Home / Uncategorized / Unequal partnership

Unequal partnership


Can there be any meaningful logical or empirical basis for a comparative analysis of the relative endowments of the United States of America (USA) and Nigeria with a view to assessing the political, social, economic, cultural, military and strategic relationship between both countries and the implications for the international geo-political system of which they are a part? Viewed from the prism of the contemporary situation of the two polities, most Nigerians would readily disavow the usefulness or validity of any such comparative exercise believing that their country is too far below the rungs of the ladder on which nation states are ranked relative to the United States.

Considering the unequalled global military might of the USA, her enormous resource endowment and phenomenal economic capacity, prodigious industrial and agricultural productivity, her technological prowess and innovative dexterity as well as her unrivalled geo-strategic reach, it is not surprising that most Nigerians would tend to relate to the global superpower with a feeling of deep seated inferiority. To compound matters, the resilience of America’s democracy and the solidity of her political institutions have been vividly demonstrated in recent times by the capability of that polity to withstand and resist the relentless effort of President Donald Trump, by the sheer unorthodoxy of his style, to circumvent time tested values, structures, processes and norms that have served America well for over two centuries.

This is in sharp contrast to Nigeria’s largely dysfunctional and often unstable polity, fragile democratic culture, debilitating economic dependency, inchoate nationhood and security vulnerability among other debilities. From this perspective, it is all too easy to presume that there is really nothing to be gained by a comparative analysis of the relationship between the two countries. After all, America is today a virtually stand-alone global economic, military and political behemoth; Nigeria a once upon a time self-advertised giant of Africa alas with feet of clay!

Yet, in his newly published book, ‘The Political Economy of Nigeria-United States Relations’, Dr. Dapo Thomas, a senior lecturer in the Department of History and International Relations of the Lagos State University, (LASU), meticulously examines the multi-dimensional relationship between the two countries right from the pre-colonial through the colonial and post-independence periods providing useful insights and pointing out pertinent lessons that can guide the future theory and practice of Nigerian foreign policy.

READ ALSO  Federalism: Another point for state police

In six chapters and six appendices covering 258 pages, Dr. Thomas delves into an insightful theoretical discussion and theoretical analysis of the asymmetrical relations between Nigeria and the United States, historical and conceptual reflections on Nigeria-US relations as well as offering a reflective mirror into the evolution of the unequal relationship between the two countries. The book is further enriched by discussions on the strategic configurations of unequal partnership between the two countries particularly in the political and military spheres in addition to a close examination of the economic relations between both polities.

One critical point that is poignantly made in this important book is that if Nigeria is today at a grossly disadvantaged, unequal, subservient and helplessly dependent position in its relationship to the US, it is not because it has been so divinely ordained by the gods. Rather, Nigeria’s inexcusably weak position in the international political economy relative to the US and other major world powers is largely a function of her reckless squandering of past opportunities and resources to strengthen and consolidate her once respected position in the world community as a notable African regional super power.

In his words, “I tried to explain how Nigeria’s lack of seriousness and policy discipline caused it a prime position in the comity of nations. Interestingly, corruption was seen as an issue that made the difference between the two countries. If, as at today, Nigeria cannot call US bluff in some of the issues where there are fundamental disagreements, it is because it had failed to exploit some obvious advantages in the relations. In spite of Nigeria’s substantial export of petroleum products to the United States of America, it did not transform its relations of dependency to interdependency”.

The author points out that in the immediate post-independence period, Nigeria and the US maintained cordial relations characterized by mutual respect. For instance, when Nigeria’s Prime Minister, Alhaji Tafawa Balewa, visited the US between July 24 and August 1, 1961, he was accorded the honour of addressing a joint session of the United States Congress on July 26. The harmonious relationship between the two countries was partly due to the fact that the Balewa administration’s conservative ideological posture tallied with the US’s policy of containing and preventing the spread of the Soviet Union’s ‘communist influence’ across the world.

READ ALSO  The word and the law

This was despite the fact that key influence groups in Nigeria including students and radical youth movements, trade union organizations and even the main opposition political party, the Action Group (AG), exhibited a soft spot for the Eastern ideological bloc partly because of the radical anti-colonial posture of the latter.

The discovery of oil in Nigeria and the subsequent phenomenal oil wealth, the popular ‘oil boom’ that this brought Nigeria, had significant implications for Nigeria – US relations. Perhaps the most significant development in this regard was the key role that the new wealth enabled Nigeria to play in the struggle for the independence of Southern African countries like Angola, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique from the clutches of colonialism as well as the eventual collapse of apartheid rule in South Africa.

It was at the Organization of African Unity (OAU) summit in Addis Ababa, on January 11, 1976, that the Nigerian military Head of State, General Murtala Muhammed, delivered his great speech titled ‘Africa Has Come of Age’ that mobilized African countries decisively to rise against the US’s pernicious pro-Portuguese position in Angola, Mozambique and the rest of Southern Africa. In the run up to the Summit, the US had intensely lobbied African countries to support the pro-imperialist UNITA and FNLA as against the popular and revolutionary MPLA to form the immediate post-independence government in Angola. Nigeria was unflagging in giving staunch support to the MPLA. Before the summit, most African countries were geared towards towing the line preferred by the US as was always the case in the past.

Murtala Mohammed’s fiery speech in Addis Ababa changed the scenario dramatically. Laying down his military cap, his eyes flaming red, the Nigerian Head of State rose to declare famously, “Africa has come of age. It is no longer under the orbit of any extra continental power. It should no longer take orders from any country no matter how powerful. The fortunes of Africa are in our hands to make or to mar. For too long have we been kicked around: for too long have we been treated like adolescents who cannot discern their interests and act accordingly. For too long has it been presumed that the African needs outside ‘experts’ to tell him who are his friends and who are his enemies. The time has come when we should make it clear that we can decide for ourselves; that we know our interests and how to protect those interests; that we are capable of resolving African problems without presumptuous lessons in ideological dangers which, more often than not, have no relevance for us, nor for the problem at hand”.

READ ALSO  NANS hails boxer Anthony Joshua’s victory

It was a golden moment for Nigeria’s Afro-centric foreign policy. Needless to say, the MPLA formed the new postliberation government in Angola. Decisive economic action by the Obasanjo administration in 1978 against British oil and banking interests in Nigeria also compelled the British authorities to agree to conditions that ultimately led to the independence of Zimbabwe. Is the contemporary supine and servile foreign policy of Nigeria as regards the US and major world powers solely a function of the economic crisis attendant on the decline of oil revenues as a mainstay in global diplomacy? Not entirely. It is also a function of the dearth of bold, visionary and patriotic leadership.

In this tour de force in comparative international relations analysis, Dr. Thomas casts informative light on diverse factors relevant to Nigeria – US relations including the Nigerian civil war, the phenomenon of corruption as per the Halliburton scandal etc, the rise of post-apartheid South Africa, the crisis attendant on the annulment of the June 12 election and the issue of asylum for former Liberian leader, Charles Taylor among several others.

He notes pertinently that “…the Nigerian state is endowed with immense natural and human resources capable of reducing the level of disparity between it and the United States and also make it a dominant power in the world. Even if it seems an unattainable feat to match the US strength for strength or wits for wits, the possibility of transforming to a nation to reckon with or a nation to fear should not be discountenanced…The Iranian government has demonstrated one thing with its current face-off with the US and other powers. And that is asymmetrical relationship should not be an excuse for weak nations to submit themselves to the eternal manipulation and domination of strong nations”.

About Chrisjames Favour

Name is Chrisjames favour and keeping you updated and well informed is my everyday happiness. I'm a creative writer,content writer and also a poet.

Check Also

Cultivating the nurseries

Each time we prosecute our football matches in the last two decades with mostly the …