Nigeria and ECOWAS since 1999: Continuity and Change in Multilateralism and Conflict Resolution
Nigeria, the West African local hegemon, has been actively involved in the integration process and stability of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) sub-regional arrangement since 1975 when the organization was established. Though motivated by national interests in line with her foreign policy objectives, Nigeria’s role in ECOWAS was even more profound particularly in her genuine, benevolent, hegemonic peacekeeping and peace-enforcement operations in Liberia and Sierra Leone. However, since the beginning of the Fourth Republic in 1999, the country’s position, especially on commitment towards peacekeeping and enforcement operations as a strategy for the resolution of West African armed conflict, has been passive. It is against this background that this article interrogates continuity and changes in Nigeria-ECOWAS relations since the democratic dispensation of the Fourth Republic. The study upholds the fact that a fundamental issue, which has influenced Nigeria’s unwillingness and unenthusiastic stance in the use of force and huge financial contributions in ECOWAS intervention in West Africa armed conflicts, is because majority of Nigerians back home consider such adventure as wasteful for a country that lacks critical infrastructure and basic amenities. Closely related to this is the fact that democratic and civilian regimes are more vulnerable to pressure from public opinion, parliament, and the press. This brings to bear the nexus between foreign policy, public opinion, and domestic politics. The study concludes that Nigeria government must improve domestic situation in order to enjoy popular support for her ECOWAS objective of regional stability.