Nigeria Foreign Policy | Definition & Characteristics

Foreign policy is a very essential aspect of life and existence of every sovereign nation. To this end, it is important we commence a study of this nature with a clear definition, analysis and explanation of the term “foreign policy”. It is necessary to seek a clear understanding of the term by drawing from the ideas and opinions of others scholars who have worked on the subject matter in the past.

K.J Holsti defined policy as “…actions and ideas designed by policy makers to solve or promote changes in the international environment…” From Wolfran Handrieder, foreign policy is “…a coordinated strategy with which institutionally designated decision makers seek to manipulate the international environment.

According to Karl Deutsch (1954), foreign policy is defined as “the search for the preservation of a country’s independence and security, the pursuit and protection of its economic interest. Rodee (1957), defined foreign policy as “the formulation and implementation of a group of principles which shape the behavior pattern of a state while negotiation with other states to protect or further its vital interests”.

Joseph Frankel (1968), sees foreign policy as “that consisting of decisions and actions which involve to some appreciable extent relationship between one state and another”. Nnoli (1986), defines it as “a nations reaction to the external environment involving the organization of both domestic and external relations”.

Finally, foreign policy can be seen in terms of the following concepts namely: The general principles which govern a state’s international behavior, the policy that decides the state of the inter-dependence of nations i.e. Nigeria stands on certain international issues as such affects the country.

Foreign policy is the formal, legal and authoritative expression of national interest by the government through the constitutional process of the state. It is said to be a course of action taken by the authority of state for achieving a particular objective or goal. It is equally viewed as an act of internationalizing domestic resolve.

Summarily, foreign policy refers to objective, interest, principles, norms and resources which are brought together and used in making decision with respect to external environment. Again, Nigeria foreign policy is the rules and regulations guiding the behavior of Nigeria in her dealings or interaction with other countries as a member of the world community.

Commenting on the above definition of foreign policy, it is important to point out that not all international contacts and relations can be really associated with foreign policy. This is because foreign policy covers only such activities which are supported or are known by the government.


Nigeria foreign policy has as one of the characteristics, the abolition of all forms of colonialism and imperialism in Africa.

Nigeria foreign policy tends to promote friendly relations and co-operation among member states.

Africa is the center piece of Nigeria foreign policy.

Other characteristics of Nigeria policy is the Non-alignment with the power blocs.

Nigeria foreign policy promotes peaceful resolution of inter-state disputes.

Nigeria foreign policy respects the territorial integrity of other African States based on the principles of non-intervention in the affairs of their member state.

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