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Nigeria - Foreign Relations

Nigeria has enjoyed generally good relations with its immediate neighbors. Since independence, Nigerian foreign policy has been characterized by a focus on Africa and by attachment to several fundamental principles: African unity and independence; peaceful settlement of disputes; nonalignment and nonintentional interference in the internal affairs of other nations; and regional economic cooperation and development. In pursuing the goal of regional economic cooperation and development, Nigeria helped create the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), which seeks to harmonize trade and investment practices for its 15 West African member countries and ultimately to achieve a full customs union. Over the past decade, Nigeria has played a pivotal role in the support of peace in Africa. It has provided the bulk of troops for the UN peacekeeping mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL), the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), and many of the troops to the African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS).

Nigeria is the predominant power in West Africa. It was instrumental in the creation of the Economic Community of West Africa (ECOWAS) in 1975. Under the ECOWAS umbrella, Nigeria has taken the lead in conflict resolution in several West African civil wars, putting troops into Liberia (twice) and Sierra Leone. Nigeria has also played an important role in other conflicts, most recently in Sudan, Sao Tome, and Cote d'Ivoire. Nigerian peacekeeping troops are currently stationed in Darfur as part of the African Union mission, and will also be deployed to Somalia. On the wider African stage, President Obasanjo is a founder of the New African Partnership for Development, NEPAD, the AU's flagship development blueprint. President Obasanjo held the Chair of the AU for 2005/06.

A longstanding border dispute with Cameroon over the potentially oil-rich Bakassi Peninsula was addressed by International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague in 2002. The ICJ awarded most of the disputed Bakassi Peninsula and maritime rights to Cameroon, and the UN established a Mixed Commission on implementing the ICJ ruling. On June 12, 2006 Nigerian President Obasanjo and Cameroonian President Paul Biya signed an agreement in New York on implementing the ICJ decision. Nigeria withdrew its troops within 60 days. On August 14, 2008, Nigeria formally ceded Bakassi to Cameroon.

Nigeria is a member of the following international organizations: UN and many of its special and related agencies; World Trade Organization (WTO); International Monetary Fund (IMF); World Bank/IBRD; African Development Bank (AfDB); INTERPOL; Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC); Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS); African Union (AU); Maritime Organization of West and Central Africa (MOWCA) and several other West African bodies; Commonwealth; Nonaligned Movement (NAM); and Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), among others.

Nigeria has been very helpful in mediating conflicts. When the conflict in Liberia broke out initially, under ECOWAS, Nigeria went in to stabilize Liberia before Taylor took over. Following the situation in Liberia, Nigeria was called to go to Sierra Leone to fight the RUF and Foday Sankoh and those brutal terrorists who chopped off limbs of children and wreaked havoc on their population, and once again, it was leadership of the Nigerians that went in recently into Sao Tome and Principe, the government was almost overtaken by a planned coups d'etat, but it was Nigeria's President Obasanjo who sent word to Sao Tome and Principe that they needed to go back into the barracks, and there would not be a military takeover because of the newly found oil in the Gulf of Guinea. And that was settled. And even in Togo, where the son of the President decided that he would take the leadership of the country without due elections, it was Nigerian President Obasanjo who said there is a process and you cannot become President because your father has died. There is a process, and the process won out.

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Page last modified: 16-02-2019 19:17:03 ZULU