position and influence in Africa while building African solidarity, and it protected security interests by preventing economic decline. Moreover, this example of generosity aided Nigeria in its efforts to create ECOWAS. In November 1990, Babangida suggested that Nigeria might again offer concessionary prices to other African countries as the Middle East crises pushed oil prices upward.
Data as of June 1991
Nigeria Table of Contents