Nigeria’s ‘manifest destiny’ in West Africa: dominance without power
Daniel C. Bach
Africa Spectrum, 2007, vol. 42, issue 2, 301-321
Ever since independence, messianic references to a natural Nigerian leadership in the affairs of the African continent have been ingrained in the conduct of Nigeria’s foreign policy. Internationally, Nigeria’s endowments of human and natural resources, deeply asymmetrical interactions with neighbouring states and the active engagement of successive regimes in the affairs of the continent have called for the country’s treatment as a regional power and a pivotal state for West Africa. However, Nigeria’s ‘manifest destiny’ remains more about influence than power. The country’s unsteady projection of structural or relational power starkly contrasts with the deep regional imprint left by trans-frontier networks that focus on Nigeria but operate independently of territorial affiliations. The related regionalisation process exacerbates the fluidity and fragility of region-building as much as problems of statehood and governance within Nigeria.
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