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Every vibrant foreign policy derives its strength from the domestic angle, that is, from the needs of the country and the populace. For several years past, Africa was the centerpiece of Nigeria’s foreign policy and, therefore, spent heavily pursuing foreign policies of decolonization and apartheid. This policy emphasized aggressive championing of the freedom of African countries such as Congo, Angola and Mozambique then reeling under the yoke of colonialism and those under minority racist regimes such as Zimbabwe and South Africa. Nigeria did not waver to commit moral, financial and diplomatic support in pursuit of this policy. This study advocates a change in focus and highlights the imperatives of economic diplomacy in Nigeria’s foreign policy. It suggests that Nigeria’s pressing economic problems should be holistically examined and tackled first, which will then form the basis of a vibrant foreign policy. It is believed that when the living standards of citizens are enhanced, the approach will earn Nigeria and our leaders respect not only at home but also in the comity of nations.




1.1    Background of the study

Foreign policy refers to actions chosen by the national government to maximize its strategic goals and objectives in the international arena. Every state will have established goals, a set of options, and an algorithm for deciding which option is most appropriate in meeting its goals1 . Thus, foreign policies are the strategies that guide the actions of governments in the international system as they spell out the objectives state leaders pursue in a given situation or relationship2 . For Funso Adesola, “foreign policy could be seen as the totality of all actions, decisions, overtures, and /or interactions between and among states in the international system”3 . Put differently, foreign policy could be based on economics, politics, culture or the creating of co-operation or understanding among nations of the world. It is the sum total of the interactions between and among domestic economies and policies of world nations. Since independence, Africa had been the corner stone of Nigeria’s foreign policy. Issues that concerned the continent were the primary focus of the Nigerian government. Nigeria played unmatched role in restoring peace to conflict-ridden African countries such as Congo, Sudan, Liberia and SierraLeone. In these endeavors, Nigeria committed huge human and material resources. Although Nigeria played the role of a big brother, despite its sustained assistance, it has not been accorded the appropriate recognition for its leadership role in the continent. Instead, Nigeria has been the butt of derision by several African states. For instance, some Francophone African countries brazenly disdain Nigeria and exhibit hostility by subjecting Nigerians living in their midst to varying degrees of torture and humiliation. 

The poor perception of Nigeria in the international community is attributed to ineptitude in political leadership and economic comatose into which the country has been steeped for several years. This paper, therefore, argues that economic diplomacy should be the main thrust of Nigeria’s foreign policy in the new political dispensation as it will go a long way in solving several of the pressing economic problems that have bedeviled the country. The historical antecedents of Nigeria’s foreign policy owes much to the vision of Alhaji Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, Nigeria’s first Prime Minister and Head of Government, October 1960 to January 1966, and can be located in his famous speeches during the immediate pre and post independence periods. These speeches include his statement in the House of Representatives on August 20, 1960; his Independence Day Address on October 1, 1960 and his Acceptance Speech on the occasion of Nigeria’s admission into the membership of the United Nations in New York on October 8, 1960. From the late 1950s especially from 1958 when he became head of the Self-government and when Nigeria’s Independence was slated for October 1, 1960, Balewa articulated in these speeches the fundamental principles that would guide Nigeria’s external relations after independence and the basis upon which the country would relate with other countries of the world, as well as what its posture would be towards international organizations. The policy of economic diplomacy as a central plank in the correction of the imbalances in the political-economy of the Nigerian state may as well be written off, if one considers the rascality of the operators of the country in the period under discourse. However, for a keen observer and an objective researcher, the policy scored some measure of success between 1988 an 1993. Like in all human ventures, the gains of the ‘new’ economic diplomacy should be seen in terms of long and short term perspectives. Policies at all levels take time to mature and in the case of the ‘new’ economic diplomacy, expectation of tangible and handsome results may be a tall dream, within a short period of five years that the General Ibrahim Babangida regime operated the policy. However, this observation does not suggest a complete failure of the policy. One of the most important objectives of economic diplomacy as a state policy was the development of an enduring economy for the Nigerian people, especially through the attraction of foreign investment. This necessitates the reorganization of the Ministry of External Affairs (MFA) and this was complemented at the domestic level by a host of reforms aimed at achieving positive results. These included the adoption of a new investment code whose objective was to make the process of company incorporation easier; the amendment of the indigenization decree of the 1970s to increase the number of foreign investors in the economy; the elimination of bureaucratic `procedures associated with profit repatriation and dividend remittance, and the introduction of new tax relief measures (Olukoshi and Idris, 1991). With this recap, it is easy to discuss some of the gains of economic diplomacy within the period and scope of this study The policy, within a short time, created a new awareness and interest among the private sector operators, especially in the nation’s export promotion drive. The government introduced very attractive insurance scheme for exports of both manufactured and agricultural goods. Although, it is difficult to quantify the benefits of these measures in cash values, it is reasonable to submit that it had a multiplier effect on the country’s economic growth. The policy of ‘new’ economic diplomacy was pre-occupied with marketing the Structural Adjustment program (SAP) to the outside world. This brought a modest increase in foreign investments and a little halt in the divestment of foreign investment. As a matter of fact, promotional agencies like Commonwealth Development Authority (CDA) and Canada International Development Agency (CIDA), which had left Nigeria earlier, returned to the country with more vigour (Ike Nwachukwu Years). At this point, it is imperative to make some clarifications of the concept of economic diplomacy. This brand of diplomacy involves the decision-making, policy-making, and advocating of the sending state’s business interests, and requires the application of technical expertise that analyze the effects of a country’s (receiving state) economic situation on its political climate and on the sending state’s economic interests. The sending state and host state, foreign business leaders as well as government decision-makers work in synergy on some important issues in foreign policy, such as technology, the environment and HIV/AIDS as well as in the traditional areas of trade and finance. Qualities needed for proper execution of economic diplomacy are versatility, sound judgment and strong business skills. 

The scope of economic diplomacy comprises international and domestic economic issues including the “rules for economic relations between states”. Due to increased globalization and the resultant interdependence among states, economic diplomacy has gone deeper into domestic decision making to cover policies relating to production, exchange of goods, services and instruments (official development assistance). Economic diplomacy is therefore, defined as: The process through which countries tackle the outside world, to maximize their national gain in all the fields of activity including trade, investment and other forms of economically beneficial exchanges, where they enjoy comparative advantage; it has bilateral, regional and multilateral dimensions, each of which is important13 . Thus, economic diplomacy encourages and promotes investment, protects deals from inception to signing of contracts and in fact markets an entire nation as if it is a business outfit itself. The diplomats would conduct trade events and seminars, attend trade shows, visit potential investors and be proactive in marketing the attributes of their country. Success in this endeavour requires knowledge of the business process, of the home country’s economy, and of salesmanship. In this wise, and with proper training, diplomats become essential link in the strengthening of their economies by private investors, with governments facilitating the process.


In the contemporary international system where interdependence drives economic issues, economic diplomacy emerged as the most efficient instrument of conducting foreign policy. This is because it is absolutely necessary for any policy thrust to aim at, achieve and maintain a self reliant and prosperous economy. Adefuye (1992:140) adopts this view and asserts that “an economy that fails to sustain a society destabilizes that society”. Nigeria is not left out of the strategic economic calculations since economic issue is the driving force behind its foreign policy in the 21st century despite the attendant misconception, abuses and misapplication. The economic diplomacy of New Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy was applied by Olusegum Obasanjo to reverse the debilitating conditions of Nigerian economy. These policies supposedly are activities generally focused on the affirmation of economic interest of Nigerian state as “the health of a nation’s economy is one index of the vigour and purposefulness it displays in her relationship with others” (Rodee, 1983; 464). In other words, “a strong economic foundation and a happy and contended people provide a sound basis for effective pursuit of foreign policy” (Olusanya, 1988:525). In Nigeria, the regime in question had a negative conception of economic diplomacy as foreign policy thrust. They appear to place politics before economics. Their target appears to perpetrate invidious political roles in their state not minding that our domestic structure is not strong enough to support external outcomes. The primary thrust of economic diplomacy is to strengthen Nigerian political economy and reposition it for sustainable human and material development. “Economic diplomacy employs economic resources either as reward or sanctions in pursuit of a particular foreign policy objective. This is sometimes called “economic craft” (Harun, 2008:2). This is to enhance human welfare and create an economic environment that will constantly satisfy the basic needs of man. Any diplomatic ties, bilateral, multilateral or institutional relations would be conducted in a manner or intention to impact on Nigeria’s human and material development.


The main objective of this study is on examining the efficiency of ministry of foreign affairs and economic diplomacy of Nigeria foreign policy, but to aid the completion of the study, the following specific objectives are were put forward by the researcher;

i)  To examine the impact of ministry of foreign affairs in attaining economic diplomac.

ii)  To examine the relationship between the ministry of foreign affairs and Nigeria economic diplomacy

iii)  To ascertain the role of the government in attaining economic diplomacy in Nigeria.


The following research questions were formulated by the researcher to aid the completion of the study;

i)  Is there any impact of ministry of foreign affairs in attaining economic diplomacy of Nigerian foreign policy?

ii)  Is there any relationship between the ministry of foreign affairs and Nigeria economic diplomacy?


The primary goal of economic diplomacy as a tool of foreign policy in Nigeria is the promotion and protection of national interest of the Nigerian state. Nigeria under the regime of 8 Olusegun Obasanjo applied the economic diplomacy of national economic empowerment and development strategy as reform measures to achieve pre-determined economic development. This study has both theoretical and practical significance. At the theoretical level, it will add to the existing literature on economic diplomacy of the Nigerian state and will assist student researchers in economic diplomacy and related fields as reference material. It will equally underscore the link between economic diplomacy and foreign policy. It will also highlight the reform impact on foreign direct investment and sustainable human development. At the practical level, the result of our investigation will be used during the formulation and implementation of any related economic reform polices of Nigeria state. The political and bureaucratic leaders in charge of foreign policy will apply the result of an investigation in enhancing a proactive economic reform package for Nigerian State.


The scope of the study covers ministry of foreign affairs and economic diplomacy of Nigerian foreign policy; but in the cause of the study, there were some factors that hinders the scope of the study;

a) AVAILABILITY OF RESEARCH MATERIAL: The research material available to the researcher is insufficient, thereby limiting the study 

b) TIME: The time frame allocated to the study does not enhance wider coverage as the researcher has to combine other academic activities and examinations with the study.

c) Finance: Limited Access to the required finance makes it difficult to get all the necessary and required information concerning the activities.


Economic diplomacy: Economic diplomacy is a form of diplomacy. Economic diplomacy is the use of the full spectrum economic tools of a state to achieve its national interests.

Ministry of Foreign affairs: The Nigerian foreign ministry is a statutory body created to re-inforce foreign decision making and implementation processes in Nigeria and handle the external promotion of Nigeria's domestic vision and ideals; it is headed by a federal executive cabinet minister. As of late its mission has geared towards increasing awareness about Nigeria's economic potential.

Diplomacy: Diplomacy is the art and practice of conducting negotiations between representatives of states. It usually refers to international diplomacy, the conduct of international relations through the intercession.


This research work is organized in five chapters, for easy understanding, as follows. Chapter one is concern with the introduction, which consist of the (background of the study), statement of the problem, objectives of the study, research questions, research hypotheses, significance of the study, scope of the study etc. Chapter two being the review of the related literature presents the theoretical framework, conceptual framework and other areas concerning the subject matter.  Chapter three is a research methodology covers deals on the research design and methods adopted in the study. Chapter four concentrate on the data collection and analysis and presentation of finding.  Chapter five gives summary, conclusion, and recommendations made of the study.


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