Foreign Policies of Nigeria under Balewa...An intellectual quest!

Definition of Foreign
Foreign Policy is the strategy of defending a nation’s national interest of a given society. Foreign policy has been defined as a co-ordinal strategy or attempt adopted by a nation or a state with a view to manipulating the international environment in order to achieve its national interest.
Foreign policy could also be defined as a coherent set of principles or intentions that influences, determines or guides the behaviour of a nation in her interactions with other actors within the international system.
Many of the goals, political, social, economic, etc. which states try to pursue in the international system cannot be achieved within the territorial confines of the national state. Because of this, a state necessity has to be in communication with its external environment. It is the totality of this communication that is commonly referred to as foreign policy1.
According to Keith R. Legg and James Merison, the term ‘foreign policy’ may be defined as “a set of explicit objectives with regard to the world beyond the borders of a given social unit and a set of strategies and factice designed to achieve those objects. It implies the perception of a need to influence the behaviour of other states or international organization”.2
First for foreign policy to be workable, there must be a national interest. Therefore it is this national interest of a nations that propels the formulation of her national interest. Therefore, it could also be said that foreign policy is the projection of a nation’s national interest pursued beyond the borders, or confines of her territory.
Foreign policy is being conveyed by a vehicle called Diplomacy. It is through acts of negotiation, bargaining and maneuvering that a nations foreign policy is pursued. Therefore national interest peoples foreign policy, diplomacy becomes the vehicle which conveys foreign policy.
       It is a known fact that nation’s are the actors in the international system. Nigeria as a state we plays a major role in the international system.
       When Nigeria got her independence in 1960, it became quite obvious that she has a prominent and a leading role a Africa. According to “Dr. Obiozor he states that,
       “Nigeria is truly the great of Africa …. It is twice the population of Egypt, three times that of South Africa and twelve times that of Zambia ….. Nigeria alone constitutes 25% of the total African population. In area, Nigeria is roughly equivalent to France, Italy, Belgium and Holland put together. From Lagos, a city in the south-west, to Maidugin a state capital in the North-east to the distance between London and Warsaw in Poland.
       These implies how strategic Nigeria occupies in Africa and what should be her new role in stabilizing Africa and to make it a force to reckon with.
       Following her independence, Nigeria came of age to engage in intercourse with other actions of the international system. This the government of the day had to evolve and inundate Nigeria’s foreign policy principles.
       By 1957, Nigeria was clearly on the path toward independence. In preparation the British Government named Abubakar Tafawa Balewa the first prime minister of the soon to be independent nation on a power sharing agreement among the colony’s three major political parties. In the following radio address broadcasted to Nigerians in September 1957, Balewa accepts his new appointment and outlines the political future of the soon-to-be independent nation. Hence Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa became the Head of government.
       The last substantive legislative and executive power to be transferred constitutionally by the departing imperials authorities to the leaders of the independence movements in the east while colonies has usually been the power to conduct external relations with other independent and sovereign states in the international system.
       The Nigerian flag having been hosted and the union Jack however, thereby heralding Nigeria’s independence and ultimate admission into the committee of nation states, thus the job of conducting Nigeria’s foreign relation fell on the lap of Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balawa, the prime minister.
       But at independence Nigerian leaders were more concerned with power politics than with foreign relations. What existed on foreign policy then was found in party manifestoes. Despite this ‘political actors of the first Republic’ authorities argued, ‘appeared to have been contented with Britain controlling Nigeria’s foreign policy perspective’. 
       However, Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balawa laid down the guiding principles of Nigeria foreign policy. These principles are enumerated below:
v    The Defence and promotion of Nigeria’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and national independence.
v    The creation of the necessary economics and political conditions to secure the government, territorial integrity and national independence of other African countries and their total liberation from imperialism and all forms of foreign domination.
v    Creation of the necessary condition for the economic, political, social and cultural development of Africa.
v    Promotion of the rights of all blacks and oppressed people throughout the world.
v    Promotion of African unity.
v    Promotion of the world peace built on freedom, mutual respect and equality for all peoples of the world.
v    Respect for the territorial integrity of all nations.
v    Non-partisanship in East-West ideological and freedom of association and action in ten international system.
It should be noted that despite this declaration occasioned by Nigeria’s independence and admission into the UNO and as stated earlier, the colonial structure in Nigeria was still left intact.
Economically, Nigeria continued to be tied to Britain. Iter cash crops (the mainstay of her economy then) continued to be exported to Britain.
Politically Nigeria adopted the British West minister parliamentary model of democracy.
Internationally, Nigeria continued to look up to Britain as her guide and mentor through the jungles of international politics.
Socio-culturally, Britain continued to be the model for Nigeria to emulate. The English language education and mannerism were the accepted ladder for upward mobility.
According to Ethelbert Chukwunenye Nwachukwu, in his book “The Role Of Ideology in Nigeria’s foreign policy”, “Tafawa Balewa perceived the world to be a dangerous place in which one had to tread with a high degree of caution and this for him meant ‘staying with trusted friends and discouraging relations which in his view were capable of accentuating the fragility and instability of domestic environment’.3
According to Dr. Ogaba Oche a research fellow at the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs, Lagos, “The Nigerian foreign policy under Tafawa Balewa’s regime had all the trappings of conservatism(caution)”.4 This caution or conservatism as some have labeled it, inclined him towards a legalistic view of and approach to the world.
This was clearly manifested in his African policy with its emphasis on the status quo. Hence the foreign policy of “African-centerpiece” or, “Afrocentrism”-
v    Peaceful resolution of disputes and minimalist outlook on African unity.
v    Support for Western demarche in the Congo.
v    Encouragement of the Rhodesian Federation.
v    His in flinching faith in the Commonwealth’s ability to resolve through negotiations, the problems of the Unilateral Declarations of independence in Southern Rhodesia.
v    His confidence that apartheid could be successfully fought through diplomatic pressures in international institutions such as the Commonwealth and the United Nations.
v    And generally his overall belief that Nigeria’s foreign policy goals could be attained through the instrumentality of the Commonwealth and the United Nations.

According to Corea in his book “Non alignment: the dynamics of movement” he says that non-alignment is the couscous choice by a state not to get involved in the system of mutual suspicious and hostile politico-military alliance. Also, non-alignment is a state that tends to refused to join entangling alliances especially the cold war alliances.5 It can also so neutral it is policy of non-commitment on the part of developing nations of Africa and Asia with respect to the superpower Ideological and unmilitary-political blocs
Under Balewa’s government. It was pro-westernism and conservatism. Balewa shaped the pertain of Nigeria. Foreign policy which Britain continued to occupy prominent position in Nigeria foreign relations in terms of trade political e.t.c. as countries of the Eastern bloc were not reckoned within the Nigeria’s foreign relation under Balewa. Even the time USSR wanted the open an Embassy of in Nigeria which they were turned down with an Excuse of not accruing enough resource to reciprocate by opening an Embassy in Moscow.
Meanwhile, Balewa’s non-alignment was basically on Anglo-Nigerian defence pact of 1960. Balewa shoed a glaring performance for relations with the western powers and avoided the Eastern bloc. His government was related with the western powers especially Britain and U.S.A. and its cold war and offer hostile attitude to the communist powers and also refused to recognized the republic of china and he saw communist as evil. Even their willingness to support Nigeria economy but was not support
       However, Nigerian has supported on most cold war issues such as Berlin Crisis of 191, American Nuclear. Testing of early 1962.
       Emotionally and mental attachment of Nigerian leaders to west especially Britain at that period was so much that the could not possiblely uphold non-alignment in practice
       In conclusion therefore, that Balewa’s regime from (1960-1966) though non-alignment in principle, was pronouncedly pro-west in Ideological learning
       He balanced his representation between Europe and Africa. On Oct 8, 190 he made a speech at U.N.O saying that Nigeria shall not follow the lead of anyone.    

Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa’s foreign policy has been criticized greatly. Some of which formed the demerits of his foreign policy.
       The foreign policy of Nigeria in the first republic was characterized with western domination, that Balewa’s foreign policy was an imperialistic stooge, because he hardly achieved anything without the consultations of the British government.
       To further justify the above, it is pertinent to point out that earlier in 1956, a contingency plan was made that Great Britain would continue to represent Nigeria in some foreign policies. It is very clear to observe here that the first republic of Nigeria was essentially characterized by western manipulations and influences. Notwithstanding its officially professed non-alignment policy, the Balewa government consistently pursued pro-western foreign policies, a state of affairs for which Balewa’s government was very strongly criticized by the leader of opposition who asserted that:
“…..Balewa could hardly take any major foreign policy decisions without first consulting the British government”
      The last major initiative of the first republic in foreign affairs was the Commonwealth conference had in Lagos to discuss the Rhodesian problem viz Rhodesia’s Unilateral Declaration of Independence (U.D.I) in 1965. This conference was held on the eve of the first military coup that toppled the civilian government. If not for Balewa’s administrative hopelessness especially in the area of foreign relations, he wouldn’t have got his priorities wrong. His action is reminiscence of a man in pursuit of a rat when his house is engulfed in fire. It was this situation that was exploited by the military to strike on 15th January 1966. if we concur with Lewi Obi (1994:50) that,’ there is no record of history of a nation being weak at home but strong abroad’, it therefore follows that the undynamic and hardly result-oriented foreign policy of Balewa could be located in the political, instability rooted in ethnicity that characterized the politics of the first republic. Few would disagree with the fact that a country’s domestic standing especially its economic has a lot of bearing on its foreign policy. A nation with a sound economy, stable policy and contended citizenry is better placed to asset itself in the international community. It is against this background that one sees the effect of neo-colonial factor in the first republic.
       But we can comfortably argue that even if Sir Balewa’s foreign policy thrust lacked luster, at least he laid a foundation for the future foreign policy of Nigeria despite the limitations of his office imposed by internal and external factors.

1.                  Concepts in international relation and politics…… The dynamic of diplomacy: Charles C. Okoli… Pg 96.

2.                  Concepts in international relation and politics…… The dynamic of diplomacy: Charles C. Okoli… Pg 96.

3.                  The role of ideology in Nigerian’s foreign policy Ethelbert Chukwunenye Nwachukwu.

4.                  Websearch foreign policy of Nigeria under Tafawa Balewa

5.                  “Non-alignment; the dynamics of A movement” published 1977: Ernest Corea: Pg 1. 
 By Cletus Chinedu Agubosim