Nigeria’s Foreign Policy and Codification of National Interest: A Prescriptive Analysis

Lady Ajayi, Tobi Njoaguani, Bankole Olorunyomi, PhD, Sheriff Folarin, PhD


Nigeria has an ambitious foreign policy but an ambiguous, unscripted, not
well defined and inconsistent national interest. Aside the fact that this is not good for a
country that pursues an ambitious external agenda and incongruent with its stature in
global politics; it also makes the concept and reality of national interest susceptible to
personalized interpretations, manipulations and distortions by the different political
regimes. In other words, national interest becomes different strokes for different folks,
depending on how each perceives and wishes it. Like every other sovereign country
of the world, Nigeria‟s national interests have been largely determined and
defined by the various leaderships that have over the years ruled the country. This
paper builds its argument on the premise that a country‟s national interest is pivotal to
its foreign policy and national development. Using the National Interest Theory (NRT)
for a historical-descriptive discourse, the underlying issues found include the fact that
in the case of Nigeria, as vital as the concept is both to the existence of a nation and as
a source for the analysis of foreign policy behaviour of states, national interest has been
subject to exploitation. Successive leadership of the country has hidden under the cover
of national interest to perpetuate their individual interests. The probability for carrying
out such acts is very high because Nigeria‟s national interest lacks proper codification
and documentation. This paper thus makes a case for the codification and
documentation of Nigeria‟s national interest. It does not suggest what the “interests”
should be, but argues for intelligible national interest for direction, focus and attention
to topmost priorities in the country‟s external relations.

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