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On assumption of office as president, Obasanjo made diplomatic moves to redeem the battered and shattered image of the country which was as a result of the unending transition to democracy, increase in the abuse of fundamental human rights and the regular killing of innocent citizens in the 1990s. This led to the imposition of international sanctions on Nigeria. However, with the return to democracy and Obasanjo’s shuttle diplomacy, sanctions placed on Nigeria were removed. And as part of Nigeria’s commitment to make Africa the centre-piece of the country’s foreign policy, Obasanjo continued with Nigeria’s leading role in the maintenance of peace and conflict resolution in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Togo, Sudan, etc. This work is a review of Nigeria’s foreign policy during Olusegun Obasanjo’s second era and its impact on Nigerian citizens. It examined the plight of Nigerians in some countries where the country participated in peace keeping operations during Obasanjo second era. Other issues that affect Nigerian citizens which were discussed in this work include the case of Bakassi and the country’s diplomatic moves for debt relief and investment. The central question addressed in this research is: What were the measures taken by the government to protect Nigerian citizens in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Sudan where Nigeria participated in peace keeping operations; and in the Bakassi Peninsula which was ceded to Cameroon? However, the main focus of this research is to review and assess the impact of Obasanjo’s foreign policy formulation and implementation on national life. It includes how his foreign policy affected Nigerians economically, socially and politically. The work was designed among other things to provide the historical account of Nigeria’s foreign policy under obasanjo civilian era. In order to achieve this, it applied historical narrative and descriptive method of analysis. With the use of available evidence drawn from oral interviews (with some diplomats, political office holders, and scholars of international relations), books, and journals; this work has made attempt to examine the various strategies put in place to formulate and implement Nigeria’s foreign policy between 1999 and 2007. The successful campaign for debt relief and the repatriation of looted funds are prominent among the results of his diplomatic manoeuvring. Nevertheless, it has been argued in this work that despite the recovery of looted funds, debt cancellation, and the promotion of Foreign Direct Investment; there was neglect of the pursuit of vital national interests which include protection of territorial boundary and the lives of citizens, and the improvement of the well-being of citizens. And as part of the attempt to make contributions to knowledge, this work has provided the historical analysis of Obasanjo’s foreign policy between 1999 and 2007.




Background to the Study

The civilian regime of Olusegun Obasanjo in Nigeria pursued the same foreign policy and the same objectives adopted by various regimes right from the period of independence. Although the style tends to differ based on the idiosyncrasies of the number one citizen and his foreign affairs team, but the outcome has always remained basically the same. Promotion and protection of the national interests, promotion of African economic integration and support for African unity, promotion of international co-operation, respect for international law and settlement of international dispute are the major objectives of Nigeria’s foreign policy as enshrined in section 191 of the Nigerian constitution which various governments tried to adhere to in pursuance of the country’s foreign policy. The focus on Africa as the centre-piece of the country’s foreign policy has always been maintained right from 1960. Tafawa Balewa laid the foundation. Shortly after independence, he demonstrated his commitment to the course of Africa by sending a large contingent of Nigerian soldiers and policemen to take part in the UN peace-keeping operations in Congo.1 He also led the attack on South Africa’s domestic policy of Apartheid which segregated the South African population along racial lines.2 Subsequent regimes reinforced the African centred foreign policy in various ways such as playing a leading role in the formation of the Economic Community of West African State (ECOWAS), supporting the struggle for independence in Angola, Zimbabwe, and Namibia; Murtala/Obasanjo military regime played a significant role in the struggle. Hence, Olusegun Obasanjo still maintained Africa as the central place in the Nigeria’s worldview and policies when he returned as a civilian Head of State in


Prior to May 1999 when Olusegun Obasanjo was sworn in as a new civilian president, the

Nigerian armed forces had ruled the nation continuously for fifteen years. In this same era, Nigeria which was previously celebrated in the world as the foremost African nation fell into the pit of infamy, especially between 1993 and 1998.4 This  was as a result of the combination of domestic  and external circumstances and the personal idiosyncrasies of  the different military rulers which led to policy shifts, twists and turns.5 Hence, the events that made Nigeria to become isolated before the transition to democracy in 1999 can be traced to when Shehu Shagari,  a democratically elected president was removed  from office through a coup d’état

It is important to note that democracy is partly an instrument for good foreign relations.

However, Nigeria lacked this instrument between 1983 and 28 May 1999.  On 31 December

1983, General Muhammadu Buhari terminated the democratically elected government of Shehu Shagari and placed many Nigerians in detention without any plan for a transition to democracy. Omo Omoruyi posits that there was no readiness on the part of Buhari to return power to the civilians.6 Transition to democracy was not part of his agenda all through his stay in office before he was removed. The situation became worse under the leadership of Ibrahim Babangida due to his high level of deception. He gave different dates of handing over.7    He promised to hand over power four times: 1990, 1992, January 1993, and August, 1993 and four times he failed.8

The decision of the military administration of Ibrahim Babangida to annul the presidential election in 1993 was a major setback to Nigeria’s foreign relations.  It was perhaps the most credible election in the history of Nigeria. This was confirmed by majority of Nigerians and foreign observers.  The annulment of the election happened at a time when most countries particularly the G7 had made democracy, good governance and human rights essential determining elements in international politics and in their relations with developing nations. Hence, Babangida’s regime gave a lethal blow to Nigeria’s image abroad and its foreign policy in particular.9 Nigeria’s role as Africa’s spokesman began to diminish rapidly.

Worse still, the June 12 Saga was still lingering when General Sani Abacha took over from Ernest Shonekan, the leader of the Interim National Government without any agenda on how to improve Nigeria’s foreign relations. This was reflected in his speech: “…for the international community, we ask you to suspend judgment while we grapple with serious task of nation building… Give us the chance to resolve our problems in our own way.”10 The late General Sani Abacha’s statement is an indication of how he ruled in his own way without adherence to the tenets of rule of law and democratic norms. The violation of human rights which characterized his regime led to the imposition of various sanctions on Nigeria.  Abacha’s regime jailed MKO Abiola, the apparent winner of the June 12 1993 presidential election. And Kudirat Abiola who was struggling to restore the mandate of her husband was assassinated. 11 The execution of Ken Saro Wiwa and eight of his fellow activists from Ogoni land, the imprisonment of Olusegun Obasanjo and Shehu Musa Yar’Adua and the alleged killing of the latter while serving his jail term12 are some of the human rights violations which heightened the disagreement between Nigerian government and members of the international community. Therefore, Nigeria could not escape from the international sanctions. Apart from one of the ECOWAS summits held in Abuja, Abacha never attended any international summit.13 Hence, the need to bring Nigeria back to the comity of nations became inevitable  

The mysterious death of General Sani Abacha and the enthronement of Abdulsalami Abubakar marked the beginning of the steps towards redeeming the battered and shattered image of Nigeria in the comity of nations. Abubakar’s one year in office reflected the country’s domestic priorities, particularly reconciliation and democratization.  This won a lot of respect for the regime as it facilitated the return of Nigeria to the main stream of international community and once more gave ‘credibility and legitimacy’ to Nigeria’s leadership credentials in Africa and beyond.14

On ascension to the number one leadership position in Nigeria, Obasanjo’s primary assignment was to bring Nigeria back from isolation because, no nation can experience meaningful development in isolation from the international comity. Therefore, he set up a committee called International Relations Club to enhance the country’s foreign policy. Professor Bolaji Akinyemi, Professor Eze Osita, Ambassador Olujimi Jolaoso, and Ambassador Hamsat Amadu were among the members.15And he also attended various international summits in the course of his shuttle diplomacy.16

The Obasanjo’s foreign policy was built on the already existing foundation of Nigeria’s foreign policy with focus on Africa. It was conservative and centered on economic diplomacy. He tried to strike a balance between Nigeria-Western relations and Nigeria-Asian relations by strengthening the Nigeria-China relations.17He embarked on consistent foreign trips by which he hoped the damaged image of Nigeria would be redeemed in order to encourage and promote Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in Nigeria. As part of measures to pursue the economic diplomacy, Obasanjo intensified efforts in his campaign for debt relief; this was finally achieved in 2005 when the Paris Club decided to cancel a substantial amount of the billions of dollars that Nigeria owed them18. Also, he took diplomatic steps towards the recovery of the billions of dollars stashed in foreign accounts by General Abacha and his cohorts. Nigeria was able to recover some amount of money from some of these foreign accounts. Luxemburg is one of the countries where the late General Abacha and his criminal associates hid the money. Kudos to the Obasanjo administration for the effort towards recovering the looted funds, but it would have been more appreciated if more opportunities were not created for embezzlement of funds while he was in office. Even the so called fight against corruption under his administration was selective.

Indeed, Obasanjo’s foreign policy really demonstrated a renewed commitment to African affairs. He was at the forefront of the struggle for regional integration of African economies and the prevention, management and resolution of various conflicts in Africa and elsewhere. However, the main purpose of foreign policy of any nation which is protecting the national interests and improving the well-being of the citizens was not really achieved. For instance, Nigeria held on the practices of maintaining the number one position in terms of peace keeping operation without considering her national interests as topmost priority. Even when Obasanjo complained that the country could no longer afford to continue with the peace keeping operation in Sierra Leone due to its financial burden, he still promised to continue if the operation could be funded by the UN. This was despite the fact that some Nigerian soldiers and civilians were the major targets of the rebels. They killed some of our citizens and amputated some of them. The same thing happened in Liberia. Two Nigerian journalists were tortured to death by Charles Taylor’s rebel group; and the best way Nigeria could react to the situation was to grant asylum to Charles Taylor for about three years. Also, Nigerians were crying to the government for the withdrawal of Nigerian troops from Sudan due to constant killing of Nigerian soldiers there, he turned a deaf ear to the situation.

Another area in which the well-being of Nigerian citizens was neglected is in the case of Bakassi peninsula. The way Obasanjo signed the Green Tree Agreement as a sign of acceptance of the judgment of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) shows an act of negligence as a Nigerian representative. Although wrong steps were taken by Nigerian government since independence, but the way the case was handled at the ICJ and the refusal of the government to appeal against the judgment of the court that ceded the place to Cameroon could be seen as government insensitivity to the plight of Nigerian citizens who were residing in Bakassi. Still on the well-being of Nigerian citizens, Obasanjo constantly travelled to all the regions of the world in the name of encouraging and promoting Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) without much consideration to the way the foreign companies treat Nigerian workers and exploit the country. For instance, about 37 Nigerian workers lost their lives in September 2002 when fire swept through two Chinese companies located at the Odogunyo Industrial Estate, Ikorodu, Lagos19 If safety measures were properly put in place, the fire that started in West Africa Rubber Products Limited would not have spread to the Super Engineering Limited located adjacent to the Rubber Industry. And in most of these companies, Nigerians only occupy the position of drivers, cleaners, messengers and the likes. The Obasanjo’s government celebrated the inflow of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and the growth of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) even when majority of Nigerians outside the ruling class could not benefit from the so-called growth of GDP. Although we cannot deny some of the achievements of Obasanjo’s foreign policy which include getting Nigeria out of the international isolation to a prominent position among the comity of nations, but Nigerian citizens deserve more than that. Perhaps, the decision of Yar’Adua/Jonathan administration to pursue what they described as ‘citizen diplomacy’20 could be as a result of the weakness of Obasanjo administration in protecting the interests of Nigerian citizens.

Statement of the Problem

One of the objectives of Nigeria’s foreign policy which is the promotion and protection of national interests is an ideal foreign policy objective of any ideal nation. However, the protection of citizens and territorial boundaries which should be the core national interest was neglected in Nigeria before and during Obasanjo second era. As part of Nigeria’s commitment to the course of Africa since independence, Obasanjo still maintained Africa as the centre-piece of the country’s foreign policy. ‘Respect’ for international law and the settlement of international dispute especially in Africa seemed to have overshadowed the protection of national interests under Obasanjo second era. The issue to be investigated in this study is to know the extent to which Nigeria’s foreign policy made impact on national life under Obasanjo civilian government that claimed to have focused on national interests in the pursuit of the country’s foreign policy. However, despite the mass poverty, grave insecurity, dilapidated economic and social infrastructure, Obasanjo civilian government still continued with the country’s generosity abroad.

The accession of Obasanjo to power in 1999 was expected to usher some dynamism in the country’s foreign policy. Indeed, the Obasanjo era witnessed heightened foreign policy decisions that would remain controversial such as the Bakassi issue and the debt relief. However, no serious historical account has been undertaken. Most of the materials available on Nigeria’s foreign policy during Obasanjo civilian era were written on the pages of newspapers, magazines and journals without giving attention to historical methodology. This is also part of the gaps that this research tends to fill.

The civilian administration of Obasanjo tried to outline what has always been considered to be the objectives of Nigeria’s foreign policy. However, literature reveals that, there has not been agreement as to what constitutes Nigeria’s drive for foreign policy formulation implementation. For instance, Obasanjo continued with Nigeria’s ‘traditional role’ of peacekeeping operations and donations even to the detriment of Nigerian citizens. What has the country benefited from her African neighbours despite the financial and human sacrifices she has made in the course of peace keeping operations? In Liberia, Charles Taylor led rebel group killed two Nigerian journalists and all that Obasanjo’s government could do was to appreciate him by granting him political asylum. The well-being of Nigerian citizens which should be the mainstay of the country’s foreign policy was neglected. Even the recent loss of Bakassi, the killing of some of the inhabitants by the Cameroonian soldiers, and the homeless state of those who fled from there show that all is not well with the country’s foreign policy. Most of the available writings have focused mainly on how dynamic Obasanjo’s foreign policy was. Though useful, but did not properly assess the actual benefit or setback of his foreign policy. Hence, there is need to review Obasanjo’s foreign policy between 1999 and 2007, and to give relevant recommendations on what should constitute Nigeria’ drive for foreign policy and how it can be implemented. The study suggests among other things that Nigeria should limit her diplomatic relations with some countries that are always at the receiving end with nothing to offer in return. The country’s national interests should be well defined and no diplomatic step should be taken to the detriments of her citizens.


Purpose of Study

The need to critically review the foreign policy of Nigeria inspired my zeal for this research. There is need to redefine the country’s national interests and work towards achieving them through a purposeful foreign policy that can be beneficial to the citizens and at the same time stand the test of time in this era of globalization. It helps to reveal the benevolent gestures Nigerian government has displayed through her foreign policy even to the detriment of her citizens.

This research is to provide more opportunity for future researches on Nigeria’s foreign policy by presenting historical account of Nigeria’s foreign between 1999 and 2007; an area of research which has not been given adequate attention. It is important to also note that this research was designed among other things to:

  • Examine the various strategies put in place for the formation and implementation the country’s foreign policy between 1999 and 2007.
  • Identify the problems that militated against the successful implementation of some foreign policy objectives in Nigeria under Obasanjo civilian administration
  • Examine the pain and agony Nigerian citizens go through as a result of the approach adopted by Obasanjo in handling Nigeria’s foreign policy.
  • Assess the degree of achievement or failure of Obasanjo’s foreign policy during the period under review.


Significance of Study

This work is significant because it demonstrates the importance of the solution to most of the challenges of Nigeria’s foreign policy between 1999 and 2007. And the solution will help other administrations to improve human condition especially in Nigeria. It will also help Nigeria to place the national interests at the forefront while pursuing her foreign policy. However, it has been stated in this work that foreign policy does not favour a country that is backward technologically. Therefore, this work will also help to encourage the government on the need to develop the nation technologically in order to achieve her national interests in this era of globalization.

This research finding will also help to change the way people think about the status of Nigeria as a ‘giant of Africa’ which plays a major role in peace-keeping operations in Africa. Many Nigerians who are boastful of Nigerian peace keeping operations in Africa without considering its impact on the country would have a rethink.

Scope of Study

This study essentially covers the Nigeria’s foreign policy of the civilian administration of Olusegun Obasanjo from 1999-2007. However, it also examines government decisions of the previous administrations that made the country to become isolated from the comity of nations before General Abdusalami Abubakar became the head of state in 1998 and started the process of bringing the country back from international isolation. The timeframe of this work is from 1999 to 2007. This period represents an era of transformation in Nigeria’s foreign policy when it is compared to what was obtainable before General Abdusalami initiated the programme of transition to democracy.

1999, which is the starting date, is significant because it marked the beginning of Obasanjo civilian administration, and my intention is to examine the country’s foreign policy during his civilian administration. It is also significant because it marked another phase of transition to democracy in Nigeria. 2007 is the limit of the focus of this study just as it marked the end of Obasanjo civilian administration.



Literature Review

There are many scholarly works on Nigeria’s foreign policy during the civilian administration of President Olusegun Obasanjo. However, the materials to be reviewed are classified according to how they relate to the chapters of this study. One of the works that fit into Chapter one is P.A. Reynolds’ Introduction to International Relations.21 It presents a unified picture of international relations; it does not only provide a picture of how international systems operate but it also offers an understanding of the methodological problems associated with the task of generating that picture. It concentrates on the nature and structure of international systems. The author’s exploration of the nature of international relations was conducted from two different perspectives: the first views international relations in terms of the behavior of states: the second concentrates upon the nature and structure of international systems. However, he posits that relationships have become more complex, non-state actors such as multinational corporations have grown in importance, and interdependencies have developed. The book gives guidelines to analyze international relations and foreign policy. However, the focus of his work is not on Nigeria’s foreign policy, it concentrates on the U.S foreign relations. Nevertheless, his analysis on the structure of international systems will help this study to review Olusegun Obasanjo’s foreign policy.

Next in this category is W. Alade Fawole’s work titled Nigeria’s External Relations and foreign Policy under Military Rule, 1966 – 1999. 22 The book covers the foundation, principles and purposes of Nigeria’s foreign policy and external relations. It also captures the activities, accomplishments and shortcomings of various military regimes in the area of foreign policy. One of the most vital aspects of the work which will be very useful to this work is the analysis of the effort made by Abdusalami Abubakar to bring back Nigeria from the realm of isolation into the comity of nations and his achievement in the restoration of democracy which laid the foundation for another phase of Nigeria’s foreign policy in 1999. His evaluation on Nigeria’s foreign policy did not go beyond 1999, and it only covers the period before May 29. This work tends to cover the remaining aspects under civilian administration beginning from 1999-2007.

 Obasanjo Second Era23, edited by Terhemba Wuam, Stephen T. Olali, and James Obilikwu is another important work that needs to be reviewed under this category. It covers a whole lot of issues on the civilian administration of Obasanjo. Each of the seventeen chapters of the book was written by different contributors from various disciplines such as history, sociology, and political science in an attempt to shed light on the impact of policies and actions of Obasanjo’s government on development in Nigeria between 1999 and 2007. Part of the work which examines the personality and philosophy of Obasanjo reveals the role he played as a diplomat who improved the image of Nigeria in the international community, negotiated avenues for peace in tough and unruly situations in Africa. The work also examines the role of Economics and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in the fight against corruption in Nigeria.

However it states that the anti-corruption war which seemed to be built around the personality of EFCC ex Chairman, Nuhu Ribadu, the battle axe of Obasanjo, diminished the merit of the fight against corruption. The book also gives a review of the Nigerian economy between 1999 and 2007; it gives statistical analysis of the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) Gross Domestic Product (GDP), debt management, and poverty level in Nigeria. It further states that though the performance of the economy between 1999 and 2006 had been quite remarkable, it however leaves much to be desired. Also, the analysis of the book on politics and administration under Obasanjo indicates that though progress was witnessed, it was not on the scale expected considering the nation’s resources. Another important aspect of the book is where it examines Obasanjo’s foreign policy between1999 and 2007. It states how Nigeria bounced back to the international community after years of isolation. The work also evaluates the Nigeria’s relations in Africa, the Nigeria-US and South American relations, and the Nigeria-China relations. It helps to shed light on the bilateral, multilateral, and other agreements Nigeria entered with different countries of the world. However in this book, contributions focus on policies, programmes and projects that the Obasanjo’s government undertook. It did not give details of the extent to which Obasanjo’s foreign policy made impact on national life. This work shall bridge the gap by assessing the impact of Obasanjo’s foreign policy.

Similarly, Ngozi E. Ojiakor’s Social and Political History of Nigeria 1970 – 200624 which was published in 2007 covers both domestic and foreign policies of Nigerian government between 1970 and 2006. But it has limited information on Nigeria’s foreign policy. It concentrates more on the domestic policy of each administration which makes it very relevant to this study because a country’s foreign policy is a reflection of her domestic policy. It gives vivid analysis of the activities, achievements, and the loopholes of each administration beginning from Gowon administration down to the civilian administration of Olusegun Obasanjo. The work made attempt to provide the historical account of Nigeria’s foreign policy. However, her analysis on Nigeria’s foreign policy lacks depth; what was provided is the summary of Nigeria’s foreign policy. This work will help to review Obasanjo’s foreign policy beyond the level of summary.               In chapter two of Patrick Wilmot’s work titled Nigeria: The Nightmare scenario25, he examines some events that took place during the era of military dictatorship especially under Ibrahim Babangida and Sani Abacha administration. The work shed light on the anomalies that characterized various administrations in Nigeria especially from 1997 – 2007. It helps to reveal much hidden information concerning the administrations of Babangida, Abacha and Obasanjo. He examines the various human rights-abuses in Nigeria and how he was abducted and expelled from Ahmodu Bello University in 1988 by Ibrahim Babangida and Ismail Gwarzo, the head of state security service. This happened because Patrick Wilmot, who was foreign lecturer at the Ahmodu Bello University Zaria was accused of teaching what he was not paid to teach: the author also gives analysis of the politics in the 21st century and how to remake Nigeria. He posits that trade union, teachers, students, intellectuals’ voluntary organizations, and patriot in every institution in the country must provide forums for the discussion of the country’s future, of how it massive human and natural resources can be used to alleviate it torments. The author also argues that Obasanjo who survived the horrors of Abacha’s sadistic prisons, did not look back at his experience and create protection for his people against cruelty; adding that Nigerian democrats veterans in the  war against despotisms, expected General Obasanjo to have done better. However, this work lacks depth in its analysis of the various human right variations and embezzlement of public funds which contributed to the international isolation that Nigeria experienced. The gap will be covered in this research through other materials that treat similar topic and oral information from well experienced scholars.

Another one is New Horizons for Nigeria in World Affairs26, edited by U. Joy Ogwu. The work covers Nigeria’s foreign policy in theoretical and historical perspectives. It also examines global powers and Multilateralism in Nigeria’s foreign policy. It states that effective regional cooperation and integration in Africa is critical to the solution of the country’s numerous problems. It looks at the role of external actors in the process of democratic consolidation in Nigeria. It examines that for the respective foreign donors and non-governmental organizations that actively supported Nigeria’s democratization experience, promoting democracy within the context of globalization was synonymous with promoting a free market economy and a favourable investment climate for western multinational corporations. But Nigeria’s focus now should be on how to lay the foundation for a credible and transparent general election, free from every form of manipulation. This will help to boost our foreign policy because foreign policy is a reflection of domestic policy. However, the work is silent about the events that made Nigeria to be isolated before 1999. The vacuum shall be filled in this work that will among other things provide historical accounts of how Nigeria experienced international isolation.

Closely related to it is Nigeria’s Foreign Policy Under General Abdulsalami Abubukar27 an article written by Isiaka Badmus and Dele Ogunmola examines the foreign policy and the domestic environment of Nigeria during the administration of general Abdulasami. He gives analysis of the pain caused by General Ibrahim Babangida administration which annulled the 12 June 1993 presidential elections and how Nigeria finally became a pariah state during Abacha administration. The regime of Abdulsalami ensured that there was improvement in human rights; political prisoners were released, while opposition members in exile were encouraged to return home to contribute their quotas to nation-building. As Chairman of ECOWAS, he favoured negotiation in restoring peace in Guinea Bissau rather than open confrontation in spite of entreaties by President Vierra for ECOMOG to intervene in the crisis. He also helped to negotiate the resolution of the Sierra-Leone conflict. The article also examines the efforts of the administration with regards to changing the country’s status from the realm of isolation and launching it back to its position of prominence in international community. Every aspect of this article is relevant to my study. Nevertheless, the work limited its focus to Nigeria’s foreign policy under Abdulsalami Abubakar Administration. This work tends to continue with the analysis of Nigeria’s foreign policy by focusing on how it was played out during   Obasanjo civilian administration which succeeded the administration of Abubakar.

In a similar vein, “Olusegun Obasanjo’s Policy Score Sheet: Challenge of Leadership and Continuity.”28 An article of Sheriff Folarin in Nigerian Forum, a Journal of Opinion on World Affairs deeply examines the domestic policy of Olusegun Obasanjo and how it reflects on the country’s foreign policy. The article gives analysis of military executive, economic, social, electoral, and political constitution reforms of Obasanjo administration between 1999 and 2007. It also examines the role of The New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD),ii one of the institutions initiated by Obasanjo and Mbeki of South Africa. NEPAD has been integrated into the African Union structures as a sustainable continental strategy for political and socialeconomic redemption. The work is important to this research in the area of the Obasanjo’s effort in restoring the status of Nigeria in the comity of nations However, the political score sheet of Olusegun Obasanjo as explained in the article is limited to domestic policy. This work is to cover the loopholes by assessing and reviewing Obasanjo’s foreign policy.

In another category, Nigeria and the Reform of the United Nation: An Overview.29 Edited by Abubakar S. Mohammed, et aliii examines the role or Nigeria in peace building, Conflict Resolution and peace keeping since 1960. The work helps to examine Nigeria and the world in the 20th and 21stcenturies. It also examines the role of Nigeria at the United Nations in the past, the present and the future. It gives analysis for the role of Nigeria as a member of CommonWealth, Non-Aligned Movement, OPEC, G77, and ECOWAS. Nigeria has been playing a leading role in the international effort to bring peace to Sudan. Nigeria successfully mediated the restoration of democratic role in Sao Tome and Principe. The work is related to the chapter 3 of this work. But it did not examine the impact of peace-keeping operations. It will be put into consideration in this work through information from other available materials and oral interviews concerning the role of Nigeria in peace keeping operations.

Also, Nigeria and the Permanent Membership of the United Nations Security Council:

An appraisal,30 an article of C. Nna-Emeka Okereke in Nigerian Forum, a Journal of Opinion on World Affairs covers the historical link between Nigeria and UN since 1960. It also examines the structures of United Nations Security Council and the need to increase its membership. The article gives analysis of Nigeria’s contribution to peace keeping operation under UN and some other factors that make Nigeria qualify for the position of permanent member of the Security Council. Although the work did not did not comprehensively examine the Nigeria’s peacekeeping operations, it will help to give insight in analyzing the sacrifices Nigeria has made to resolve crisis in Africa. Therefore, the work will enhance this research to examine the various atrocities committed against Nigerians in the course of peace keeping operations.

Similarly, ECOWAS and Conflict Management in Cote D’Ivoire: Appraisal and

Prognosis,31 an article of Dele Ogunmola in Nigerian  Forum, a Journal of Opinion  on World Affairs examines how ECOWAS member countries have decided to look inward for conflict resolution due to the lukewarm attitude of the major global powers towards African conflicts. It is in this regard that the article focuses on peace keeping operations in Cote D’Ivoire with the view to assessing the role and the performance of ivECOWAS in conflict management in that country. The work centres on how ECOWAS managed the conflict in Cote d’Ivoire. It lays emphasis on the special role played by Nigeria in managing the conflict. It will help this research will consider the extent to which ECOWAS managed the crisis in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Sudan.

In a related analysis, Peace studies and conflict resolution in Nigeria,32 edited by Miriam Ikejiani-Clark examines peace and conflict resolution in Nigeria from independence to the civilian regime of President Olusegun Obasanjo. It explains the role of Nigeria in peace-keeping operations. It also states Nigeria’s commitment to international peace and security as enunciated in the preambles of the Charter of the United Nations. It argues that Nigeria has never ignored the responsibility of maintaining peace in Africa right from the period of independence. Nigeria plays that role due to the perception of both her leaders and citizens that the country takes the lead in Africa terms of military strength. But the work is silent about how maintenance and resolution of conflicts in Africa affects Nigeria. The gap will be covered in this work through careful interrogation concerning the experience of some Nigerians within the conflict regions and the commitment of Nigeria for the peace keeping operations.

Micheal Omang Bonchuk’s Civil-Military Relations and Democracy in Nigeria.33 examines the civil military relations in a democratic government with the main focus on Nigeria. It helps to examine the extent to which military personnel help in strengthening democratic norms. It also helps to examine the likely reasons why military personnel may be reluctant in carrying out their functions as given by the commander-in-chief of the armed forces in accordance with constitution. For instance, in Sudan, Nigerian soldiers were the main target of the rebels; most of them were reluctant to continue with mandate given to them by Obasanjo civilian government because some of their men were dying and no diplomatic action was taken to rescue the situation. The author posits that military is a special instrument of State policy, designed and set apart to carry its constitutional role of defending the territorial integrity of the country.34 Although, the work mainly examines the relationship between the military and civilians in a democratic government, but an aspect of it which gives analysis of the peacekeeping approach to conflict management is relevant to this research.

Similarly, Nigeria’s African policy in the 21st Century: An Appraisal of Contending

Issues35 by Ayo Akinbobola and Tunde Adebowale is an article in Nigerian Journal of International Affairs which covers a critical analysis of the evolution of Nigeria’s African Policy, and its dimension in the 21st century. It examines the historical antecedents or evolution of Nigeria’s African Policy and Nigeria’s role in organizations such as ECOWAS and AU with special reference to conflict, prevention management and resolution. It helps to compare the peace-keeping approach between the military governments in the 1990s and the civilian government of Obasanjo with regards to the money spent for the operations. Unlike the previous governments, Obasanjo reduced the excessive spending on the operations. Its extensive analysis on the issue of Bakassi peninsula is also very vital to this work. Although, the work lacks broad explanation on how the evolution of Nigeria’s African policy was played out in Liberia and Sierra Leone. This research will help to analyze the changes that occurred in Nigeria’s diplomatic relations with Liberia and Sierra Leone between 1999 and 2007.

Also, The Nigerian Law of Asylum and Charles Taylor36, an article written by R. C. Changani gives analysis of president Obasanjo’s decision to offer political asylum to Charles

Taylor and the argument it generated. The writer posits that having granted asylum to Taylor in Nigeria, the country would not have done any other thing than to safeguard the recipient of the asylum; surrendering Charles Taylor due to pressure from US and the UK would negate the spirit of ECOWAS peace initiative aimed to restore peace and stability in Africa. But since Taylor was indicted before the period of asylum Nigerian government ought to have allowed justice to take its course rather than granting him asylum. The international politics behind the asylum granted to Charles Taylor in Nigeria which the article did not examine will be considered in this work through valuable information from foreign policy actors who worked within the period under study.

            In another category, Nigerian-Cameroon Tussle for the Bakassi Peninsula the Way Forward37v, an article of Michael Olusegun Jayeoba in Nigerian forum a Journal of opinion on world affairs, examines the legal tussle between Nigeria and Cameroon over the territorial ownership of the oil rich and fishing sub-marine shoals known as the Bakassi Peninsula, leading to the verdict of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) at Hague. The verdict of ICJ ceded the disputed Peninsula to Cameroon. The ceding of Bakassi to Cameroon has resulted to displacement of the Bakassi people from their ancestral abode and source of livelihood. However, the writer’s view that the decision of Nigerian government to give the territory to Cameroon without appealing against the International Court Justice [ICJ] verdict is the best decision to take is questionable. Although he said it would help Nigeria to maintain good relations with the international community, but the interest of her citizens and the entire national interest should equally be considered especially when dealing with sensitive issues. The writer also gives historical analysis of the struggle and the Nigeria’s withdrawal from Bakassi peninsula. The pain and agony that the former inhabitants of Bakassi are going through which was not examined in the article will be put into consideration in this research by analyzing the information from some of the former inhabitants of Bakassi Peninsula.

In a related work, Obasanjo and the New Face of Nigeria’s foreign policy38viwritten by Abdulmumin Jibrin sees Obasanjo’s diplomatic moves concerning the case of Bakassi as part of the strength of his foreign policy. It makes an attempt to give a historical collection of the foreign policy of Nigeria from between 1960 and Obasanjo second era. It concentrates on the civilian administration of Olusegun Obasanjo; it posits that it was a period of wide ranging reforms in different spheres of Nigeria’s domestic policies which have had definite implications on and impacted upon the external relations of the country. The book epitomizes Olusegun Obasanjo, his words and actions within the context of contemporary foreign policy of Nigeria. But Prof. Julius Ihonvbere’s opinion at the back cover of the book which states that Nigerian democratic government under Obasanjo witnessed a strategically formulated and flexibly implemented foreign policy that was guided by strategic and economic factors is questionable. According to the professor, Obasanjo had a special concern to create a positive image for Nigeria in the comity of nations. The pain and agony that most Nigerians especially those who were formally residing in Bakassi peninsula are going through today is as a result of the so called ‘good image’ that Obasanjo administration wanted to create even when there was opportunity for his government to appeal against the judgment of the International Court of Justice (ICJ). Specifically, section 12 of the 1999 Nigeria’s constitution requires that no treaty shall have the force of law in Nigeria except to the extent that is has been approved by the National Assembly. Unfortunately, the performance of Nigeria’s treaty obligation with respect to the handing over of Bakassi to Cameroon did not conform to this constitutional provision. Also, during 2007 general election campaign, Obasanjo said and I quote “I will campaign because this election is a do-or-die affair for me and my party”. Is that how to consider political reality? The answer is definitely no. Although, Olusegun Obasanjo made positive impact towards Nigeria’s Foreign policy during his administration from 1999 – 2007 but his impact should not be exaggerated. However, the book will help in analyzing judgment of the international court on Bakassi.

Osita Agbu’s Nigerian Civil Society Work and Debt Relief Campaign39 is another scholarly work that needs to be reviewed. The work deeply examines the role of Nigerian Civil Society as well as the effort of segments of the international Civil Society toward debt relief for Nigeria. The work argues that the government policy of campaigning for debt forgiveness indicates that creditor countries would have a rethink and forgive all of the unsustainable debts. It also posits that the decision by the Paris Club to write off some billions of dollars Nigeria owed the Club could be seen as part of the achievement of Obasanjo’s foreign policy40. His work fits into the chapter 5 of this work which examines the Nigeria’s diplomatic drive for debt relief and investment. Although, the main focus of the work is debt relief; this research will examine how money laundering and embezzlement of public funds led to the accumulation of huge debt.

Similarly, David Ugolor’s Global Debt Relief Movement and the Campaign for Debt Relief 41 for Nigeria examines the effort of non-governmental organizations across the globe mounting pressure on creditor governments to cancel the debts of poor countries. It dwells more on the role of the Jubilee 2000 Campaign towards the debt relief. It also examines the diplomatic strategies of Obasanjo who worked with a team of experts in the fields of economics and international relations before the Paris Club arrived at their decision. However, the work did not examine the debt Nigeria owed. But it will help this study to review Obasanjo’s diplomatic steps towards the actualization of debt relief and it implication on national life.

Next in this category is Nigeria’s Foreign Policy of Good Neighbourliness: A Critical Review.42 It is article of Idowu Olawale which highlights the basis of Nigeria’s policy of good neighbourliness which are: moral obligation, Nigerian security considerations, and the need to neutralize French influence in Africa. He gives analysis of specific good neighbourliness of Nigeria’s foreign policy which includes the construction and purchase of equipment of a 200-bed hospital in Cape Verde during Babangida administration and the donation of an airplane to Sao Tome and Principe. In July 2004, the Obasanjo administration made available the sums of $40million and $5million to Ghana and Sao Tome and Principe respectively for financial assistance.43

He concludes by explaining that the financial and economic assistance given by Nigeria to neighbouring countries during Obasanjo administration were given only if such assistance is commensurate with expected gains accruable to Nigeria. However, he did not give instances on how assistance rendered by Obasanjo was commensurate with the expected gains. Nevertheless, the work will help this research to examine Nigeria’s diplomatic moves in Africa.

          Similarly, Nigeria’s Foreign Relations in Obasanjo-Atiku Year44, by Greg Mbadiwe gives an overview of the economic diplomacy of Obasanjo civilian administration. The work examines the efforts of Obasanjo toward enhancing and promoting Foreign Direct Investment, repatriation of ill gotten wealth and the establishment of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD). It provides information on almost all the foreign trips Obasanjo embarked on in the process of attracting foreign investors. It also examines the extent to which some of the foreign investors responded to Obasanjo’s call for foreign investments in Nigeria. It gives details of the various bi-lateral and trade agreements between Nigeria and other countries during Obasanjo administration. Some of those countries include United States of America, China, South Africa etc. The work also makes provision for the statistics of foreign direct investments in Nigeria during Obasanjo second era. Although, the author’s analysis of the bi-lateral trade agreements between Nigeria and other countries lacks depth but it will enhance the analysis of such agreements in this research.

Also, Continuity and Change in US- Nigeria Relations, 1999-2005,45 an article written by

Hassan A. Saliu and Fatai A. Aremu, shed light on the evolution and development of Nigeria – US relations before and after 1999. The article indicates that Nigeria’s relationship with the US was, to say the least, frosty and generally unstable in the late 1980s and almost all through the 1990s for the ostensible reason that Nigeria was under military dictatorships. With the successful enthronement of democracy in Nigeria in 1999, changes started occurring in Nigeria – US bilateral relations. But in certain areas, the bilateral cooperation remained shallow, fragile and generally unstable. The article highlights factors which drive US – Nigeria bilateral affairs and gives options for stronger and deeper relationship for the mutual benefit of both states. By late 1999, the US-Nigeria Joint Economic Policy Council (JEPC) was launched in Washington as a framework to strengthen bilateral consultation on economic reform, debt relief, investment and Aid.46 It is important to note that the confrontation being played out between China and US over the control of global economy, and the growing economic ties between Nigeria and China may affect Nigeria – US relations, for good or bad. But the work did not examine the impact of USNigeria relations on Nigerian nation. It is part of what this research tends to cover.

          In the last category of this review, Challenges for Nigeria at 50: Essays in Honour of Professor Abdullahi Mahadi,47 edited by A. M. Ashafa deserves attention. The work examines the concept and practice of democratic principles in Nigeria. It also gives an overview of democratic project in Nigeria from 1999-2010. The work gives highlight of the challenges of democracy in Nigeria. These are the failure of leadership, high level of corruption, the challenge of credible elections, the challenge of political violence, heightened level of militancy and ethnoreligious crises among others. This is useful to the concluding chapter of this research which will examine the internal challenges that directly or indirectly affect the country’s foreign policy. However, its recommendation on how to solve the challenges are inadequate, this research will give further recommendations.

Re-defining Nigeria’s National Interest in World Diplomacy,48viian article written by

Idumange John is another work that is worth reviewing. The work examines two main sources of Nigeria’s foreign Policy Objectives namely: the Nigerian Constitution and the actions of the leaders. It focuses on the Afro-centric nature of Nigeria’s foreign policy and states the need for the country to conduct bilateral and multilateral engagements with other countries. The article helps to analyze the problems of Nigeria’s Foreign Policy and gives recommendations on how the problems can be solved. But the work did not adequately provide what should be the country’s drive for foreign policy formulation and implementation. This and further recommendations will be provided in this work

Nigeria’s Foreign Policy, 1960 – 2011: Fifty One Years of Conceptual Confusion,49  an article written by Atah Pine gives historical perspective of Nigeria’s Foreign policy. The article analyses Nigeria’s involvement in decolonization struggles in Angola, Mozambique, Namibia, and anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa. The writer states that in spite of the huge financial expenditures and massive loss of human and material resources in the civil wars in Liberian and Sierra Leone, Nigeria has not been able to reap any economic benefits.viii But even though there is an iota of truth in his statements, the way he labeled the fifty one years of Nigeria’s Foreign Policy (1960 – 2011) as a conceptual confusion is too harsh, there are still records of some achievements on the country’s foreign policy within these periods. Nigeria has never suffered military invasion from any country across the globe; that is an achievement to some extent. However, the work will help this research to re-examine the country’s foreign policy within the period under review and provide recommendations on how best Nigeria can benefit from her foreign policy.

The M. A. project of Bulus Nom Audu, titled Impact of Nigeria’s Foreign Relations on the Armed Forces, 1990-200750 also examines the impact of government relations with the outside world in such areas as military manpower development, acquisition of modern weapons of war, and participation in peace-keeping efforts at the regional level, the project extensively examines the Liberian crisis of 1990s, the sierra Leonean crisis which started around 1996 and ended in the early 21st century. But the main focus of his work is on Nigeria and Sierra Leone. This research will cover the remaining gaps by providing an evaluation of the impact of Nigeria’s foreign relations as it was played out in Sudan and Cote d’Ivoire and make recommendations on when and when not be involved in peace-keeping operations.

However, most of the evaluations of Nigeria’s foreign policy in books, journals, magazines and newspapers concerning Obasanjo’s civilian administration still need to be reexamined. This work will help to fill some of the vacuums in some scholarly works on Obasanjo’s foreign policy as noted in this literature review.


Sources, Methods, and Organization

Right from independence, attempts at writing on Nigeria’s foreign policy have relied on both oral and written sources. Both primary and secondary sources are vital for an effective research on Nigeria’s Foreign Policy. Considering the fact that this is a contemporary study, it became necessary to obtain data through oral source in order to check and to supplement the written sources that were widely consulted. Oral information was obtained from interviews conducted with individuals across the country. Some scholars and diplomats that worked with Obasanjo during his civilian administration especially those within Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) and the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (NIIA) were interviewed. However, the data from the interviewees was carefully scrutinized by the researcher.

Secondary sources consulted by the researcher include books, journal articles, internet documents, unpublished materials, and articles from newspapers and magazines. The researcher consulted materials from some establishment like public institutes, state library, internet, and universities for relevant information.

A sound historical method was applied in the course of this research. The researcher elicited much information concerning this study from MFA and NIIA. Some of the authors of the books consulted were once Ambassadors, Ministers in charge of foreign affairs, and Director Generals of NIIA under Obasanjo’s civilian administration. Examples of those in these categories include Professor Joy U. Ogwu and Professor B.A. Akinterinwa. Nevertheless, this work is interdisciplinary in nature. Therefore, it is not limited to the discipline of history. The sources from other disciplines such as Diplomacy, International Relations, Political Science, and Strategic Studies were consulted. Some degree of evaluation was made based on the research findings. However, this study is based on qualitative approach which is a system of inquiry that seeks to gather an in-depth understanding of human behaviour and the reasons that govern such behaviour. This study is adopted a historical narrative and descriptive method of analysis. Thematically, it discusses the major themes that characterized the Nigeria’s foreign policy shortly before and during the civilian administration of President Olusegun Obasanjo.

The work is organized into six chapters. Chapter one is the introduction which covers the background to the study, statement of the problem, purpose  and significance of study, scope of study, sources, methodology, organization, theoretical frame work and literature review. Chapter two examines Nigeria from the period of international isolation to 1999. Chapter three discusses Nigeria’s diplomatic relations with some African countries between 1999 and 2003, especially on the aspect of peace-keeping operation. Chapter four examines judgment of the International Court on Bakassi Peninsula in 2002. It discusses the origin of the struggle between Nigeria and Cameroon over Bakassi. It also examines Nigeria’s withdrawal from the place after the ICJ verdict, and the plight of Nigerians who were formally residing there. Chapter five examines the campaign for debt relief, the repatriation of the looted funds by late Abacha, the promotion of Foreign Direct Investment, and how they affect the well being of Nigerian citizens. Chapter six is the conclusion of the entire work.


Theoretical Framework and Conceptual Issues

Theory can be defined as a set of statements or principles devised to explain a group of facts or phenomena, especially one that has been repeatedly tested or is widely accepted and can be used to make predictions about natural phenomena. It is the hypothetical description of a complex entity or process.51 


And ‘power’ means many things to many people including scholars of international relations. But it is not that ambiguous and elusive to the extent of not being useful as an analytical tool. One of the finest definitions of power which tend to relate power to foreign policy is that proposed by John Stoessinger. His proposition is that “power in international relations is the capacity of a nation to use its tangible and intangible resources in such a way as to affect the behaviour of others.”52 However, it is important to note that power theory seems to be the most appropriate theory for this research.

Gene Sharp’s theory of power can be explained in terms of the claims it makes about power and the potential to effectively alter social operations through a non-violent means.53 His power theory offers a frame work for understanding how non-violent action works.54 This refers to building a potential for changing relations   of domination and subordination such that this change benefits those who are dominated. Theory of power seeks to empower those who are traditionally regarded as powerless in an oppressive relationship, thus enabling them to alter their conditions. His non-violent consent of analyzing power theory has made the theory to be more relevant in the world too accustomed to the recorded accounts of dealing with conflict by violent means.55 However Sharp’s non-violent concept helps to explain Obasanjo’s foreign policy which maintained the traditional role of Nigeria in peace keeping operations without being involved in violence

It may be argued that the historical and political tradition to which sharp’s view of power belongs is Social Contract theory.  Sharp cites the work of Rousseau, Hobbes, Machiavelli, and Montesquieu to develop and support his own view of power. Moreover, he is concerned with the very question that social contractarians sought to answer. Central issues of social contract theory may be described in this manner:

In the natural condition, ‘all men are born free’ and equal to each other; they are ‘individuals’. This presupposition of contract doctrine generates a profound problem: how in such a condition can the government of one man by another   ever be legitimate; how can political rights exist? Only one answer is possible without denying the initial assumption of freedom and equality. The relationship must arise through agreement.56


Sharp asked the same question: how is it that rulers have power? And he offers the answer; by the consent of their subjects.57


It is also important to note that traditional approach and behavioural approach which

play vital role in the study of international relations make reference to power as the anchor of a country’s foreign policy. The traditional approach takes descriptive or historical forms. It is also the approach of those who concentrate on ‘power politics’. Those who employ this approach review state actions and history and interpret them according to their own best judgment. Some proponents of classical approach like Raymond Aron and Stanley Haffman examine history to describe the international system and look at sociology-man in groups to explain why. They see  States as the sole actors and concentrates on the unfolding of  political events.58  However, Hans Morgenthau who also used traditionalist  approach posits that  traditionalists concept of international   relations is that national interest requires constant accumulation of power  for survival and security. To him and his disciples, ‘power’ is man’s control over the minds and actions of others and can be determined by examining the relationships between actors, The belief of scholars who advocate this approach for purposes of analyzing and understanding international relations is that focus should be on power as the distinguishing aspect of international relations as well as domestic politics.59

The behavioural approach propounded by Ivan Pavlov is concerned with human behaviour rather than that of states or organizations in the analysis of international relations. It seeks to examine the behaviour, actions, and acts of individual rather than the characteristics of institutions where power operates. This is contrary to the approach of classicists or traditionalists who prefer to focus on the behavior of governments in terms of how they pursue their national interest.  Despite the contradiction between the two, both of them view power as a vital instrument that can be used to achieve national interests. Hence, the personality of Obasanjo is to be put into consideration in analyzing his foreign policy. Obasanjo operated with authoritarian and confident personality. It reflected in the civil-military relations.60

George Graen’s Linkage theory explains the nature of relations between a leader and the followers.61 It can also be linked to power theory. The link between domestic policy and foreign policy explains why power theory can be applied in analyzing Obasanjo’s foreign policy. For students of foreign policy, the linkage theory is an elementary explanation of how internal factors help in shaping and giving definition to the quality and direction of foreign policy.62 In Nigeria Obasanjo exercised power with little or no restriction. It was played out in all the component units of the federation. For instance, in Ekiti State, he declared state of emergency and placed Adetunji Olurin, a retired military officer as the sole administrator. The military operations in Odi, Bayelsa State and Zaki-Biam Benue State and the indictment of some Governors by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) are all part of the ways Obasanjo displayed his power at the domestic level.  Although in some cases, the power he exercised violated human rights. His personality as one of the powerful leaders in Africa reflected in Nigeria’s foreign policy.  A good example is the case of Sao Tome and Principe where President Fradique de Menezes who was removed through military coup was reinstated through the effort of President Olusegun Obasanjo.  Here is Obasanjo’s message to the coup plotters: “Relinquish power now or be over powered militarily in the spirit of African union” 63It was also played out in the area of peace keeping operations especially in Liberia and Sierra Leone and the asylum granted to Charles Taylor. Hence, Nigeria has tangible elements of power (territory, population, national resources and military strength) and the intangible elements (leadership and organization) to operate as a force to reckon with in African region.

Power theory describes international politics and a hierarchy with a “Dominant State,” the one with the largest proportion of power resources (population productivity, and political capability meaning coherence and stability);  “Great Powers,” a collection of potential rivals to the dominant state and who share in the task of maintaining the system and  controlling the allocation or power resources; “Middle Powers” of regional significance similar to the dominant state but  unable to challenge the Dominant State or the system structure, and “Small Power,”  the rest.64  Nigeria fits into the “Middle Powers” because  the nation operates power at the regional level but lacks the wherewithal to challenge the Dominant State.  This happened when Nigeria lost Bakassi to Cameroon because some of the Great Powers like France and Britain were directly or indirectly behind Cameroon.




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