Factors that Influence Nigeria’s Foreign Policy

Nigeria's location in Africa has positioned it as a key player in African affairs. This position shapes its approach to continental issues


In this post, we shall briefly examine the factors influencing Nigeria’s foreign policy. At the end of this lesson, students should be able to enumerate these factors.

Foreign Policy

Foreign policy refers to the strategy and tactics employed by a state in conducting its relationships with other countries while pursuing its national interests. It encompasses diplomatic, economic, military, and cultural interactions with the international community.

Image CreditDavid Rotimi on Unsplash.

As a diverse and influential nation, Nigeria’s foreign policy continues to evolve to address the challenges and opportunities in the international arena.

Factors that Influence Nigeria’s Foreign Policy

  1. Population, Land Mass, and Human Resources: Nigeria’s large population, vast landmass, and abundant human resources play a significant role in shaping its foreign policy. These factors contribute to Nigeria’s potential as a regional power and influence its diplomatic engagements.
  2. Economic Resources: The availability of economic resources, such as mineral wealth (for example, oil and natural gas) and agricultural products, impacts Nigeria’s foreign policy. Economic interests often guide the country’s trade relations and international economic cooperation.
  3. Commitments of Previous Governments: Treaties, pacts, and agreements made by previous governments can have lasting effects on Nigeria’s foreign policy. These commitments shape the Nigeria’s interactions with other nations and may influence its diplomatic priorities.
  4. Ideological Disposition: Nigeria’s foreign policy can be influenced by its leaders’ ideological beliefs. The alignment with countries sharing similar ideologies can lead to strategic partnerships and cooperation in various international forums.
  5. Military Strength: The military strength of Nigeria, including its size and capabilities, has implications for its security interests and international engagements. Strong military capabilities can enhance Nigeria’s role in regional security and peacekeeping operations.
  6. Industrial Strength: Nigeria’s industrial capacity influences its trade relations and choice of trading partners. Providing electricity and exporting natural gas to neighbouring countries like Niger, Ghana, Benin, and Togo showcases its industrial influence in the region.
  7. Public Opinion: Public opinion can exert pressure on the government to adjust its foreign policy stance. Major foreign policy decisions, such as the 1962 Anglo-Nigeria Pact, were influenced by public sentiment.
  8. Geographical Location: Nigeria’s location in Africa has positioned it as a key player in African affairs. This central position shapes its approach to regional and continental issues, and it seeks to promote peace, stability, and economic integration in Africa.
  9. Historical Background: Nigeria’s historical background, including its colonial legacy and membership in organizations like the Commonwealth, informs its interactions with former colonial powers and other international bodies.
  10. Type of Government: The type of government, whether military or democratic, can influence the formulation and implementation of Nigeria’s foreign policy. Different types of government may prioritize different aspects of international relations.
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