Africa's foreign policy and political borders
: Nigeria and her neighbours

  • Kieran Uchehara

    Student thesis: Master's ThesisMaster of Philosophy


    International boundaries inherited from colonialism have given room to territorial disputes and the existing boundary conflicts in the West African Region, and are an endemic feature of Nigeria's relations with her immediate neighbours. The thesis examines the 18 border disputes that Nigeria has been involved in since independence.

    The thesis begins by setting the scene in terms understanding Nigeria's foreign policy principles and objectives since independence and, in particular, its policy towards border disputes across the continent of Africa such as the Congo/Katanga, Uganda/Tanzania, Ethiopia/Somalia and Morocco/Algeria (chapter 2). The thesis then moves on to consider the underlying problems that have faced Nigeria as regards its borders as a result of colonisation (chapter 3). As the history is traced of the stages in the definition of Nigeria's boundaries, it becomes apparent that many border issues were unresolved or that decisions were made that were likely to be contested in the future. In chapter 4 the thesis turns to a detailed examination of the border disputes that have arisen in the last 43 years of independence between Nigeria and her close neighbours, Benin, Chad, Equatorial Guinea, Cameroon and Niger.

    Chapter 5 analyses the data provided. It finds that the way the dispute was handled was closely related to the regime type. Under the liberal democratic regimes of Balewa, Shagari, Obasanjo II, disputes were largely dealt with by diplomacy and negotiation. Whereas under the autocratic regimes of military leaders such as Generals Ironsi, Gowen, Muhammed, Obasanjo, Buhari, Babangida, Abacha's and Abubaker's the disputes brought a response of a threat of force or aggressive use of force. It concludes that liberal democracy profoundly affects how border disputes are handled and is a force for peace and stability.
    Date of Award2004
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • Coventry University
    SupervisorRoy May (Supervisor) & Bruce Baker (Supervisor)


    • boundary conflicts
    • Nigeria
    • territorial disputes
    • West African region

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