AN ASSESSMENT OF AFROCENTRIC FOREIGN POLICY IN CONTEMPORARY INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS IN NIGERIA’S FOURTH REPUBIC
Since independence, Nigeria has played a leading role on various issues pertaining to the African continent. As a non-aligned state, it was at the forefront of the anti-apartheid and anti-colonial struggles from the 1970s, and is generally regarded within and outside Africa, alongside Egypt and South Africa, as one of Africa’s leading states, and a global key player from Africa.
Nigeria was at the forefront of helping to transform the now-defunct Organization of African Unity (OAU) from a political liberation entity into an organization that places economic development at the centre of its mandate. Nigeria has made important contributions to relevant development strategies aimed towards improving the socio-economic conditions of the African continent.
In recent times, however, Nigeria has not pulled its weight at the continental level for various reasons, such as its inability to produce a coherent continental agenda, and its limited representation at the highest decision-making level of the AU. Perhaps, with the development of a coherent foreign policy strategy following the reappraisal of the existing overarching foreign policy strategy, Nigeria can effectively mobilize relevant resources to pursue its objectives.
One of the principles guiding the conduct of Nigeria’s foreign policy is Afrocentrism. The concept of Nigeria’s Afrocentric policy embodies two intertwined ideas. First, it is designed to advance the interest and wellbeing of African countries through different intra and extra-African diplomatic channels. Second, the reason for embracing a representative function on behalf of Africa in global forums and the enormous sacrifices undertaken in the process is to enhance Nigeria’s status as Africa’s undisputed leader. The exploits and sacrifices in the pursuit of the policy notwithstanding, Nigeria has had to endure some disappointments and inconveniences.