An Appraisal of Democratic Governance and Nigeria’s Foreign Policy, 1999-2019
This paper examines Nigeria’s two decades of uninterrupted democratic experience and the relationship between democratic governance and the conduct and administration of Nigeria’s foreign policies. This is anchored not only on the perceived conduciveness of democracy to peaceful foreign relations as espoused by liberalism and democratic peace theory, but also the inclusive democratic environment capable of influencing foreign policy making and implementation. Therefore, this paper investigates how democratic practice has influenced Nigeria’s foreign relations, as well as how the domestic environment, as typical of democracies, influences her foreign policy options. The paper adopts qualitative and descriptive methodology with data derived from secondary sources only. We found that decades of democratic practice notwithstanding, Nigeria is yet to imbibe the culture of robust popular participation (of eminent professionals and relevant institutions) in its foreign policy output, and only pretends to sample public opinion when it best serves the wishes and interests of the few ruling elite. It is concluded that to firmly establish its leadership role in Africa and globally, Nigeria must pursue a dynamic and proactive foreign policy targeted at improving the welfare of the citizenry and promoting her national interest. To achieve this, we recommend, among other things, that Nigeria should jealously guide her democratic governance with necessary restructuring that will promote inclusiveness and keep all forms of autocracy perpetually out of power; Nigeria should equally embark on diversified, independent and industrialized economy capable of driving her foreign policy goals.
Keywords: Democracy, foreign policy, national interest, public opinion, liberalism.