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The Impacts of Terrorism on Nigeria’s Foreign Policy 1999-2015

The Impacts of Terrorism on Nigeria’s Foreign Policy 1999-2015

Since gaining independence in 1960, Nigeria has had vast diplomatic contacts and relations with its neighbouring African countries and western nations and had worked through these both to protect its national interest and to achieve other international political interests. Based on both its economic and demographic strength, Nigeria has always seen itself as one of the leading countries in Africa and its foreign policy has been set to reflect this.

Apart from being a member of many supranational organizations such as United Nations (UN) and numerous of its special and related agencies such as, Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), States (ECOWAS), African Union (AU), it also has taken the a major role in articulating the views of developing nations on the need for modification of the existing international economic order.

Upon gaining independence, non-alignment was emphasized as one of the basic values of Nigeria’s foreign policy. Basically, the reasoning behind this position was to preserve Nigeria’s choice and freedom of action as a sovereign state. It also used the said opportunity to advance the goals of pan-Africanism, concern for black people and decolonization.

After the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the United States, globally, the acts of terrorism have been on the increased with far reaching consequences. The inter connectivity among the various Islamist groups have seen them come into sight with more Sophistication in terms of tactics and weaponry. From the major terror group Al-Qaeda to AQIM, Al-Shabab to Boko Haram in Nigeria, and the world is now has before it an intense security challenge that needs collectivism among nations to overcome the menace.

The emergence of the terrorist or violent acts in Nigeria that are until now on the rise and becoming a frequent faction has made Nigeria to lose all these respect and its relevance in the international arena. Obviously, no country in the international world will be willing to create a bilateral relation with a country that is widely believed to be faced with terrorist actions.

Instead of enjoying multinational organizations venturing into Nigeria to boost the nation’s economy, the country however is experiencing the exit of numerous foreign companies and industries from the country to other countries even in Africa as a result of the unguaranteed security and uncontrollable terrorist and criminal actions. The endless terrorist attacks against innocent citizens in states such as Jos, Bauchi, Niger Delta and Maiduguri and other parts of the country, carried out frequently with liberty is a substantive reason to worry he numerous foreigners from coming into the country to invest.

Nigeria’s image abroad has been seriously affected as a result of the consistent acts of terrorism. This has brought about the capital flight as many nations have withdrawn their presence in the country making government to lose revenue at an alarming rate. Occurrences of various kidnapping and bombings in Nigeria have made the country to forfeit its 6th position as a leading oil exporting country to Angola in 2011.

Before this particular wobbly situation, Nigeria used to produce a total output of about 2.4 million barrels per day. Industry sources now put the average total oil production output in Nigeria at 1.1 million barrels while Angola produces 1.9 million barrels daily as a result of the MEND terrorist acts in the oil region.

The terrorist acts in the country have succeeded in the major back bone of the economy as the most affected oil companies were, Shell production development company, Chevron, the Nigerian Agip Oil and the state owned Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC). Furthermore, Shell’s oil production has dipped by 85 percent from 1.150 million barrels per day in 2005 to the current production figure of about 145,000 barrels due to a series of violent attacks in its platforms both in the eastern operations in Rivers State and Western operations covering Bayelsa, Delta and Edo states. The same can be said of Chevron whose production and loading facilities in the region especially in the coastal Delta state have been blown up resulting in production shut down.

Before this scenario, oil companies operating in the Niger Delta region have lost about $200,760,000 in 1993 as a result of protests and blockages. Particularly, Shell had lost N9.9 million in Ogoni land in 1993 when it was forced to halt its operations by angry villagers. Also, given the currency at which these terror activities (kidnapping, abduction and blowing up of pipelines) are going on within the country, Nigeria’s chances of meeting its 6000 megawatts target of electricity production on which about $2.6 billion had been committed is unrealistic. The essence of attempting to generate at least 6000 megawatts of electricity by December 2016 was to woo more foreign investors to come and invest in Nigeria which constitute part of its foreign policy.

This set of foreign policy goals can only be achieved if the kidnappers do threaten the lives of the foreigners who are working with the power sector and if the pipelines that supplies gas for the use of electricity are not blown up by the terrorists. It is safe to argue that the more the country lacks the capacity to guarantee steady flow of crude oil in the international market, the more critical stakeholders will become impatient with Nigeria and perhaps begins to look for an alternative oil nation like Angola that is with an enabling environment.

Enshrined in the foreign policy objective of Nigeria is Economic Diplomacy which is one of the core components of the Transformation Agenda under the Jonathan Administration. Economic diplomacy is aimed at attracting investors from other countries in the international community to come into Nigeria to invest. The recent rise in the security problem in the country has frustrated these set objectives because instability and violence has brought about balance of trade deficits especially in the Northern part of Nigeria.

A very visible effect of one of the effects of terrorism on Nigeria’s foreign policy is that most countries do view Nigeria as an unserious minded nation to establish an economic agreement with. Thus, most terrorist acts have often times been politicized and facts misleading by government officials for personal gains.

Kidnapping and abduction which is one of the violent tactics of terrorist groups in Nigeria especially in the Niger Delta region has made foreign country’s to issue travel advice to their respective citizens against travelling to Nigeria. The tourism industry in the country is the worst affected as it has lost some of its foreign exchange earnings as a result of the high drop in the patronage of its activities by foreigners.

International organizations such as Department for International Development (DFID), The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) etc have all withdrawn their supports from troubled region in the country thereby making it difficult for the locals to access important health and educational programmes which they benefited from in large measures.

Okereke argues that Terrorism issues in Nigeria have further been complicated by credible reports indicating that Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) has established a partnership with Boko Haram this can been seen in Boko Haram sophistication62. Boko Haram now uses paramilitary tactics which is almost the same to those being used by Al-Qaeda as suicide bombing against government infrastructures, assassinations and violence against Christians and Muslims who do not concur with their brand of Islam has become rampant.

Terrorist attacks in Nigeria have much more effects on the foreign policies of countries that have been affected by the activities of terrorism in Nigeria and its people. Bilateral and multilateral relations of the countries in the international arena with Nigeria have continued to decline amidst issues of terrorism over the years. Terrorism in Nigeria has been attributed to violent agitations, lack of patriotism and religious intolerance. Nigeria needs to do more in order to restore its damaged image; combating terrorism needs to be done with utmost sincerity and commitment on the part of government.

 

Related post: Terrorism in Nigeria: The reign of Boko Haram

Read also: Legal Representation in Criminal Trial in Nigeria

 

 

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