The period under review opens with the assumption of Nigeria into the status of a republic following the provision of 1963 constitution. Nnamdi Azikiwe became the president of Nigeria while Tafawa became the Prime Minister. Their leadership continued till January 16, 1966 when some army officials staged a successful coup d’ etat tat overthrow the government and brought Aguiyi ironsi to power. The period ended also with another coup d’etate in 1975 that brought Murtala Mohammad to power. It lasted for twenty two years (22)
From the inception of the federal Republic in 1963 and its association with outside .world the center of us foreign policy has been characterized with the interest and betterment of African at large.
NIGERIAS FOREIGN POLICY BY THE PERIOD
Belewa/Nnamdi Azikewe Regime
From the regime Tafawa Belewa / Nnamdi Azikewe regime,
Africa was identified as the center-piece of Nigeria’s foreign policy on three concentric circles which has the Nigeria neighbors in West Africa as its main focus than the rest of the world. I suffice it to say that Nigeria within this time committed its foreign policy to the ending of the cause of endless problems in Africa Tafawa Belwa’s interest in Africa was never in doubt. He was always interested in the well being and freedom of Africa and Africans following his three concentric circle which identified Africa as the main focus of Nigeria’s foreign policy and also following his speech , he asserted that “…….Please do not think that we are not interested on the problems of the rest of the world; we are intensely interested in them and hope to be allowed to assist in finding solutions to them through this organization, but being human we are naturally concerned first with what affects our immediate neighborhood in Africa”.
Belewa portrayed Africa as the foremost concern of his foreign policy and was particularly committed to the unity and progress of Africa as well as the decolonization of Africa. Belewa played a major role in formation of organization of African unity (OAU) on 1963 and the Chad Basin commission in 1964. Nigeria under this period also contributed to the funding of OAU librations committee.
Nigeria under Belewa severed relations with France; the government was also deeply involved towards the decolonization of Africa and played an active role in the expulsion of racist South Africa from the common wealth.
Nigeria also offered a non-military assistance such administrative and medical staff training for the provisional Angolan independent government of Holden Robert.
All these were achieved under the Belewa/Azikiwe regime that showcased Nigeria as the centre-piece of Africa.
The leadership of Gowon remains so far the longest administration in Nigeria and battled with a domestic or internal environment characterized by Civil War but this did not shift or deter his focus more on the issues and problems of Africa in his foreign policy initiative. From the Regime of Gowon, Nigeria’s commitment to Africa become profoundly pronounced as it declared Africa the center piece of its foreign policy. Nigeria under the period committed itself to rid off colonialism in the continent and white supremacist regime.
In 1972, Nigeria led the Africa boycott against South African participation in the Olympic Games against its resist action. Also Nigeria in trying to identify with the plight of a fellow African nation therefore cut its diplomatic relations with Israel in 1973 in sympathy with its brother nation Egypt against Israel. To maintain its big brother in Africa, in 1974 during its oil boom sold oil at a cheaper price to all African nations for economic assistance. Also Gowon enhanced Nigeria’s trade with other African countries and led the struggle for collective bargaining between Africa, Caribbean and pacific states and the European Economic Commission (EEC) that led to the signing of Lome convention in 1975. This bargaining brought a lot of economic benefits to African nations. Gowon in its bid to integrate and provide a viable Economic outlet for Africa so as to contend with the France’s political and Economic influence, made the greatest achievement in West Africa in 1975. His effort which is under the foreign policy of Nigeria under him to boast the economy of Africa was coronated when in May 28, 1975 history was made following the gathering of fifteen West African States assembled in Lagos and signed the treaty establishing the Economic Communities Of West African States (ECOWAS). This achievement made the effort of Nigeria’s regional integration in its foreign policy realized.
Nigeria from its independent/attainment to Republic government in 1963 to 1975 committed its foreign policy to Africa as the canter piece which primarily and persistently accorded utmost attention, total concentration and exclusive recognitions to Africa in Nigeria’s foreign policy making and implementation before thinking of the outside world. Its achievements in Africa within this period were of recommendation on international area of thereby positioned Nigeria as big brother and the piece-center in Africa.
By COMR. C. C. AGUBOSIM