This article is in stern response and rejection of the recently published research by the ISS, which claimed that Nigeria is on the path to becoming a global power.
To begin with, what is a global power? Who are the current global powers and why them?
Global power is a state powerful enough to influence events throughout the world. And in some cases, these are states with very great military and/or political power. The US, France, UK, Russia, Germany, China are global powers. The first three possess military, economic and political power; Russia possess military and political power; while the last two countries possess economic and political power. Hence there is no ultimate way to quantify power.
As a result, there exist other regional powers such as Saudi Arabia & Iran for their influence in the Middle East; Brazil in South America; and South Africa in Southern Africa. In West Africa also, Nigeria is a seen as a major power. But some issues undermine its status.
Nigeria has for so long been classified or said to be the “giant of Africa”. This statement has been justified by its enviable demography and population size, natural resources, economic wealth, strategic location and a somewhat reputable influence on African politics. I will not go into details about these, as discussions on these can be found anywhere.
However, I want to briefly shed light on why Nigeria’s status as a global power is not forthcoming. And also give some suggestions on how to get it right.
Unrevisied Foreign Policy: Nigeria’s foreign policy posture has not changed much since the 1970s, during the military era and the Cold War. In the 70s, Nigeria espoused the ideas that “Africa is the centre piece of its foreign policy”, nonalignment, noninterference, rejection of colonialism, among other things.
But alot has changed since then. For instance, colonialism has disappeared; the last vestige of colonialism achieved black majority rule in 1994. Also, the Cold War, which necessitated the pursuit of nonalignment by some countries, ended in 1991. Thus it is no longer reasonable to pursue nonalignment as our foreign policy principle.
Yet, these are features that remain in our foreign policy. For Nigeria to attain global power status, these ideas most be done away, and new, dynamic and realistic foreign policy objectives must be espoused.
Weak And Incoherent National Interest Goals: Nigeria’s National Interest, and our pursuit of it, is presently much too weak and incoherent to give Nigeria Global power status. For instance, Nigeria’s National Interest is hinged on the belief in “non-interference in the affairs of other nations”, and at the same time, it believes it can play the role of “Big Brother” in Africa. How coherent are these two? This lack of coherence, most certainly, is not a feature of a Global power.
The height of this weak resolve can be found in the integration attempts in West Africa. Nigeria is considered a regional hegemon. However, it has not been able to bring about that unique integration it wants for West Africa, modelled after the European Union. The reason for this is not far-fetched: Nigeria is relenting/refusing to utilize its unique power and bargain tools. As a global power, would need to cajoule the African countries, to get them to get their houses in order and facilitate regional integration. Unfortunately, Nigeria is acting weak to achieve this. This is not what global powers do.
The bottomline thus is that, all global powers know that they are not equal with the rest of the world. Some global powers pursue interests and policies that explicitly states this. While other global players pursue a more liberal approach, becoming assertitive when the need arises, to have their demands met. Nigeria, however, has not been doing either effectively, or at all. This takes me to my next point..
3). Nigeria Claims To Be Realist In Its Foreign Policy Pursuit: From the foregoing point, you can tell that this pure not true. Nigeria’s foreign objectives and pursuit merely espouses Statism, rather than outright realism.
If Nigeria is to pursue that true Big Brother role, then our influence in African issues has to increase. We need to begin to interfere, not in the negative manner, in the affairs of other African nations, to get them to do what is right. Nigeria has long been ignoring continental problems, or has minimised its engagement in them, and has focused majorly on domestic issues. Whereas all global powers pay attention to the happenings elsewhere, and seek ways to influence it..
For Nigeria to be a global power, it needs to start paying attention to Mugabe’s Zimbabwe, the crisis in Congo, the failed state of Somalia, the chaos in Libya, the poverty in Sudan, the insecurity in neighbouring states, and a whole host of other issues.
4). Revised Educational Curricula and Patroitism: Though these seem more like a domestic problem, but it is not totally so. The right policies and actions to take in the international system for Nigeria, can be impacted positively if it receives inputs from the populace, who are knowlegdeable on the effects. Issues like: The fall of the Naira relative to the Dollar; immigration, Global War on Terrorism, and a lot more can be made more positive if only the populace had better understanding of them and their impact.
5). Nigeria Needs To Engage The International System With A Different Approach: Nigeria’s greatest asset in its international engagements has been the military. Whereas, it is the biggest economy on the African continent, wirh a GDP of over $500bn. Thus, Nigeria has the economic capability to influence a lo of nations.
Therefore, Nigeria will need to begin utilizing alternatives to military power, such as economic, in order to attain global power status.
Alos, Nigeria needs to use other diplomatic alternatives, such as mediation, negotiations, and arbiration to reaolve disputes on the African continent. This way, more “African solutions” will be found for “African problems”, and less dependency on the West for assistance. All these will help to bring about greater long-term progress, and definitely help to grant Nigeria its official recognition.
In sum, in order for Nigeria to truly attain global power status, a lot must be done to overhaul and reshape the present external outlook of the country. However, this may be hard to achieve considering the mismanagement and incompetence of some of those holding strategic positions in the Foreign Ministry.