The historical antecedents of Nigeria’s foreign policy owes much to the vision of Alhaji Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, Nigeria’s first Prime Minister and Head of Government, October 1960 to January 1966, and can be located in his famous speeches during the immediate pre and post independence periods. These speeches include his statement in the House of Representatives on August 20, 1960; his Independence Day Address on October 1, 1960 and his Acceptance Speech on the occasion of Nigeria’s admission into the membership of the United Nations in New York on October 8, 1960. From the late 1950s especially from 1958 when he became head of the Self-government and when Nigeria’s Independence was slated for October 1, 1960, Balewa articulated in these speeches the fundamental principles that would guide Nigeria’s external relations after independence and the basis upon which the country would relate with other countries of the world, as well as what its posture would be towards international organizations.

Although a critical look on the speeches show the paramount importance that the government placed on continental and global issues, it can not be doubted that an overwhelming and significant emphasis was placed on African issues and problems. Thus, during his UN acceptance speech, Balewa stated that: So far I have concentrated on the problems of Africa. Please do not think that we are not interested in the problems of the rest of the world; we are intensely interested in them and hope to be allowed to assist in finding solutions to them through this organization, but being human we are naturally concerned first with what affects our immediate neighborhoods5 . Beyond these, Balewa ensured the effective realization of the newly independent country’s foreign policy after independence and was not quick in appointing a minister for the Ministry of External Affairs. It was not until 1961 that he appointed Hon. Jaja Nwachukwu as minister of foreign affairs and still ensured that his views of Nigeria’s foreign policy were upheld6 . Nigeria’s foreign policy objectives are a reflection of the country’s national interest. And every foreign policy is a dynamic process that is determined by the domestic needs and aspirations of the country coupled with certain practical economic, political and socio-cultural forces in the international environment7 . Therefore, the major goal of Nigeria’s foreign policy is to protect and to promote the country’s national interest. The objectives of Nigeria’s foreign policy are enshrined in Chapter 2, Section 19 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria under the rubric of Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy, thus : promotion and protection of the national interest; promotion of African integration and support for African unity; promotion of international co-operation for the consolidation of universal peace and mutual respect among all nations and elimination of discrimination in all its manifestations; respect for international law and treaty obligations as well as the seeking of settlement of international disputes by negotiation, mediation, conciliation, arbitration and adjudication; and promotion of a just world economic order