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Nigeria’s ‘manifest destiny’ in West Africa: dominance without power


  • Daniel C. Bach


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.

Suggested Citation

  • Daniel C. Bach, 2007. "Nigeria’s ‘manifest destiny’ in West Africa: dominance without power," Africa Spectrum, Institute of African Affairs, GIGA German Institute of Global and Area Studies, Hamburg, vol. 42(2), pages 301-321.
  • Handle: RePEc:gig:afjour:v:42:y:2007:i:2:p:301-321

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Gero Erdmann, 2007. "The Cleavage Model, Ethnicity and Voter Alignment in Africa: Conceptual and Methodological Problems Revisited," GIGA Working Paper Series 63, GIGA German Institute of Global and Area Studies.
    2. Mkandawire, Thandika, 2013. "Neopatrimonialism and the political economy of Economic Permormance in Africa: Critical Reflections," Arbetsrapport 2013:1, Institute for Futures Studies.
    3. Gero Erdmann, 1999. "Parteien in Afrika. Versuch eines Neuanfangs in der Parteienforschung," Africa Spectrum, Institute of African Affairs, GIGA German Institute of Global and Area Studies, Hamburg, vol. 34(3), pages 375-393.
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