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An Assessment of the Impact of Nigeria’s Foreign Policy on Economic Development in the 4th Republic (1999-2022)


This research critically examines the impact of Nigeria’s foreign policy decisions on its economic development during the 4th Republic (1999-2022). As the nation grapples with economic challenges, the study delves into the dynamic relationship between foreign policy choices and economic outcomes. Historical records, policy documents, and diplomatic correspondence were scrutinized to construct a comprehensive understanding of Nigeria’s foreign policy evolution. The analysis of economic indicators alongside foreign policy strategies revealed patterns and trends, offering insights into the nation’s economic trajectory. The study advances theoretical understanding by evaluating empirical findings against Realism, Dependency Theory, and Liberalism. This comparative analysis enhances the applicability of these frameworks to Nigeria’s context, providing nuanced insights into the alignment or deviation from established international relations theories. Cross-cutting themes and patterns identified in the data highlight the interconnectedness of foreign policy and economic development, contributing to a more profound theoretical understanding. Practical implications and recommendations address policymakers, diplomats, and the public. The insights gained can inform evidence-based policy decisions, refining diplomatic strategies for better alignment with economic development objectives. By addressing persistent challenges and harnessing opportunities, stakeholders can work towards a more cohesive and effective foreign policy framework. Emphasis on public awareness ensures that the research findings reach a broader audience, empowering citizens to engage in informed discussions and contribute to policy formulation aligning foreign policy with economic aspirations. This research adds a nuanced perspective to the complex interplay between foreign policy and economic development, offering valuable insights for scholars, policymakers, and practitioners seeking a deeper understanding of Nigeria’s experience during the 4th Republic.




Background to the Study

Nigeria, often referred to as the “Giant of Africa,” holds a significant position on the African continent due to its vast population, abundant resources, and historical role in regional and international affairs (Abati, 2019). Since the return to democratic governance in 1999, Nigeria has experienced four consecutive republics, with the 4th Republic spanning from 1999 to 2022 (Akindele, 2021; Omotola & Saliu, 2021). During this period, the country has grappled with numerous challenges, including economic development issues. The foreign policy of a nation plays a pivotal role in shaping its economic fortunes on the global stage (Morgenthau, 2016; Weiss, 2021). This research proposal seeks to explore and assess the impact of Nigeria’s foreign policy on its economic development during the 4th Republic.

Nigeria’s foreign policy during this period underwent several transformations, reflecting the changing global geopolitical landscape (Akinterinwa, 2022; Uhomoibhi, 2020b). The country has strived to balance its commitment to regional stability, peacekeeping, and economic cooperation with its pursuit of national interests (Agbu, 2017; Dokubo, 2021). This dynamic relationship between foreign policy and economic development warrants a comprehensive examination to gain insights into the successes, failures, and challenges faced by Nigeria during the 4th Republic.

One cannot overstate Nigeria’s significance in Africa and its potential to influence the continent’s economic landscape. With a population exceeding 200 million people and vast reserves of oil, Nigeria stands as a powerhouse within Africa (Nurudeen, 2020). However, despite these advantages, Nigeria has faced numerous economic development challenges during the 4th Republic. High levels of poverty, unemployment, and underdevelopment have persisted, highlighting the need for a deeper understanding of the factors at play (Adejumo, 2017).

Foreign policy is a critical instrument through which a nation engages with the international community, and it can significantly impact a country’s economic development (Morgenthau, 2016). Nigeria’s foreign policy choices during the 4th Republic are of particular interest because they occurred in a period marked by significant shifts in global politics, security concerns, and economic dynamics (Akinterinwa, 2022). As such, this research aims to assess how Nigeria’s foreign policy decisions and engagements during this period have influenced its economic development (Abati, 2019).

Nigeria’s foreign policy in the 4th Republic was marked by a desire to balance its regional responsibilities and commitments to international peacekeeping efforts with its pursuit of economic growth (Dokubo, 2021). The country actively participated in peacekeeping missions across Africa, contributing troops and resources to stabilize conflict-ridden regions (Saliu, 2020). While these efforts were commendable in terms of regional stability, it is essential to analyze their impact on Nigeria’s economic development.

Furthermore, Nigeria engaged in various international partnerships, trade agreements, and diplomatic initiatives during this period (Akinterinwa, 2017). These engagements aimed to promote economic cooperation and attract foreign investments. However, it is vital to scrutinize whether these endeavours translated into tangible economic benefits for the country (Ajaebili & Oyewole, 2021).

As Nigeria navigated the complex terrain of international relations, it encountered both challenges and opportunities in its pursuit of economic development. The challenges included navigating diplomatic tensions with other nations, managing resource allocation for both diplomatic and economic priorities, and addressing internal issues that hindered economic growth (Fawole, 2021; Lamido, 2020).

One of the key challenges that Nigeria faced during the 4th Republic was the need to strike a balance between its roles as a regional peacekeeper and an economic powerhouse (Ogunbayo, 2021). Active participation in regional conflicts and peacekeeping missions required significant financial and human resources. This raised questions about the allocation of resources between security and economic development needs (Berdal, 2021). Additionally, diplomatic tensions with other nations, such as trade disputes or strained relations, could have negative economic repercussions (McDermott, 2019).

Conversely, Nigeria also encountered opportunities in its foreign policy endeavours that could have positively influenced economic development (Okocha & Nzeshi, 2017). For example, diplomatic efforts to strengthen trade relations with emerging economies and attract foreign investments could have facilitated economic growth (Saliu, 2020). These opportunities, if effectively harnessed, might have contributed to addressing some of the economic challenges the country faced (Akindele, 2021).

In light of these challenges and opportunities, it is crucial to assess the overall impact of Nigeria’s foreign policy on its economic development during the 4th Republic. This assessment will provide valuable insights into the extent to which foreign policy decisions and engagements contributed to or hindered the country’s economic progress (Plischke, 2019).

The significance of this research extends beyond academic inquiry. It has practical implications for policymakers, diplomats, and the Nigerian population at large (Saliu, 2019). By understanding the intricate relationship between foreign policy and economic development, policymakers can make more informed decisions (Akindele, 2021). Diplomats can refine their strategies to maximize economic benefits from international engagements (Satow, 2016). Moreover, an informed public can engage in discussions that promote policies aligning foreign policy with economic development objectives (Uhomoibhi, 2020).

In summary, Nigeria’s foreign policy during the 4th Republic held a pivotal role in shaping the country’s economic development. As a significant player in Africa, Nigeria’s foreign policy choices have far-reaching consequences. This research proposal seeks to assess the impact of these choices on the nation’s economic fortunes. It recognizes the challenges and opportunities presented by Nigeria’s foreign policy and aims to provide valuable insights and recommendations for enhancing the alignment of foreign policy with economic development goals.

 Statement of Problem

The economic development of Nigeria during the 4th Republic has indeed been a topic of intense scrutiny and debate (Abati, 2019). Despite its abundant natural resources and a sizable market, the country continues to grapple with persistent challenges such as poverty, unemployment, and underdevelopment (Fawole, 2021). These challenges underscore the urgency of evaluating the role of Nigeria’s foreign policy in its economic development.

Foreign policy decisions play a pivotal role in shaping a nation’s economic fortunes (Morgenthau, 2016). Nigeria’s foreign policy choices during the 4th Republic have been diverse and multifaceted, reflecting the country’s aspirations on the global stage (Akinterinwa, 2022). As such, it is essential to assess how these choices have impacted the nation’s economic trajectory.

Moreover, Nigeria’s foreign policy objectives have adapted to the ever-changing global landscape (Saliu, 2019). The emergence of new geopolitical dynamics, regional conflicts, and evolving economic partnerships have necessitated adjustments in the country’s foreign policy approach (Uhomoibhi, 2020). Understanding the intricate relationship between foreign policy and economic development is crucial for policymakers (Saliu, 2019). It enables them to identify areas where foreign policy can be optimized to better serve economic goals and address the nation’s challenges (Akindele, 2021).

In summary, Nigeria’s economic development during the 4th Republic faced persistent challenges despite its vast resources and market potential (Fawole, 2021). To comprehensively address these issues, it is imperative to assess how Nigeria’s foreign policy decisions have contributed to or hindered its economic development (Abati, 2019). Additionally, recognizing the evolving nature of foreign policy in response to global dynamics is essential for identifying areas where policy adjustments can promote economic growth and stability (Saliu, 2019; Uhomoibhi, 2020).

Objectives of the Study

The objectives of this research study are to:

  1. Assess the impact of Nigeria’s foreign policy on its economic development during the 4th Republic (1999-2022).
  2. Examine the challenges and opportunities presented by Nigeria’s foreign policy in the pursuit of economic development during the 4th Republic.
  3. Provide policy recommendations for enhancing the alignment of Nigeria’s foreign policy with its economic development objectives in the future.

Research Questions

  1. To address the research objectives effectively, the study will seek answers to the following research questions:
  2. How has Nigeria’s foreign policy influenced its economic development during the 4th Republic (1999-2022)?
  3. What were the major challenges and opportunities that Nigeria encountered in pursuing economic development through its foreign policy during this period?
  4. What policy adjustments and strategies can be recommended to align Nigeria’s foreign policy more effectively with its economic development goals?

Significance of the Study

This research holds considerable significance for various stakeholders, including policymakers, scholars, diplomats, and the Nigerian population at large. The findings of this study can provide valuable insights into the relationship between foreign policy and economic development in Nigeria.

For policymakers, the research can inform them about the effectiveness of Nigeria’s foreign policy in promoting economic development. It can guide future policy decisions to better align foreign policy with economic objectives.

Scholars and academics can benefit from the study as it offers a comprehensive analysis of Nigeria’s foreign policy in the context of economic development. This provides a basis for further research and scholarship in the field.

Diplomatic practitioners can also gain from this research by understanding how Nigeria’s foreign policy has impacted economic outcomes. This knowledge can potentially inform future diplomatic strategies and engagements.

The general public can benefit as well, as the research outcomes can enhance public awareness and understanding of the complexities of foreign policy and its connection to economic development. This can empower citizens to engage in informed discussions on these critical matters.

 Scope of the Study

This research project will centre its investigation on the specific timeframe of Nigeria’s 4th Republic, spanning from 1999 to 2022. The selection of this period holds substantial significance, given that it encapsulates a significant portion of Nigeria’s contemporary history characterized by the transition to democratic governance following years of military rule. Furthermore, this era was marked by several noteworthy shifts in global geopolitics, rendering it an intriguing and pertinent subject of study.

The primary focus of this study will revolve around a meticulous examination of Nigeria’s foreign policy decisions, diplomatic interactions, and international relationships throughout the 4th Republic about its economic development. This investigation will encompass a comprehensive analysis of pivotal foreign policy events, trade associations, international partnerships, and the impact of foreign aid. While the study acknowledges the importance of other critical factors influencing economic development, such as domestic policies and governance, it will prioritize the foreign policy dimension within the specified timeframe.

This research endeavour seeks to unravel the intricate dynamics between Nigeria’s foreign policy choices and its economic development trajectory during the 4th Republic. By dissecting the nation’s engagements with the global community, trade relations, diplomatic strategies, and international collaborations, the study aims to shed light on the extent to which foreign policy decisions have contributed to or hindered Nigeria’s economic progress within this crucial timeframe.

Operational Definition of Terms

Foreign Policy: The strategies and actions adopted by a sovereign state in its interactions with other nations to safeguard its national interests.

Economic Development: The sustained, concerted effort to improve a country’s economic well-being and quality of life through various policies, programs, and activities.

Liberalism: A theory in international relations promoting cooperation, free trade, and multilateralism as means to achieve peace and prosperity among nations.

Economic Diplomacy: The use of diplomatic tools and negotiations to advance a country’s economic interests on the global stage.

Foreign Direct Investment (FDI): Investment made by a company or individual from one country into business interests located in another country.

Bilateral Cooperation: Agreements and collaborations between two nations to achieve shared goals, often in areas such as trade, investment, or security.

Multilateral Cooperation: Collaborative efforts involving multiple nations or international organizations to address common challenges or pursue shared objectives.

Global Geopolitical Dynamics: The complex interactions and power relations among nations in the global political arena.

Regional Stability: The condition in which a specific geographic area experiences political, economic, and social calm and security.

Diplomatic Relations: Formal interactions and engagements between countries through diplomatic channels, involving the exchange of ambassadors, treaties, and official communications.



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