NIGERIA’S ROLE IN THE INTEGRATION OF WEST AFRICAN STATES (MANAGEMENT PROJECT TOPICS AND MATERIALS)
CHAPTER ONE: GENERAL INTRODUCTION
1.1 BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
One motive that influenced the creation of almost all the West African International Governmental Organizations (IGOs) is the unity which has its origin in the Pan-African movements (UNECA 1983). According to Essien (2006) efforts at regional and sub-regional integration in Africa go back to the immediate postcolonial period. It was seen as an extension of the liberation movements and an effort to construct geographic entities that were economically viable and politically united. It also reflected the prevailing European experience with its emphasis on free trade within a Common External Tariff area. Thus, Anadi (2012) observed that, “by the 1960’s when most of the West African states gained their independence, the realities of the enormous distortions inherent in the colonial economy came to the fore.
First, they were utterly left with highly fragile and structurally truncated economies based on the export of one or two agricultural commodities with inherent price distortions in the international commodity market. Also, the fact that none of these states’ national currencies were convertible further worsened the already destabilizing balance of payments problems in both their trade within the region and in their trade with other regions of the world” (Anadi 2005). The founding fathers of ECOWAS were quite aware of the huge challenges that confronted them at independence, following the years of unbridled exploitation and utter neglect of the basic needs of the citizens by the colonial masters; Britain, France and Portugal. Consequently, successful nation building has remained the biggest challenge for them because their economies are small, weak and highly competitive.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
Nigeria resorted to economic diplomacy to enable her have a strong foundation for the integration of the states in West Africa. Nigeria has upheld the principle of non-interference at the same time being the regional hegemon confers certain roles on her in the affairs of neighbouring West African countries while stabilizing and bringing peace to trouble spots like Sierra Leone and Liberia, Nigeria has sank a lot of money to keep ECOWAS alive in seeking to maintain cordial relations and enhancing mutually beneficial ventures in ECOWAS. Oputu (2006) notes that Nigeria has contributed so much in terms of human and material resources for the integration of the states in ECOWAS, yet it hasn’t brought significant results. Consequently, Owoeye (2002) observed that “It is more prudent for a nation to assume a high profile in international politics only as an imperative for its economic achievements”. However, some nations, inclusive of Nigeria, would appear to put politics before economics thereby assuming expensive political roles in their regions or globally, though the domestic economic structures are not strong enough to support such political missions abroad (Owoeye, 2002:159).